Buying Right: Finding Your Dream Ski is Easier Than You Think

19 July 2022

Ski shopping doesn’t have to be hard. The construction and shapes across the “all-mountain” categories are similar. What differs are ski widths.

If you’re building a quiver from scratch, employ the 80 percent rule. Ask yourself what ski width will deliver 80 percent of the time. That’s your daily driver, the most important arrow in your quiver. Once you have that nailed, add skis to your collection based on wants and needs like powder day floatation and hardpack arcing.

Got it? Good. But it all starts with that first ultra-versatile “80 Percent” ski. Here’s how to find it.

All Mountain Frontside

70% On-Trail | 30% Off-Trail
Waist Widths: 80mm to 90mm

Twenty years ago, skis over 80mm underfoot were called fatties. Today, thanks to rocker (the upturned tips and tails of modern skis), better construction, and, in the case of Peak, new technology, you can carve short-swing turns in the fall line on ’em too. Key in on those percentages above as a guide. And be honest with yourself about where you ski. If you spend the majority of your time on trail and tend to ski packed snow off trail, then this is your 80 percent width. If you already own a fatter ski, this is your occasional carver. Of course there are skiers who rip on skis like the Peak 88 all the time and everywhere, but you get the idea. Start here if you ski back east or in Summit County, Colorado where huge dumps are rare and the snow is light.

Skis in this category:

 

All Mountain

50% On-Trail | 50% Off-Trail
Waist Widths: 90mm to 100mm

This is the closest it gets to the dream of a one-ski quiver. Ninety to 100mm skis float in all but the deepest resort days, but they also leave trenches in corduroy. Again, play the percentages. If you find yourself mixing it up between groomers and bowls equally, a ski like the Peak 98 is capable of seamlessly transitioning on the same run. Just don’t discount the carving potential of skis in the 90mm to 100mm range. It’s old-school thinking to believe they can’t hold an edge or flow from short turns to long turns. At Peak, our Keyhole Technology™ ensures that’s true. If you ski at bigger hills back east like Killington, Jay Peak, or Sugarloaf, or live pretty much anywhere in the Rockies outside of the Wasatch, a 98 should be in your roof box.

Skis in this category:

 

All Mountain Powder

30% On-Trail | 70% Off-Trail
Waist Widths: 100mm to 108mm

We used to grab 110mm wide-plus skis with banana rocker to get the floatation we were looking for on storm days. Those days are gone. Modern all mountain powder skis in the 100mm to 108mm range, pop to the surface in all but the deepest of coastal storms, offer a loose and smearable feel on steeps, but still carve on hardpack. The best skis in this category make back bowls, alpine faces, blown-in glades, and chalky chutes more attainable and fun. That’s true across the category, but it’s especially true with the Peak 104. With that ski, KeyHole Technology™ and reduced sidecuts in the tip and tail make for effortless transitions from slashing turns in powder to arcing on groomers. For many western skiers, this width is a daily driver.

Skis in this category:

 

Pure Powder

20% On-Trail | 80% Off-Trail
Waist Widths: 108mm to 115mm

The problem with the old 120mm-plus powder skis? Instead of porpoising in and out of the snowpack blowing up powder, they wanted to skim—boat-like—on the surface. You also had to drop the hip unnaturally to get them on edge. The new generation (and there are just a few of standouts) powder skis in the 108mm to 112mm range are the solution. On these widths, you can eke out nice arcs in the belly of the turn—but you would be hard pressed to get outgunned by a big dump. The key, as with the Peak 110, is getting the balance of rocker, sidecut, and flex correct. Look here if you ski Tahoe north to Whistler with regularity—your 80 percent ski—or if that’s where you’re headed this winter—a ski for your quiver.

Skis in this category:

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