When attempting to get to know the many technological nuances, of the numerous new ranges of powder skis which emerge each season, you can easily feel like you are buried up to your neck in info. Well, being up to your neck is a problem which any of the following products can easily rectify – these are simply the 10 best powder and freeride skis new to the market this season.
Reviews of 2018's Best Powder Skis and Freeride Skis
ATOMIC BACKLAND BENT CHETLER 2018
Chris Bentchetler’s signature model from Atomic just keeps improving year on year. This year’s model features HRZN Tech, which blends ABS sidewall construction with a revolutionary across-the-ski (horizontal) rocker, adding 10% more surface area, (increasing flotation), without adding any weight - making it the best Bent Chetler powder ski yet.
- Sizes – 178, 185, 192 cm
- Dimensions - 142-120-134 mm
- Radius – 19m (185cm)
We are giving the Bent Chetler the 2018 ‘Ski ”Turner” prize’ for Chris Benchetler’s own hand-drawn artwork on the top sheet and bases. Just call him Pablo Pow-casso.
SALOMON QST 118
One of this year’s most versatile skis in the big mountain category – the QST is light and nimble on piste, and it is very difficult to fault the float in powder. Easy to use all over the mountain, thanks to the cambered portion of the ski underfoot which gives it the ability to carve some solid turns.
- Sizes - 171, 178, 185, 192 cm
- Dimensions – 140-118-127 mm
- Radius – 25.5m (185cm)
2018’s ‘Best All-Rounder’, rare to find a 118 ski that is this easy to use on any terrain you can throw under it.
DYNAFIT BEAST 108
Featuring sidewall construction with an ash and poplar core for minimal weight with maximum power, the Beast 108 is a great freeride ski overall. Its lightness makes it great for touring, but equally it is perfectly at home in variable snow conditions and lift-served terrain.
- Sizes - 173, 181, 188, 194 cm
- Dimensions 136-108-126 mm
- Radius – 22m (181cm)
Dynafit’s emphasis on weight reduction makes the Beast our 2018 ‘Best for Touring’.
FACTION PRIME 3.0
The Prime 3.0 are more traditional directional charging powder skis than Faction’s perhaps more well known Candide range, which lean more to the freestyle side. The Prime was designed by Swiss skier and mountaineer Sam Anthamatten, who grew up in the shadow of the Matterhorn in Zermatt and spends his days touring around the world’s biggest mountains, so he should know. The stiff tail gives stability but means you can loose control if you get caught in the backseat, so best for expert rather than intermediate skiers.
- Sizes – 170, 177, 182, 189 cm
- Dimensions – 133-108-123 mm
- Radius – 23m (182cm)
‘Best in a Supporting Role, 2018’. The notoriety of Candide Thovex’s signature line of skis from Faction will always render the Prime a side note, but they back up the big star beautifully.
ROSSIGNOL SOUL 7 HD
Now a household name in the world of freeride skis (and rightly so), the Soul 7 has had a makeover for 2018. Even though it is classed as a freeride ski, it performs famously well on piste too, and is the best carver of this year’s freeride skis. Improvements include a new 3D structure for the distinctive honeycomb tip, and a Vibration Absorption System to keep chatter to a minimum.
- Sizes - 156, 164, 172, 180, 188 cm
- Dimensions – 136-106-126 mm
- Radius - 18m (180cm)
Pin a big rosette for ‘Ski of the People, 2018’ on the Soul 7 HD. Expect every third person you see in resort to be riding them.
NORDICA ENFORCER 110
Plenty of tip and tail rocker, a blunt nose and 110mm of waist mean the Enforcer 110 is very much a powder ski. Nordica have taken the success of the Enforcer 100 and combined it with the elements of their now out-dated Patron powder ski, to make a brand new ski that is quick, playful, and versatile.
- Sizes - 169, 177, 185, 191 cm
- Dimensions – 140-110-129 mm
- Radius – 18.5m (185cm)
‘The Iron Lady’. Amongst the most rigid skis this year, but has a softer side if you know how to coax it out. Not For Turning.
About as close as you are likely to get to a surfboard strapped to each foot – enter the Blizzard Spur. It has a specific left and right ski, with design elements taken directly from surf technology, in the belief that powder is more akin to water than solid snow. At 124mm under-foot and only available in 192cm, this is a dedicated powder ski and not for the part timers - usability on anything other than deep powder was clearly not a concern here.
- Sizes – 192 cm
- Dimensions – 144-124-133 mm
- Dual Radius – 26/30m
The use of surfboard curves, and the asymmetry of the design, win the Spur ‘Most Innovative, 2018’.
ELAN RIPSTICK 106
Some all-mountain skis borrow elements of design from traditional on piste carving skis - the Ripstick isn’t one of them. The shape is definitely freeride, with fat tips and tails, lots of early taper, and the rocker to match. However with a waist of 106mm, Elan have delivered something with real manoeuvrability, with a reasonably tight turning radius of only 18.1m for a 181cm ski. Plus the promotional video includes the legendary Glen Plake!
- Sizes – 167, 174, 181, 188 cm
- Dimensions – 140-106-122 mm
- Radius – 18.1m (181cm)
‘Most Likely To Be Used In A World Cup Slalom Race’. Maybe that’s putting it a bit strong, but the tight-turn ability of the Ripstick is unsurpassed in this year’s big mountain class.
After a few years of nothing but fully rockered powder skis from Volkl, the Confession has a refreshing rocker/camber/rocker profile. Yet it is still the most dedicated big mountain ski in their entire line, so able to deal with the deepest snow – it likes to be skied fast and aggressively but responds with serious stability.
- Sizes – 179, 186, 193 cm
- Dimensions – 144-117-133 mm
- Radius – 23.8m (186cm)
‘Heavyweight Champion of the World, 2018’. But just like Anthony Joshua, the secret of their power is their mass.
The K2 Marksman is designed with the help of freestyle-backcountry maestro Pep Fujas, and the playful, trick orientated elements are hallmarks of his influence. As in the Blizzard Spur, it has an asymmetrical sidecut profile, borrowing from surfboard design. Where it stands alone however is the true twin-tip feel, with a recommended dead centre mounting. These are for park skiers who want to take their freestyle abilities under the rope and into the rough stuff.
- Sizes – 170, 177, 184 cm
- Dimensions – 132-106-126 mm
- Radius – 20m (184cm)
And finally the much coveted ‘Steeziest In Show, 2018’ goes to the Marksman. Turn up in the park with these and expect a respectful nod or two from those who know what “cool” looks like.
Feel a little more enlightened about your 2018 ski purchase? We certainly are. And with such high snowfall in the Alps this season to date, it's a great opportunity to venture off-piste with a qualified guide to fully enjoy your new toys.
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