Here’s a bit of a dive into the features to look out for when making your next all-mountain ski purchase:
Giving the ski heaps of bite in firm snow, camber is quite simply an all-mountain skis best friend. This grip has been achieved thanks to a rise in the ski which starts underfoot and stretches to the tips and tails. The rise means that when the ski is weighted (flexed), it will have an even distribution of weight throughout the whole length of the ski rather than exclusively at its midpoint.
The use of camber can vary massively between skis. Expect to find 1 mm – 6 mm of camber on a pair of all-mountain skis, blended in with rocker both in the tips and tails, which we’ll touch on next.
Rocker is the term used for the pressing of an upwards curve into the ski profile. By rising the tips and tails up off the snow, it means that the tips don’t have a tendency to ‘tip-dive’ into fresh snow even when the skier is driving the tips. For that reason, rocker is used by ski shapers to promote float (and easy manoeuvrability) in fresh snow.
On top of this, rocker also shortens the contact length of the edges, making the skis easier to turn in fresh, whereas a ski without rocker might just sink / plough through the fresh snow.
Fully ‘rockered’ skis will have minimal contact points on the snow, as the tips and tails are heavily raised above the surface. This makes for an extremely manoeuvrable ski at the cost of bite on firm snow. If you’re in the market for an all-mountain ski, then we’d suggest looking for skis that use a subtle bit of rocker both in the tips and tails, and reserve the heavily rockered profiles for your powder boards.
It’s common to see Rocker-Camber-Rocker blends in ski design these days. Take a look out for our ski profile shots found within each ski review to see how much camber and rocker the ski in question carries.
Usually presented in the format of ‘126 / 100 / 108’ this figure shows the width of the tips (first number), waist (second number), and tail (third number). When combined, the sidecut also gives the radius (in metres) of the ski in question.
This radius is the distance the ski would travel to make a turn, if you were to put it on edge and follow the shape that the sidecut creates. For example, the set of numbers in the paragraph above represent a radius of 25 metres for 180cm ski.
Waist widths are important for backcountry skiing as the more surface area you’re carrying underfoot, the more chance you have of floating through fresh snow. On the flip side, smaller waist widths have more bite on firm snow as power from your boot can be directly driven to the edges of the skis.
The waist width of a ski will give you a very rough understanding of what the ski is most suited towards. In modern skis, widths of 90 – 110mm are great for all-mountain riding (depending on your style) whereas widths of 110mm + become a little more focused towards powder riding.