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 all-mountain 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 essential the opposite to camber. It’s the upwards curve into the ski profile, usually in the tips and tails. 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.
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, or even the norm, to see Rocker-Camber-Rocker blends in all-mountain ski designs 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. This blend combines all the good stuff of camber and rocker together to create an extremely versatile rocker profile.
Presented by brands as ‘120 / 95 / 115’ this figure shows the width of the tips (first number), waist (second number), and tail (third number) in millimetres. When combined (also taking the amount of tapering into account), 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.
All-mountain skis with a longer radius are stable at speed through long turns, while skis with a shorter radius are easier to turn, and to create shorter snappier turns.
It’s important to take the waist width of an all-mountain ski into account 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 80 – 110mm are great for all-mountain riding. This does, however, depend on where you’re riding. If you’re in BC then you’re going to favour a wider all-mountain ski, but if you’re usually skiing on the East Coast, then you’ll most likely favour a narrower all-mountain ski.
Waist widths of 110mm + become a little more focused towards powder riding.