Ski Widths Explained | The Ski Workshop

Choosing the right ski width is essential. Here's our how to guide

The wider the ski, the better, right? Well only if you are lucky enough to be skiing the finest bottomless Alaskan or Japanese powder. Most of us aren’t coming close to skiing these conditions so choosing the right ski width takes a little more finesse.

Sticking to skinny piste skis can leave you floundering in the first hint of fresh while cruising the groomers on your powder skis will leave you side slipping and skidding top to bottom. An avid skier will have a quiver of widths and styles to suit any condition. If you’re limited to a single pair then you will be best trying to find something in the middle ground not too fat not too skinny; the goldilocks ski so to speak.

Looking at the numbers, it’s the waist width in mm that is often the headline of the ski categories and what many will refer to on their hunt for a new pair. We’ve broken down these widths into some very rough categories to help you understand what you might be looking for in each.

65 – 80mm – Piste / Carving Skis

Piste skis generally sit in the region of 65 to 80 mm. This waist width correlates to the optimum transfer of force, feeling and grip from your foot to the snow. With this dimension you are able to stand directly on top of the edge of the ski as it bites into the piste. Nothing comes close to this feeling but the payoff is the challenge that comes with any fresh snow.

80 – 100 mm – All-Mountain Skis

80 – 100 mm waist widths represent the all-mountain ski category; something you could ski on and off of the piste, across the entire resort. This balances edge grip with the added float for softer snow. The all-mountain ski category will often be the go-to choice for a lot of people.

95 – 115+ mm – Freeride / Powder Skis

Looking at freeride skis for resort and backcountry usually sit in the region of 95 – 115 mm. Above 115 mm you are looking at soft snow or powder specific skis. Skinnier freeride skis can still offer high performance on hard snow along with float in the deep stuff. But, saying that, you won’t be able to transfer the same grip and power as you would on a sub 80 mm ski as your foot won’t be sitting directly on top of the edge.

This waist width component is a very rough way to categoriae skis and will split opinion based on personal style and regions that you’re skiing in. For example, in Europe, where the snowfall total is often lower, a 110 mm powder ski would be considered fairly fat, whereas in North America there is a tendency to ski a 110 mm waist everyday and a 125 mm waist for powder days.

For a lot of us looking to ski a little bit of everything then an all-mountain ski in the 80-100 mm width will tick a lot of boxes providing plenty of grip on most groomers whilst only being undergunned on the deepest of pow days.


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