Custom Set

Do a pair of expertly crafted custom skis pay out on the slopes, or is that extra money you spent just vanity underfoot?

Sep 30, 2011
Outside Magazine
The Final Custom Design

The Final Custom Design    Photo: Courtesy of Ski Logik

Until recently, the question of whether you should buy a pair of custom skis designed precisely for your weight, skiing style, and ideal slope conditions was primarily a financial one. Now, thanks to widely available computer design tools, there’s competition in the custom-ski market and fully customized pair of planks will set you back only around $1,300—just a few hundred bucks more than a pair off the shelf.

At that price, the experience may be worth the vanity alone—like wearing a bespoke suit or ordering off-menu. Still, there are a few practical reasons to order a custom pair of skis. The first is size and skiing style. If you’re an ogre of a man who tends to break equipment or a fast-and-light fanatic who needs a pair of carbon-fiber powder boards with telemark flex, the durability of custom skis may be worth the money. The second reason is that a well-designed custom set will probably help you ski better. If you aren’t fighting a ski that is too big, or with flex that’s too stiff, you’ll descend more effortlessly and experience less fatigue. Finally, custom skis are more durable. Boutique builders take pride in their craft and stand behind their product. The materials are carefully selected and constructed to fit tightly—without the flaws that typically lead to breakage. Where a pair of stock skis might be designed with a ten-days-a-year skier in mind, custom builders assume you’ll log 100 every season.

Last year, I decided to dive in to the custom-ski market with the sole intention of satisfying my own vanity. I ended up having a bit of a gear epiphany about their worth. While a good ski maker should steer you effortlessly through the process, here are the main things I learned that will put you ahead in the process.

1. Custom or stock?

2. Start early and save money

3. Know the lingo

4. Be honest

5. Tattoo you

6. Test them and speak up