If you're a skier who spends most of your time out West and wants a one-ski quiver that can handle everything from nine inches of fresh to chunked-up chutes, look at one of the eight planks below.
Rossignol Soul 7
Best For: Having buckets of fun.
The Test: For many skiers, this is still the best blend of relaxed playfulness and high-speed stability on the market. The rest of the industry is scrambling to match what Rossi achieved with its weight-reducing honeycomb tips, well-designed taper (the ski enters and exits turns effortlessly), and relatively long effective edge for immense carving pleasure.
The Verdict: Probably the best tool for skiing steep trees ever invented. 136/106/126
Price $850 Overall 5 Carving 4
Fischer Ranger 108 Ti
Best For: Lightweight skiers tired of pushing hefty planks around.
The Test: A carbon nose paired with Fischer’s proprietary milled-out Air Tec body delivers a core about 25 percent lighter than those in its competitors’ skis. That weight savings and the rocker let us whip around trees and slice through powder. But the 108 is no noodle. Wood and titanium keep the ride smooth, while camber under--foot generates good energy return for a ski this fat.
The Verdict: Light enough for the backcountry, the 108 is best suited to skiers who weigh less than 160 pounds. 140/108/130
Price $850 Overall 5 Carving 4.5
Best For: Traveling light to Utah or Whistler.
The Test: At 108 millimeters wide, with both rocker and tip taper, this ski is buoyant enough for all but the deepest days. The flat tail lets you engage the edges through the end of the turn. And a keen construction technique saves weight without sacrificing ride quality. Our testers called it “light,” “playful,” and “ridiculously powerful.”
The Verdict: You could ski nothing but western groomers on the 100Eight and be perfectly happy. 141/108/124
Price $825 Overall 5 Carving 4.5
Best For: Smearing and carving.
The Test: Waist width matters more than any other ski attribute. Ride mostly hardpack? An 80-to-90-millimeter waist is best. Primarily go off-trail and chase storms? You’ll want a 108-millimeter paddle like the playful Cochise. This ski has ample rocker for sloughing around in deep snow—minus the tip chatter when you hit chunder. But with a wood core backed by two sheets of Titanal, you can also carve.
The Verdict: Way more surfy and easier to ski than its predecessor—without sacrificing any power in crud. 136/108/122
Price $900 Overall 5 Carving 4.5
Dynastar Cham 2.0 107
Best For: Strong skiers who go fast.
The Test: Like a downhill mountain bike, the old Cham started working properly only above 45 miles per hour. Not so the Cham 2.0, which has well-balanced flex. We fell into the ski’s sweet spot, smearing and buttering at a range of speeds. But unlike most of the skis here, it offers great high-end energy return and stability when you open up the throttle.
The Verdict: The ski we’d grab if we had to outrun an avalanche. But we’d happily deploy it in six inches of fresh, too. 137/107/122
Price $800 Overall 5 Carving 5
Best For: Skiing pure powder.
The Test: The Q-105 is the skinniest ski here, but it’s also the most buoyant. That’s testament to how the right mix of rocker, camber, tip taper, and weight savings can out-perform straight-up girth. It was easy to pivot and smear in trees but was still up for point and shoot: there’s ample directional stability for going fast in open country. Note: it does get a bit squirrelly on icy groomers.
The Verdict: “A superlight, crazy nimble ski that floats effortlessly,” said one tester. 136/105/128
Price $725 Overall 4.5 Carving 5
Nordica NRGy 107
Best For: Railing carved turns between dumps.
The Test: The NRGy 107 was the best ski of this group on groomers, with a sheet of titanium alloy that added pop without weight. A flat tail lets you power through the end of the turn. And the poplar core and ample tip rocker give you just enough float to blast over boot-deep snow.
The Verdict: On a powder day, are you more likely to (A) squirrel around in the trees for the last scraps, or (B) haul down the middle of the run? If (B), you’ve found your ski. 137/107/125
Price $849 Overall 4 Carving 4
Atomic Automatic 109
Best For: High-speed pow turns.
The Test: This is consistently one of the best western skis we test. To save weight, Atomic went with a poplar core (instead of heavy ash or fir) backed by carbon “power boosters.” Rocker extends 25 percent of the way down the shovel of the ski. But there’s real camber underfoot. That meant we could push the 109 to top speed in 17 inches of fresh but still rail it up on edge. Lightweights should downsize, as this is a beefy, powerful ride.
The Verdict: The fattest plank here (barely), it’s the best option for off-trail skiing. 134/109/124
Price $725 Overall 5 Carving 4.5