Big mountains and steep lines require a ski that will plane effortlessly over bottomless snow and provide a stable ride through the runout. These are skis you see in the movies; ones that pros bring on multi-week film shoots in British Columbia, Alaska, and beyond. Take your pick from the best powder skis of the year and prepare for high performance.
Armada Declivity X
Armada’s newest big-mountain weapon—one of the best best powder skis on the market—was designed in collaboration with Tof Henry, one of the baddest freeride skiers to ever come out of Chamonix. Like him, these planks yearn to charge down steep and technical terrain. That’s thanks, in part, to a core that combines lightweight caruba and hardwood stringers for stability, a healthy dose of extended tip rocker and a burly tail that ensures you’re locked in to sweeping, high-alpine turns 22-plus meters in length. This ski is not for the faint of heart but, if you’re ready to charge, you won’t be disappointed.
Elan Ripstick 116
Elan made some improvements to the Ripstick 116 this year, most notably slimming down the tip shape to reduce chatter and any potential tip catch, while rounding off the tail shape to improve its versatility in variable snow. Carbon reinforcements placed on the inside edge of the front two-thirds of each ski keep this wide plank solid at high speed without adding notable weight. It’s playful and surfy on deep powder days, yet incredibly stable and finely tuned to ensure full-throttle capabilities down the steepest big mountain lines.
Head Kore 117
The biggest, baddest offering in the acclaimed Head Kore series, the 117 is the daily driver for big-mountain skiers like Matchstick Productions breakout star Sam Kuch. Offering a near-perfect combination of freeride and freestyle capabilities, it’s definitely one of the best powder skis of the season. The technology “under the hood” takes center stage: extremely lightweight karuba wood provides the ski’s poppy, playful personality while ultra-stiff Graphene in the tips and tails ensure responsiveness. Honeycomb-shaped Koroyd inserts running through the center of the ski add elasticity and energy absorption, too. For the deepest days, skiers who prefer finding the fall line—or a certified “donger” to send—will experience unbeatable stability in this lightweight package.
BTO = Big Time Operator. This pow-slayer is made for skiers who are ready to blitzkrieg the entire mountain, especially when the snow is falling. Folsom’s designers recommend starting with a poplar and bamboo core—but this can be completely customized based on your preferences. The ski, one of the best powder skis around, is then complemented with a laminate made of 90-percent fiberglass and 10-percent carbon fiber blend for weight-savings and dampness. The large, rockered shovel blasts through pow and crud as you make your way down the hill and the sturdy tail with an extended effective edge and shallow rocker allows you to maintain stability and control at high speeds.
Rossignol BlackOps Gamer
It’s time to press play. The BlackOps Gamer is the choice of big-mountain madmen Chris Logan and Parker White for its ability to surf, slash and stomp in the deep end—it’s the ultimate backcountry, powder-pillaging plank. Rossignol designed this progressive, beefy twig with symmetrical rocker for easy forward and switch skiing but didn’t skimp on downhill responsiveness. Inside, an extended poplar wood core with “Damp Tech” inserts in the tips instill a balanced, no-chatter feel while race-inspired Diago Fiber is a lightweight solution to a lively ride. ABS inserts underfoot add to the “stomp” factor but also help with on-edge performance between storms. Powder snow has met its match.
You’ve likely seen Eric “Hoji” Hjorleifson descending spines and stomping abysmally large drops on this ski in the movies—that’s thanks in big part to its trademark, sturdy-as-hell tail flex. The biggest powder tool in 4FRNT’s arsenal and one of the best powder skis at Ski Test, the Renegade has boasted the company’s Reflect Tech design since it first debuted in 2009; the fact that it’s still here is a testament to the quality of the design. Matching a full rocker profile with a progressive sidecut radius, the ski turns and pivots in a highly intuitive manner, allowing you to focus more on the terrain and less on driving the ski.
Pillow poppers, switch landings and photo-worthy pow slashes—that’s what we’re talkin’ about here with the best powder skis of the year. The widest, most playful skis in the Buyer’s Guide, these skis are fine-tuned for floating and surfing through the deep end. When snow is stacking up, these near-symmetric, fully-rockered skis should be your first choice from the quiver.
Fischer Ranger 115 FR
The largest stick in Fischer’s Ranger collection, the 115 FR has a decidedly freestyle shape—but if you’re looking for a floppy pow ski, this is not the one for you. Inside the 115 FR there’s a beefy foundation of beech and poplar wood that’s reinforced with a Titanal plate underfoot for solid binding retention. A healthy dose of tip rocker adds some forgiveness to the ski—but don’t skip leg day at the gym if you want to push this ski to its limit. Wherever you decide to dive into the deep end, you’ll be rewarded with one hell of a fun ride.
Icelantic Nomad 115
A mainstay in the Icelantic lineup, the 115 is the widest of the playful Nomad skis and is relentless in any conditions. It hits hard in chunder and mixed conditions, can crush turns on hardpack but, more importantly, can float on top of pow like Jesus walks on water. Tried and tested on Alaskan spines and steep faces in the Alps, Icelantic’s Hybrid Flight Core—a blend of poplar and paulownia wood—provides effortless pop and unmatched playfulness while three layers of fiberglass provide torsional rigidity to ensure the skis hold up when you push it hard. New for this season, the Nomad 115 is now offered in an additional 186-centimeter length.
Faction Prodigy 4.0
Faction’s Prodigy Series offers directional-style twin tips geared toward hard-charging skiers who ride the line between freestyle and freeride. The Prodigy 4.0 is the fattest in the line with its busty 116-millimeter waist—and we know you’ll love that extra cushion for when you’re pushin’ and planing effortlessly through mid-season, bottomless snowfall. But the Prodigy isn’t all about float: The elliptical side cut, paired with rockered and tapered tips and tails, offers a hefty 22-meter turn radius that can be tamed for all-mountain riding between storms.
Icelantic Saba Pro
Icelantic recently brought its athletes together to build a ski that would cater to their meticulous needs; the result was the Saba Pro. If you’re familiar with the Icey team’s tendency to launch off of enormous cliffs—with pros Julian Carr and Owen Leeper leading the charge— then you wont be surprised to learn that this ski is built to stomp. Born in the USA, the foundation of the Saba Pro is based on a poplar and paulownia wood core. And it features all-new Reflective Rocker, a full rocker profile that mirrors the sidecut radius, allowing the ski to fully engage from tip-to-tail when trenching on hardpack but allows for a playful, surfy ride when shredding powder.
If you like charging—and landing switch—as you ride through pillowy powder playgrounds, the InThayne should be your pick of the litter. Here, the aspen and maple wood core is complemented by carbon fiber for a solid, yet poppy ski that you can manipulate to do whatever you please. Flat camber underfoot (that doesn’t inhibit carving hardpack) gradually gives way to lengthy tip and tail rocker, so you can smear, pivot, boost and stomp when your imagination runs wild. This ski is meant for people who are serious about fun, like its designer, pro skier Thayne Rich. Also, Thayne skis like a badass. Be more like Thayne.
Atomic Bent Chetler 120
For over a decade, Chris Benchetler’s pro model ski has been a staple in the ski community, the surf-inspired construction always promoting new interpretations on the downhill. Inside, nothing has changed year-over-year. The three-dimensional HRZN Tech tips and tails provide ample float in deep snow, channeling a surfy style for big-mountain lines; there’s a large, forgiving sweet spot for landing big airs, arching turns and popping pillows; full sidewalls and a poplar wood core for a combination of stability and weight-savings. If owning a pair of beautifully designed skis is on your bucket list, the latest iteration of the Bent Chetler 120— featuring all-new graphics—should be on your radar this season.