The top 15 powder skis of 2017-2018

The top 15 powder skis of 2017-2018

Featured Image: Jay Dash

Generally speaking, stiff flex patterns, plenty of camber and wide, stable platforms allow the included 114+ mm freeride skis to charge hard through deep, deep snow. If moving to Alaska to live out your days greasing monolithic spine lines is your recurring daydream, you’d do well to consider the following.

Boisterous, forgiving flex profiles, ultra-beefy waist widths and generous use of rocker highlight the 114+ mm freestyle category. If you wish to pop down plush, powder-topped pillow lines; blast off of bumps along your favorite powder-filled tree run; or send a lofty cork 720 into a bottomless sea of snow; you’ll find your match here.



1. Line Sick Day 114

“Holy sh#t, this was a powerful f#cking ski,” exclaimed one tester about the Sick Day 114. “Super fast, responsive as hell. The hardest charging pow ski out there.” A five-point radius allows for quick- turning maneuverability one minute and reliable, wide-open arcing the next; a stiff tail powers you through your turns; “capwall” (a blend of cap and sidewall) tech sheds weight without sacrificing edge hold; and carbon inserts provide lightweight strengthening. From the hard pack to the bone-rattling chop to the backcountry pow stashes and everywhere in between, this thing is built to rip full-bore. “Cuts clean in deeper snow and is maneuverable, responsive, stable and hard-carving on hard pack,” said another tester. Click here for a closer look.


2. Fischer Ranger 115 XTi

Fischer’s Ranger series offers a wide variety of options, and this is the fattest of ‘em all—producing comments from testers like, “Major good times… Chargy, and cuts up pow like Gucci cuts up bars.” Built to crush powder days both in-and out-of-bounds, a lightweight profile and super-strong construction do wonders. A beech/poplar core teams up with Titanal inserts and camber underfoot to provide a stable ride, paired with freeski rocker that allows you to get playful all over the mountain. And despite the ski’s wide footprint, testers found it to be quite versatile, awarding it with a near-perfect 9.9 score in said category. Click here for a closer look.


3. 4FRNT Massif

The Massif boasts the biggest waistline of the new Uptrack Series, but don’t pigeonhole it as a powder-only ski—our testers gave it a perfect 10 in the versatility category. The 118 mm waist width (123 mm at 189 cm) coupled with rockered tips and tails provide for mighty pleasurable powder skiing experiences, obviously, and a combination of mid-weight poplar and lightweight paulownia in the core keep the ski nimble without any loss of stability outside of soft snow. Neoprene synthetic rubber in the tips helps to decrease chatter for a smooth ride, too. Of its ability to quickly adapt to any situation on the mountain, one tester noted, “You’ll be surfing the powder, then come to an unexpectedly icy patch and have no problem turning on a dime and maneuvering to safety.” Click here for a closer look.


4. Kästle BMX 115

The go-to powder-charging ski of pro skier Griffin Post, Kästle’s BMX 115 proved itself as a true champion during a wild powder day at Snowbird. Testers drooled over its fir/ beech core—yielding a powerful, yet forgiving character—and proceeded to plow through all conditions thanks to tip and tail rocker and low camber underfoot. Speaking of tips, they’re thinned out via the brand’s “Hollowtech” process, which decreases weight and improves dampening for a lighter, yet stable and smooth ride. “I felt like a rockstar on these skis,” said one tester. “They effortlessly sliced through powder, were snappy when needed and held an edge incredibly well in soft snow while nuking through choppy terrain,” one tester exclaimed. Click here for a closer look.


5. Head Kore 117

Don’t let its beefy size fool you; the KORE 117 is quick and nimble like an Olympic gymnast. To complement the ultra-light Karuba wood core, HEAD utilized featherweight yet ultra-strong Graphene—to thin out the ski without loss of stiffness—as well as Koroyd to provide lightweight strength and dampening. Triaxial-woven carbon fiber further stiffens things up while also keeping weight savings in mind, translating to a ski that you can throw around and maneuver through all conditions and terrain, while still powering down hardpack, groomers and steeps. One tester said it was, “snappy and nimble through tight trees and chutes, and darn powerful, too,” while another stated, “fun, responsive and light, a fantastic option for someone seeking a ski of this general width.” Click here for a closer look.


6. Prior Overlord

One look at the shape of this ski and you can tell it exudes power. A rockered, 144 mm-wide tip (yielding a perfect float score), beefy 116 mm waist complete with traditional camber and squared off, 128 mm, rockered tail all aid in this ski’s quest to obliterate deep snow like a Sherman tank rolling into battle. “Mighty powerful ski,” noted one tester, “Rails turns with authority through powder. It’s nimble in tight terrain yet strong and stable at speed through the chop.” Even with its wide body the Overlord remains easily maneuverable thanks to quadraxial-woven fiberglass and two carbon stringers in the core—which reduce weight without sacrificing rigidity—to complement a stiff, sturdy maple wood core. Click here for a closer look.


7. Elan Ripstick 116

If you’re lucky enough to ski deep pow on a regular basis and you’re the type of skier who tends to ski like a Bugatti, the Ripstick 116 might be for you. “Confidence- inspiring ski that can handle anything you throw at it,” said one tester. Another called it “a high-end crud carving machine… a full blown charger that will eat everything in its way.” Like its slimmer Ripstick brethren, the 116 features a cambered inside edge for carving and a rockered outside edge to up the maneuverability factor—meaning you have a designated left and right ski. Two carbon tubes running the length of the ski add torsional rigidity without tacking on weight and a special composite material in the tip and tail eliminates chatter. Click here for a closer look.


8. K2 Pinnacle 118

The Big Kahuna of K2’s Pinnacle series wowed testers on an epic powder day at Snowbird, inspiring adjectives like “poppy,” “playful,” “bossy” and “chargy.” Rockered tips and tails and camber underfoot deliver an ideal blend of playfulness and stability. The use of K2’s Konic Technology—denser fir wood and a metal laminate around the perimeter of the core and lighter weight aspen and fiberglass down the gut—cuts swing weight dramatically. In fact, the 2017-18 Pinnacle 118 is five-percent lighter than previous models. A noticeably svelte swing weight with rock-solid stability, as well? Where do we sign up? Click here for a closer look.


9. Faction Dictator 4.0

“Aptly named, this ski is in charge when you’re at speed,” said one tester about the Dictator 4.0. Another said, “it’s FAST. Like, plowing moguls at 70 mph in a full race carve, fast.” Comments like these should make you want to click into this ski and straight-line a big, beautiful couloir. And when you do, rest assured the Dictator 4.0 has you covered. A lightweight poplar/ paulownia core aids in the weight savings department and dual Titanal layers provide that coveted power. A dual-radius sidecut (smaller up front, bigger in the back) ensures quick response when needed and control and stability through your turn and at speed. To round it out, a healthy dose of tip and tail rocker allows for effortless crud-busting and pow slaying. Click here for a closer look.


1. Black Crows Nocta

The Nocta acquired a perfect score in the float and versatility categories. It can be trusted as your go-to ski whether just a couple of inches have fallen or it’s the best pow day of the season. A 122-mm waist, full reverse camber that promotes easy pivoting and maneuverability in soft snow and a lightweight poplar-paulownia wood core yield a ski that moves with style and grace. One tester noted, “it’s very pivot-friendly, crazy easy to turn and smear around,” while another stated, “floats like a dream, has incredible playfulness in fresh snow and crud.” A third tester said defiantly, “I could use this ski every damn day and be so happy.” Click for a closer look.


2. 4FRNT InThayne

Thayne Rich was born and bred in Salt Lake City, shredding the slopes of Alta. On top of being one of the hardest-charging skiers around—preferring to launch huge backcountry booters, mini golf lines, spines, etc.—he helps build skis for 4FRNT each summer, including his pro model, the InThayne. The ski is for two-plankers who enjoy spinning off of huge natural features into deep, deep snow. The InThayne accommodates those goals with a full reverse camber profile, 122 mm waist, near symmetrical dimensions and a solid maple and aspen wood core to stomp hucks from any height. Click here for a closer look.


3. Faction CT 4.0

“Playful, yet the hardest-charging beast out there,” said one tester about the CT 4.0, pro model of legendary Candide Thovex. Indeed, this ski coolly struts the line between park-like playfulness and supreme stability. One tester said about the ski, “This thing is like a f#cking diving board, BOINGGGGG off the moguls and to the Moon!” That same tester said this ski is ideal for “straight-lining through chunder. So stable at speed and the harder you push the better the ride.” Key features include a symmetrical multi-dimension sidecut; a hint of taper in the tip and tail; a lightweight, hybrid balsa and flax core; sidewall construction; tip and tail rocker with camber underfoot and Titanal reinforcement to cap it all off. Click here for a closer look.


4. Icelantic Nomad 115

This Nomad 115 can travel to the deepest, steepest zones on Earth, then proceed to absolutely slay said terrain and conditions. Hefty tip and tail rocker allow it to float like a cloud and initiate turns like a boss, as does its mega-wide profile; the tip is a whopping 150 mm wide. Camber underfoot and a light-but-stable poplar core instill confidence in anyone who clicks into these things. “This burly ski crushes crud, surfs the white stuff like a dream and is über-responsive to the subtleties of each movement and attempt to turn the ski. If you want a macho ski that’s easy enough to handle, go with this Nomad,” raved one tester. While the Nomad 115 will take you to awe-inspiring peaks the world over, it’s made at home in the USA. Click here for a closer look.


5. Nordica Enforcer Pro

Testers reveled over the stability and float-ability of the Enforcer Pro, offering comments like, “Great charging ski… can lay a helluva turn in deep snow or on hardpack, straight-lines like a champ in the crud and is surprisingly mobile in the trees.” Rockered tips and camber underfoot are largely to thank for this, no doubt. But don’t forget the ski’s inner workings: two sheets of Titanal combine with a light balsa wood core to provide the aforementioned stability without dragging you down. That is to say, she charges hard but is light on her feet—offering a wide variety of skiing prowess. Oh yeah, and it only comes in a 191… Go big or go home, right? Click here for a closer look.


6. J Skis The Friend

Testers awarded The Friend with its highest marks in the versatility category and that’s music to the ears of J Skis founder, Jason Levinthal, who designed this 114-mm-underfoot ski to straddle the line between deep powder performance and frontside groomer destruction. “A great multitasking ski,” said one tester. “This is my favorite fat ski on hardpack, ever,” said another. To achieve that balance, Levinthal utilizes rigid maple wood for torsional stability and power; carbon fiber for added strength without sacrificing weight; and a smooth, multi-radius sidecut. “Really playful ski that loves to bounce all over the mountain and flex like crazy… and still arcs like a race ski.” Hurry, only 120 pairs of this specific graphic will be produced in 2017-18. Click here for a closer look.

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