For some people, skiing is something the whole family can enjoy together over the holidays. For others (like us), skiing is life — all responsibilities get sidelined during winter months to spend every imaginable moment on the mountain. No matter which side you fall on, everyone can agree that skiing is a great way to make a few happy memories during the winter months. And using a set of skis that suits your abilities, style, and terrain preference can make or break your time on the slopes.
What to Look for in Skis
Skis have come a long way from being long, skinny, metal-infused planks. And we understand that to the untrained eye, buying skis can be quite overwhelming, due to the never-ending range of shapes, designs, and features, each boasting their own “unique” advantages. To help you be less intimidated and more informed, we’ll explain the most important factors to consider.
All-mountain skis are made to roam the entire mountain, including groomed runs, moguls, and even powder. An all-mountain front ski has a thinner waist and is best for high speeds and hard carves on groomed terrain. An all-mountain back ski has a fatter waist, which helps this ski in unmaintained areas. Powder skis are the fattest of them all, and their best use is for first tracks in knee-deep snow. And those are just a few types.
Rocker and Camber
Camber is the upside-down arc underneath the center of the ski, which contacts the ground when you stand on the ski. Camber helps you initiate and finish turns, and it gives the ski a sense of energy. Rocker is the upturned portion of the ski at the tip and tail. A larger rocker in the front improves flotation on powder, but this reduces the proportion of ski that is in contact with the ground, which can decrease stability at high speeds and compromise power in turns.
The length you choose depends on many things, including experience level, terrain preference, height, and weight. Generally speaking, a heavier expert male will ride longer skis, while a lighter, less-experienced male of the same height will size down. Length should not be a guess, though — use this chart to figure out what dimensions suit you best.
A ski’s width is measured in millimeters at the widest part of the tip, the narrowest part of the waist, and the widest part of the tail (referred to as “tip-waist-tail”). Of these measurements, waist width is the most relevant, as it directly affects performance. Generally speaking, a narrower waist (under 90–95 millimeters) is best for frontside skiing, a wider waist (95–105 millimeters) is an all-mountain ski, and anything bigger (105 millimeters and above) thrives in unmaintained conditions. A ski that's too narrow won’t float well in powder, and a fat ski might be harder to manage on groomers, so it’s important to consider the trade-offs based on what type of terrain you frequent.
Note: The number in each product title below refers to the waist width (example: Armada's Edollo 98 has a waist width of 98 millimeters).
How We Chose Our Picks
2020 has been quite the wild ride thus far, and we think that a killer ski season leading into 2021 is the best chance at redemption. And though there is still some uncertainty about how resorts will operate within social distancing guidelines, both the Epic and Ikon passes, the two largest groups of mountains with season passes, plan to operate with some COVID-specific protocols to keep guests safe. And we couldn't be more excited that the lifts will be running this season.
To us, skiing is life. Seriously. We literally make zero weekend plans — other than skiing — for 4–5 months, so we never have to miss a powder day. And we hope you are just as stoked as us. So we've combined our obsession for skiing with our knowledge of the industry to provide you the most relevant information in hopes that you, too, will feel the stoke.
To compile this list of 2021's best men's skis, our editors thoroughly examined a wide variety. We carefully considered design, shape, construction, size, and style (duh). Some skis were selected based on positive firsthand testing experiences, and others were chosen based on hours of research on current technology, trends, and surveys of user reviews.
Best Men's Skis
Best Overall: Faction CT 3.0 Skis 2021
Best Budget: Line Sick Day 88 Skis 2021
Best Powder Ski: Atomic Bent Chetler 120 Skis 2021
Best Western Resort Ski: Nordica Enforer 94 Skis 2021
Best East Coast Ski: Blizzard Brahma 82 Skis 2021
Best Backcountry Ski: DPS Skis Wailer A112 RP Skis
Best Beginner Ski: Volkl Deacon XT Skis w/ V-Motion 10 GW Bindings 2021
Best Park Ski: Armada Edollo Skis 2021
Best Looking Ski: Volkl Revolt 124 Ski 2021
Check out our picks for the best skis of 2020–2021, including beginner options for the learner, intermediate skis for the all-mountain explorer, and expert planks that can slay the toughest lines.
Pro: Rips all over the mountain
Con: Not ideal for beginners
Looking for one ski that thrives in all conditions? Look no further than Faction's CT 3.0 — a true "one-ski quiver" that can float on deep powder, weave carefully in tight trees, blast through afternoon slush, and charge down groomers to be first in line for après-ski — all in a day's work. They are designed by and named after skiing legend, Candide Thovex — the only skier to win all three X Games disciplines and the Freeride World Tour — so there's no doubt these babies will rip.
The CT is offered in five different styles, from 1.0 to 5.0, each with a progressively wider waist. But we've found the 3.0 to be the most versatile in the lineup. It features a stiffer, directional flex with a rocker-camber-rocker profile and true twin tips, so it's aimed at experienced skiers who want power and control to rage without fear, but who also like to jib and butter when the boys are out to play.
We were skeptical about riding such a wide ski (112-millimeter waist) on a resort day — even with powder lines to be found — but were pleasantly surprised. This ski held an edge on big, wide, hard-pack carves, surfed over powder stashes with ease, and did it all with a bit of snap. That's why it's our favorite all-mountain backside ski and our choice for the best overall ski of 2021.
Men's Faction CT 3.0 Skis: Four different lengths are available, but the most popular model is 184 centimeters long and measures 140-112-134 (tip-waist-tail, in millimeters).
Best Budget Ski
Pros: Easy to ski, affordable
Con: Wider versions cost more
As the slimmest in the Sick Day lineup (88 millimeters underfoot), this is a remarkable ski for guys who mostly stick to groomers, but like to play around on side hits as well. The design and build quality here is comparable to skis that cost upwards of $600, which is what makes the $400 Sick Day 88 our pick for Best Budget Ski.
The Sick Day 88's shape caters to intermediate skiers who are upgrading from rentals. It features an early-rise rocker tip, which means the tip begins to rise closer to the center of the ski, making it easier to push through choppy, variable conditions. It also has a directional flex — the ski is stiff in the tip, and gets progressively stiffer toward the tail — which helps the skier initiate turns more easily and finish them with power, and improves stability at higher speeds. It's also a much lighter ski than you'd expect (just 3.6 pounds each), thanks to a full aspen-wood core, so smaller and less experienced skiers are able to maneuver them with less effort. Sounds like an expensive ski, right? Wrong.
Line Sick Day 88: The unisex 2021 Sick Day 88s are available in multiple lengths, all measuring 127-88-113 wide (tip-waist-tail, in millimeters). If you're trying to upgrade from beginner's gear, or if you're a learner who wants a ski to grow into, it's tough to find more bang for your buck. And if you're looking for something wider, consider Line's Sick Day 94 and Sick Day 104 instead.
Best Powder Ski
Pro: Surfy on powder
Con: Only good off-piste
If Jackson Hole’s nearly vertical walls are your warm-up, and a waist-deep powder day is more exciting than Christmas morning (we get it), then Atomic's Bent Chetler should be your powder ski. It’s the go-to ski for The North Face’s powder-obsessed athlete Sage Cattabriga-Alosa and 14-year old phenom Kai Jones (who skis the "mini" teen's size), so there's no doubt that it's worth your praise. You may need a different ski for low-key days at the resort, but if you're looking (and have the funds) for a powder-only ski for big backcountry lines, these are absolute bombers.
The standout technology here is what Atomic calls HRZN Tech — a horizontal rocker shape that adds 10% more surface area to the ski's tip — which reduces tip deflection and allows this ski to float like a surfboard. And rather than building the Bent Chetler with a full rocker shape (which is common in dedicated powder skis), Atomic used a significant amount (40%) of camber underfoot, which allows you to grab hold of ice and carve when steep lines turn sketchy.
This ski features a poplar-wood core that dampens big landings, and a Carbon Backbone insert that increases stability without the extra weight. They're not for everyone, but expert skiers hoot and holler when they get send-y on these bad boys.
Men’s Atomic Bent Chetler 120: The best-selling model is 184 centimeters long and measures 143-120-134 millimeters wide (tip-waist-tail, in millimeters). Women can ride them, too — just ask Atomic athlete Arianna Ticomi. Teens can even ride the Mini Bent Chetler.
Best Western Resort Ski
Pros: Make it easy to advance, rips on groomers
Con: Tips may chatter if you're not on edge
Nordica's Enforcer 94 continues its performance as a forgiving all-mountain in-bounds ski since its introduction in 2017. For any intermediate to advanced skier who spends most of the day riding fast on groomed, frontside blues, the Enforcer will bring smiles from ear to ear — which made it an easy choice for Best Western In-Bounds Ski.
What sets the Enforcer apart from similar all-mountain skis is its 50% camber profile (more than most). "So what?" you ask. This provides a longer effective edge for better grip, more power from less effort when turning on its 17-meter turning radius, and a solid amount of pop. It also features True Tip technology, which is trimmed to be lower, broader, and lighter than many rockered ski tips, thus increasing edge contact (even more) and reducing unwanted vibrations.
Frontside skiers will love the dampening abilities of this ski at high speeds, thanks to the Energy 2 Titanium construction. Two Titanal metal layers sandwich a carbon and balsa wood core, providing top-notch stability when racing a friend from peak to base. Go from average to well-above when you click in to the Enforcers.
Men’s Nordica Enforcer 94: The most popular men’s model is 179 centimeters long and measures 127-94-115 wide (tip-waist-tail, in millimeters).
Best East Coast Ski
Pros: Grippy and stable on icy slopes
Con: Too stiff for beginners
East Coast skiers, who are more accustomed to ice and sketch than fluffy stuff, are all about these Blizzard skis. The narrower dimensions dimensions deliver the just-right combination of edge grip, responsiveness, quick maneuverability, and stability.
What differentiates this ski from others in this list, making it an “East Coast ski,” are its thinner dimensions (82-centimeter waist width) and stiffer flex. A skinnier waist is easier to roll from edge to edge, so you spend less time searching for grip, and more time making quick carves. It’s a much firmer ski than others, too, which is ideal for going fast on hard-pack and ice, but not for powder or parks. It’s the perfect ski for intermediate to advanced skiers in warmer climates who like to ride hard, fast, and in control (of course).
Blizzard Brahma 82 Skis: The most popular men’s model is 173 centimeters long and measures 121-82-105 wide (tip-waist-tail, in millimeters).
Best Backcountry Ski
Pro: Great for backcountry powder searching
With all the pandemic-related uncertainty about ski resort operation this coming winter, outdoorspeople are flocking to the backcountry because there's no crowd, no lines, and better snow. For backcountry skiing, there's a constant battle between weight and performance when deciding on a set of planks. When skinning uphill, every ounce matters, so a lightweight ski with a touring binding is ideal. But for the downhill, a lightweight setup can leave you skiing more cautiously than normal. Until now — DPS has found a way to blend both uphill and downhill performance.
The proprietary technology here is DPS' Alchemist Pure Carbon. Two layers of carbon, with added dampening materials, sandwich an aspen wood core. This delivers a ski that is strong and confident on the descent, yet relatively lightweight (just 4.2 pounds each) for a more enjoyable ascent. It's so damp and stable that it performs similarly to many downhill alpine skis, with minimal vibration and chatter, for a feel that's predictable and will keep you coming back for more.
True to DPS form, the Alchemist is quite the splurge — but those who ride purely backcountry will find this a worthy investment.
Men’s Alchemist Wailer 112: The most popular men's version is 184 centimeters long and measures 140-112-128 wide (tip-waist-tail, in millimeters).
Best Beginner Ski
Pro: Great for learning
Con: You'll probably outgrow them
Learning to ski? No need to get discouraged. Everything about this set from Volkl is intended to make things easier, so you can spend less time focusing on "pizza, french fry," and more time carving. This pair even comes with bindings, so you're one step closer to good times, with fewer tough decisions to be made.
The most beginner-friendly feature of these Volks skis is the shape, with a slight tip rocker and a tapered tail. This design provides increased contact with the snow, basically initiating turns for you, and effortlessly holding an edge throughout — even in the icy Midwest or East Coast. This shape also improves stability should you start to pick up speed as you get better. The only downside we see is that it might make learning too easy, so good students could outgrow them rather quickly — that's why you'll see these used as rentals at ski shops everywhere.
Volkl Deacon XT Skis w/ V-Motion 10 GW Bindings 2021: The most popular length of this unisex ski measures 124-76-105 (tip-waist-tail, in millimeters). Bindings are included but not pre-mounted. And there are a plethora of other Deacon models for skiers of all sizes, shapes, and abilities.
Best Park Ski
Want to stomp 50-foot rail slides and be a urban-skiing park-monster like Armada athlete and seven-time X-Games gold medalist Henrik Harlaut? Best to start with the sickest skis. The Edollo — built by and for Henrik — is made for slaying any- and everything in the park and pipe, yet versatile enough to ski the rest of the mountain's natural features.
At the foundation of this build is Armada's Comp Series base and 2.2 Impact Edges — both designed to resist damage from rails and boxes. Its medium-soft flex pattern makes presses and butters a routine part of every run, while the poplar-ash core adds the snap, crackle, and pop that your style needs. Coupled with some of 2021's craziest artwork, all you need to complete the package is some practice and a bag of tricks.
Men's Armada Edollo 98: The most popular men's version is 172 centimeters long and measures 131-98-121 wide (tip-waist-tail, in millimeters).
Pro: Eye-catching graphics
Con: Not for the faint of heart
Chosen mainly for the flashy, ridiculously eye-catching graphics, Volkl's new Rovolt 121's are some of the best-looking sticks around. They really shine in the deep stuff, too — if you have the skills (and enough snow) to manage them.
The Revolt, with a 121 millimeter waist, is obviously tailored at big mountain powder lines, but it's also designed for freestyle riding off the mountain's natural park-like features. The tip and tail are rockered for maximum float whether you're riding forward or switch, and they're tapered for playfulness to help you butter like a park rat. If you want a ski that will grab all the attention, click into these sexy beasts from Volkl.
Volkl Revolt 121: The most popular men's version is 182 centimeters long and measures 143-121-135 wide (tip-waist-tail, in millimeters).
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