Skiing is an exciting sport that allows for many different and individualized approaches to the sport. Every skier has their own style that reflects the type of terrain they like to ski, as well as different techniques that showcase their abilities on the mountain. Sometimes these differences in style dictate the need for specialized equipment and these days it’s pretty easy to get a lot of ski equipment that caters specifically to your preferences.
While you might have a need for a special type of ski if you love to venture into the backcountry and bounce around the terrain park, many skiers like to have an option that lets them carve up the mountain with parallel turns. Carving skis are designed to allow you to turn quickly and efficiently, making those fun s-curves through the snow that all skiers love.
This article will take a look at some of the best choices for carving skis that are currently on the market. Whether you’re getting a set of skis for the first time, or if you just want a great all-around option to add to your arsenal, the following options are perfect for any skier who wants to have fun in any type of terrain while making carving turns down the entire mountain.
- Quick Summary
- Who Should Get This
- Best Carving Skis in 2020: What to Consider
- Best Carving Ski in 2020: Our Picks
- Useful Tips & Resources
- Final Thoughts
- The top two carving skis in terms of performance are the Icelantic Pioneer and the Volkl Mantra M5.
- If you stick to resort skiing and want options that can tackle any inbounds option, take a look at the Solomon QST and the Head Kore.
- The Icelantic Riveter and the Nordica Santa Ana are some of the best women’s carving skis around.
- Skiers on a budget who still want a high quality model should check out the Line Sick Day 88.
- The Fischer Ranger 99 Ti is another great all-around carving ski.
Who Should Get This
Carving skis are best suited for those who like to make solid ski turns just about anywhere on the mountain. These skis have a unique design that makes them versatile enough to handle any condition while allowing you to excel while focusing on parallel turning. If you get yourself any of the skis listed in this guide, it can help your carving abilities and allow you to tackle most varieties of terrain on the mountain.
Carving skis also make for a great first pair of skis for anyone looking to get their own gear. These skis allow you to easily ski with great form and let you have a great time doing it. Even if you own multiple sets of skis, it’s always great to have a carving setup in your quiver because they will allow you to enjoy the fun of carving regardless of the conditions you find yourself in.
If you’re looking for a dedicated ski for a specific style, carving skis might not be the way to go. They are able to adapt to turn well and hand varying conditions but are not designed for any one single style. If you are strictly a backcountry skier or a ski racer, these carving options should not be your first choice. Rather, search for something more niche.
Best Carving Skis in 2020: What to Consider
As with other skis, carving skis vary in width. When making your purchase, always remember that a wider ski does better in deep snow and a narrow ski does better at high speeds. The width can also come down to personal preference and is also affected by both height and weight.
Ski width is measured in millimeters. You may not think that a few millimeters will make that much of a difference in overall performance, but it truly does. A good range to look for in a carving ski is anywhere from 85mm to 100mm. These skis sit right in the Goldie Locks zone of not being too wide and not being too narrow.
When picking out width, always consider the terrain in which you ski. If you like to go fast and don’t anticipate too much powder skiing, a narrower width (even under 90mm) will be just fine. If you live in an area that frequently gets hit with big storms, you’ll probably want an option of 100mm or more so you can handle deep snow.
It is important to consider your ski’s stiffness as well. Always try to match your stiffness up to your skiing ability. Advanced skiers want a stiff ski because they push at high speeds and need something that can handle extreme conditions. Beginner skiers will want something much more forgiving.
If an advanced skier uses a soft ski, they will easily notice a loss of performance on the mountain. That can be really disappointing if you love to go fast and demand high performance out of your gear. Beginners with a really stiff ski will find it difficult to turn and maneuver, which can inhibit their ability to improve. You want to make sure you match your abilities on the mountain to the stiffness of your skis.
The variations in stiffness come down to construction. Most skis feature a multi-layered wood core design that is often backed up with some kind of metal. Different types of wood can have different flexibilities and an all-wood construction made of a flexible wood will lead to a less stiff ski. Skis that feature metal in their design will have a stiffer feel and are typically catered more towards high performance.
Most carving skis have a somewhat similar shape. Most go with a shaped design that will allow you to turn and carve with ease. Older ski shapes were pretty straight but more current designs have a focus on the parabolic or hourglass shape that can really help your carving abilities.
Beyond shape, always consider profile (also known as the camber and rocker). Camber is a crescent-like shape that keeps your tip and tail down on the snow while allowing the underfoot area to sit a little bit above it. This is a classic shape and is good for more hard-packed and groomed conditions. Camber is popular with carving skis but not as popular with other modern ski designs.
Rocker in reference to a ski’s profile. It means that the tip and tail sections of a ski are shaped upwards away from the snow. This is sometimes also known as reverse camber and is now very common among many different ski types. This profile helps a lot in deep powder conditions and makes for a nice versatile shape. However, note that extreme rocker can sacrifice stability at high speeds.
These profile considerations vary widely from ski to ski. You might have a personal preference when it comes to rocker or camber, and you might now. If you don’t know which ones best suit your style, I would recommend a slightly rockered profile with a camber mix for a carving ski. This will give you the benefits of each profile alongside extra versatility.
Ski length is usually decided upon by your physical height, but it can come down to your abilities or preference as well. If you’re an expert skier who wants a high-performing option, you will want a longer ski. Longer skis typically hold up better at high speeds and also provide more surface area for going through deep powder conditions.
A shorter ski length is easier to turn, which makes them better suited for beginners but also for carving in general. Shorter skis also weigh less. If you’re a small skier or like to pop around in the trees or bumps, you might want to go with a shorter length. If you’re unsure what length of ski you like, you might want to rent a few different sizes before making a final purchase.
Best Carving Ski in 2020: Our Picks
1. Best Overall Carving Ski: Icelantic Pioneer
For a great carving ski that’s sure to perform well in just about any skiing situation, check out the Icelantic Pioneer. These skis are extremely versatile, and they have an excellent shape that works in all conditions and are built to carve. They feature a tapered shape that’s designed to give you better turning abilities and increased float in deep snow. The Pioneer will allow you to explore the mountain with ease.
These skis have a nice tip and tail rockered profile that makes big mountain skiing easily accessible, while their slight camber also means they can carve and slice through packed out conditions. The skis have a flexible-but-strong Poplar wood core that doesn’t give up any stiffness. They come available in several lengths, allowing them to match the needs of any skier.
- Great carving option
- Tapered shape
- Sturdy construction
- Tip and tail rocker
- Not much of a downside with these skis
Another excellent choice for a carving ski is the Volkl Mantra M5. Volkl is a well-known brand that excels at big-mountain and race designs. The Mantra combines the best of both worlds to offer excellent all-mountain versatility without sacrificing a second of speed. These skis have a more traditional profile which makes them great for carving turns with camber underfoot and only a slightly rockered tip and tail.
This is a capable and versatile ski that features a multi-layer wood core construction that has a lot of flex and quick response. This means the skis will turn on a dime while cutting through big powder lines and crud without blinking. They are also capable of tackling big-mountain lines and deliver excellent maneuverability.
- Excellent performance at high speeds
- Great control and feel under varying conditions
- Unique profile
- Respected brand
- Not suited for beginner skiers
- On the wider end for a carving option
3. Best Carving Resort Ski: Solomon QST
If you’re looking for a carving ski that can rip up the resort on any day of the season, you’ll want to try the Solomon QST. This is a versatile ski that offers a ton of power and stability to skiers of all varieties. The skis feature a tip-to-tail carbon layered design that offers a lot of strength and allows them to hold up at high speeds.
What stands out most on the QST is their agility. They are playful and responsive while also offering the power and stability needed to tackle any condition. They also feature cork damplifier technology in the tip that creates excellent stability. These skis are designed to cut and coast through any and all conditions with ease. Perfect for a solid all-around carving resort ski.
- Great all-around performance
- Tremendous power transfer
- Stiff and sturdy
- Edge control is slightly lost at speed
4. Head Kore
The Head Kore makes for another great option in the carving ski category. These skis have a solid tip and tail rocker and the profile provides versatility thanks to the camber underfoot. That combination makes the skis rip at speed and float with ease in the deep stuff while carving turns through it all.
The Head Kore features a lightweight karuba wood core design that’s further strengthened by Graphene laminate. That combination makes the skis easy to maneuver while also providing the strength to bust through constant crud. For a lightweight and easy-to-turn option that’s fully capable and always fun, look no further than the Head Kore.
- Fun carving option
- Easy to maneuver
- All-mountain profile
- Not as capable in big-mountain conditions
- A little sloppy at high speeds
5. Best Women’s All-Mountain Ski: Icelantic Riveter
For a great women’s carving ski, check out the Icelantic Riveter. These skis have a unique tapered shape that’s intended to increase their turning ability while offering extra float in deep snow conditions. They have a tip-and-tail rockered profile combined with 7mm of camber underfoot to provide a versatile design that’s more than capable in any and all conditions.
Icelantic is well-known for making supremely strong and durable skis that have an excellent warranty. They have a solid wood core construction as well. The Riveter is for any woman who wants the versatility of an all-mountain ski with awesome carving, strength, and performance.
- Best women’s specific option
- Unique shape
- Solid profile for all-mountain conditions
- Strong and durable
- Great warranty
- Not great for beginner skiers
The Nordica Santa Ana is another great women’s carving ski. These stand out due to their ability to cut through cruddy snow and handle big mountain lines without skipping a beat. They are a versatile and reliable option for women who need to tackle all parts of the mountain but love to carve. Strong and flexible, these skis are designed to handle everything you throw at them.
These feature a lightweight balsa wood construction that adds plenty of play and flexibility in addition to a carbon chassis that provides strength and stability. They have a great rocker profile that holds up well in all-mountain applications and is one of the best choices for women.
- A little chatty at high speeds
7. Best Budget Carving Ski: Line Sick Day 88
The Line Sick Day 88 is an awesome carving ski for anyone on a budget. While these skis might not be the list’s top performer, their excellent value makes for a solid overall performance. These are a great choice for any skier looking to add a carving ski to their closet without spending a ton of money.
This ski’s dimensions make it better-suited for the resort rather than big-mountain and backcountry conditions. Even so, it can hold its own under a variety of various terrains and situations. They are also very lightweight and agile, which makes them an excellent option for beginners. Fun and affordable, these skis won’t win top honors, but they are a solid budget choice.
- Easy to maneuver
- Great for beginners
- Not suited for those looking for high-end performance
- Chatty at high speed
Another good carving option is the Fischer Ranger 99 Ti. Fischer’s ranger line comes in a variety of widths, but the 99mm option listed here is perfectly suited for all-mountain aspirations. This is a stiff and powerful ski that can easily transition from groomers and crud to huge lines on steep and deep runs without stopping for lunch. It is also quite versatile and is best suited for more experienced skiers.
These skis feature a classic rocker profile with plenty of upward bend in the tip and tail to allow you to float and carve across powder. In addition, a small camber underfoot provides plenty of edge control when cruising groomers. They have a metal sandwich construction that makes them both stiff and sturdy.
- Solid carving option
- Great width
- Not for beginners
Useful Tips & Resources
Carving skis are great for just about anyone. The versatility they offer means that you will be able to have fun in any condition while using them. Improvements in ski design and technology over the years have really allowed a lot of skis to help you carve in any condition better. You can’t go wrong with any of the options listed here, and all of them will help you ski better under a variety of conditions.
That being said, how do you become at carving? Well, the first step is to get out there and ski more! Challenge yourself to take a new run or explore an area of the resort that you have never tried. Spend some time in deep powder or take a run down a racecourse. See how your carving skis perform on the mountain. The best way to improve is to go out and try new things that are just beyond your comfort level.
If you’re looking for new skis and want a very versatile and capable option that will allow you to focus on your carving turns, the skis listed here are the way to go. Bouncing and carving down a run of fresh snow, or even freshly groomed snow, is really amazing. Carving your own line is a great and rewarding experience that every skier knows how to enjoy. A set of skis that help you carve make a great addition for any skier.
Would you consider yourself a carving type of skier? Why or why not? Let us know in the comments below!