Ski waist width is another important consideration that every serious skier needs to consider. This measurement can vary based on the type of skiing you like to do or your ability level, so it’s good to know about it to help you become a better skier.
I’ve been on skis for nearly my entire life, and I have a lot of experience with different sizes and models. I know about ski dimensions, including waist width, and understand the role this plays in how skis will perform on the mountain.
This post will serve as a ski waist width guide to help you figure out how wide your skis should be. It’s good information for every skier to know about but particularly useful for newer skiers or anyone looking to buy their first pair.
Let’s get going.
What is Ski Waist Width?
Before we dive into figuring out how wide your skis should be, it’s essential to know what ski waist width is in the first place.
Ski waist width is a measurement taken at the very center of your skis. This is typically the narrowest part of your skis but is the figure used to describe how wide they are. You can also think of it as the width of your skis directly below your foot.
This measurement is displayed in millimeters and can help you know what the skis might be best suited for or how they will match your needs as a skier.
Whenever you look at the specs for a set of skis, you’ll see the waist width listed as part of the other dimensions. You’ll often see three measurements listed simultaneously, which will give you the dimensions for the tail width, waist width, and tip width.
Here’s an example: 121-86-108mm
That middle number – 86 – is the waist width of this imaginary set of skis. Now, let’s explore how you can figure out how wide your skis should be.
How to Determine Ski Waist Width
There is no magic formula for figuring out the ideal waist width for every skier. Instead, it comes down to several factors, including ability level and preferred skiing styles.
If you are new to skiing or looking to buy your first pair, determining the width is still based on these factors, you just might not know it yet. Let’s break things down to give you a better idea of what your ideal width might be.
Width Based on Ability Level
Generally, beginner skiers will want a smaller ski in length and width. This isn’t always the case, but it works out most of the time.
Narrower skis are better on the front side of the mountain – basically any run that is groomed or doesn’t have variable terrains like trees and powder. If you like to stick to groomed runs and are a beginner or intermediate skier, you’ll want a narrower waist width.
A narrow width can be anywhere between 70-90mm.
If you are a more advanced skier who likes to explore nearly everywhere on the mountain, you’ll want a wider ski because it is more capable and versatile. All-mountain skis are a popular choice for most intermediate and advanced skiers, and these are wider than beginner models.
A wider all-purpose/all-mountain-sized ski will typically fall between 85-100mm.
Width Based on Style or Preference
A better way to determine the ideal ski waist width is to base it on the skiing style you like the most or at least your preferred style of skiing. Let’s break that down to help you get a better idea of what might work best, starting from narrowest to widest.
Racing skis are the narrowest. If you have dreams of joining the race team or just love skiing fast down groomed runs, you’re going to want a pretty narrow ski.
Racing skis will have a waist width of 60-70mm.
If you aren’t a racer but still like sticking mostly to groomed runs at the resort, you can increase the width a little bit for a little extra control and versatility.
A groomer/general resort ski can have a width of anywhere from 70-85mm.
Most skiers fall into the all-mountain category. This means you like to do a little bit of everything, so you’ll need a capable option that is not too wide or too narrow.
All-mountain skis can be anywhere from 85-100mm.
If you live in an area that gets a lot of snow and you want to be ready for big powder days, you’re going to want a wide ski that can stay on top of deep snow. This is ideal for big mountain and powder skiing styles.
Powder and big mountain skis will be anything over 105mm and as wide as 120mm or more.
Many experienced skiers have a few different skis in their quiver. That will help you stay prepared for any condition that comes your way during the season.
You can use a narrower pair when there isn’t much fresh snow, and you want to bomb groomers all day long. Then you can pull out your fat powder skis whenever a big storm comes through.
If you can’t afford more than one pair, go for something in the all-mountain range that can do a little bit of both.
Ski waist width is an important measurement that will help you understand how your skis will perform in various conditions.
Narrower skis are better for beginners and resort skiing, while wider skis are best for more experienced skiers and deeper snow conditions.