10 Different Types of Skis Explained

There are many different types of skis out there in the modern world of snowsports. Depending on what kind of skiing you like to do or your ability level, you’ll want a set of skis to match. That’s why it’s good to know all about the different styles currently available. 

I’ve been skiing for decades and have been on just about every type of ski you can imagine. I love to explore new styles of the sport and try out new equipment. This has given me a lot of experience with various skis. 

In this article, I’ll briefly explain all of the different types of skis you can find. Whether you are shopping for a new pair or just trying to learn the basics of the sport, this information is good to know. 

Time to get rolling. 

The Different Types of Skis

If you are just learning how to ski, you may not realize that there are many different types of skis out there to choose from. Beginners don’t really need to know all of these, but intermediate and experienced skiers will want to know which ones best meet their needs on the mountain. 

Here is a quick breakdown of all the different types of skis. 

1. All-Mountain Skis

All-mountain skis are the most common type of ski you’ll see these days. Just as their name implies, these skis are designed to do a little bit of everything on the mountain. They are suitable for all ability levels because of their versatility.

Modern all-mountain skis will have a relatively broad width that allows the skis to float over all different types of snow without holding you back. They can handle all sorts of snow conditions and give you the ability to have one set of skis all season long. 

If you are looking to get your first set of skis, all-mountain style is a good option to go with. They will allow you to grow as a skier and develop your ability levels without being too much to handle when learning the basics.  

Related Article: Best All Mountain Skis in 2022

2. Freestyle Skis

Freestyle skis are another common type of ski that you’ll see on the mountain. These are playful and lightweight skis intended for people who like to perform tricks and get big airs. Freestyle skis are usually a little more narrow than all-mountain options. 

Freestyle skis can also make for a good beginner ski because of their lightweight design and easy-to-control nature. They aren’t as good in big mountain or deep powder conditions because they are thinner. 

These skis are almost always twin-tipped, meaning that they can be ridden both regular and switch pretty easily. This is fun for anyone who wants to learn how to freestyle ski or likes to play around the mountain.

3. Park Skis

Park skis are a more focused version of freestyle skis. These types of skis are designed to be used in the terrain park at the ski resort. They are great for performing tricks, aerials, or bouncing around the halfpipe.

Park skis are generally narrow, lightweight, and feature a twin tip design. They are almost symmetrical in shape, which allows you to easily ski switch if you want to. Park skis are pretty flexible, which has limitations when you want to go really fast.  

4. Powder Skis

Powder skis are designed for, you guessed it, powder. These are the biggest and widest skis you will find, and that extended surface area gives them exceptional performance when the snow really starts to stack up. 

Skiing powder is fun all of the time, but when you have a good set of powder skis on, you can take advantage of deep snow on a whole different level. If you want to take advantage of fresh snow, you need a set of powder skis in your arsenal. 

Powder skis aren’t always great to use when there isn’t fresh snow on the ground. They can also be too big and burly for inexperienced skiers to handle. But their wide profile and heavily rockered design make them float above deep snow like you are walking on a cloud. 

5. Freeride Skis

Freeride skis are also sometimes called big mountain skis. These are designed for technical performance in demanding situations and are only suited for intermediate and advanced skiers who know what they are doing on the mountain. 

Freeride skis are somewhere in between all-mountain and powder skis. They will have a wider and longer construction than the average all-mountain ski but won’t be quite as wide or rockered as a powder ski. 

If you like to challenge yourself and want to get out and explore every inch of the mountain, freeride skis can be a good choice. Advanced skiers who venture into the backcountry can also use freeride skis to their advantage. 

Also Read: Best Freeride Skis 2022

6. Backcountry/Touring Skis

Backcountry or touring skis are lightweight options built to help you venture deep into the wilderness, far away from chair lifts and crowds. This ski style has really blossomed over the last decade, and there are more options than ever before. 

Backcountry skis are lighter than just about any other type of ski you will find. This is very useful when you want to skin up and head uphill because every added ounce will make the task more difficult. 

Their lightweight nature does come with some sacrifices in terms of downhill performance, but the tradeoff is often worth it. Unless you are an experienced skier, you probably don’t want to get a pair of touring skis. 

Read More: Best Alpine Touring Skis 2022

7. Racing Skis

Racing skis have been around for a long time and are the type of skis you’ll see on professional and amateur ski racers. This type of ski is built for speed and plenty of it. They are the fastest skis you can find and are fun to be on if you can handle it. 

Racing skis have an aggressive design that’s best left for experienced skiers. Beginners can easily be overwhelmed with the increased speed and turning performance that the skis come with. 

These skis offer excellent performance on packed snow and ice and give you superior control in questionable resort conditions. The downside is that they don’t provide much versatility for skiing in other situations and have their limits.  

Related Article: Racing Skis vs Regular Skis

8. Mogul Skis

Mogul skis are a less common type of ski that you don’t see that often these days. They are usually pretty thin to help you make quick turns and keep your knees together when navigating the bumps.

If you don’t love skiing in moguls or like skiing in them very often, there’s no reason to use mogul skis. You can technically ski moguls on just about any type of ski, but mogul-specific models are good for competitors and specialty skiers.  

9. Carving Skis

Carving skis are somewhere in between racing skis and all-mountain skis. They don’t have a true twin-tipped shape and are designed for carving up the mountain’s front side. These are good skis for intermediate skiers who don’t desire to go into the terrain park. 

Carving skis can help you learn to be a better skier by improving your turning abilities. They excel in hardpack and icy conditions, which can be great if you live in an area that doesn’t get much fresh snow. 

I personally don’t use carving skis very often. I like the versatility of exploring the backside of the mountain and getting lost in the trees or diving into fresh powder. But if you love bombing groomers, carving skis are a great way to go. 

See Also: Carving Skis vs All Mountain Skis

10. Cross Country/Nordic Skis

Cross country or Nordic skis are more of a traditional type of ski that you won’t find at the ski resort. If you have ever watched the winter Olympics and seen the events like the Biathlon, this is Nordic skiing in action. 

Cross country skis look and feel entirely different than all of the other Alpine types mentioned above in this list. They are built to glide across flat terrain rather than cruise downhill. That means they are very lightweight and don’t have edges to give you control. 

If you want to experience a great form of exercise, I highly recommend trying Nordic skiing. It’s hard work but will quickly get you in some of the best shape of your life. It’s also a really fun way to change things up if you want a new experience in the snow. 

Also Read: Alpine Skiing vs Nordic Skiing: 3 Differences

What Type of Skis Should You Get? 

This is an important question that every skier faces at some point. It’s important to have skis that match your ability levels and preferences on the snow. But it’s also essential to have something that you enjoy and like to ski on. 

If you are only going to get a single set of skis or are just getting started, I recommend getting a pair of all-mountain skis. These will give you the versatility to explore all over the mountain and also allow you to grow in your abilities. 

More experienced skiers will want to get several different types of skis to have in their quiver. I typically have anywhere from 3 to 5 different types of skis at all times, so I can stay prepared for anything that comes my way. 

I use an all-mountain option on most days of the season. But I have a set of powder skis to take out when the snow really starts to fall. I also have a set of backcountry touring skis for wilderness adventures and a pair of freestyle skis for park-focused pursuits. 

Having multiple pairs of skis is a lot of fun but not always the most realistic option for everyone who doesn’t ski often. If you are just learning, rent a few different types to see which you like the best before purchasing. That will help you narrow down the search. 

Final Thoughts

There are many different options for skiers, and it’s pretty easy to get a type of ski that matches your needs and preferences. 

When in doubt, you can’t go wrong with an all-mountain option. But if you want to be ready for any type of condition, start your collection and have a couple of different pairs ready for action!

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