January 26, 2021

Best Powder Skis 2020 – 2021 | Buyer’s Guide

12 min read
A guide to the best skis for powder, and why they’re perfect for skiing in...

A guide to the best skis for powder, and why they’re perfect for skiing in the deep stuff

Header Image: Jordan Tiernan

The world wide web is filled with skis that claim to be “the best skis for moguls,” “the best skis for powder,” and “the best all-mountain skis.” But there can only be one king in the powder skis department – all-mountain shapes just can’t cut it in the deep like a proper pair of powder planks. Although we hear you, all this marketing chat and ‘ground-breaking technology’ claims can be a real mind-melt.

There’s so many things to consider, so so many, that people have been known to wake up in the middle of the night mumbling the benefits of twin rocker skis and talking up the virtues of a decent sidecut. Heck, it’s stressing us out just thinking about all the people out there right now who are getting stressed out thinking about which ski to buy.

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Pictured: Markus Eder buttering the Volkl Revolt 121. Photo: Jordan Tiernan

So here goes. We’ve broken down all the important traits of a powder ski and recommended some of the finest out there right now. Now, finally, you can sleep easy. Now, finally, you can say you know the best powder skis for winter 2020-2021.

What Makes A Great Pair Of Powder Skis?

Ski shaping and construction has progressed tenfold over the past few years, with more and more designs that make skiing the deep stuff not just easier, but a total blast – leaving you with fresher legs to keep going lap after lap. Here are a few of our recommended shapes and designs to look out for that go towards creating a great pair of powder skis.

Width and Length

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Two pretty important features in making a handy powder ski are of course width and length – they’re the two attributes that give the ski larger surface area, after all. A large surface area equals more float when the going gets deep.

Modern skis with a waist width varying between 90 – 110 mm are considered a good all-mountain setup, with 110 mm plus the de facto powder width. We’ve only got two skis under a 110 mm waist width featured in this list of best powder skis.

Sizing for a big mountain / powder ski is relatively simple – because of the use of rocker in the tips create a shorter effective edge, advanced and above skiers will want to size 10 cm longer than your all mountain boards.

Rocker

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Rocker is the technique used to raise the tips and tails of the ski, so that when the ski is lay on a flat surface, a section of the tips and tails of the ski is lifted off the floor – this raised section is called rocker. Rocker avoids the dreaded tendency for skis to ‘tip dive’ and keeps the skis tracking well through deep snow.

While rocker helps in the deep stuff, it has the opposite effect on firm snow, as the effective edge that is able to contact the snow beneath becomes less, the more the tips and tails are raised.

Tip / Tail Taper

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Taper refers to the technique used by ski brands to bring the widest point of the tip and tails closer towards the middle of the ski. Identified by a tip and tail that resemble a paddle of a canoe, taper gives skis that ‘surfy’ feel people love to describe skis, by avoiding the hooky feeling of traditional sidecuts.

The Best Powder Skis 2020 – 2021

What a list. We’ve packed it full of powder shapes that make powder skiing just that bit more enjoyable; fully rockered, twin tipped, soft noodles and stiff missiles – we’ve brought in the best to bring your powder dreams to life (kind of). Enjoy the turns.


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K2 Reckoner 112

Lengths (cm): 177, 184, 191
Sidecut (mm): 136-112-127
Radius: 23m
Rocker Profile: Rocker-Camber-Rocker
Weight (per ski): 2,000g
Price: £545

BUY HERE

The K2 Reckoner 112 sits in the middle of K2’s all new Reckoner series of skis. It’s a big mountain twin that’s surprisingly versatile, thanks to its accommodating flex rating. We can see freestyle minded skiers loving these skis, thanks to their ability to butter things up in the backcountry. 

The Reckoner 112s are packing a tonne of rocker, both in the tips and tails. Something worth noting about this rocker is the fact that it travels pretty deep into the ski. This progressive rocker will help keep the Reckoner 112 that little bit more manoeuvrable in powder, while not making them overly ‘flappy’ when you do find yourself on firmer snow.

Chosen for the 2019/20 Ski 100 – Take a closer look at the K2 Reckoner 112 here


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Faction Candide 5.0

Lengths (cm): 175, 183, 190
Sidecut (mm): 152 / 122 / 140
Radius: 25m (183 cm)
Rocker Profile: Rocker-Flat-Rocker
Weight (per ski): 1900g
Price: £730

BUY HERE

Said to be the ski the man himself reaches for most days while skiing in his home resort of La Clusaz. The Candide 5.0 is another playful pair of powder skis that are also more than capable of staying in control when you do open up the throttle.

Look at the Candide 5.0 as a regular Candide, just with a 122 mm waist width. There hasn’t been much change from the original Candide 4.0, apart from that waist width and we love that. This was the ski that’s inspired a generation of skiers, and for that reason, it should remain true to its playful heritage.

Although the shaping stays pretty true to a Candide, the 5.0 becomes the stiffest ski in the entire Candide lineup and therefore will be best suited towards advanced – expert skiers.

Chosen for the 2019/20 Ski 100 – Take a closer look at the Faction Candide 5.0 here


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Atomic Bent Chetler 120

Lengths (cm): 164, 172, 180, 188
Sidecut (mm): 129.5-100-120 (180cm)
Radius: 19.5m (180cm)
Rocker Profile: Rocker-Camber-Rocker
Weight (per ski): 1700g (180cm)
Price: £450

BUY HERE

The skis that arguably set the benchmark for the playful powder ski – the Bent Chetler 120. The 120s were created  by atomic in partnership with the master of powder skiing himself  – Chris Benchetler. Chris was after a pair of skis that enabled him to ‘surf the mountain’. And, to be quite honest, we can’t think of a better way to sum up the Bent Chetler 120’s buoyancy and playfulness in the deep stuff.

As if a backing from Benchetler himself wasn’t enough to convince you that these are one of the best powder skis on the market right now, the Bent Chetler 120s come packing one of the finest topsheets out there.

The Bent Chetler 120’s really are a joy to behold and a joy to ski. But don’t just take our work for it. Listen to Benchetler talk you through the Bent Chetler 120’s history before demonstrating the ski’s surfability below.

Chosen for the 2019/20 Ski 100 – Take a closer look at the Atomic Bent Chetler 120 here


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Volkl Katana 108

Lengths (cm): 170, 177, 184, 191 cm
Sidecut (mm): 146-108-129 mm
Radius: 19m (184 cm)
Rocker Profile: Rocker-Camber-Rocker
Weight (per ski): 2397g

BUY HERE

An all metal Katana is back with this new and updated 108 mm waist width. While it might seem like a stretch to call a 108 mm waist width ski a modern day powder ski, we were blown away by the soft snow performance that this new Katana carries on from its wider predecessor.

Packing Volkl’s own Titanal Frame, 2,400 weight and that 108 mm waist width, these skis are going to be pretty demanding for lower ability level skiers, but in the right hands, these skis are an absolute blast. Take them for a rip down the piste, slash some treeline powder spots, or just lap the nearest bowl in sight – these skis can take on the lot, and to a bloody impressive standard.

Chosen for the 2019/20 Ski 100 – Take a closer look at the Volkl Katana 108 here


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DPS Pagoda Tour 106 C2

Lengths (cm): 155, 163, 171, 179, 184
Sidecut (mm): 137/106/121 (179 cm)
Radius: 19m (179 cm)
Rocker Profile: Rocker-Camber-Rocker
Weight (per ski): 1,460g
Price: $1,299

BUY HERE

If earning your powder turns in more your cup of tea then you need to get utah-based DPS Skis in your sights this season. DPS are best known for creating some of the finest touring skis out there, by making use of pre-preg carbon fibre laminates that shed weight while retaining a high level of stiffness.

The Pagoda series of skis from DPS offer further ski construction evolution in their all-new core construction. By layering two wooden cores – with opposing grains – on top of another, DPS has managed to further boost the stiffness of their skis, without too much of a weight penalty. Add a Plum Summit 12 binding to these and you’ve got yourself a touring setup that’ll slingshot you uphill, with enough energy to savour the freshies, lap after lap.

Chosen for the 2019/20 Ski 100 – Take a closer look at the DPS Pagoda Tour 106 C2 here

Scott Scrapper 115 Jeremie Pro Model

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Lengths (cm): 189
Sidecut (mm): 140 / 115 / 133 (189 cm)
Radius: 24m (189 cm)
Rocker Profile: Rocker-Camber-Rocker
Weight (per ski): 2200g
Price: £625

BUY HERE

These are a bit of an outlier really, but we couldn’t leave it out as they’re the skis the rocket man himself – Jeremie Heitz – used while hurtling down some of the steepest faces in the world in his hit film La Liste. 

For mere mortals like you and I, Scott also produces the Scrapper 115. Featuring the exact same shape as the Jeremie Heitz Promodel, the Scrapper 115 is a little more lightweight, which makes the ski less demanding and far easier to throw around when you’re looking to scrub a little speed. The Scrapper 115 weighs 1,800g and the Scrapper 115 Jeremie Heitz Promodel weigh 2,200g. Rowdy.

Chosen for the 2019/20 Ski 100 – Take a closer look at the Scott Scrapper 115 Jeremie Heitz Pro Model here


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Whitedot Ragnarok ASYM

Sidecut (mm): 147 / 122 / 134
Radius: 30m
Weight (per ski): 2220g
Price: £698

Buy here

The Whitedot Ragnarok ASYM has been designed for blasting your way around the mountains at mach-looney through any conditions you find out there. The original shaped Ragnarok was designed by Fred Syversen to be used as his weapon in Freeride World Tour. Now, as you can see the tips and tails have been given a asymmetrical shaping to make powder skiing that (little) bit more fun.

The Ragnarok ASYM is designed in such a way that the skiers who use it will find themselves floating across deep powder like Jesus did when he walked on water. Not only that, but the positive camber and full-length torsional stiffness (that’s what she said) guarantees incredible hold on even the most unforgiving of pistes.

The original Ragnarok shape has won independent ski tests, Freeride World Tour podium spots, and the love and affection of numerous professional athletes. Whether you’re a Jedi-level master of off-piste skiing or only just ditching the comfort of the groomed runs, the Whitedot Ragnarok ASYM has something to offer all you powder-pursuing skiers.

Chosen for the 2019/20 Mpora Backcountry Ski Guide – Take a closer look at the Whitedot Ragnarok ASYM here

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DPS Wailer Alchemist 112

BUY HERE

When DPS brought out the original wailer 112 design back in 2010, it soon became the go-to shape for those looking for a soft snow specific touring ski. The then unique blend of waist width, rocker and tapers tips/tails created a ski that flattered many. Now, DPS have gone and introduced their all-new Alchemist carbon build to this classic powder shape, in an effort to improve the dampening abilities of the skis when riding through less than ideal conditions.

Chosen for the 2019/20 Mpora Backcountry Ski Guide – Take a closer look at the DPS Alchemist Wailer 112 here


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Armada Tracer 118 CHX

Armada have a solid history of making some of the finest power shapes out there and the all new and updated Tracer 118 CHX continues on with this tradition. Armada have taken the classic big mountain powder shape of the original Tracer 118 and stripped 8% of the weight off it to create the Tracer 118 CHX.

Even though weight has been stripped from the ski, the Tracer 118 CHX is still a point and shoot weapon that retains an impressive level of dampness. This has been achieved  by using a Caruba/Poplar core, combined with what Armada calls ‘Adaptive Mesh’ – which is essentially a traditional fibreglass laminate that’s been specially weaved to optimise vibration dampening along the full length of the ski.

Chosen for the 2019/20 Mpora Backcountry Ski Guide – Take a closer look at the Armada Tracer 118 CHX here

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head-kore-117-featured

Head Kore 117 2019 – 2020

Sidecut (mm): 145 / 117 / 129 (189cm)
Radius: 24.6 (189cm)
Weight (per ski): 2000g
Price: £650

Buy Here

Built with Koroyd (the shock absorbing stuff you find in helmets) and Graphene (the hardest material in the world). This combination of Koroyd and Graphene ensures the Head Kore 117 remains lightweight, powerful and lively in equal measure. Throw the ski’s 117mm width into the boiling pot, and you’ve got yourself a recipe for powder-stomping success. With this innovative plank, Head have delivered a bonafide floater that’s as adept at shooting through crud as it is at carving picturesque turns on the groomers.

A spoonful of camber underfoot, combined with the ski’s full rockered tip and tail, means that those looking for versatility in their ski won’t be left disappointed by Head’s Kore 117. Here at Mpora, we’re also a real sucker for a nice top sheet. And that, my friends, is a really nice top sheet (look at it again, up above these three paragraphs – go on, look how nice it is).

Chosen for the 2019/20 Mpora Backcountry Ski Guide – Take a closer look at the Head Kore 117 here


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Atomic Vantage 107 TI 2019 – 2020

Sidecut (mm): 137 / 107 / 124 (182cm)
Radius: 18.4m (182cm)
Weight (per ski): 1980g
Price: £550

If you’re looking for a fun powder-loving ski, that’s not going to get up in your grill if you do something weird and unexpected, you’ll love the Atomic Vantage 107 TI is a seriously versatile plank, as comfortable in knee deep powder as it is in mere centimetres of fresh snow. In a nutshell, it’s a playful off-piste ski that’s practical for everyday use.

The carefully-considered profile of theAtomic Vantage 107 TI, with its twin rocker (tip and tail), makes turning in powder an absolute cakewalk. Whether you’re hitting park, pow, or pistes; this ski will do the job…and it’ll do it well.

Chosen for the 2019/20 Mpora Backcountry Ski Guide – Take a closer look at the Atomic Vantage 107 TI here

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Völkl Revolt 121

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Buy Here

When the Mpora team went and joined winner of the 2019 Freeride World Tour – Markus Eder – out in the Alpes d’Huez for a few powder laps of the resort, we were shocked by his seemingly effortless control of these skis. On top of Markus, some of the world’s most stylish skiers including; Paddy Graham, Fabio Studer, Colter Hinchliffe, Tanner Rainville, Sam Smoothy and Tom Ritsch have all been charging around on them during the whole 2018/19 season.

Even given the width of the Revolt 121, these are actually a pretty versatile pair of planks. This versatility is thanks to generous tip and tail rocker that’s blended together with traditional camber to give the ski a nose that’ll track through fresh, yet can still be easily pressed and buttered.

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You May Also Like:

Mpora Backcountry Ski Guide

5 Of The Cheapest Ski Resorts In Europe

10 Of The Best Ski Resorts For Beginners

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