It’s easy to drop well over a grand on skis and bindings. When you’re carving up the corduroy first thing in the morning or getting first tracks in 20 inches of powder, those skis are worth every penny. Being on a budget, however, doesn’t mean you’ll loose out on quality skis. The following models may be priced on the lower end of the scale, but they’re high in performance. We cross-referenced price, rating and tester comments from our 2013 Ski Test to provide you with the top value skis so you can enjoy the snow without breaking the bank.
At a suggested retail price of $629, the Theory is hard to beat. With a wood and carbon core, the 95-mm waisted ski can carve up East coast terrain as well as it can cruise through western crud. Testers called it a capable carver, describing it as light, lively and playful. This is a hardpack-friendly ski that can hold a line through crud.
Dynastar Cham 87
As one of OnTheSnow.com’s Editors’ Choice skis, the Cham 87 scored high across the board while listing a low price of $700. As part of he new Cham series, the 87 has full length vertical sidewalls, lightweight wood cores with titanal and Dynastar’s Levitation Profile (a five-point sidecut) with a progressive tapering in the tip and tail, traditional camber underfoot and a flat pintail. Testers said its edgy when needed and smeary when wanted.
Looking for a stable, all-mountain ski that suits intermediates through expert skiers at a great value? The Oblivion rings in at a low $575. Testers gave it high scores for playfulness, calling it a stable carver. With a 90 mm waist, the Oblivion can handle a variety of snow conditions and terrain to boot. Testers said the Oblivion holds an edge well and will make turns of any shape.
Blizzard Magnum 8.0 Ti
On the higher side of our value skis, the Magnum 8.0 Ti ($850) offers the best deal for technology-laden skis. It was off the charts for stability and carving, earning a spot on our Editors’ Choice list. As a frontside powerhouse, the construction includes a full wood core and sandwich sidewall construction to add edge grip. One of our testers said it’s so stable and strong it feels like you could blow stuff up with it.
Powder skis aren’t cheap, mostly because their girths climb past 100 mm and require more material to manufacture. The Gotama retails for $825 and at 107 mm underfoot,
this fully-rockered ski has a full wood core and vertical sidewalls. It scored high marks for both hardsnow and maneuverability in soft snow (it earned an Editors’ Choice nomination as well). Testers praised the Gotama’s overall performance, calling it a stable, powerful, hard-charging crud buster.
Dynastar Legend Paradise
The Legend Paradise scored high marks across the board (earning it a spot as an Editors’ Choice ski), particularly for playfulness and versatility. Testers said it was quick and nimble for 98 mm underfoot. There’s a lot of technology in the $650 ski: Dynastar’s Autodrive combines vertical sidewalls underfoot with cap construction in the tip and tail for a blend of edge hold and easy turn initiation and tip and tail rocker and a lightweight wood core add maneuverability. Dynastar’s women-specific Exclusive Balance System moves both the stance and sidecut forward to increase control, raises the heel for better balance and uses vertical sidewalls where the most force is exerted for increased edge grip.
Head MYA 8
At suggested retail price of $625, the MYA 8 is a great deal for women looking for a coast-to-coast trustworthy ski. With an 84 mm waist, testers said the MYA 8 feels smooth and powerful. Head’s new ERA 3.0 technology—essentially rocker, radius and rebound—blends together tip rocker, a progressive radius and vibration-absorbing Intellifibers in the tip for better edge contact. Testers said its super versatile and playful.
Rossignol Temptation 82
Rossignol crushes the women’s frontside category this year with the Temptation 82—ringing in at the attractive price of $600. Earning a spot on our Editors’ Choice list because of high marks across the board, testers said it has a huge sweet spot and is quick, agile and easy to handle. The construction is all about quick turn initiation: It has a curvy geometry (132-82-120), subtle rocker at both ends of the ski, Rossignol’s Extended Sidecut, which engages more edge as the ski gets up to speed and edge angles increase, as well as a combination of wood and basalt create a stable, yet lightweight core.
For more ski reviews, check out our 2013 Ski Buyers’ Guide.