The all-mountain women’s ski category equals adventure—no matter what part of the mountain you like to ski. Skis in this category are designed to be versatile, that is, to perform well in a variety of snow conditions and terrain. All-Mountain skis often have a high-performance construction, but with expanded waists and rocker added for maneuverability and flotation. Typically, cores are made from wood, sometimes with a layer of titanium or carbon, or a blend of hard and soft material that makes the ski strong underfoot and softer in the tip and tail.
Women’s All-Mountain Skis: Choosing the Right Ski Length
Women’s skis in this category may have a hard-charging, down-the-fall-line feel, or a surfy, playful personality. The ski you chose will depend on the type of terrain you love to ski and how you like to ski it.
When you walk into a ski shop, an experienced shop employee will ask you where you like to ski. If your answer has a variety of terrain choices, like groomers, bumps, and off-piste, then you’ll be directed to the all-mountain category. Next, you’ll pinpoint the waist width range and the personality of the ski that will best suit your skiing preferences and style.
Ski Waist Width and Turn Radius Explained
Skis in the all-mountain category have waists that range between 86 mm and 100 mm underfoot. The narrower the waist in this category, the tighter the turn radius the ski will have, but it will still be able to handle some variable terrain and light powder that you might find on the backside of the mountain. The wider the waist width, the more flotation in soft snow and stability in cut-up powder the ski will have, though the ski will have a larger turn radius on the groomers. Overall, this category is the place to go to find a one-ski quiver that can handle everything from groomers to bumps to fresh snow.
Different All-Mountain Skis for Different Skiers
“The term ‘all mountain skis’ can mean different things for different skiers,” says Matt McDonald, creative marketing manager for Powder7 Ski Shop, located in Golden, Colorado. “The ex-racer rad mom thinks it’s one thing and her kid thinks it’s another, but that’s why this category is loaded with options. Generally, brands are chasing the ski that’s accessible, but also versatile and strong enough for advanced and expert skiers. Specifically, the 88mm ski is hot.
If you like that waist width, you’ve got lots of choices. If you’re looking for a wider all-mountain ski than most brands make at least one do-everything ski in the upper 90s. Brands are doubling down on families of skis, zeroing in on a particular design, often with a single name, and then offering that ski in two or three waist widths across this category for a tailored approach that gives skiers a huge array of options.”
Skiing the Mountain — Frontside and Backside
Before you go into the store, however, educate yourself by reading the following roundup of women’s all-mountain skis. Remember that skiers shopping in this category ski the entire mountain—frontside and backside—and need a ski to handle a variety of snow conditions. Some of the skis lean toward the narrower side in waist width and will favor carving with occasional trips off-piste or out-of-bounds, while others have waists that can float through powder and perform well in different terrain features. Whichever terrain you lean toward, all-mountain skis will provide you the access to a great adventure.
Women’s All-Mountain Ski Round-Up
Nordica Santa Ana 98 (All-Mountain Advanced)
The Nordica Santa Ana 98 is an excellent choice for an all-mountain ski. The ski is constructed with a wood core paired with carbon, and terrain-specific metal that creates a smooth and playful ride. It is also a lightweight piece, helping to ensure agility and reduce fatigue. The Santa Ana 98 is great for carving on groomers, eating bumps, bouncing through glades, and everything in between. According to Nordica, “This new ski reimagines what’s possible while building on the legendary performance and versatility of the Santa Ana collection.”
Elan Ripstick 94 W (All-Mountain Advanced)
The Ripstick 94 W from Elan truly is an all-mountain ski beast. With a 94mm waist, the Ripstick is wide enough for surfing pow, while still narrow enough for hard carving on groomers and slicing through variable snow. “The weight to performance ratio is best in class thanks to a lightweight, yet stable construction we call Tubelite Woodcore,” says Ben Fresco, US Marketing and Product Manager. “It uses carbon rods placed in the core of the ski, adjacent to the edges. This gives the ski an extremely smooth and playful ride without the additional weight of metal. The result is a ski with a huge sweet spot that serves intermediate through expert skiers equally well.” Because of its light weight and versatility, the Ripstick 94 W is also a great hybrid ski that excels just as well in the backcountry.
Blizzard Black Pearl 88 (Carving)
The Blizzard Black Pearl 88 has garnered a reputation as being an absolute ripper of a ski. It carves hard and with precision over groomers and cuts through choppy snow with ease. The TrueBlend Woodcore construction provides stability and exacting flex. At 88mm underfoot, this ski is on the narrow side, which makes it less floaty in deep powder, but provides top tier control on hardpack and soft snow. According to Blizzard: “The 88mm-waisted ski provides an unmatched level of versatility for intermediate to advanced skiers but is also strong enough for expert skiers who like to up the ante.”
Völkl Secret 96 (Speed)
For high-level skiers with an affinity for charging hard down the mountain, the Völkl Secret 96 is your partner in crime. The 3D radius sidecuts help you command this ski and lay down turns with confidence over any terrain, and is responsive and reliable at high-speed. The 96mm waist is an ideal width for variable snow conditions; it’s wide enough to stay on top of the powder and narrow enough to not be clunky on groomers. Völkl boasts that the Secret 96 is “A ski for demanding freeride girls who take things to the limits under any conditions and want a ski they can rely on all the way from the top of the mountain to the bottom of the valley—and which leaves them with enough left in the tank to party hard at the après ski.”
Armada Reliance 92 Ti (All-Mountain Intermediate)
The name of this ski is certainly reflective of its character—a reliable ski. For the intermediate skier looking for a vehicle to bridge the gap to the world of the advanced, the Armada Reliance 92 Ti is it. This is a flexy and playful ski, yet still responds like a charm and cuts through crud as good as any. Armada designed this ski with an elongated tip rise and taper with rocker in the front for floaty turns in deeper snow, while the cambered tail allows for precision control over hardpack. This really is a do-it-all ski, and an excellent choice for the do-it-all skier.
4FRNT MSP CC (All-Mountain Intermediate)
“The MSP CC is a staple in the women’s lineup due to its incredible versatility and intuitive feel,” said the pros at 4FRNT. “As one of our most award winning skis, the MSP CC is capable of conquering every type of snow condition you come across.” Another great option for the progressing skier, the 4FRNT MSP CC enables you to make quick sidecuts, providing a high level of control and confidence. In deeper snow, the 99mm waist and rockered tips allows for that nice surfy feel, while the poplar core gives a damp, smooth ride over choppy snow.
Blackcrows Captis Birdie (All-Mountain Beginner)
The Captis Birdie from Blackcrows is a playful and forgiving ski, great for those newer skiers looking to get out of their rentals, or experienced skiers looking for a fun ride. It has a double rocker for optimal maneuverability and pivot, while the camber underfoot provides stability and control. This ski has a soft flex, great for rebounding over cut up snow and bouncy, playful riding. “The Captis Birdie is one of our most popular skis,” said Tristan Droppert, N.A. Marketing Manager at Blackcrows. “They are super versatile and forgiving but high performance when you need them to be. With the 90mm width and double rocker these skis are playful, consistent and a pleasure to enjoy in all winter conditions.”
Salomon QST Stella 106 (Powder)
For all those powder-hounds out there, the Salomon QST Stella 106 is the ideal candidate for maximum floatation, while still being versatile enough for carving corduroy. The wide 106mm waist and long rocker in the tip and tail makes for a positively surfy ride through deep snow. However, the carbon backbone and double sidewalls still make this a powerful ski with precise control on hardpack. If you live in a place with ample annual snowfall, this ski is going to be your best friend out on the mountain. Salomon says that the QST Stella 106 is “The one and only ski you’ll need from opening day ‘til closing.”
J Skis The Allplay (Playful)
It’s all in the name… “Allplay.” There’s no secrets here, this is a flexy, fun, and playful ski, great for park, bouncing around in the trees, and surfing through powder. It has a unique and forgiving flex throughout the length of the ski, for comfort and confidence when tooling around and throwing tricks off every feature you see. “The Allplay is guaranteed to be the most fun, playful and versatile skis you’ve ever ridden, turning the entire mountain into your personal playground,” boast the ski engineers at J Skis.
Icelantic Riveter 95 (Moguls and Trees)
The Icelantic Riveter is a solid all-mountain ski that excels in moguls and glade skiing. The underfoot camber makes for a fast rebound, bumping you from edge to edge with swiftness and ease. This ski pivots on a dime and provides a level of maneuverability that is ideal for tight turns in trees and bumps. “If you are a woman looking for a ski that is versatile enough to handle any condition that the mountain provides,” says Icelantic, “the Riveter is the ski for you!”