There are the privileged few who spend their entire winters cruising the deep drifts of Japan and British Columbia, but the rest of us need deep snow skis that can get us from those first perfect turns in virgin powder, through the choppy leftovers of the afternoon, and back to the chairlift lap-after-lap while staying in control. We took this year’s crop of deep snow skis and a tight-knit testing crew to Monarch Mountain, Colo., where we lapped the soft snow under the Garfield Lift, took the ski area’s snowcat to the powdery glades of Mirkwood Basin, and then ranked, rated, and argued about the best big skis of the season. These are the ones that came out on top.
BEST IN TEST: Nordica Enforcer 110 Free
The Enforcer 110 Free wins not for being the floatiest ski, but for being the most versatile powder ski on the market. With a 110mm waist and plenty of rocker in the tip and tail, this ski is surfy when the snow is bottomless, but two sheets of Titanal sandwiching a full wood core means riders will also have a ball when the snow isn’t perfect. [$900, BUY NOW]
Nordica Enforcer 110 Free Overall Score: 4.01/5
Atomic Bent Chetler 120
With spoon-shaped tips and tails—which Atomic calls HRZN tech—and a light wood core with integrated carbon, the redesigned Bent Chetler 120 earned the highest marks for quickness and maneuverability, a paradox considering its girthy 120mm waist. Nearly every tester commended its playfulness but found the ski could still charge hard when needed. [$900, BUY NOW]
Atomic Bent Chetler 120 Overall Score: 3.99/5
Elan Ripstick 116
When pushed hard at high velocity, these big planks’ performance lived up to their name, but testers also found that the skis were just as happy at moderate paces. Thanks to the hollow tubes that run longitudinally through the core, the Ripstick 116 remains manageable and nimble in all conditions, with a number of testers claiming the skis are easy like Sunday morning. [$950, elanskis.com]
Elan Ripstick 116 Overall Score: 3.99/5
K2 Mindbender 116C
The biggest Mindbender has an innate ability to steamroll crud and choppy snow like a big orange tank. That doesn’t mean these big bad skis can’t fly like fighter jets on more welcoming terrain of any variety. Testers didn’t find the Mindbender 116C to be particularly playful, but it is strong, stable, and constantly seeks the fall line. [$850, BUY NOW]
K2 Mindbender 116C Overall Score: 3.98/5
Shop Talk 2020: K2 Mindbender 116C
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Faction Candide 4.0
If you ever wondered why Candide Thovex seems to catch way more air than humanly possible, these skis are the answer. The pro skier’s powder-oriented pro model were veritable pogo sticks at high speeds, maximizing amusement on the powdery, rolling terrain of Monarch Mountain. The ski’s dialed-in swing weight felt like a perfect crossbreed of a freeride ski and a park ski. [$999, BUY NOW]
Faction Candide 4.0 Overall Score: 3.92/5
Scott Scrapper 115
Scott has some of the best freeride athletes in Europe on their team, and based on the performance of these boards, those athletes clearly do not mess around when it comes to ski design. These burly planks earned top marks in Stability at Speed and Hard Snow, and testers noted their versatile demeanor makes up for limited playfulness. It was also an unofficial top pick for straight-lining. [$800, BUY NOW]
Scott Scrapper 115 Overall Score: 3.91/5
People Also Ask
Powder Skis Explained
- Who: Dream trippers and skiers who live where it dumps.
- What: Planks commonly confused as waters skis by innocent bystanders.
- Where: Japan, AK, and deep days nationwide.
What are powder skis?
Generally speaking, powder skis (or deep snow skis) are fat. They tend to have 110mm+ waist widths, generous rocker profiles, and very large turn radii. While they float like a dream in soft snow, many powder skis can perform well in choppy snow as well, and a very special few—most notably the Nordica Enforcer 110—can actually hold an edge quite well on groomed terrain. For the most part, however, these skis are rarely defined as one-ski quiver options and are instead used only when conditions warrant, e.g. powder days.
What is the best powder ski?
According to our testers, the Nordica Enforcer 110 is the best powder ski of 2019.
What length should powder skis be?
Because of the increased amount of rocker built into most powder skis, it's suitable to have longer skis for deep snow to increase the amount of usable edge on hard and variable snow. Shorter powder skis will likely float and feel more nimble than longer versions, but can also sometimes feel like riding a pogo stick due to the increased floppiness that is caused by generous rocker in the tip and tails.
2019's 9 Best Powder Skis for Men
If you've never been on fat skis when it's deep, you're missing out on floaty turns, longer days, and more fun than a barrel of monkeys.
BEST IN TEST: Nordica Enforcer 110
Veterans and rookie testers agreed that this ski is still the top-dog of big planks—having now won Best in Test two years in a row. It still stands out as the most versatile powder ski on the rack. Sporting a full wood core with carbon sandwiched between two sheets of metal, the Enforcer 110 proved to be as capable in powder as everywhere else. Schiller: “Category defining, as stable as they come.” Read more about the Nordica Enforcer 110 here.
- Strengths: Versatility, Crud Performance; Weakness: Forgiveness
- Overall Rating: 4.29 / 5
- Tip / Waist / Tail (in millimeters): 140-110-129
- Lengths (in centimeters): 169, 177, 185, 191
- Radius (in meters): 18.5
- MSRP: $899 (BUY NOW)
HEAD Kore 117
Testers raved about the girthy-yet-light Kore 117. Its wide platform executed well in tight spaces, but really shined when it had room for big turns on soft snow. With the same innovative triaxial woven carbon layer, KOROYD, and karuba wood core with graphene-infused tips found in the rest of the Kore family, it remains lightweight but can drop the hammer. Catino: “Perfect blend of race feel and freeride shaping.” Check out the HEAD Kore 117's other scores here.
- Strengths: Versatility, Quickness; Weakness: Hard-Snow Integrity
- Overall Rating: 4.04 / 5
- Tip / Waist / Tail (in millimeters): 145-117-129
- Lengths (in centimeters): 180, 189
- Radius (in meters): 24.6
- MSRP: $925 (BUY NOW)
BEST VALUE: Armada Tracer 108
Armada modified the rocker profile and taper region for the Tracer family this year, which was most appreciated by testers in the 108-waisted version. With Titanal reinforcements underfoot plus damping Xrystal Mesh material running the full length of the ski, its noticeably lean stature danced through crud with playfulness and snap. Dyer: “Easily handles everything you will encounter with a powder ski.” Read more about the Armada Tracer 108 here.
- Strengths: Crud Performance, Versatility; Weakness: Flotation
- Overall Rating: 4.01 / 5
- Tip / Waist / Tail (in millimeters): 134-108-126
- Lengths (in centimeters): 164, 172, 180, 188
- Radius (in meters): 19
- MSRP: $825 (BUY NOW)
Rossignol Super 7 HD
The largest member of Rossi’s 7 family, the Super 7 HD remains one of the most sought-after skis on the rack for powder hounds seeking that signature, surfy float. With a lightweight carbon alloy and paulownia wood core, ample rocker, plus a near-perfect swing weight thanks to the reinforced, eye-catching translucent emerald Air Tip 2.0 in the shovel and tail, the Super 7 HD would be anyone’s friend on a powder day. Rogan: “You can ski powder all day long and not get tired.” Check out more details regarding the Rossignol Super 7 HD here.
- Strength: Playfulness; Weakness: Stability at Speed
- Overall Rating: 3.98 / 5
- Tip / Waist / Tail (in millimeters): 140-116-130
- Lengths (in centimeters): 172, 180, 188
- Radius (in meters): 21
- MSRP: $900
K2 Pinnacle 118
After a solid debut last year, the 2019 Pinnacle 118 further impressed the test crew. Generous shovel rocker combined with a fir and aspen wood core, beefed up with K2’s signature carbon boost braid, garnered the ski positive comparisons to Cadillacs and downhill mountain bikes. It might look big and bad, but as soon as it was on snow, testers gushed about the fun factor these planks provided. Elling: “Maybe the best [expletive deleted] powder ski ever made.” See more details about the K2 Pinnacle 118 here.
- Strength: Flotation; Weakness: Stability at Speed
- Overall Rating: 3.97 / 5
- Tip / Waist / Tail (in millimeters): 145-118-135
- Lengths (in centimeters): 177, 184, 191
- Radius (in meters): 23
- MSRP: $900 (BUY NOW)
Elan Ripstick 106
The first thing testers noticed about the Ripstick 106 was its light weight.
The second? It’s quick and nimble, making it a joy to ski in tight tree runs and steep, rocky chokes. Featuring a full wood core with two carbon channels that run the length of the ski, plus composite inserts in the tips, this ski is quick and agile at moderate speeds and tackled a faster pace with dampness and quiet assertion. Megroz: “Playful, energetic, and so easy to turn.” Read more about the Elan Ripstick 106 here.
- Strength: Quickness; Weakness: Crud Performance
- Overall Rating: 3.89 / 5
- Tip / Waist / Tail (in millimeters): 140-106-122
- Lengths (in centimeters): 167, 174, 181, 188
- Radius (in meters): 18.1
- MSRP: $900 (BUY NOW)
Dynastar Proto Factory
The latest addition to a long line of Dynastar’s hard-charging freeride skis, the Proto Factory isn’t for the meek. Testers were divided: those who allow their skis to finesse turns had trouble finding the sweet spot, but the bigger guys had a ball, especially at high speeds. The full poplar wood core keeps these fatties a bit lighter than expected, and a stout, poppy tail makes the Proto a top candidate for enthusiasts of Full Send. Larson: “The ultimate big mountain powder charger, just don’t skip leg day.” Check out the rest of the Dynastar Proto Factory's scores here.
- Strengths: Flotation, Crud Performance; Weakness: Forgiveness
- Overall Rating: 3.88 / 5
- Tip / Waist / Tail (in millimeters): 145-118-135
- Lengths (in centimeters): 189
- Radius (in meters): 24
- MSRP: $900
Scott Scrapper 115
The Scrapper 115 proved to be a solid all-around performer, but most at home in soft snow, crud, and could blow up leftover piles of powder like a rock star. The paulownia wood core with carbon stringers, combined with twin-tip rocker and Titanal reinforcements, delivers a playful yet powerful ride. A few testers claimed they skied best with a more upright, new school stance, but the Scrapper 115 pleased the traditionalist just as well. Dyer: “Lets me bound down the mountain without touching the brakes.” See more details about the Scott Scrapper 115 here.
- Strengths: Playfulness, Flotation; Weakness: Quickness
- Overall Rating: 3.87 / 5
- Tip / Waist / Tail (In Millimeters): 142-115-131
- Lengths (In Centimeters): 182, 189
- Radius (In Meters): 23
- MSRP: $800
Kästle BMX 115
The crew unanimously praised the BMX 115’s velvety flex pattern and phenomenal glide, and they found it would crush choppy conditions without a second thought. The ski’s silver fir and beech wood core and semi-cap sidewall construction is traditional and powerful; it also took some muscle to get through tight spaces. Add in a dual rise in the shovel and tail, plus a translucent Hollowtech tip, and the BMX 115 looks as handsome as it skis. Sexauer: “If you have the will, this ski will show you the way.” Read more about the Kästle BMX 115 here.
- Strength: Crud Performance; Weakness: Forgiveness
- Overall Rating: 3.81 / 5
- Tip / Waist / Tail (in millimeters): 141-115-130
- Lengths (in centimeters): 177, 185, 193
- Radius (in meters): 3.81
- MSRP: $1049 (BUY NOW)