Though the internet is made up of gear guides galore, when folks don’t quite know what they want or need, the question of “what kind of skis are truly best for me?” is omnipresent. It can be stress-inducing to have too many options and the fear of not choosing the right pair is added pressure, especially if you don’t know much about ski construction or what to look for.
But what if these wandering ski seekers were told they could have a 30-minute, friendly conversation that would result in a pair of affordable, custom skis? They’d probably do it right? ROMP Skis thinks so.
“A lot of people think they have to know all of the technicalities of ski building to order a pair of custom skis, when really it’s the opposite,” says ROMP co-founder, Caleb Weinberg, who’s devoted to pulling back the curtain on how easy it is for the consumer to build their dream ski.
Located in an intimate factory in downtown Crested Butte, Colorado, ROMP Skis is a brother-owned ski company that opened in 2010. With skis ranging from $750 for stock skis to $1,050 - $1,450 for custom-made, laps at local Crested Butte Mountain Resort would lead one to believe all locals own a pair.
In an industry where real advancements have been made in women’s gear, it can still be hard to tell when a ski is actually right for a female skier’s ability and body type, or just a marketing ploy. “We don’t make women specific skis, we make individual skis, “says Caleb. “We narrow down who the ski is best for, and so gender becomes a less important factor.” The narrowing down process is exactly what ROMP is becoming known for. All buyers fill out an online form with basic information like height, weight, age and, purpose of the ski and then have the option of scheduling a phone call with Caleb or his brother, Morgan or talking in person.
“A lot of people will just swing by the factory in town, we have the interview and within 30 minutes their skis are on order.”
The conversation is meant to be in-depth yet intuitive and begins with questions surrounding the purpose of the ski (backcountry, all-mountain, powder specific, etc.), where on the mountain the skier enjoys spending most of their time, what types of turns they find themselves making on groomers or variable terrain and how many powder days are usually clocked in one season.
Caleb says over time, ROMP has focused on simplifying the questions and has mastered how to modify the conversation along the way. “If someone says ‘I ski the whole mountain’ I realize I have to refine my questions and figure out if they are really skiing everything from moguls, to groomers, to steeps. I have to work it out of people to help them find the answer.”
From here, they decide shape and length and customize it from there. ROMP works off of a list of 11 custom shapes to pull from that have all been skied and tested. “That’s why our system works the way it does, because these aren’t just one-offs,” explains Caleb. “They are pretty varied, from 86mm underfoot, hard pack carving ski, to a 120mm ski meant for powder. We’ve got square tails to fully rockered and even skimo specific skis.”
Then, ROMP will look at flex by examining if a skier prefers their skis to spring and pop them out of a turn, or a damper connection to the ground. And from here, they discuss where the skis should be mounted and what materials the skis should be made with. With a handful of options, ROMP also uses the trademarked carbon fiber material Countervail®, which can be a $400 add-on.
“We put Countervail® in about 45-50% of the skis we make. People hear that it reduces fatigue and the add-on is worth it. Everyone who works here has Countervail® in their skis and we believe in it,” says Caleb.
And finally, like icing on the cake, customers have over 50 graphics to choose from, or they can utilize a graphic designer and have their own made for a small upcharge. And wahlah! Similar to Ollivander's wand shop straight out of Harry Potter, ROMP Skis helps skis choose their skiers. “The skis are like a tool,” urges Caleb, and ROMP Skis is simply the liaison.