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Gear Guide 2018: Women's Indie Skis

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Testing took place on the legendary steeps of Colorado’s Crested Butte Mountain Resort, where over three days, testers were treated to a full complement of conditions—from over-the-boot powder to late-day slush—and everything in between. These were the ladies’ favorite skis for anything the mountain threw at them.

4FRNT Aretha (BEST IN WIDE CATEGORY, BEST VALUE)

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Want an awesome West Coast ski at an awesome price? This is it. The Aretha combines reverse camber with a matched sidecut profile to produce a smeary, playful powder ski that can also hold an edge. High scores in Powder, Crud, Playfulness, Versatility, and Maneuverability came easy. “Schmeary, but solid,” said one tester. “Easy to pivot through tight terrain, but makes GS turns on groomed.” Another cautioned “requires patience to roll on edge, but so fun to spread the butter!” Read more about the 4FRNT Aretha here.

MSRP $600

Dimensions: 130/105/125; Radius: 25m (174); Lengths: 164, 174.

DPS Nina A99 (BEST IN NARROW CATEGORY)

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DPS’s new Alchemist carbon construction takes this material to the next level with greater dampening and accessible power throughout. The Nina isn’t a new shape, but with Alchemist, it’s performs like a new ski. Testers said it was “rad in powder and on groomers,” “excellent at speed and in variable conditions,” and “super versatile and FUN.” The five-point sidecut and rocker profile are well-matched, and scores were high across the board, from powder to hardpack, and in all turn shapes. More info about the DPS Nina A99 here.

MSRP: $1,300

D: 125/99/111; R: 16m (168);L: 158, 168, 176.

Black Crows Daemon Birdie

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Double rocker (nearly complete reverse camber, actually), with soft tips, and Titanal underfoot—this is a powder-only ski, right? Wrong. Expert testers loved the Daemon all over the mountain thanks to instant response, a huge sweet spot, and surprising edge hold. “They do what you tell them the moment you ask,” explained one tester. “Pivoted through tough terrain easily,” added another. “These love powder, but destroy crud and carve remarkably well,” summarized a third. More info about the Black Crows Daemon Birdie here.

MSRP: $769

D: 129/99/117; R: 20m (170); L: 157, 164, 170, 177.

Icelantic Maiden 101

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It’s a familiar formula: rocker tip and tail for powder and crud flotation, with camber underfoot for edge hold. But according to testers, the Maiden 101 nailed it. “Fun, tough ski that doesn’t flinch,” said one tester. Scores fell off at high speed, but “the skis ‘pop’ and surf with ease,” at moderate speeds. “Great for intermediates who are advancing—these will take you there,” said our resident ski coach. Read more about the Icelantic Maiden 101 here.

MSRP: $650

D: 136/101/126; R: 14.5m (162); L: 155, 162, 169.

Liberty Genesis 96

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With high scores in Playfulness and Maneuverability, the Genesis 96 was an easy favorite. “Zippy little skis,” said one tester. “Perfect for an intermediate skier.” That zippiness might be attributed to its heart of bamboo and poplar, with class-leading forgiveness provided by a well-tuned rocker profile that initiated turns almost as easily as it released them. “Turns on a dime and holds the edge,” said one tester. “Fun enough in pow and chunder to make it one ski-quiver worthy.” More info about the Liberty Genesis 96 here.

MSRP: $650

D: 130/96/118; R: 16.5m  (171); L: 151, 158, 165, 171.

ON3P Jessie 98

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Known for making bulletproof skis, Oregon-based ON3P combined elliptical sidecut and rocker with all-conditions dimensions to produce the Jessie 98. Testers responded positively: “Buttery and delightful transitioning from turn to turn,” said one. “Really easy to ski,” another agreed. But aggressive rocker has its drawbacks, and testers found the 98 squirrely at speed and “not ideal for a burly chick.” One summed it up nicely: “Super fun for the lady who wiggles down the mountain.” More about the ON3P Jessie 98 here.

MSRP: $680

D: 126/98/120; R: 17.2m (161); L: 161, 166, 171, 176.

Romp Women’s 100

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Built in a small shop in Crested Butte, Romp has carved (pun intended) out a reputation for building durable, hard-charging skis over the last six seasons. A standard fiberglass layup was tested, but Romp specializes in custom designs, so the shape, flex, and materials options are unlimited. Testers called the Women’s 100 “impressively playful,” and stable at speed through variable terrain.” One tester said, “I loved the ‘pop’ the tails provide in transitions—a little something extra.” More info about the Romp Women’s 100 here.

MSRP: $750 ($1,050 custom)

D: 137/100/128; R: 17m (183); L: 155, 164, 172, 183.