Every day at the annual SKI Test, held last March at Deer Valley, Utah, testers have a debrief about their favorite skis of the day. There is usually consensus around the best, the worst, and the biggest surprises. This year, nearly every discussion heard the phrase “I can’t believe that was a value ski!” The scores reflected it: Most of the following skis would have been ranked in the 2019 Gear Guide, but luckily for skiers on a budget, these boards were in the Value category.
There are a few rules for this category: The MSRP must be at or below $660 (or $850 with a binding), and the ski has to perform on par with the rest of the models at the SKI Test. Any type of skis are welcome. To generate the value score, we take the ski’s test score, multiply it by 1,000, and divide that number by the retail price.
Nab these blue light specials before they’re gone.
BEST IN TEST: Dynastar Slicer Factory
This ski is a bit of a throwback—to the days when twin-tips were just as versatile out of the park as in it. Partially designed by Dynastar's athletes, the Slicer wowed testers with carving abilities and playful pop, but it really earned its name in crud, where it attacked like a skilled swordsman. “What a refreshing blast!” said tester Matt Schiller.
Value Score: 6.86. See more specs and scores for the Dynastar Slicer here.
K2 Pinnacle 85
K2 calls this ski a “gateway drug” and our testers certainly agreed. Performing best at moderate speeds and shorter turns, the easy-to-ride Pinnacle 85 is ideal for those on the cusp of great skiing, and will likely expedite the process. It's lightweight, nimble, and fun for nearly everyone. “A lot of bang for the buck,” according to Todd Casey.
Value Score: 6.26. See the rest of the K2 Pinnacle 85's scores here.
Head Monster 83x
The Monster 83x was resoundingly nimble and hungry to get on edge, making it a rock-solid candidate for skiers who are learning to love the carve. Testers found it to have sophisticated yet approachable manners on smooth slopes and fresh corduroy. “Holds long to short arcs smoothly and can pivot easily,” commented Erme Catino.
Value Score: 5.99. Find out more about the Head Monster 83x here.
Atomic Vantage 97 C
Atomic’s fully revamped Vantage line of skis has plenty of slick technology with low price tags. The translucent Carbon Tank Mesh forms the Vantage 97 C's backbone, and makes it easy to turn at various speeds, but it struggled in extra tough crud. “A confidence builder for skiers who know their speed limit,” said Jon Jay.
Value Score: 5.73. See how the Atomic Vantage 97 C scored in every category here.
Nordica Navigator 85
Inspired by the Enforcer series, the Navigator includes similar construction of a full wood core and metal laminates, and provides a playful dampness that can handle variable snow. Testers noticed it was a little uncomfortable at high speeds. “At home in the bumps, sun affected softness, and on firm snow,” said Bob Gleason.
Value Score: 5.58. You can find the rest of the Nordica Navigator 85's specs and scores here.
Quiet, confident, and playful were terms that testers used to describe the Kanjo. Built with a Titanal band and a multi-layer wood core, this ski is a perfect option for intermediate skiers and Völkl fanatics who just want something a bit easier to ski. “Super fun on soft snow,” said Mark Elling. “But surprisingly powerful on edge.”
Value Score: 5.57. Read more about the Völkl Kanjo here.
Read more: 2019's Best Value Skis for Women