Mens Skis

Top Men’s Value Skis of 2021

Save some cash without sacrificing performance.

For at least 10 years, the overall price of skis has stagnated while the price of outerwear and apparel—jackets, gloves, and the like—have gone up. There are murmurs that the price of skis, regardless of target audience, will soon start to climb noticeably higher, and consequently, the way we calculate our Value Ski scores will likely need to be tweaked next season. Until then, check out these exceptionally priced skis that went toe-to-toe with their more expensive counterparts at SKI Test in Taos Ski Valley, N.M.

How we calculate: To find a ski’s Value Score, we take the ski’s average test score, multiply it by 1,000, and divide this number by the MSRP (system skis had the price of their bindings subtracted to make things even). We didn’t set a firm price limit this year as the equation demands a low price in order to be competitive, but we did include the ski’s actual test score to allow you to choose what’s most important: a great deal, best-in-class performance, or a mix of both.

Best Value: Rossignol Black Ops Smasher

2021 Rossignol Black Ops Smasher
The 2021 Rossignol Black Ops Smasher.Photo courtesy of Rossignol

Testers were a bit nervous about the 170cm Smasher, but they got to the bottom wholly impressed by this Rossi’s ability to hold a solid edge at moderate speeds. The rocker and shorter effective edge allows the ski to wiggle through and slide over bumps and crud, making it an ideal choice for teenagers and adults who don’t need a lot of ski to have fun. 

  • Value Score: 8.11
  • Test Score: 3.24/5
  • Dimensions: 118-90-108
  • Lengths (cm): 130, 140, 150, 160, 170, 180
  • MSRP: $400

Dynastar Menace 90

2021 Dynastar Menace 90
The 2021 Dynastar Menace 90Photo courtesy of Dynastar

While it wasn’t revered for its carving skills, the Menace 90 was able to skid down the mountain comfortably in a way that intermediate skiers who like variable terrain will enjoy. The kicked tails help the ski pivot turns in tight spaces. The minimal weight is great for those interested in backcountry skiing, but mostly ride the chairlift when they are in the mountains. 

  • Value Score: 7.10
  • Test Score: 2.83/5
  • Dimensions: 118-90-108
  • Lengths (cm): 130, 140, 150, 160, 170, 180
  • MSRP: $400

Armada ARV 96

2021 Armada ARV 96
The 2021 Armada ARV 96Photo courtesy of Armada

While the test crew was divided about the graphics, they were universal in praise for the ARV 96’s capabilities. This twin-tipped all-mountain ski’s poplar and ash wood core can handle high speeds but is still poppy and playful. With the highest overall score in the Value category and a nice price, this ski is likely to be a winner for you, too. 

  • Value Score: 6.22
  • Test Score: 3.73/5
  • Dimensions: 125-96-117
  • Lengths (cm): 163, 170, 177, 184
  • MSRP: $600

Nordica Navigator 80

2021 Nordica Navigator 80
Nordica’s Navigator 80 for 2021.Photo courtesy of Nordica

Testers said Nordica’s value ski needs just a few turns to figure out the sweet spot, but once acquired, the Navigator 80 rewards with solid frontside performance. The skis’ construction and dimensions felt right at home on groomers, bumps, and even expert terrain at Taos. A competitively priced option that intermediates, advanced, and even expert skiers will appreciate. 

  • Value Score: 5.77
  • Test Score: 3.17/5
  • Dimensions: 119-80-104
  • Lengths (cm): 158, 165, 172, 179
  • MSRP: $550

Liberty Helix 88

2021 Liberty Helix 88
The 2021 Liberty Helix 88.Photo courtesy of Liberty

Narrower than all of the All-Mountain skis tested, the Liberty Helix 88 was appreciated by testers for its tenacity at all speeds, and its ability to transition from hard snow to bumps to chalky steeps with ease. The bamboo and poplar wood core is matched with carbon fiber, and the overall construction allows the ski to be lightweight and snappy. 

  • Value Score: 5.68
  • Test Score: 3.41/5
  • Dimensions: 118-88-118
  • Lengths (cm): 168, 175, 182
  • MSRP: $600

Line Sick Day 94

2021 Line Sick Day 94
The 2021 Line Sick Day 94.Photo courtesy of Line Skis

At Taos, the majority of testers were more than happy to get on these lightweight planks on a day when the heavy metal options were plentiful. The proprietary Aspenlite wood core makes the ski playful at moderate speeds and allows it to float over crud easily. Skiers who like to have fun and know when to call in “sick” will enjoy it. 

  • Value Score: 5.66
  • Test Score: 3.68/5
  • Dimensions: 131-94-117
  • Lengths (cm): 172, 179, 186
  • MSRP: $650

Best Value Skis of 2020

Mike Rogan at Taos
Mike Rogan at Taos Ski Valley, New Mexico.Photo credit: Keri Bascetta

Money can’t buy happiness, but it can buy skis. That doesn’t mean you should run up your credit card to buy a new pair of planks. Instead, we added skis under $675 MSRP into our annual SKI Test to see just how good they are compared to the more expensive models found in the 2020 Gear Guide. We classify these as Value Skis, and—spoiler alert—there are some jaw-droppingly great skis at or below this price point.

To create the Value Score, we take the ski’s overall test score, multiply it by 1,000, and divide it by the ski’s MSRP. This means that the lower the price, the better the ski will do, unless a) It’s a truly terrible ski, or b) It’s astoundingly great, albeit slightly more expensive. There are no category prerequisites, and these skis run the gamut from frontside to all-mountain wide. Make sure you know what category suits you before putting a pair in your shopping cart.

BEST IN TEST: Dynastar Menace 90

Dynastar Menace 90
The 2020 Dynastar Menace 90.Photo courtesy of Dynastar

With a full poplar wood core and capable sidecut, the Menace 90 is great for intermediate skiers who crave cruising, moguls, and steeps. Testers praised the Menace 90’s playfulness in particular, labeling it a perfect one-ski quiver for skiers ready to experiment with turn shapes and catching air.

Dynastar Menace 90 Value Score: 7.31

Rossignol Smash 7

2020 Rossignol Smash 7
The 2020 Rossignol Smash 7.Photo courtesy of Rossignol

The Smash 7 utilizes rocker in the tip and tail combined with a poplar wood core to make a capable, quick ski at a budget-friendly price. While its performance didn’t surprise testers as much as the price point, they still found it responsive, fun, and enjoyable at moderate speeds, making it a solid option for beginner and intermediate skiers ready to advance.

Rossignol Smash 7 Value Score: 6.44

Head Monster 83 X

2020 Head Monster 83 X
The 2020 Head Monster 83 X.Photo courtesy of Head

The Monster 83 X’s tenacious carving abilities punch well above the weight of its feathery price tag. This year, testers commended the ski’s ability to devour hard snow with plentiful stability. The Monster 83 X does get a little sheepish off of groomers, but the wide shovel helps it float through softer conditions if need be.

Monster 83 X Value Score: 5.84

Atomic Vantage 97 C

2020 Atomic Vantage 97 C
The 2020 Atomic Vantage 97 C.Photo courtesy of Atomic

Atomic’s translucent Prolite construction turned heads in the test corral, and testers appreciated the friendliness of the carbon tank mesh, which makes the Vantage 97 C easier to manage at slower speeds compared to the Titanal version. Testers enjoyed this ski at moderate to fast speeds in variable conditions, noting it has energy for days.

Atomic Vantage 97 C Value Score: 5.75

Blizzard Bushwacker

2020 Blizzard Bushwacker
The 2020 Blizzard Bushwacker.Photo courtesy of Blizzard

For testers who thought the Brahma 88 was too much ski, the Bushwacker proved to be just the ticket. Featuring similar dimensions without metal, it’s a great resort ski for anyone who wants Blizzard-level performance without a loan application. Non-race testers said the Bushwacker was especially playful in moguls.

Blizzard Bushwacker Value Score: 5.73

Nordica Navigator 85

2020 Nordica Navigator 85
The 2020 Nordica Navigator 85.Photo courtesy of Nordica

With the highest overall performance score for the Value Test, the Navigator 85 has similar chops to the Enforcer family but is significantly easier to ski, making it the best option for intermediate skiers ready to level up or skiers who want effortless reliability. Bargain hunters should be able to easily find it for less than MSRP, too.

Nordica Navigator 85 Value Score: 5.62

Best Value Skis of 2019

Mark Elling skiing at Deer Valley
Mark Elling at Deer Valley.Photo credit: Keri Bascetta

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.

BEST IN TEST: Dynastar Slicer Factory

2019 Dynstar Slicer
The 2019 Dynastar Slicer FactoryPhoto courtesy of Dynastar

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.

K2 Pinnacle 85

2019 K2 Pinnacle 85
The 2019 K2 Pinnacle 85Photo courtesy of K2

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.

Head Monster 83x

2019 Head Monster 83x
The 2019 Head Monster 83xPhoto courtesy of Head

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.

Atomic Vantage 97 C

2019 Atomic Vantage 97 C
The 2019 Atomic Vantage 97 C.Photo courtesy of Atomic

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.

Nordica Navigator 85

2019 Nordica Navigator 85
The 2019 Nordica Navigator 85.Photo courtesy of Nordica

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.

Völkl Kanjo

2019 Volkl Kanjo
The 2019 Völkl Kanjo.Photo courtesy of Völkl

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.”