How to Pick Your Skis

Nothin’ beats the rush of sending it down the mountain, but buying a new pair of skis does come close! If you’re not sure where to start or how to really get the kind of ski you’re looking for just start here.

Types of Skis

One of the first questions we usually ask is where do you ski and what type of terrain - are you chasing powder off the trail, shredding the groomed runs at your local resort, or even a bit of both? You might want to go with an all-mountain ski in that case but that won’t be right for everyone so we’ve included a general breakdown of the types of skis we carry at the Basement:


All Mountain skis cover a range of construction types and are intended for all kinds of terrain. They’re your jack of all trades, master of none types that can be taken anywhere. They can get you through powdery moments, carve into some hard pack, and generally bop around the mountain. Usually in the mid range of width and stiffness.


Freeride skis are on the All Mountain ski spectrum, intended to spend about 30% of their time on groomers and 70% on the rest of the mountain. They’re on the wider side allowing them to float through powder, but not too wide to keep you from easily finding your edges. They have some pop to them for bounding down pillowy off-trail terrain.


You can pretty much tell a powder ski apart from the rest by how wide they are. If it looks like a long, wide boat, it's a powder ski. They're made to float through deep snow by distributing your weight around over more surface area. They’re the slidy version of snowshoes.


Opposite to Powder skis in construction and intended use are Frontside skis. They’re usually very narrow and tend to be stiffer than other skis. They’re meant for carving into turns on groomed runs at ski resorts. The stiffest, narrowest iteration of frontside skis would be racing skis.

Alpine Touring

Finding the powder of your dreams sometimes means touring the backcountry. That's where Alpine touring skis come into play with their lightweight build that's typically shaped to excel in the various conditions you'll find in the backcountry. Pair them with special bindings that can switch between free-heel and fixed-heel modes plus some climbing skins and you're ready to go.





Ski technology has changed a ton in the past few years, and as such so have the norms for sizing skis. They're generally lighter and more nuanced than the narrow, pointed Titanic-scavenged planks some of us learned with.

With that, sizing isn't super cut and dry but generally for adults new to skiing we place one end of the ski on the floor by their feet and measure to around their chin. For more experienced skiers, we recommend a longer ski, measured to the nose or forehead for length, kindly nodding away your dad's pleas to measure an arms length above your head. For children learning to ski, we might measure even shorter - somewhere between their chest and chin.

Remember, skis come in incremental sizes. If you're in between two of them, measure down for beginners and up for more advanced skiers.





Anatomy of a Ski

Besides length, skis are measured at 3 points - always in millimeters and always in reference to its width at that point. The widest of the two are the “tip” and “tail” with the “waist” being the narrowest. You’ll usually see these measurements displayed with slashes or x’s in between like: “143/116/133” or “143 x 116 x 133”. In this example, we have a ski with a width of 143mm at the tip, 116mm at the waist, and 133mm at the tail.

So why do these measurements matter? A wider ski means more surface area is in contact with the snow, and in turn allows something like a powder ski to float over snow instead of just sinking into it. In general, you’ll want to go for a wider ski for softer variable conditions and a narrower ski for groomed, hardpack, or icy conditions - this allows the ski to concentrate your weight into a smaller area, allowing you to really dig into the snow when turning.

Camber vs. Rocker

Lay a ski on the ground with the bindings up and you’ll notice one of two things - the middle of the ski either rises off the ground or it makes contact with the ground. This profile is known as camber and rocker, respectively.

And with skis sporting different combinations of the two, it’s important to know the benefits of each. You'll see our shorthand descriptions on each product page, listed out in order from front to back of the ski if it were viewed in profile. For instance, Rocker/Camber/Rocker means that the ski has a rocker profile in the front, a camber under your feet and another rocker closer to the tail.

  • Rocker/Camber - This type of ski features a rocker in the tip for plenty of float in powder, and less edge catch, while the rest of the ski has a more traditional camber profile.
  • Rocker/Camber/Rocker - This type of ski provides the edge hold of a traditional cambered ski, while the rockers at tip and tail move the contact points further in, providing you with more float and playfulness in powder. This is a great profile, able to perform well in variable ski conditions.
  • Full Camber - This is the traditional ski shape, with the maximum amount of edge hold. This is the profile of choice for ski racers, and performs better than any other profile on hardpack.
  • Full Rocker - This profile originated waaay back with old school, super wide, first-timer skis like the K2 Pontoon. They feel stable underfoot because the only contact point is directly underfoot. But where they really shine is in deep powder. They don't turn well on hardpack, so save the full rocker for the backcountry.

Sidecut Radius

Both the profile of a ski and the width of the ski make an impact on your sidecut radius, or in car terms, your turning radius. Turning on snow means digging into snow with the sides of your skis and using your body weight to angle yourself where you want to go. So it makes sense that a thinner ski with a lot of edge hold (like you get with a camber profile) will turn more sharply than a big wide floaty pontoon of a ski. That's especially true if you're skiing on hardpack or icier snow, where you really need to be able to dig in. This metric is measured in meters, but that's kind of a hard number to imagine - as a rule of thumb, a radius between 17-22 meters is great for resort skiing, and above 22 meters is great for deep pow.




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