Best All-Mountain Skis 2014-2015

Best All-Mountain Skis 2014-2015

SkiingIf you're searching for that elusive “quiver of one” ski, this is the category in which you’ll likely find it. All-mountain skis have come a long way, even in the past five years. Manufacturers have been experimenting with rocker, camber, tip shape, and waist-width to find the sweet spot in versatility all over the mountain. Ultimately, there are some considerations to make on how you prioritize performance on firm snow and groomers to performance in powder, but the lines are getting ever more blurred with performance and material advances. There’s never been a better time to get into a new pair of all-mountain skis, and below are our top picks for the 2014-2015 season.

Men's All-Mountain Skis

This year Atomic is replacing what was already an excellent all-mountain ski, the Ritual, with the all-new Automatic 102. Fitting in their established Automatic lineage of skis—developed by freeskiers Sage Cattabriga-Alosa and Dana Flahr—the Automatic 102 takes some cues from the wider Automatic 117: most notably a powder rocker profile. On this ski, the rocker tip and slightly-rockered tail allow for nimble maneuvering in tight spaces, and the proper amount of float to really enjoy a powder day. It’s worth mentioning that the Automatic 102 gets a $200 price drop from its predecessor. With a full wood core, step down sidewall, and wraparound edges, however, we can only see this as helping to solidify it as a best buy in this category. 
Dimensions: 131-102-122mm (180cm)
Sizes: 160, 172, 180, 188cm
What we like: An intermediate to advanced ski at a bargain price. 
What we don’t: Might be too progressive for the ex-racer.
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The Supernatural series from Line replaces the much-loved Influence series, retaining solid abilities in the all-mountain arena. Most noticeable on the Supernatural 100 is a more pronounced tail rocker, which helps the ski pivot well in tight situations and make quick turns on groomers. Despite its agility, the Supernatural 100 holds a great edge in long turns at high speed on groomed runs, even as they get chewed up throughout the day. Like most Line skis, the flex on the Supernatural 100 is progressive: stiffer in the waist and progressively softer towards the tip and tail, which gives it a lively “pop” from turn to turn. Subtle rocker in the tips lends enough versatility to enjoy new and/or chopped up powder snow. 
Dimensions: 132-100-121mm
Sizes: 172, 179, 186cm
What we like: Very stable at high speeds. 
What we don’t: Be conscious of the tails washing out in deep turns. 
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Nordica developed their Soul Rider for the skier who grew up skiing on twin-tips in the park, but is ready to venture beyond to the rest of the mountain. The Soul Rider has a wood/carbon core with a middle-of-the-road flex that, combined with underfoot camber, makes it super playful in all situations. Vertical sidewalls keep it stable throughout turns when ramping up speed. The 97mm waist, coupled with slight tip rocker, will keep you relatively happy on days with fresh snow, but if you ski a lot out West you might want to look for something wider. Of course, the Soul Rider excels in the terrain park on those soft, sunny days when you’re ready to see if you still have it. 
Dimensions: 134-97-124mm
Sizes: 169, 177, 185cm
What we like: Fun freestyle heritage. 
What we don’t: Lacking in float on the really deep days. 
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The K2 Annex 108 brings true meaning to the term “all-mountain” as it’s equally at home in the resort and beyond the ropes in the side/backcountry. On the wider side of the all-mountain category, the Annex 108 uses K2’s all-terrain rocker in the tip for formidable powder performance. Still, it retains camber underfoot for utility in firmer snow conditions, and a metal laminate in the layup keeps its ultra damp when really being pushed at speed. A great “quiver of one” ski for those residing in places that get lots of snow, K2 has custom cut skins that fit into a slick grommet system available for the Annex 108 for those wanting to tour with it as well. 
Dimensions: 139-108-127mm
Sizes: 170, 177, 184, 191cm
What we like: Full backcountry capabilities in a resort-worthy ski. 
What we don’t: A lot of ski for lighter weight skiers.
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If you’re the kind of aggressive all-mountain skier that likes to go really fast and rarely stops before you get to the bottom (think tram laps at Snowbird or Jackson Hole), then the Moment Belafonte deserves a bit of your consideration. Moment has been making skis for more than a decade and commands a strong fan following. Among many models in their lineup, the Belafonte is most at home going all out and making two turns where most skiers make ten. That said, Moment did tweak it a bit for this season to be much more friendly in tight spaces and making shorter turns. It has a rocker tip and a unique “micro-camber” profile with two camber zones and a flat tail with a kick. Most big guys will be happy on the 186cm length, but if you are a real badass, Moment is releasing it in a 194cm as well. 
Dimensions: 133-106-122mm
Sizes: 168, 178, 186, 194cm
What we like: No speed limit. 
What we don’t: Creepy eyeball graphics. 
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Women’s All-Mountain Skis

As an all-mountain ski, the really attractive thing the Q 96 Lumen has going for it is Salomon’s translucent honeycomb tips. On hill they translate to a ski with very low swing weight that is easy to maneuver around and fast from turn to turn. Aside from preventing fatigue during a full day on the slopes, it’s great for smaller skiers who don’t have as much weight to throw around. The Lumen is, however, built to charge with a full wood core. Slight rocker in the tip and tail helps when faced with new snow, and a tapered tip shape prevents them from hooking up in variable conditions. The Lumen is an excellent choice for a skier looking for a playful all-mountain performance. 
Dimensions: 128-95-114mm
Sizes: 154, 162, 170cm
What we like: Performance at a bargain price.  
What we don’t: Missing a longer length size for bigger, stronger skiers. 
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Fans of fresh snow will love the Atomic Century 102. It features powder rocker in the tip and a 102mm waist, which gives it nice float and turnability in new or soft snow. When conditions firm up, the step-down sidewall construction and full wood core lend excellent edge-hold and stability on groomers. This is a directional all-mountain ski, but slight rocker and a kick in the tail make let it release easily from a turn and give it a “surfy” feel on the snow. The Century 102 makes a great choice for an intermediate to expert level skier looking to take their skiing well off the groomers. 
Dimensions: 130-102-121mm (172cm)
Sizes: 156, 164, 172cm
What we like: Again, performance at a bargain price
What we don’t: Again, missing a longer length size for bigger, stronger skiers. 
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If you are an intermediate to advanced level skier looking for soft snow performance without compromising carve-ability on groomers, the Volkl Aura might just be the perfect ski for you. A longtime favorite in the Volkl lineup, the Aura is 2mm wider in the waist this season and has a subtle full-length rocker to give it float in fresh snow. A new tapered tip aids in turn initiation and keeps it quick in tight spots. With a full wood core and vertical sidewalls, the Aura still retains the race-bred piste performance Volkl has become famous for. We also like the sleek geometric design more than some of the other skis on this list. 
Dimensions: 132-100-118mm
Sizes: 156, 163, 170cm
What we like: Doesn’t waver at full speed. 
What we don’t: Doesn’t like to go slow. 
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Building a women’s-specific all-mountain ski is nothing new, but 4FRNT took things a step further on the Madonna with a wood core weighted for female body geometry. The benefit to the skier is an easier forward stance to keep out of the dreaded “backseat” when terrain gets technical. In addition, the Madonna has tip and tail rocker for float in soft conditions, and camber underfoot to retain carving performance on groomers. A semi-cap construction keeps things lightweight, making this a great choice for smaller skiers. 
Dimensions: 123-98-118mm (172cm)
Sizes: 158, 165, 172cm
What we like: True women’s-specific design. 
What we don’t: Can get bounced around in heavier snow. 
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Rossignol’s Sassy 7 is a narrower all-mountain ski and meant to help ease the transition for skiers who want to start venturing off groomed trails and get into softer snow. It has 50 percent rocker in the tip and tail, but retains 50 percent camber underfoot to still be able to carve, and improve skills, on groomed runs. With a 90mm waist, the Sassy 7 is quick edge-to-edge and easy for any skier to handle. This is a great choice for a beginner-intermediate to intermediate level skier looking to make a ski purchase. 
Dimensions: 118-90-108mm
Sizes: 140, 150, 160, 170cm
What we like: Smaller sizes for petite skiers. 
What we don’t: Cap construction, but expected for a bargain-price ski. 
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Last Year's All-Mountain Models

At press time, a handful of our favorite all-mountain skis from last year are still available at discounted prices. The build and quality are very similar to the newer models, and it’s a great opportunity to grab a new pair of all-mountain skis without breaking the bank.

Recognizing the importance of rocker in modern ski design, Blizzard developed a construction process technology, “Flipcore,” that they claim allows their rockered skis to flex and behave more naturally than traditionally constructed skis. Regardless of whether or not this is true, the 2014 Blizzard Cochise is one solid option in the all-mountain game. A girthy waist and flat underfoot camber give it plenty of float in powder, while “Flipcore” tip and tail rocker profiling let it still retaining rock solid edge hold on firm snow. Aside from graphics, this ski is unchanged from 2013 and has become renowned for being a solid performer in all snow conditions.
Dimensions: 135-108-123mm
Sizes: 170, 177, 185, 193cm
What we like: Great size range and sustainable bamboo wood core.
What we don’t: Just a touch on the heavy side if you want to make this a sidecountry touring rig.
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The 2014 4FRNT Devastator is a fully-rockered, all-mountain ski that still carves really well in hard snow. An all-new offering from 4FRNT for last year, it uses an innovative shape theory—developed by team athlete Eric Hjorleifson—which matches rocker and turn radius. This keeps the Devastator’s edges on the snow when arcing a turn, while full-rocker lets you surf and slarve to your heart’s content, which is ideal for a more modern style of skier. We’re not a huge fan of the looks of this ski, but it’s a currently a great value at under $400. 
Dimensions: 136-108-131mm (184)
Sizes: 174, 184, 194cm
What we like: Full rocker for soft snow performance and playfulness. 
What we don’t: The 194cm length seems a bit long, but caters well to bigger guys.
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One of the wider offerings in the all-mountain arena, the all-new Nordica Wildfire is great go-to for skiers who frequent areas out West, especially if heavier snow conditions are a possibility. With slight tip and tail rocker and ample dimensions, the Wildfire is able to pivot around really nicely in deeper powder or cut-up crud. The full wood core makes this a stable machine, and it features PU stringers down its length to keep overall weight down. The camber underfoot is ever important for firmer snow and makes the Wildfire nimble from edge to edge.
Dimensions: 135-105-123mm (169)
Sizes: 161, 169, 177, 185cm
What we like: Offered in larger sizes.
What we don’t: Not super skin-friendly if you plan on touring with it.
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The widest women’s offering in the Quest line of skis from Salomon, the Stella is best described as “an excellent all-conditions performer.” It has a full rocker tip, camber underfoot and a flat tail. The Stella will hold a really solid edge when charging the fall line and likes to make bigger GS-style turns on groomers. In icier conditions it inspires confidence and has just enough playfulness for when the terrain gets tight. The new tapered tip uses a honeycomb material to reduce weight, improve maneuverability and dampen tip vibration.
Dimensions: 130-103-122mm (172)
Sizes: 158, 165, 172, 179cm
What we like: Race bases glide really well in flat sections.
What we don’t: Could be a touch more stable through crud.
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