The Best Women’s All-Mountain Skis of 2021-2022

2021-2022, all-mountain, best, outdoor, skis, the, women’s - 22 minutes to read


For many skiers, a quiver of one makes practical and financial sense. From hard and fast groomers to soft and deep powder, all-mountain skis are always up to the task.

In other words, all-mountain skis are like duct tape; no matter what situation you find yourself in, they’re the perfect tool for the job. Versatility is the name of the game in this category.

Though the definition of “all-mountain” varies by retailer and brand, all of the skis on this list perform well across a broad range of skiing styles and snow conditions. In 2021-2022, the market is packed with many high-quality models, and it can be daunting to sift through the seemingly endless options.

To help streamline your selection process, we’ve included our favorite all-mountain skis in a variety of sub-categories. Our selections include best all-around, best for beginners, and best value.

If you’d like to learn more about all-mountain skis and how they’re defined, check out our buyer’s guide and FAQ section at the end of this article.

Scroll through to see all of our recommended buys or jump to the category you’re looking for:

The Best Women’s All-Mountain Skis of 2021-2022

Best All-Around: Blizzard Black Pearl 97

With an all-new core construction, Blizzard’s acclaimed Black Pearl 97 ski ($700) is back and better than ever. This semi-wide ski is known for its smooth and dependable ride, and it’s fully capable of adjusting to variable snow conditions. Energetic skiers in the intermediate and advanced categories will find the Black Pearl can handle just about anything with style and power.

For the 2022 season, Blizzard has equipped this ski with its new TrueBlend Wood Core, which patterns different densities of wood throughout the entire length and width of the ski. The result is improved flex that doesn’t undermine the precision and edge hold the Black Pearl is known for.

In deep powder, this ski floats and handles adequately, but harder surfaces are the Black Pearl’s true wheelhouse. This ski loves to be on its edge and would be the perfect choice for someone looking to progress their high-speed aggressive carving skills.

Specs:

Profile: Camber in the middle, rocker in the tip and tail
Sidecut radius: Short
Best for: Intermediate and advanced skiers looking to progress their carving skills
Other waist widths available (mm): 82, 88
Sizes (cm): 153, 159, 165, 1771

Pros:

Damp, smooth ride
Excellent for carving on groomers

Cons:

Not the best ski for powder

Check Price at evoCheck Price at REI

Best for Beginners: Atomic Vantage W 75 Skis + Bindings

For beginner skiers looking to adapt their growing skillset to the entire mountain, this ski and binding combo is the perfect tool. Progression on skis is a delicate process of gaining confidence and accepting the appropriate level of challenge. The Atomic Vantage W 75 ($400) is intentionally designed to support you on this path.

We appreciate that Atomic outfits their entry-level skis with high-quality components. The Vantage comes with a fast and durable sintered base that glides smoothly over all kinds of snow. A durable and agile foam core allows for easygoing maneuverability without feeling overly flexible or squirrelly.

Unfortunately, as your skills develop and you begin to crave high speeds and deep powder, you’ll likely outgrow the capability of these skis. However, during the transition from beginner to intermediate, the Atomic Vantage W 75 is an affordable and highly functional option.

Specs:

Profile: Traditional camber, with minor rocker in the tail
Sidecut radius: Short
Best for: Beginner skiers seeking an affordable, progression-oriented setup
Other available waist widths (mm): 79, 82
Sizes (cm): 140, 147, 154, 161

Pros:

Progression-oriented
Great value

Cons:

Squirrelly at high speeds

Check Price at evo

Best Value: Völkl Blaze 106 W

Many skis in Völkl’s lineup are known for their bulky weight, stiff handling, and hard-carving capabilities. In many ways, the Blaze 106 ($600) is the exception to this trend. With relatively simple construction in a super-lightweight package, this is a forgiving and playful ski with a serious attraction to fresh powder.

We love how versatile these skis are. Without a discernible dip in performance, the Blaze 106 can easily transition between backcountry touring, groomer cruising, and side-country bliss. For the skier looking for a fun-forward, do-it-all ski, there simply isn’t a better option.

For such a lightweight ski, the Blaze 106 has an impressively durable multilayer wood core made from poplar and beech. It’s harder and stiffer under the bindings and noticeably flexier in the tip and the tail. This added flex sets the ski apart from many others in Völkl’s line. In soft snow and powder, the rockered ends of this ski offer glorious catch-free float.

We recommend this ski to intermediate, advanced, and elite skiers looking for a daily driver that prioritizes versatility over nonstop hard carving. Yes, the iconic stability of Völkl is preserved in the Blaze 106, but it’s balanced by an impressively low weight and forgiving maneuverability. Plus, it comes in at a relatively low price.

Specs:

Profile: Camber underfoot, rocker in the tip and tail
Sidecut radius: Medium
Best for: Intermediate and advanced skiers looking for a daily driver that will go anywhere — including the backcountry
Other waist widths available (mm): 94
Sizes (cm): 158, 165, 172

Pros:

Lightweight
Versatile
Great value

Cons:

A little flexible for aggressive high-speed carving

Check Price at evoCheck Price at Backcountry

Best of the Rest

Salomon QST Stella 106

Salomon’s QST line has long been a groundbreaking force in modern all-mountain skiing. Now, the dynasty continues with the QST Stella 106 ($700) — a wide and wonderful ski perfect for intermediate and advanced skiers.

If you happen to ski in areas where the snow is frequently soft and deep, we can’t recommend this ski enough. Its 106mm waist is outstanding for everything but frozen hardpack.

In other words, we recommend this ski to West Coast dwellers — the Wasatch Range and the Cascades would be especially good venues for ripping the QST Stella. In fresh powder, it floats like a duck on a pond.

Though this is a powder-leaning all-mountain ski, it’s relatively damp and fun to ride on choppy surfaces and groomers. Cork damplifier inserts in the tip and tail reduce chatter, and surprisingly stiff flex keeps you in control at speed. A wood core with carbon weave laminate provides ample structure and keeps the total weight low.

Ultimately, we recommend the QST Stella to intermediate and advanced skiers who like to explore all of the mountain but frequently dwell in the powder stash.

Specs:

Profile: Camber underfoot, rocker in the tip and tail
Sidecut radius: Medium
Best for: Intermediate and advanced skiers with a penchant for powder
Other waist widths available: None
Sizes (cm): 159, 167, 174

Pros:

Glorious float in soft snow and powder
Versatile

Cons:

Not ideal on icy hardpack

Check Price at evoCheck Price at Backcountry

Faction Agent 3.0X 106

Surfy in the powder yet assertive in the crud and chop, the 2022 Faction Agent 3.0X ($749) is a true all-mountain powerhouse. Faction has previously labeled this ski as a touring model, and while it checks that box in style, it’s great for in-bounds action too.

On groomers, this ski locks in with ease and commands powerful and precise edge hold. With a stiff tail that can truly rip an aggressive carve, this ski is best suited for intermediate and advanced riders. The Agent wants to be pushed hard, and someone with confidence and strong technique will be well-positioned to get the most out of it.

The generous amount of camber underfoot is appreciated for making tight turns, and the rockered-out tip and tail assist with floatability in the soft stuff. A lightweight core made from Karuba wood naturally absorbs chatter and helps produce an elegantly smooth ride.

Beyond resort boundaries, many skiers report the Agent 3.0X hikes up hills comfortably but feels a little beefy for regular backcountry use. Still, this is a high-quality ski that competes with anything else on the market for versatility and all-mountain performance.

Specs:

Profile: Camber underfoot, rocker in the tip, and mild rocker in the tail
Sidecut radius: Medium
Best for: Advanced skiers who love to go fast, carve hard, and explore the backcountry
Other available waist widths: None
Sizes (cm): 164, 172, 178

Pros:

Versatile
Smooth, damp ride
Stable at high speeds

Cons:

Stiff tail takes some getting used to, especially for less experienced skiers

Check Price at evo

Faction Dictator 2.0X

For some skiers, it’s all about maximum speed and aggressive carving. If you’re the type to charge hard and race to the bottom, the Faction Dictator 2.0X is the ski for you.

The “Dictator” is a fitting name for these hot pink beats, as they will certainly take charge and flaunt their power. Because this ski is quite stiff and unforgiving, we don’t recommend it to beginner skiers. Instead, the Dictator should be reserved for advanced and expert skiers.

Even when speeding through crud, these skis remain stable and generate minimal chatter. Thanks to the larger-than-average turning radius, the Dictator 2.0X prefers hard and fast turns. If you tend to ski with powerful and authoritative movements, this ski will work with you and elevate your experience. If not, you’ll feel like you’re fighting for control against the ski.

The Dictator is not a powder ski, and it struggles to float in fresh snow deeper than about six inches. If you commonly shred in regions where the snow is hard and fast, this ski can be an excellent quiver of one. If not, you’ll want to keep the Dictator in the garage on soft and deep powder days and pull it out when the conditions firm up.

Specs:

Profile: Camber underfoot, rocker in the tip, and flat tail
Sidecut radius: Longer radius for fast turns
Best for: Advanced skiers who love to go fast and carve hard on firm snow
Other available waist widths: None
Sizes (cm): 155, 163, 171

Pros:

Excellent for carving
Stable at high speeds
Minimal tip chatter

Cons:

Check Price at evo

Völkl Secret 96

Völkl’s Secret 96 ($700) is a truly versatile ski. Though the Secret can comfortably venture onto any part of the mountain, it will feel most at home when zipping down groomers at speed.

Völkl is known for consistently high-quality ski construction, and the Secret is no exception. The physical makeup of this ski provides chatter-free stability, even on rough snow and ice.

The only minor downside of the Secret 96 is that isn’t particularly nimble in dense trees and other tight areas. However, for the most part, this is a do-it-all ski that will surely satisfy any intermediate to expert skier.

Specs:

Profile: Camber underfoot, rocker in the tip, and flat tail
Sidecut radius: Normal
Best for: Intermediate and advanced skiers looking for a high-quality versatile ski
Other available waist widths: 102
Sizes (cm): 149, 156

Pros:

Stable at high speeds
Versatile

Cons:

Not the most nimble in tight areas

Check Price at REICheck Price at Backcountry

Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose the Best All-Mountain Skis of 2021-2022

‘All-Mountain’ Defined

All-mountain skis are designed to do it all. No matter where you are on the mountain or what the snow conditions are, all-mountain skis are up to the task.

While some skis are made for a specific purpose —  ripping through the terrain park, or racing through slalom gates, for example — all-mountain skis are far more versatile. With any of the high-quality skis on this list, you’ll be able to explore the resort as you please, from the wide-open groomers to the pow-laden trees.

There are no specific criteria a ski must meet to earn the all-mountain title. Many retailers and manufacturers have their own unique all-mountain standards. Generally, any skis that can handle a wide range of uses will have a few key characteristics in common.

Most all-mountain skis have a mid-wide waist between 75 and 105 mm. This width range sits between super-narrow and super-wide skis — and is ideal for all-mountain use.

Additionally, most skis in this category have a traditional shape and profile. With camber underfoot and rocker at the tip and the tail, all-mountain skis possess plentiful usability from fresh powder to icy crud.

Types of All-Mountain Skis

All of the skis on this list prioritize versatility and can readily venture onto all parts of the mountain. Still, “all-mountain” is ultimately a spectrum that contains multiple subcategories of skis. Many skiers like to explore the whole mountain while also maintaining a preference for a certain style of skiing or type of terrain.

Depending on where you regularly ski, you may be dealing with certain types of snow conditions throughout the season. If this is true for you, it’s very helpful to have an all-mountain ski with design elements that maximally support your specific personal needs.

Groomer-Leaning All-Mountain Skis

Skis in this category will perform at their best on groomed runs and firm snow conditions. Typically, groomer-leaning all-mountain skis have a relatively narrow waist width between 75 and 90 mm. On firm snow, an ultra-wide ski simply isn’t necessary.

Skis in the groomer-leaning category prioritize, stiffness, high-speed stability, and edge hold. While groomer-leaning all-mountain skis tend to sacrifice float in the deep powder, they’re unbeatable for hard carving and sending it down firm runs with control.

Groomer-leaning skis are especially worth considering for people in the Midwest and East Coast regions. On this list, the Blizzard Black Pearl 97 is one of our favorites in this category.

Powder-Leaning All-Mountain Skis

Powder-leaning all-mountain skis are built to thrive in the deep stuff. Generally, skis in this category have a waist width between 95 and 110 mm. If powder lines are your jam, these are the skis for you.

Skiers in regions with lots of snowfall such as the Cascades and the Wasatch — should certainly consider this category. For maximum floatability and a bit of playful flex, check out powder-leaning all-mountain skis such as the Völkl Blaze 106.

Waist Width

Waist width is the width of a ski at its narrowest point. All-mountain skis typically have a waist width between 75 and 105 mm. Within this range, narrower skis are generally better for high speeds and carving on hard surfaces, while wider widths are better for surfing through soft snow and powder.

Many ski models are available in various waist widths. If you like a specific ski and lean toward a cerian type if terrain, be sure to select the best waist width for you. For every ski on this list, we’ve listed the waist widths it comes in.

Ski Length

Ski length is an important consideration, and most of the models on this list are available in multiple lengths. In the past, a skier’s height would determine their ideal ski length. In 2021, the process is significantly more nuanced.

While skier height remains an important factor, there are many other considerations for understanding ski length. Shorter skis are easier to handle and maneuver, which makes them a better choice for beginners.

Longer skis have more surface area, which means that they tend to feel more stable at high speeds and float better in powder. A skier’s weight can also have an impact on a ski’s flex, maneuverability, and power transfer. This sizing chart is an effective tool that will help you consider all of the relevant factors.

Ski Profile: Camber vs. Rocker

A ski’s profile impacts its overall performance. In 2021, the market is full of skis with all kinds of different profiles, from traditional to experimental and everything in between.

Skis with a more traditional camber profile are shaped like the letter “C” and rise up underneath the foot, making contact with the ground at the tip and the tail. While skiing, your body weight pushes the base of the ski against the snow.

During turns, the camber shape provides some lift and pop, which propels you into your next turn with an almost spring-loaded sensation. For pure carving purposes, traditional camber is still the leading ski profile, and many skis on this list feature some variation on the traditional camber shape. Traditionally cambered skis tend to be rockered or flat in the tip and tail.

A ski with a true rocker profile is shaped like a banana — the tip and tail of the ski are lifted higher than the underfoot area. Rocker profiles are newer to the ski design world, but they have plenty of advantages.

When skiing in deep powder, a rocker profile offers extra float and creates an effortless surf-like experience. The downside of rocker profiles is they generally don’t hold an edge as well as traditional camber, so they aren’t ideal for high-speed carving on firm surfaces.

Many of the leading all-mountain skis have a hybrid profile that combines aspects of camber and rocker. To learn more about ski profiles and the complex differences between them, check out this handy video from snow sports retailer evo.

Flex and Stiffness

Ski stiffness is a major performance factor that exists on a broad spectrum. On one end of this range, soft and flexy skis are easier to maneuver, more playful, and best suited for beginner to intermediate skiers.

Freestyle skiers who love to hit boxes and rails may also want a relatively soft and flexible ski. One of the downsides of soft skis is they’re prone to chatter at high speeds and feel harder to control.

Stiff skis are preferred by advanced, and expert skiers who crave high-speed stability and long, aggressive carves. These designs are built with rigid materials such as carbon fiber stringers.

The downside of stiff skis is they require power and refined technique to steer properly. For this reason, we don’t recommend ultra-stiff skis to beginners.

Most all-mountain skis fall somewhere in the middle of the soft-to-stiff spectrum. Groomer-leaning skis are usually on the stiffer side to best support speed and stability. Powder-leaning skis are more flexy in order to maximize surfability and play. If you’re looking for pure versatility, midrange flex is the way to go.

Turn Radius and Sidecut

The sidecut of a ski refers to the shape of the curve along either side of its length. To some degree, all skis have an hourglass shape, but the radius of these curves has a crucial effect on steering, speed, and stability.

Skis that are much wider at the tip and tail than in the waist will have a short turning radius. A shorter turning radius is great for quick and nimble movements in the trees and moguls. Anything less than 16 m can be considered a short turning radius.

Skis with a longer turning radius are generally preferred for riding fast and carving hard in wide-open bowls groomers. While a long turning radius makes sudden changes of direction difficult, it’s certainly an asset when laying down long, sweeping carves. Anything more than 20 m can be considered a long turning radius.

Many all-mountain skis have an all-around turning radius somewhere between 16 and 20 m. While a ski’s sidecut does partially define its personality, it won’t tell you everything about how a ski will actually feel on the mountain. Other factors — including flex and profile — combine with the shape of the sidecut to define the performance personality of any given ski.

Parts of a Ski

In 2021, high-quality skis are highly engineered tools that pack lots of technology into a sleek package. The materials and construction that make up your skis will define your experience using them. A ski is truly the sum of its parts.

Though there are many different components of a ski, the most important ones to be aware of are the laminates, sidewalls, core, and base.

Core and Laminates

The core of a ski is the innermost material that defines the basic structure,  shape, and flex. Most all-mountain skis feature a wood core made from aspen, poplar, beech, or a combination. Foam cores are commonly found in cheaper, beginner-level skis.

Around the core, additional layers of carbon fiber, metal, and other materials are added to increase or reduce characteristics such as pop, rigidity, and dampness.

Base

A ski’s base is the surface that comes in direct contact with the snow. There are two kinds of bases: extruded and sintered.

Generally, extruded bases are found on beginner skis due to their low maintenance requirements. Skis with extruded bases are increasingly rare, but if you’re looking to prioritize affordability and low maintenance, they’re a reasonable option.

Sintered bases are the norm for almost all high-quality skis on the market. Though these bases require frequent waxing and general maintenance, they’re the best option for consistent all-mountain performance.

Sidewalls

The sidewall is the material along the outer edges of a ski. Generally, sidewalls are made from plastic that protects the sandwiched core layers. Sometimes, the fiberglass and top sheet layer are extended to conceal the edge. The sidewall could also be a hybrid construction of both methods.

Women’s Skis vs. Men’s Skis

While some manufacturers make unisex skis, most models are specifically designed for either men or women. In the current market, men’s skis tend to have a slightly higher overall weight, increased rigidity, and a slightly setback mounting point to account for the way men tend to balance on skis.

Meanwhile, women’s skis commonly feature a mildly setback stance and are lighter and flexier. Though a women’s ski with enough rigidity for pure hard charging is harder to find, there are some excellent options available. On this list, the Faction Agent 3.0X 106 is a women’s ski with all of the hard-charging power of any ski on the market.

It’s important to remember all skiers can absolutely enjoy both men’s and women’s models. Ultimately, it comes down to preference. The differences between men’s and women’s models are often subtle, and we recommend prioritizing performance and comfort over a men’s or women’s label.

Boot and Binding Compatibility

Skis are only one part of your shredding setup, and your boots and binding are equally important components of the system. It’s crucial that all aspects of your setup suit each other to provide the best performance possible.

A high-end pair of skis won’t be able to live up to its potential with low-quality boots or bindings. Generally, you want to match the strengths of your skis with boots and bindings with similar traits. For example, softer, more playful skis will work best with soft and playful boots and bindings.

Most boots and bindings can be mounted successfully to most skis, regardless of brand. Still, we recommend checking with the manufacturer’s specs to be absolutely sure.

FAQ

What Are the Best All-Mountain Skis?

The best all-mountain skis are the ones that suit your skill level, skiing style, and budget. On this list, we’ve included many top-quality options across a broad range of design characteristics.

Our choice for the best overall ski is the Blizzard Black Pearl 97.

Are All-Mountain Skis Good for Beginners?

Some all-mountain skis are excellent for beginner skiers. As a beginner, your priorities are progression and comfort. With these needs in mind, we recommend you choose a ski that is reasonably flexible and narrow. Flexible skis are easier to maneuver, and they won’t fight you for control.

Skis in the narrower range (about 70-95 mm in waist width) will be easier to shift from edge to edge. They tend to do better on the groomers where you’ll likely spend most of your time as a new skier.

On this list, we’ve selected the Atomic Vantage W 75 Skis as the best beginner ski.

Can I Use My Old Boots and Bindings With My New Skis?

Most likely, you’ll be able to use your old boots and bindings with your new skis. Most skis will accept any bindings, though there are some exceptions. Depending on the quality of your old boots and bindings, it may be worth considering an upgrade in order to get the most out of your new skis.

Are All-Mountain Skis Good for the Terrain Park?

Most all-mountain skis will perform reasonably well in the terrain park. If you’re a pure park skier, we recommend freestyle skis over all-mountain options.

However, if you enjoy wandering all over the mountain within an occasional visit to the park, all-mountain skis should do just fine. Generally, skis with better-than-average flex and pop are better than stiff and aggressive skis for park riding.

Are Women’s Skis Different Than Men’s Skis?

Compared to men’s skis, women’s skis commonly feature a mildly setback stance and are lighter and flexier. Though a women’s ski with enough rigidity for pure hard charging is harder to find, there are some excellent options available. On this list, the Faction Agent 3.0X 106 is a women’s ski with all of the hard-charging power of any ski on the market.

It’s important to remember all skiers can absolutely enjoy both men’s and women’s models. Ultimately, it comes down to preference. The differences between men’s and women’s models are often subtle, and we recommend prioritizing performance and comfort over a men’s or women’s label.

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