Reviews You Can Rely On

How We Tested Powder Skis

By Rob Woodworth ⋅ Review Editor
Saturday January 12, 2019
powder skis - each ski in this review was put to the test, even if it meant doing...
Each ski in this review was put to the test, even if it meant doing a little extra work to get there.
Credit: Tyler Tasker

We built this review on a season-long testing period. Rather than a day or two spent making back-to-back comparisons, we took these skis out for weeks and months of continuous trialing. We sought to garner the largest possible pool of user data by relying upon multiple testers who were getting after it in all kinds of weather and terrain.

Testing Team

This review was an intensive collaboration. Our Lead Test Editor developed procedures and methods for testing with the help of three fellow snowsports professionals. Kept in the team room at the mouth of Poulsen's Gully, the skis were enjoyed by friends, colleagues, and multi-disciplinary athletes. Varied in age, size, ability, and gender, these contributors jotted down notes in the field and report back to the core group of lead testers. We compared impressions, discussed the nuances of each ski in detail, and tempered the aggregate data with our own expert opinions.

powder skis - a few new models were selected for the 18/19 season. we selected...
A few new models were selected for the 18/19 season. We selected boards from the previously untested brands: Nordica, K2, and DPS.
Credit: Tyler Tasker

Product Selection & Preparation

The onset of our review was filled with lots of deep scouring through online user reviews and market research to determine which powder skis had received notoriety from the skiing hive mind. We favored manufacturers with solid reputations and stuck to models that are custom-made for powder skiing. Of the wide variety of potential options, we feel that our final selection struck a balance between recognizable performance, innovative design, and collective commendation.

All the skis were mounted with the same Tyrolia AAAtack 16 DIN bindings. This is a traditional inbounds alpine setup that locks the skier in close contact with the ski for better response and feedback. All of the skis were mounted at the manufacturer's recommended boot center and received a professional tuning before hitting the snow.

We stress that all of the skis in this review were researched, selected, and purchased under our own free will. We did not accept any gifts, payments, or other corporate hookups from the brands you find here. With careful selection and great integrity, we chose them purely out of interest in finding the best possible powder ski available to the market.

powder skis - life's not shabby for a van-dwelling powder hound.
Life's not shabby for a van-dwelling powder hound.
Credit: Rob Woodworth

Methods & Procedures

Before riding the lineup, we examined each individual ski closely with a comprehensive physical inspection. We verified measurements, looked for defects, and hand-flexed like mad to compare their relative stiffness profiles. We then loaded these specs into a spreadsheet that would allow testers to compare metrics and adjust ratings on the fly.

And then we went to work. Literally. Most of the hours spent on these skis were enjoyed on-the-clock, first-to-last-chair. Before receiving a pair to trial, each tester would become familiarized with the testing procedures and criteria for evaluation as decided on by the leads. Testers were then asked to provide a numerical score for each rating metric in addition to pros, cons, and general impressions. At the end of the trial period, our Lead Test Editor would compile the data into a master spreadsheet that averaged the scores of each test. Some testers weren't able to ride every pair. Others seemed to have a favorite out of the gate. To compensate for certain biases, our core group of lead testers made sure to uphold the same expectations for each ski. Through analytical discussion and chairlift banter alike, they would refine and adjust ratings as they saw fit.

In the end, these reviews are nothing more than our opinions. But we were diligent in collecting educated data from a wide variety of skiers.

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GearLab is founded on the principle of honest, objective, reviews. Our experts test thousands of products each year using thoughtful test plans that bring out key performance differences between competing products. And, to assure complete independence, we buy all the products we test ourselves. No cherry-picked units sent by manufacturers. No sponsored content. No ads. Just real, honest, side-by-side testing and comparison.

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