What Are Freeride Skis?

Last Updated December 6, 2022 | by Fraser

what are freeride skisEvery year freeride skiing seems to be getting more popular, and for good reason. Who doesn’t want to go explore steep, fast terrain full of powder?

But to do this you need a proper set of freeride skis. In this article I will be breaking down some key things to look for when trying to find that perfect pair of freeride skis.

This particular post will look at “freeride skis” but you can check out this post for a summary of how we classify each category. We will also be doing separate posts going into detail for each category.

What to look for

Waist Width

Usually the first thing to look at on any ski but even more important when it comes to a freeride ski.

Surface area is key when riding powder or steep terrain so you are going to want a ski that is anywhere from a 110mm-125mm+ waist width. Doing so will guarantee you get an adequate amount of surface area for speed and powder.

Camber/Rocker Profile

Because you are going to spending a lot of time in steep powdery terrain you are going to want rocker in either the tip and tail or just the tip. Having this rocker is important in a freeride ski, as it helps keeps your tips above the snow and adds additional float and stability in steep terrain.

However you also want camber in there for that edge-hold and spring. We’re not talking pure powder skis here, so you still want that camber in the middle, but having that rocker is important for when you do find powder.

Flex

Another important aspect when it comes to depicting a freeride ski is the flex. Most are already stiff due to the sheer width of them but internally they are made stiffer as well to provide you with stability. Having too soft of a flex in steeper terrain can lead to chatter or washiness, which isn’t ideal.

Shape

Ideally for most freeride skis you want either partial twin tips or flat tails but by today’s standards most are partial twin. The benefit of having partial twins is that they can provide you with extra float in the tails, which is a must if you plan on doing anything switch in powder.

Comparison to other ski categories

PISTE ALL-MOUNTAIN ALL-MOUNTAIN-WIDE FREERIDE/BIG MOUNTAIN FREESTYLE
WAIST <85mm 85-99mm 100-110mm 110mm+ <100mm
CAMBER Traditional camber or tip rocker Can be traditional camber but typically tip rocker or tip and tail rocker Typically always has at least tip rocker and often has tip and tail rocker tip rocker or tip and tail rocker tip and tail rocker
SHAPE Flat Tail or Partial Twin Tips Can be anything but typically Partial Twin Tips Can be anything but typically Partial Twin Tips Flat Tail or Partial Twin Tips Full Twin Tips
TURN RADIUS Short to Medium Varies, but typically medium Varies, but typically medium Medium to Long Short to Medium
FLEX Mid-stiff to stiff for more advanced piste skis and mid-soft to medium for piste skis more aimed at beginners Mid to mid-stiff Mid to mid-stiff Typically Stiff Mid-soft to Mid

Conclusion 

Almost every ski brand has a freeride ski in their lineup these days and every year they seem to get even wider and crazier. This variety does however make deciding a bit more difficult, because you now need to identify what style of freeride skier you are.

For example, if you still want something that can be taken out on groomers or average days, then erring to a slightly smaller waist width, potentially less rocker, and a little softer flex might be more ideal for you. On the flip side if you want something that is built to destroy powder, chutes, and steep terrain, then erring wider, with a solid amount of stiffness and rocker as well, makes sense.


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what does freeride ski mean, what is a freeride ski


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