As the 2019-20 ski season nears, it’s time to pick our top five favorite skis for the season. We know it’s hard to choose new skis when there’s so much marketing talk, and complicated lingo, so we’ve winnowed the herd, and come up with our five favorites. And if you don’t have time to read through the whole review, we’ve added one sentence blurbs to help you find the perfect ski for you. So pour yourself a mug of hot chocolate, and settle in to find out what our top 5 skis of 2019-2020 are.
Rossignol Black Ops 98
“For the all-mountain skier”
The original Black Ops solidified itself as a more freestyle oriented, but still hard charging alternative to Rossignol’s “7” series. Now though, the wider original Black Ops has been joined by the new, narrower Black Ops 98.
Rossignol markets the Black Ops 98 as an all-mountain quiver killer, and it earns that reputation. It combines a playful, progressive shape, with a balanced flex. It’s soft at the tips and tails, making it easy to pop, play, and butter, but stiffens up underfoot, perfect for ripping powerful turns in variable snow. This is one of the best all mountain skis on our list – it’s perfect to take to the hill when you don’t really know what the conditions will be. It performs well in soft, fresh snow, and then really shines in variable, chopped up snow that transitions from fun power to packed mank without warning. If you’re looking for a solid, dependable ski that will react predictably no matter what you throw at it, the Black Ops 98 is a great choice.
Moment Deathwish Tour
“For the backcountry fanatic.”
If you want to earn your turns ski touring, the Moment Deathwish Tour is our top choice for do-it-all backcountry skis. It’s light and fast on the skin up, but feels solid and powerful on the descent. Most touring skis are one-trick ponies, they’re either fat powder-only boards, designed to float and play, that fall apart on firm snow, or they’re skinny directional skis designed for corn snow. The Deathwish Tour made our top five thanks to its unique ability to do just about everything well. It’s a remarkably versatile touring ski. This is one of the few touring skis that will just as good on the day when it snowed two feet overnight, as it will on that 12-hour mission to go get a first descent on a peak with firm, windblown snow. No matter what you throw at it the Deathwish Tour responds predictably. If you’re looking to build out a multiple ski touring quiver the Deathwish Tour also pairs well with a narrow, super light ski, like one of Black Diamond’s skis. But if you just want one ski for walking uphill, the Deathwish Tour is our top choice.
K2 Mindbender 115 C Alliance
“The big mountain daily driver”
K2 skis announced their new “Mindbender” series last year to rave reviews, and the Mindbender 115 C Alliance is no exception. This is the widest ski in K2’s women’s “Alliance” line, and one of the best powder skis we’ve ever been on. It floats effortlessly on deep days, and makes skiing deep snow a blast, but isn’t just a one-trick pony. Somehow the Mindbender 115 C Alliance manages to be one of the most fun and playful powder skis we’ve ever been on, while still being a very capable all-mountain ski when things get tracked out. That’s because, for a powder ski, it’s surprisingly damp and stable.
Unlike some damp and stable skis though, the Mindbender 115 C Alliance doesn’t sacrifice any maneuverability or playfulness. There’s a tendency for skis of this type to require a lot of speed for them to come alive. Not so with the Mindbender. Instead, it’s happy at any speed. It’s easy to initiate small, wiggle turns, or to carve huge arcs on edge. In a single word, the K2 Mindbender 115 C Alliance is versatile, and that’s why it made our top 5.
Armada ARV 116 JJ
“For the deepest days”
Armada’s ARV 116 JJ has been a legendary ski for many years, the 2019-20 variation continues the legacy in fine fashion. Unlike many powder skis, the ARV 116 JJ isn’t a one-trick pony. It’s a remarkably versatile ski that you’ll love no matter the conditions. That said, when the snow stacks deep, like on your ski trip to Japan, these skis are your ticket to powder nirvana.
Volkl Secret 102
“That one ski I love everywhere”
Looking for one ski that will give you that happy “I just love skiing” feeling every time you click into it? The Volkl Secret 102 is our top choice for lady skiers who just want to get to know one ski really well. It’s just so darn versatile, you’ll forget about the ski, and focus instead on the experience. No matter what you, or the weather throw at it, the Volkl Secret 102 reacts consistently, delivering a comfortable ride no matter the conditions. It’s easy to initiate turns, and feels comfortable at speed, smoothing out any harshness. Ladies, looking to lock down one ski? This is our top choice.