Our pick of the best budget skis proves that you don't have to spend vast sums of cash to get a great performer on the piste, in the park or in the backcountry.
9 of the best budget skis
Dynastar Intense 10 | £385 (bindings incl.)
BEST FOR Experienced female skiers who like carving on-piste.
This ski has it all – fantastic edge grip, easy transition into the turns, a balanced ride through the arc and responsiveness edge-to-edge. For an advanced or expert female skier, you’d need no more should on-piste carving be your primary raison d’être.
The Intense scored top marks for edge hold on groomed slopes – at high and low speeds – with great response in long and short radius turns.
The lightweight wood core combines with fibreglass and metal laminates, along with a tip rocker to produce and surprising playfulness.
Off-piste, things aren’t so fluid, but these skis aren’t designed for powder – they cope well in moguls though, soft enough, yet responsive and light.
VERDICT - 5 Overall
The stand out women’s piste ski for 2016 with incredible performance at such a reasonable price point.
Rossignol Famous 6 | £375 (bindings incl.)
BEST FOR Frontside skiing for recreational to advanced female riders.
You’re a good skier who enjoys mainly staying on-piste, wants to improve your carving turns, not too aggressive but likes to open up the speed when conditions allow, and you want to own a ski rather than rent. If that sounds like you, then this ski should be yours.
These skis are fun and easy to turn, but also have enough juice in their performance to handle more advanced skiers. We enjoyed them at both slower and higher speeds, with perhaps a limit on their stability when you really ramp things up.
The lightweight Paulownia wood core combined with Rossignol’s Power Turn Rocker make for a high performance, versatile piste ski to work and play on.
VERDICT - 4 Overall
A high performance, easy-to-turn, confidence boosting ski that would suit almost any standard of piste skier.
Atomic Backland 85 | £330
BEST FOR Fast, lightweight ski touring with all-mountain ambitions.
The Backland 85 from Atomic would make a good compromise for someone looking to mix some longer and shorter ski tours together, as well as high performance in a variety of conditions.
Responsive and lively, they handle groomed slopes well considering they are designed mostly for off-piste. The 85mm waist means they still keep enough floatation and stability in powder but are quick edge-to-edge and happy in all conditions, except possibly big mountain faces.
They are the kind of ski you could take across the Haute Route one week and play on the front side the next.
At under 1.2kg they’re not the lightest, but considering the performance element, the balance feels spot on.
VERDICT - 4.5 Overall
A high-performance, good value option for a mix of long and short skis tours, with all-mountain versatility.
Head Strong Instinct | £400 (bindings incl.)
BEST FOR Intermediate lighter all-terrain skiers wanting piste power.
Despite the non-traditional composite core, first impressions of Head’s Strong Instinct live up to its name. Stable and powerful, you can turn the volume up quickly and feel secure with these. For lighter weight men, the Instinct is an ideal on-piste, high-octane ski that is happy to take on deeper snow if and when it can. There’s a question mark over the response for larger chaps who might like a heavier ski though.
Edge hold on hard-packed snow is solid, with a nice rebound making the Instincts playful and responsive in both short and long radius turns. The Instincts are not afraid to go fast either, so providing you’re capable and conditions allow, then the only limit will be your ability.
VERDICT - 4 Overall
A capable all-mountain ski which will happily take on any type of terrain and descent with confidence.
Dynastar Powertrack 79 CA Xpress | £350 (bindings incl.)
BEST FOR All-mountain do-it-all recreational and advanced skiers.
The Powertrack is designed to take skiers from piste to powder (and everything in between) with ease and finesse. it doesn’t disappoint, with a huge ‘sweetspot’ right under the feet, making turning on all kinds of terrain accessible for skiers of all levels.
The shape and dimensions allow easy turning but also excellent edge grip on harder packed snow – they are not classic ‘carvers’ and rather prefer a more pivot style of turn, but this extends their versatility across the mountain, from moguls, to chopped up snow and powder. You still need to do the work, but these skis will help you out more than most.
VERDICT - 4 Overall
Recreational to advanced skiers after a great value, do it all, easy, all-mountain ski need look no further.