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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

best_piste_ski.jpgDynastar Intense 10 | £385 (bindings incl.)  Womens

Dynastar_INTENSE-10_Piste_Women_Mag.jpgPISTE

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.) Womens

Rossignol_FAMOUS-6-Piste_Women.jpg

PISTE

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  Mens and womens

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TOURING

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.)  Mens

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ALL MOUNTAIN

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.)  Mens

Dynastar_POWERTRACK-79-Ca-Xpress_AllMountain_Mag.jpg

ALL MOUNTAIN

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.

 

See the next 5 skis in the list

 


Fischer-Pro-MTN-77-2017.jpgFischer Pro MTN 77 | £360 (bindings incl.)  Mens

ALL MOUNTAIN

BEST FOR Piste riding recreational skiers hankering for powder.

There are four models in the range with the 77 version being geared towards a recreational skier, possibly looking to buy their first set of skis.

Naturally, it is relatively easy to steer in the turn initiation phase, but there’s a surprisingly tasty grip in the tail that provides oodles of confidence on harder packed snow.

Despite falling into our all-mountain category, essentially the 77 waist makes them more suited to groomed pistes than deep powder – but they are more than capable of handling variable terrain should you feel the need to leave the comfort zone. We found the Pro Mtn 77 particularly forgiving in loose, chopped up snow and smaller sized moguls.

VERDICT - 4 Overall
An excellent value package if you are buying your first skis and curious to dip off the edge of the piste.

 

best_All_Mount_Womens_ski.jpgNordica Sentra S4 EVO | £380 (bindings incl.)  Womens

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ALL MOUNTAIN

BEST FOR to carve the mountain.

The Sentra series from Nordica is a new women’s range of skis targeted at on-piste skiers and there are models for all abilities. The S4 is aimed at those who can ski parallel turns on red runs, but want to improve technique and carve the mountain.

With a 72mm waist, they are not designed for deep snow, so the all-mountain label applies more to the groomed slopes and moguls.

What they do have is genuine versatility in these areas, with the ability to hold and edge on hard-pack snow and suck up bumpy terrain.

Although easy to steer, more advanced skiers won’t dismiss the performance and this is what makes them ideal for a skier who wants to really improve.

VERDICT - 4.5 Overall
An excellent first ski package for light intermediate skiers looking to attack the whole front side of the mountain.

Atomic Infamous | £285 (bindings incl.)  Mens

Atomic_INFAMOUS_park.jpg

PARK

BEST FOR Good value Intermediate to advanced pipe and park fun.

Although marketed firmly in the Park and Pipe category, the Infamous proved itself a versatile ski everywhere.With just the right amount of rocker in tip and tail, coupled with a poppy all-wood core, this ski can bounce and butter away to your heart’s content.

That wood core equates to a nice light ski (1.74kg per ski in a 176) so it’s a cinch to manoeuvre, requiring minimal effort to launch off any obstacles that take your fancy.

The step-down sidewall is designed to aid smoothness and durability and it does, with the added benefit of very decent edge grip when conditions are icy. Add in a floaty waist width of 86mm and it can handle hard groomers and fresh snow too.

VERDICT - 4.5 Overall
Great value, great fun freestyle skis that won’t embarrass you on groomers or in fresh dollops of snow.

 

Faction-Ambit-Womens-2017.jpgFaction Ambit | £279  Womens

PARK

BEST FOR Recreational to advanced female skiers seeking freestyle fun.

The Ambit is a fun Park and Pipe ski, easy to turn underfoot as well as in the air with a true twintip that means you can happily land any way round.

That manoeuvrability comes from a poplar and ash wood core which is both light and reactive to help popping off the deck, but is still solid enough to allow you to stomp those landings with the confidence they deserve.

At 1.55kg for a 164 length ski, they’re light enough for the occasional hike and easy to hoik over your shoulder for a short boot pack to explore some natural hits. Once you get there, with the Ambits coming in at 86 width, there’s enough float underfoot for you to enjoy these occasional ventures away from the groomers.

VERDICT - 3.5 Overall
A good all-round freestyle ski that is easy to manoeuvre, stable at higher speeds and capable in powder too.