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The best freeride skis, tried and tested to help you make the most out of your adventures off-piste this season.

best freeride skis 1

Once confined to the outcasts of the ski world, freeride skis now form a huge part of the market and it's not just the major brands who are getting in on the action - scores of independent manufacturers are giving the big guys a run for their money, building skis that compare, compete and sometimes even outgun them.

The key difference with freeride skis is that they feature generous sidecuts with a wide waist sizing between 95 and 140mm. They have a directional shape and often come with big rockers in the tip and a flat tail for more control in deep powder. The overall rule when choosing the best freeride ski is that you go long. Most people tend to go for a ski that is between 5 and 15cm over their height to give them the best performance off piste. It’s also important to know how well a freeride ski performs on groomed slopes so that you can get home after your epic day in the backcountry without looking like Bambi on ice.

How we test freeride skis

We test for float in the powder, how stable the skis are at speed, how playful they are on variable terrain and how responsive they can be in tricky situations.

The skis below represent the very best within the freeride category for the 2018-2019 season, go forth and buy a pair from the selection below - you won't be disappointed.


Black Crows Atris Birdie | £590 Womens.jpg 


Snow 18 Freeride Womens.pngBEST FOR Everyone. Literally

It’s nigh-on impossible to find anything to dislike about Black Crows, and the Atris Birdie is a cracking example. A genuinely beautiful ski that feels perfectly weighted throughout, we defy anyone to not enjoy a ride on it. At 108mm underfoot with a 20m turning radius we expected the Atris Birdie to demand big things from its pilot, but it’s just incredibly easy to ski. Lighter at the tip and tail, the Atris Birdie floats like a dream in the powder but is still capable of big things in hard snow and on the piste thanks to the priority given to stability and edge control. It all adds up to a ski that wants to travel hard and fast. We were amazed by how natural it felt to transition between fast, long turns into rapid-fire short swings without adjusting our speed.

VERDICT At £590 without bindings the Birdie is an investment, but will pay out again and again.


Scott Scrapper 105 Mens.jpg


SCOTT_SCRAPPER_105 copy.jpg

BEST FOR Hard and fast freeriders

Like any fighter, the Scrapper 105 shouldn’t be judged on its looks and rather uninspired graphics - this is a solid all-rounder. The skis are very stiff through the middle, but a bit softer in the nose. When we first got them on our feet they felt like they would be flappy but they are actually quite the opposite – really responsive and above all a solid, trustworthy platform for just about everything. On-piste it’s not particularly easy to initiate turns, but it is do-able and these skis will charge on groomers. Where the Scrappers excel is at 

out-and-out hard and fast freeriding. We tested them off-piste in poor visibility and they still felt like a safe base from which to strike out. 

VERDICT A really solid base of a freeride ski that excels exactly where it should.


Kastle BMX 105 Mens.jpg



BEST FOR Confident experts and adventurous seasonnaires

The Kastle BMX 105 HP has been around for a few seasons now but it still more than holds its own against the competition. The ‘BMX’ part of the name stands for ‘big mountain expert’, and this ski cries out to be taken all over the hill as it’s such a fun ride in all conditions. The other part of the name – the HP bit - means ‘high performance’, and refers to the two titanal sheets that sit with the silver fir and beech wood core and underpin the 105’s incredible stability. The ski has plenty of float through the deep powder and charges through chopped up snow with barely a pause. If you take it onto groomers it’s a joy, gripping nicely along the edge in long graceful turns.

VERDICT A classic freeride ski that stands out from the crowd - and it looks pretty cool too.


HEAD KORE 99 | £660 Mens.jpg


BEST FOR The all-mountain freerider looking for a quiver-of-one

The KORE range was first introduced with three models available in 93, 105, and 117mm widths, and we immediately liked their simple yet highly effective nature. Now HEAD has plugged the gap in the range with the introduction of the KORE 99 and we’ve taken an immediate liking to the new member of the family. Their ability to mix up all-mountain capability with hard-charging freeride attributes makes them one of the most versatile skis on the market. The KORE 99 floats like a much wider ski due to a clever mix of carbon, graphene and lightweight wood. 

In deep powder they’re as playful as a dolphin on a wave, on harder packed, groomed snow, they’re well damped, solid and stable. 

VERDICT The 99 is a ‘do it all’ tool with freeride heritage and a simple, handsome aesthetic. 


Volkl M5 Mantra | £625 Mens.jpg


Snow 18 Freeride Mens.pngBEST FOR Powerful freeride skiers 

When Volkl updated the Mantra they wanted to give the ski a wider appeal. They’ve taken away the rocker from last season and given the M5 a more standard camber. The idea is that the result is more playful, and we think they’ve achieved their goal. There is so much power in the tail that it surges out of carved turns on the piste and bounces out of the powder – which makes up in large part for a lack of float from the narrow-ish 96 mm underfoot. The Mantra skis wider than it is off-piste, and narrower than it should on-piste, and both factors are partly down to the amount of energy the ski bounces back at you.

VERDICT Strong, energetic skiers will be able to reap the rewards despite the hefty price tag.


Salomon QST Lumen 99 | £445  Womens.jpg


Salomon QST Lumen 99

Snow 18 Freeride Budget.pngBEST FOR Skiers looking for predictable and versatile performance

Salomon’s QST Lumen 99 may sit in the freeride category due to its relative underfoot girth but having given it a good thrashing at this year’s ski test we believe it’s more a quiver-of-one for all mountain terrain. Stable enough to smash out fast, long turns in resort thanks to the deep side cut, wide enough at 99m underfoot with gradual tip rocker to ensure float in shin deep powder and responsive enough to throw in some quick turns in the bumps, the Salomon QST Lumen 99 does everything admirably well. The flipside to being a jack of all trades, however, is that we might call the ride a little on the safe and unexciting side. 

VERDICT At £445 the QST Lumen 99 offers great value for such a versatile ski. 


Zag Slap 112 Lady | £589 Womens.jpg


BEST FOR Expert freeride skiers exploring the backcountry

Don’t be fooled by its pretty topsheet, this is a beast that takes no prisoners. If you’re packing a large ego and weak thighs, the Slap 112 Lady will spit you out faster than you can say ‘I thought I was a good skier’. Designed 100% for off-piste powder skiing, the big, heavy Slap 112 Lady will be useless on piste but perfect in bottomless powder. The Slap 112 Lady is the ideal weapon for advanced/expert freeriders in big snow destinations like Japan or British Columbia. The RX Powder profile with generous double rocker offers exceptional float in the deep stuff and the lightweight LWC Technology core construction gives you the maximum ability to express yourself on untracked cold smoke.

VERDICT Stable and playful, the ZAG Slap 112 is guaranteed to keep up with you in the deep stuff.

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