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The 5 Best Beginner Skis of 2020-2021 - Men's & Women's

Head up to any ski hill and watch the seasoned locals make perfect turns and it’s hard to imagine that any of them were every beginners, french frying and pizzaing their way around. But the thing about skiing is that everybody starts with the same amount of experience: none. And as you grow as a skier, there are a few important variables that you have control over that can make a huge difference in how easy or hard that process of growth is. One of the most important ones is your skis.

No, the best beginner skis won’t just ski themselves, but they’ll make it a lot easier for you to make turns with confidence, develop strong technique, and progress as a skier. Sure, crusty old skiers might like to complain that they started on straight skis that they had to carve themselves from old wine barrels, but why start with a handicap? The best skis for beginners will be accessible to skiers just learning the basics, but will also hold up at higher speeds and more aggressive turns as those same skiers grow from shuffling around the bunny hill to chopping up runs all over the mountain. This list represents the best beginner skis of 2021, the ones that bring the best combination of value, performance, and ease of use to skiers who are just getting started.

Rossignol Black Ops Smasher & Dreamer Xpress 10GW

Best beginner skis of 2020-2021

Rossignol’s Black Ops line might evoke images of secret agents skiing into remote mountain fortresses, and while these skis would do that just fine, they’re also perfect for new skiers who are just getting a feel for all-mountain skiing. The Smasher’s counterpart, the Dreamer, offers the same performance in a package that’s optimized for female skiers. And both skis come with Xpress 3-10 DIN bindings that will work well with both regular and Grip Walk boots.

The Smasher and Dreamer both feature a medium width 91 mm waist, this hits the sweet spot for skis that are easy for even very inexperienced skiers to turn, but also wide enough to handle fresh snow without catching. Their flat/camber/flat profile makes initiating turns easy, but means they still have plenty of edge grip when you just want to lay down train tracks through the corduroy. The Smasher and Dreamer are beginner skis that will still hold up long after you’re enjoying intermediate and expert level runs, they’ve got the range to keep you happy for many years to come.

Waist WidthBindings Original Price
91mmXpres 10 GW$399 (with bindings)

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Atomic Savor 5 M10 GW

The best beginner skis of 2020-2021

Atomic knows that not everyone who frequents green runs is a young buck just getting into skiing. Plenty of folks return to skiing after a long hiatus, or prefer a lower-angle lifestyle, good beginner skis to help these types of skiers ride with confidence. Enter the Savor. This ski is designed to be light, quick, and nimble so that anyone who’s gaining experience on beginner runs can feel confident in what they’re skiing. And the M10 GW bindings match that, with a DIN range that will fit a wide range of heights and weights, and Grip Walk compatible parts that make them work with most boots on the market.

The Savor doesn’t make any compromises to try to make them more versatile in powder or steep terrain. Instead their narrow 72 mm waist makes them best suited to “frontside” terrain, with their graphite infused core keeping them light, both as you walk to the lifts, and as you make turns. Why is it called the Savor? Because that’s what you’ll do to every turn on it, whether you’re returning to skiing from a long hiatus, or you’ve just ridden your first chairlift.

Wasit WidthBindings Original Price
72mmM10 GW$499 (with bindings)

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Blizzard Black Pearl 82 & Brahma 82

The best skis for beginners

If Goldilocks was a skier, the Black Pearl 82 would be her ski, assuming of course that the three bears didn’t chase her off the mountain for eating their breakfast. They’re not too wide, not too skinny, not too stiff, and not too soft. They’re juuuuuuust right. If you started your time as a skier on skis that just felt a little bit off, the Black Pearl 82 will make you feel right at home. Blizzard has designed them with a rocker/camber/rocker profile that helps them float well in soft snow, and makes it easy to initiate sliding turns, but still delivers plenty of edge grip when it hasn’t snowed in a while. For the whoever the male-identifying version of Goldilocks might be, there's the equivalent Brahma 82 in the men's lineup.

All of the skis on this list are easy, accessible to beginners, and the Black Pearl is very approachable, but what sets it apart is how high its top end is. This isn’t a cheap beginner ski you ski for a year and then outgrow, moving on to something more capable. This is one of the best beginner skis for riders with more advanced aspirations - they’re a ski that will hold up and fill a valuable place in your quiver for years and years to come.

Waist WidthBindings Original Price
82mmSold Separately$599

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Armada ARV 86 & ARW 86

The best beginner park skis

Everybody has different aspirations and goals for what they want to get out of skiing, and some folks know from the start that they want to ski in the terrain park. The siren song of big jumps and smooth boxes calls to them from the lift. If you want to get the grab, lace the spin, and butter the knuckle before you cruise up for another lap, the Armada ARV 86 is the ski to get you started down that path, or the ARW 86 for the ladies. Most beginner skis are designed for folks who want to ski forwards on green and blue groomed runs. And the ARV 86 does a great job of that, but it’s also happy to help you perfect your switch turns and go slide your first rail. Think of it as the best beginner park ski around.

The 86 mm waist and tip and tail rocker mean that it’s not just a one-dimensional park ski though. It floats well in soft snow and is happy to go explore the whole mountain, especially if you want to practice airing off natural features and maybe getting a grab or two. Don’t be intimidated by park skiing, grab the ARV 86, and get going!

Waist WidthBindings Original Price
86mmSold Separately$399

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Salomon QST 85 & Myriad 85

The best beginner skis of 2020-2021

Salomon’s QST series stands for “Quest” just without any pesky vowels, and the QST 85 and women’s Myriad 85 are just good skis, without any of the pesky nonsense. The QST 85 is the most beginner-friendly ski in their range, but that doesn’t mean it’s just limited to first-time skiers and tentative turns on green runs. Yes, it responds well to the “pizza!” “french fry!” style of skiing, but as you progress into linked turns and higher speeds, the QST 85 is happy to adapt with you. Salomon has given it a layer of metal laminate which means it soaks up small chatter and smooths out the hill very nicely, and tip and tail rocker help keep skiing fun as the snow gets softer.

The best thing we can say about the QST 85 is that it’s intuitive. It’s easy to get along with, and doesn’t require any gymnastics to make it do whatever you might need. Skiing’s less fun when you’re worried about your skis, on the QST 85, the focus is on the experience, not the equipment.

Waist WidthBindings Original Price
85mmSold Separately$399

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