Our 15 Favorite Powder Skis

Skis for the deep that stood out at POWDER Week

POWDER Week is not a ski test. Which makes us different than everyone else. In fact, we like to call it an anti-test, as that word “test” elicits thoughts of No. 2 pencils (Dixon Ticonderoga, anyone?), spreadsheets, and holier-than-thou opinions for gear that remins entirely subjective. Rather, we employ the assistance of 15 core skiers to try a whole mess of skis over a week in Jackson Hole, then let them pick their favorite ones, in a draft-style format. We’re kind of like the NBA, but with more gelande quaffing. These are our favorite fat skis for pillaging the greatest thing ever—powder— in the order that they were picked.

Atomic Bent Chetler

In the deepest of the deep, the Bent Chetler (along with my other favorite, the Moment Deathwish) promotes fun and stylish skiing, thanks to a well-tapered tip and tail that helps you initiate and finish your turns as smoothly as its name- sake, Chris Benchetler. With the most rocker of any Atomic ski (30 percent in both tip and tail, with 40 percent camber underfoot), and carbon fiber stringers that reduce stiffness and add pop (allowing you to butter, ollie and slash off of anything in sight), the Bent Chetler is exceptionally playful. Although most skis this wide only perform well outside the ropes, the Bent Chetler slays inbounds. – Jeff Schmuck
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Salomon Rocker 2 108

So, you want to go to the show? This ski will take you there, and then some. last year, the Rocker 2 122s were my favorites, but 2013 brings in the 108 (and a 92, to go along with the 122, completing the full twin rocker line), which is more versatile. Salomon graced the entire line with a flatter, stiffer tail, translating into more power out of the turn and a no-nonsense torsional stability when the snow gets a bit firm. The 108 is slippery through the tight trees, and turns with merely a thought. Then drop a cliff! The honeycomb tip and tail lightened up this already airy fatty. – Captain Benny Wilson
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Atomic Automatic

Sage Cattabriga-Alosa and Dana Flahr’s new hybrid combines the playfulness of the Bent Chetler and the charging nature of the Atlas to create the Automatic. The ski has 30 percent rocker in the tip and 15 percent in the tail, with camber under- foot, for more directional torque in various conditions. Despite its 117mm waist, the ski is stable on hardpack, thanks to titanium stringers built into the wood core. –John Clary Davies
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Rossignol Squad 7

It’s obvious that a lot of thought and experience went into the design of this ski. Developed with Kye Petersen, it combines many of the best attributes of modern big-mountain/powder skis into a single design. The new Squad is slightly wider, has a more powerful tail and longer turning radius than the Super 7. The 120mm waist, a spoon-shaped tip, along with 50 percent rocker in the tip and tail and 50 percent low camber underfoot gives the ski plenty of float. Meanwhile, a centered sidecut adds surprising versatility and a sandwich construction gives it great stability. Nice to get back on a flatter-tailed ski. – David Reddick
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Folsom Gambit

My legs were so tired at Powder Week, I could hardly stand up. Then I clicked into the Gambits, and suddenly everything was OK. These skis are both solid and maneuverable. Their lightweight core is made of poplar and bamboo; carbon fiber stringers add dampening and torsional rigidity. They’re soft enough in the tip and tail to be playful and forgiving, and fat enough to float in the deep. A low-profile rocker makes smear turns fun, but there’s still plenty of ski to stand up and go straight. Camber underfoot allows solid edging on steep chalk.- Emily Stifler
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Armada Bubba

The Bubba follows a shape that’s become popular for powder skis in the past few years—a progressively tapered tip and tail with rocker, to active camber with sidecut. Filling the slot formerly held by the ARG, the Bubba borrows from the shape of the JJ but in a wider footprint for better deep snow performance. While I never gelled with the JJ or the ARG, I love the Bubba. It’s nimble (thanks to Armada’s ultralight wood core) in all conditions, civilized on hardpack, and shines in powder. – Derek Taylor
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Kastle BMX118

I took this ski out after ditching the rest of our gang on a powdery afternoon (they were exhausted by travel, booze and, well, Powder Week) and retreated to the unspoiled Jackson sidecountry for a quick dash. This women’s ski has virtues—and a sandwich construction with a damp wood core. Its ABS sidewalls are highly durable and absorb shocks and minimize the risk of edge damage. I also like the low camber coupled with the early rise rocker technology, making it a great tracking ski that is super floaty—partly due to the Dual Hollowtech tip and tail, aka the bright pink parts that reduce weight. – A.J. Cargill
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Nordica La Nina

My philosophy: ski more pow. Fortunately, the la Niña was up to the task and then some. Thanks to wood core and polyurethane strips, the ski stays light and nimble despite its wide shape—a bonus for us ladies. The high-rise tip and tail rocker made me believe I was a powder ninja, maneuvering through the trees and launching airs without worry. Getting deep in the pow was never a concern, as the 113mm waist allows for ample face shots with just enough float. This is the ski that girls will be talking about in the hot tub during après this season— it’s light yet powerful, strong and stable, and can perform on and off piste. – Heidi Lauterbach
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Blizzard Gunsmoke

In short…lightning in a bottle. As a skier you dream of this ski being created, and I feel God created the Gunsmoke just for me. This is Blizzard’s first Flipcore twin tip and, unlike its cousins—the Bodacious and Cochise—the wood core has no metal, and it has camber underfoot for more playfulness. At Jackson, whether it was the Alta Chutes, Tower 3 bumps, or out of bounds to Four Pines, the Gunsmoke crushed it. – Jeff King
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RMU Professor

At 120mm underfoot, this beast of a ski was perfect for the big snow we had for Powder Week. However, with its slight rockered tip and tail and camber underfoot, the Professor easily handled crud, bumps, and variable terrain at high speed. Its light poplar core makes the ski playful and surfable through pow and tight trees. Although I’d choose this ski—in a 176cm—mainly for powder days due to its wide footprint, it handles all conditions. – Lyndsay Strange
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Faction Royale

The performance from the Royale silhouette—a fat, zero camber, rockered tip-and-tail ski—is stellar, from high-speed turns in powder to nimble pivoting while shredding trees or chunder bumps inbounds. With a combo of thick poplar core, its glass layup, and lively birch stringers, the Royales are stiffer than similarly fat skis, which gives them their fantastic versatility. Relatively lightweight for their size assists in running people down on bootpacks and Granite Canyon exits. – Brigid Mander
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Rossignol Super 7

Though I prefer the Rossignol Squad 7 due to its flat tail and GS-style 29.5m turning radius, the Super 7 is a close second, and very popular in Jackson. With its wood and titanium core, you can slash through the powder on a long, steep run in Granite Canyon. The ideal big-mountain dimensions and a 22.5m turn radius (on the 195cm) make it a no-brainer for all the waist-deep snow you can find. Rossi’s Powder Turn Rocker,50 percent low camber, 50 percent rocker, high rockered tip and rockered pintail, really allows you to butter your turn and get out of some tricky, tight couloirs in a hurry.- Larry Hartenstein
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Armada JJ

The Armada JJ, with tip-and-tail rocker and positive camber underfoot, is tried and true. During a trip to Baldface lodge in B.C. last winter, the JJ took me from the cat track to the deep end. The laminate matrix is a nice topsheet addition that prevents chipping. At 115mm in the waist, it’s not the fattest ski in the powder category, but it’s certainly the best ski to have when the clouds are puking like the little girl from The Exorcist. – Mike Rogge
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Skilogic Bombsquad

The Bomb Squad has been the standout in Skilogik’s line since the nascent company started producing handmade skis in 2010. The Bomb Squad formula— shorter, stiff, flat tail with a long, large, rockered tip—makes the ski both maneuverable for its size, an easy arcer, and stable enough to get through pretty much anything in front of you, whether that’s a chundery run-out, a lot of air time before hitting a questionable landing, or just lots of steep, deep powder. A wood and carbon fiber construction keep weight way down, making this ski both manageable and confidence-inspiring for a variety of conditions and abilities.- Ryan Dunfee
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Surface New Life

For those epic, bottomless pow days we all dream of, my tool of choice would be a pair of center-mounted Surface New Lifes. With a fully symmetrical shape, the New life charges the same either forward or fakie. The ski is flat underfoot with a dual-stage rise in the tip and tail, which creates a three-stage rocker profile that is just dreamy. The New life sports a full poplar core and they are stiff, which makes this flat/rocker hybrid a blast—the closest thing to surfing on a mountain. – Nick Southard
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Check out the rest of this year’s skis in our online buyer’s guide.