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The 8 Best Skis of 2020-2021, Men's & Women's Top Picks

Versatility is the name of the game for new skis in 2021. It’s been a trend in the ski industry for a few years now - brands are backing off a bit from extremely specific shapes like mega-fat powder boards. And even if you live somewhere where it dumps often, winter fades to a long spring and the reality for the majority of skiers is that they benefit the most from solid all-mountain, any-condition performance. Being able to have a blast between storms is a real win for anyone who loves to ski.

That’s not to say we don’t love fresh snow or there’s not any amazing powder performers amongst our favorite skis for 2021. Skis like the Atomic Bent Chetler are famously fantastic on the deep, deep days, and the women’s Armada ARW 116 VJJ UL are setting the bar for progressive powder skiing. We’re a big advocate for having a couple different skis at your disposal, but the cool thing about the skis in this list is you can make any of them work for you all season long.

As expected, the technology going into skis is only getting better. They’re getting lighter, more versatile, and simply more fun - and the difference in the new graduating class of rippers from those that were current even just five years ago is noticeable. You’ll see a lot of tech blending to get the best of both worlds, like a hybrid construction utilizing both traditional sidewall underfoot and cap in the tip and tail. Combing through this list is a great place to begin your ski buying journey - while there are more great skis than ever, these made the cut as the best skis of 2021. And smile, because no matter what direction you go in, you’re going to have a darn good time when the snow finally flies.


Dynastar M-Free 108

Best 2020-2021 skis
 
 

Known for hard-charging big mountain skis, a few years ago Dynastar enlisted the help of freestyle legend Richard Permin to bring some progressive playfulness into their lineup. We’re glad they did, because the new M-Free 108 is surfy, slarvy and just plain fun for rallying all over the mountain in any kind of conditions - especially soft snow. It does this with a combination of tapering and rocker in both the tips and tails. The cool thing is, it still has plenty of camber underfoot to make it poppy, playful, and easy to carve on groomers. Its weight doesn’t make it an ideal candidate for all-day touring, but it’s great news for the M-Free 108 retaining Dynastar’s classic smooth ride and all-mountain dampness.

Dimensions (mm)Lengths (cm) Original Price
138-108-128172, 182, 192$699.95

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Nordica Santa Ana 104 Free & Enforcer 104 Free

The best skis of 2020-2021
 
 

New for 2021, the women’s Santa Ana 104 Free from Nordica is a wider all-mountain platform that’s flirting with being lumped into the powder ski category. Soft snow is always your best friend, but it will especially be so when rallying around on the Santa Ana 104. Built to be playful, it has less metal in the construction than its narrower sisters, but still has enough to retain the stability at speed Nordica is known for. With ample rocker in the tip and tails, and a tapered shape, the Santa Ana 104 is made to float well and smear turns on demand. We all know powder mornings usually give way to choppy afternoons, and this is the ski you’re going to want to shred everything with - bell to bell.

For folks who prefer a longer, stiffer platform, look to the men’s Enforcer 104 Free. If groomers are just your vehicle to get from one powder stash to the next - and you love to charge hard through all the crud in between - this might be the best ski of 2021 for you. The only rule these skis are actually enforcing is “charge hard, go fast”, because you won’t want to do anything else on them. With a chassis versatile enough to crush fresh powder and manky spring slush, the entire mountain is your playground. Two layers of metal ensure you’ll fold before these boards do, and ample rocker in the tips and tails along with a tapered silhouette ensure they’re as surfy and fun as you want them to be.

Dimensions (Santa Ana) (mm)Lengths (cm) Original Price
134-104-123158, 165, 172, 179$749.99
Dimensions (Enforcer) (mm)Lengths (cm) Original Price
135-104-124165, 172, 179, 186, 191$799.99

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Rossignol Black Ops Sender

The best 2020-2021 skis
 
 

The Black Ops Sender had some big shoes to fill in replacing the much-beloved Soul 7, but we’re not surprised that Rossignol managed to improve upon a classic. It’s actually a good bit different than its predecessor. The Black Ops Sender trades in lots of taper and lots of rocker for more traditional lines and a relatively flat tail. What this translates to is a ski that is much more stable at high speeds. The 106mm waist puts it squarely in the all-mountain category, so it’ll go - and go fast - wherever you point the tips. Besides being strout, Rossi kept things light with a full-length Paulownia wood core and they utilized inserts at the tip to keep things damp and stable when you’re maching over variable terrain. The sender retains the easy skiability of the old 7 series, but also lets you push them harder and faster if you want to.

Dimensions (mm)Lengths (cm) Original Price
139-106-129164, 172, 178, 186$699.95

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Armada ARW 116 VJJ UL - Women’s

The best women's skis of 2021
 
 

As if Armada couldn’t have made one of the most well-rounded powder skis even well-roundier, they went ahead in 2021 and gave the ARW 116 VJJ UL an even lighter weight Caruba wood core. This is great news in a freestyle sense, but also great news for riders who plan to earn their turns atop the VJJ ULs. We’re calling it now - this is going to be one of the best powder touring skis of the year. Aside from being light, they have Armada’s super rad Smear Tech tip and tails - basically 3D bevels like the front of a surfboard so you can float and pivot in powder to your heart’s delight. Ironically, this feature also makes them surprisingly fun on groomers as well, because you might as well enjoy the ride on the way to your next powder stash.

Dimensions (mm)Lengths (cm) Original Price
139-116-135165, 175$749.95

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Atomic Bent Chetler 120

The best men's skis of 2020-2021
 
 

Atomic’s flagship progressive powder ski - and Chris Benchetler’s pro model - now has over a decade of deep powder plundering under its belt. While the 2021 version is much improved over the original, it still retains its core mission of being as fun and floaty as possible for when Mother Nature blesses us with a big dump. The only thing different from last season’s model is Chris has brought another mindalteringly amazing graphic to the table. Otherwise what you can expect from the Bent Chetler’s wide platform, ample rocker, and HRZN Tech tip and tails is effortless turns when things get bottomless. As in the past, it retains 40% camber underfoot that makes it surprisingly easy to carve if you happen to find yourself on some soft groomers on the way back to the lift. Even though the Bent Chetler comes back largely unchanged, we think its still one of the best skis of the year.

Dimensions (mm)Lengths (cm) Original Price
143-120-134176, 184, 192$749.99

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Blizzard Black Pearl 97 - Women’s

The best 2021 skis
 
 

Just like Jack Sparrow’s famous pirate ship, these Black Pearls are stealthy, fast, and will survive everything that gets thrown at them. East Coast skiers will appreciate a more svelte 97mm waist, and indeed the Black Pearls are adept and carving on groomers. Their best feature is Blizzard’s TrueBlend Wood Core. Basically, they blend two types of wood into the same core and the effect is the Black Pearl will be stable and predictable at high speeds and easy-going when you’re just cruising around at slower speeds. Don’t fret, a bit of tip rocker will help when you encounter some inches of fresh snow and helps add some versatility to this firm snow shred ship.

Dimensions (mm)Lengths (cm) Original Price
136.5-97-118.5153, 159, 165, 171, 177$699.95

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Black Crows Justis

The best 2020-2021 skis
 
 

This new offering from Black Crows, the Justis, was bred to charge hard all over the mountain. With a 100mm waist, you’ll mostly want to grab the Justis for days after the storm, but it actually does have a pretty deep rocker profile for a ski this narrow, so if some fresh snow happens to fall just smile and charge on. Black Crows gave it some H-shaped titanal inserts, which works to dampen the ski where you need it most and frees up the tips and tails to be a bit more user friendly. With a fairly traditional taper profile and plenty of camber underfoot, you’ll be able to lay some rails on days you wake up to fresh groomers, but still be able to bomb through whatever you manage to find off-piste.

Dimensions (mm)Lengths (cm) Original Price
133-100-123171, 177, 183, 189$959.90

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Line Skis Pandora 110 - Women’s

Best 2021 skis
 
 

Line tweaked the Pandora from last year ever so slightly with new construction, an evolved rocker profile, some slightly different sizes, and a lush new graphic - and they brought this new waist width to the party. With a 110mm waist, there’s no doubt the Pandora lives for the days when the powder is deep, but when you find yourself in chop or on groomers it will definitely still shred. Line’s progressive sidecut actually allows it to make both long and short turns equally well, so rather than adapting your speed to it, it adapts to you. The blended wood core is designed to keep the weight down, so if you’re looking for a ski to pull dual duty both inbound and touring in the backcountry, the Pandora 110 deserves a solid look. This versatility makes the Pandora 110 one of the best women’s skis for the 2020-2021 winter.

Dimensions (mm)Lengths Original Price
144-110-130162, 170, 178$699.95

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