Our crew of industry experts has tested over 70 of the best all-mountain skis across the last decade and recently purchased 10 of the best options available for the 2021-2022 ski season for head-to-head on-the-snow comparison. Whether you're going to be ripping groomers, blasting through chop, or floating through powder, we'll help you find the best skis for the conditions and your skiing ability. Our hard-charging testers spend hundreds of hours on the mountain to identify which ski carves the best, which cuts through the chop, and which will keep you afloat through the white room. No matter your preference, take a look through our picks and select your optimal “quiver of one”.Related: Best Skis for Women of 2022
Best Skis for Men of 2022
|Price||$699.95 at REI|
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$699.00 at Amazon
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|Pros||Powerful float, stable at speed, can arc or smear turns||Excellent floatation, fun and surfy in powder||Stable, confidence inspiring, magnetic ride quality||Burly construction, feels extremely well made||Playful, responsive, versatile|
|Cons||Some vibration, sometimes feels soft||Vibrates and higher speeds, unnerving in mixed conditions||Damp||Heavy, requires a strong and confident skier||Vibrates at high speeds, overly soft tip|
|Bottom Line||The unique rocker/camber profile and wider 102-millimeter waist width promote versatile performance wherever your powder stash may be||Best for deep and soft powder days, this ski lacks the versatility to make it an all-around contender||With these on your feet, you'll be ready for anything the mountain has coming at you||This big, burly ski requires a strong pilot but rewards you with equally strong performance||Playful and adventurous, this ski is also manageable and forgiving. It encouraged us to explore the changing terrain over the whole mountain|
|Rating Categories||Blizzard Rustler 10||Rossignol Black Ops...||Volkl M6 Mantra||Black Crows Justis||Faction Dictator 2.0|
|Stability At Speed (20%)|
|Carving Ability (20%)|
|Powder Performance (20%)|
|Crud Performance (20%)|
|Terrain Playfulness (20%)|
|Specs||Blizzard Rustler 10||Rossignol Black Ops...||Volkl M6 Mantra||Black Crows Justis||Faction Dictator 2.0|
|Waist Width (mm)||102||104||96||100||96|
|Shape (Tip-Waist-Tail) (mm)||133-104-122.5||137-104-127||135-96-119||138-100-123||127-96-117|
|Available Lengths (cm)||164, 172, 180, 188||180. 187.194||163, 170, 177, 184, 191||171.3, 177.4, 183.1, 189.3||163, 171, 179, 187|
|Length Tested (cm)||180||180||177||177.4||179|
|Rocker Style||Tip-Tail Rocker||Rocker/Camber/Rocker||Tip-Tail Rocker||Progressive front Rocker/Classic Camber/Slight rear Rocker||Tip Rocker/Freeride Flat Tail|
|Mfr. Claimed Weight (Per Pair Unmounted) (pounds)||Unavailable||9.0 lbs||Unavailable||9.5 lbs||8.2 lbs|
|Core Material||Multi-layer Woodcore/Carbon Fiberglass/Titanal||Poplar Woodcore/Titanal||Poplar/Beech/Double Titanal||Poplar/Fiberglass/Double Titanal||Poplar Woodcore/Double Titanal|
Best Overall Men's All-Mountain Ski
Volkl M6 Mantra
Available Lengths: 163, 170, 177, 184, 191 cm
Length We Tested: 177 cm
The Volkl M6 Mantra has truly earned our approval as the best all-mountain ski, keeping the Mantra series atop the podium once again. With high scores across all testing metrics, the M6 transmits a magnetic and confidence-inspiring ride to the skier through all types of terrain and snow conditions. Regardless of whether the forecast is unclear and snow conditions uncertain, staying true to your “Mantra” is what we recommend. With three of Volkl’s Tailored Technologies underfoot, you will be prepared for anything the mountain throws your way.
This year Volkl introduces their 3D Radius Sidecut technology to the M6 Mantra. Boasting three different turn radii within the side of the ski, the M6 can achieve a different turn outcome depending on skier input. This new technology admittedly took some getting used to. However, we found the tech especially helpful when merging onto a new run with more traffic, or when exiting a mogul field back onto the groomer. The M6 Mantra is on the damp side of the ski spectrum. But we can’t complain when the overall result is the superior combination of stability and maneuverability that this ski offers through icy groomers, afternoon chop and slop, and deep pow days.
Read review: Volkl M6 Mantra
Best Bang for the Buck
Faction Dictator 2.0
Available Lengths: 163, 171, 179, 187 cm
Length We Tested: 179 cm
With respectable scores across the board, the Faction Dictator 2.0 earns recognition for its solid all-around performance and excellent value. The Dictator is one of the more accessible in our lineup. Touted by Faction as "easy to turn in all conditions", our testers liked the Dictator 2.0's nimble and reliable qualities. In powder and soft snow, the overall ride quality pleasantly surprised our testers, even considering its relatively narrower waist. It encouraged us to explore new paths and get airborne. Priced to sell, we think the Dictator 2.0 is a value-filled steal.
While the Dictator 2.0 excels in soft snow conditions because of its soft flex, it conversely struggled through chop and crud. Our testers had difficulty staying on track and keeping control of the ski. However, the Dictator is versatile enough to handle most snow conditions and is a blast to cruise around the mountain through bumps, jumps, and soft powder stashes.
Read review: Faction Dictator 2.0
Best for Carving Groomers
Nordica Enforcer 94
Available Lengths: 165, 172, 179, 186, 191 cm
Length We Tested: 179 cm
The Nordica Enforcer 94 is our favorite ski for carving and ranks well overall in our all-mountain lineup. The Enforcer 94’s Carbon Chassis and TWO Sheets of metal combine to create our favorite blend of edge grip, rebound, and overall precision while carving at higher speeds. Coming in at a versatile turn radius of 17.1 meters, we found it intuitive in both shorter SL and longer GS turns. While the Enforcer is ideal for carving on the groomers, it also provides excellent versatility across the mountain in all snow conditions.
The adjustments made for the 2021-2022 model include Nordica’s Carbon Chassis and True Tip technologies. Along with a slightly wider 94-millimeter waist width, the Enforcer 94 gains slightly better off-piste performance than its predecessor's 93-millimeter width underfoot. Despite these improvements, this ski can be challenging to pilot through heavy or deep powder. Skiers spending lots of time in softer or deeper snow may be better suited for a ski that's a little wider. But for the more experienced skier looking to tip and rip across most snow conditions, look no further than the Enforcer 94.
Read review: Nordica Enforcer 94
Best Performance in Powder
Blizzard Rustler 10
Available Lengths: 164, 172, 180, 188 cm
Length We Tested: 180 cm
The Blizzard Rustler 10 is our favorite all-mountain ski for its powder prowess. With a clear preference for softer snow, the Rustler 10 provided our testers with an impressive combination of float, maneuverability, and overall fun when skiing the dep stuff. The unique rocker/camber profile and wider 102-millimeter waist width promote versatile performance wherever your powder stash may be.
Building on the success of its predecessors, this year's Rustler 10 maintains the familiar floaty ride while encouraging higher speeds and arcing turns through your favorite powder lines. Our testers did note some vibration through the ski, especially when encountering the hardpack. However, due to the substantial camber underfoot, this ski is definitely burly enough to make it through the occasional wind-scoured surface and help you score the pow goods on the other side.
Read review: Blizzard Rustler 10
Why You Should Trust Us
We sought out expert opinions from a wide variety of experienced skiers. Our two primary testers are industry professionals who were tasked with trying out these skis day-in and day-out and comparing each of them in as many different conditions as possible. Our testers come from different backgrounds, have unique styles, and differ in their tastes. Many other friends and colleagues provided input for each test model to temper the strong opinions of our lead testers.
"Again, again!" was the phrase repeated over and over by Bobby Garrett while on skis for the first time between his Dads' legs. At 2 years old, Bobby's parents knew right away he was more than hooked on skiing. Years later, Bobby found his way into ski instructing and has taught at Bear Mountain, California, Perisher, Australia, and Mammoth Mountain, California. He holds a PSIA (Professional Ski Instructors of America) Level 3 certification. Bobby has spent nearly 10 years so far honing his craft and regularly travels to other mountains to continue to challenge himself in new terrain. Bobby is always working on something in his skiing, and believes "there is no bad snow, you just don't know how to ski it." Bobby is 5 feet, 11 inches tall, and 190 pounds.
At the age of 15, Andrew Pierce wandered from the plains of Kansas into the mountains of Colorado and slid down the mountain on two pieces of wood for the first time…and was hooked. Andrew spent nine winter seasons ski patrolling in Lake Tahoe. He is now an Avalanche Forecaster and Control Specialist in Washington and spends his free time, you guessed it, skiing. During the summer months, he continues his hunt for snow in South America where he works as a ski patroller and heli-ski guide in Chile. There, he throws explosives, skis the steeps, and takes guests to some of the best terrain in the southern hemisphere. Andrew has dedicated his life to finding the best snow on earth and then skiing it. Andrew is 6 feet, 1 inch tall, and 185 pounds.
Related: How We Tested All Mountain Skis
Analysis and Test Results
The one-ski quiver may seem like a unicorn, especially when searching through the plethora of options out there. However, in this review, the top-rated products can handle all terrain and perform well no matter the snow type. The skis that score well across the board are the most versatile, and this represents the characteristics of a true all-mountain ski. The models that are the best for a broad range of terrain and conditions are consequently our two highest scorers — the Volkl M6 Mantra and the Nordica Enforcer 94.
Some of the models in our test fall into sub-genres. They are slightly less versatile but excel in specific conditions. There are several that are stiff, quick edge-to-edge, carving powerhouses such as the Nordica Enforcer 94 or the Kastle FX 96 HP. Then there are the surfy soft-snow specialists, such as the Blizzard Rustler 10 and the Rossignol Black Ops Sender Ti.
We rated each product on its stability at speed, carving ability, powder performance, crud performance, and terrain playfulness. Instead of rudimentary kick-the-tires sort of tests (i.e., hand flexing and fondling), we tested these models throughout a variable snow season by having a team of testers with a wide variety of skills and abilities put in as many days as possible on each pair.
Related: Buying Advice for All Mountain Skis
If you're looking to build a one ski quiver, chances are that value is an important factor in deciding on your next pair of boards. There is plenty of bang for your buck in this ski selection. The K2 Mindbender Ti offers good all-mountain performance at a lower-than-average price. Of course, for a relatively small price increase, you could buy the most versatile Volkl M6 Mantra. If price is no issue and you want the highest quality materials put into a handmade ski, the Kastle FX96 HP could be your go-to. Our pick for the best balance of value and performance is the Faction Dictator 2.0.
Stability at Speed
A ski's stability is particularly important at speed. A ski is stable when it stays on the ground, doesn't chatter too much in a turn, and helps you remain in control and glue to the snow. We assess stability by testing in steep terrain where edge hold is critical, by going fast where a product is challenged to hold an edge and not chatter, and by testing on firm and icy snow where vibration can sometimes shake you enough to limit your confidence.
A ski's stability is related to many factors, including its rocker/camber profile and its construction and stiffness. Stiffness is measured torsionally (think twist) and along the length of the ski, particularly in the tip and tail. Stiff models take more energy to flex and drive, but the result is better edge hold and stability at speed. Stiff models like the Black Crows Justis handle speed and firm snow with ease and can punch through variable conditions. Stable models like the Volkl M6 Mantra, the Nordica Enforcer 94, and the Kastle FX96 HP, which take some of the highest stability scores, can hold an edge at high speeds and feel damp, suppressing vibration on firm and icy slopes.
Softer-flexing models like the Fisher Ranger 94 FR and the Elan Ripstick 96 Black Edition chatter more at speed and struggle to hold an edge on hard-packed snow. They prefer to dance through harsh, bumpy snow rather than plow through it. Some of the chatter does come from the rocker, but the soft flex and lack of a metal laminate do not help them when things get firm and steep. The Rossignol Black Ops Sender Ti is one of our lowest scorers for this metric. It is playful and easy to use but is nothing short of spooky at high speed, especially on firm snow.
Weight can also be a factor in stability. Weight is primarily determined by the materials used and the ski's dimensions. Heavy models like to stay on the ground and can be more stable at speed. Lighter-weight skis, like the Faction Dictator 2.0, tend to be easier to use and more maneuverable but may also vibrate around more. However, high weight doesn't mean stiffer, and lightweight ones aren't always soft. Testers who enjoy being light on their feet and playing with the terrain tend to prefer lightweight models. Friends that push their gear hard and shred aggressively, plowing through bumps and going fast, liked heavier, stiff models.
Ski resorts are typically well-maintained playgrounds. Groomed terrain accounts for most beginner and intermediate trails at the majority of resorts. For the expert, groomed slopes are opportunities to open it up, make big turns, and push your limits in a more controlled environment. For this metric, we scored each model based on its edge-to-edge quickness, carving ability, and edge hold. There were quite a few top contenders for the best carving ski of the bunch this year. With plenty of groomers at our ski tips this season, and were able to really lay each and every ski over on edge.
All-mountain skis that have a more traditional design, like camber underfoot and a slightly narrower waist, are usually preferred for carving and on-piste performance. Stiffer, more powerful skis like the Nordica Enforcer 94 and the Kastle FX 96 HP stand out as skis with designs that excel at carving on groomed snow. But slightly softer, more well-rounded skis like the Volkl M6 Mantra and the K2 Mindbender 90 Ti handle a carve nearly as well, and they are much more versatile across the mountain.
The Nordica Enforcer 94, the top carver in the test, has a rockered tip for easy turn initiation, a tiny bit of tail rocker for easy turn release, and camber underfoot, which results in lots of pop and energy. This ability helped the Enforcer 94 earn recognition for its on-piste abilities. Conversely, the Rossignol Black Ops Sender Ti has a more rocker-focused design that looks like a smooth, gradual bend from tip to tail. This design likely attributes to the Sender Ti scoring the lowest in this category.
Rocker technology is found in most of the skis reviewed here and is becoming more common in general. Skeptics are critical of this rocker shortening the effective edge and resent that newer designs are skiing short. Rockered tips don't make contact with the snow unless you are railing turns, and they can appear to be and feel a bit floppy when carving (see the Elan Ripstick 96 Black Edition or Fischer Ranger 94 FR for examples). On the plus side, rocker profiles enable skiers to use longer models and help wider versions perform better on firm snow and groomed terrain. Overall, we believe that designs that feature some amount of rocker are more versatile for most skiers.
Once you wander off the groomed trails, the mountain can throw any condition your way. While testing, we encountered a generous amount of powder, but also wind-buff, bumps, corn snow, breakable crust, boilerplate, and everything in between. The variability is immense, and we're asking a lot for a ski to shine in pristine to tough conditions. Because of this, we rate each competitor on its performance in different snow conditions. We begin this by evaluating everyone's favorite: powder. We scored this based on each ski's ability to float through powder and stay on top when the snow gets deep. We looked for a surfy and floaty feel. Almost every model is fun in perfect powder because perfect powder is fun and easy to ski. There were, however, some notable differences in their performances in the soft stuff.
Among the competitors, the Blizzard Rustler 10 shows the clearest preference for soft snow. The Rossignol Black Ops Sender Ti is close behind. With wide waists, big shovels, and lots of rocker, they were the obvious favorites in powder conditions. The less obvious favorites were the Volkl M6 Mantra and the Elan Ripstick 96 Black Edition. Despite these models' narrower waists, they impressed us in this category and kept up with the very best to provide float and fun in the fluff.
The Faction Dictator 2.0 and K2 Mindbender 90 Ti are also impressive in fresh snow, though both may struggle on truly bottomless days. These skis are a little too narrow or have a bit less rocker, and they just can't float as well.
In general, wider waists perform better in softer snow and struggle on-piste and firm conditions. But modern designs are changing that paradigm. Rocker designs help to keep ski tips floating above softer, deeper, and more variable snow conditions.
Variable snow is a challenge. Most skiers view crud as a less desirable condition to ski, yet we all encounter it, and having the right tool to get you through it is key. Our crud/chop/challenging snow metric highlights well-rounded models that can hold their own anywhere on the hill. We rated crud performance based on each model's ability to dance through chopped up powder and plow through variable conditions. Think refrozen choppy snow, breakable crusts, heavy slush, and any other uncommon type of snow. We asked ourselves, do these skis like to hook up, or can they still turn smoothly in harsh conditions? Can they plow through crusts, or do they dive? Does the chatter from frozen snow reverberate through the ski to your brain?
Heavier and stiffer models like the Black Crows Justis punch through crud well. It tracks well through chunder and is damp enough to keep you comfortable and confident. Rocker tips and wider waist widths provide a lot of surface area and help keep you floating on top of the muck, such as in the design of the Justis or Blizzard Rustler 10.
Conversely, softer models tend to get bounced around in uneven snow. They make you more likely to resort to survival skiing techniques instead of riding confidently over the chop.
Playful models are easy to use, responsive, adapt well to changing terrain, and are fun. Planks that are a little loose and quick-to-turn with lots of pop are a go-to choice for the all-mountain terrain park. Gullies, little airs, and bumps are playgrounds for those who are light on their feet and creative with their terrain choices.
The Nordica Enforcer 94 and Rossignol Black Ops Sender Ti were some of the most playful skis we tested. While very different skis, our testers loved their unique, overall feel while skiing varied terrain. The Blizzard Rustler 10 impressed as well with its playful pop into airs and forgiving flex on the landing, as well as showing a good ability to be ridden switch. These skis encouraged us to keep eyes peeled for potential launch points when heading downhill. While we don't expect any of these skis to perform like a designated park ski, in order for us to truly test them, we took them all over the mountain and into "natural" terrain parks.
When commuting around the mountain to find the best snow, you'll inevitably find skied up snow that is set up into seemingly endless mogul fields. These aren't the fun zipper lines that have some rhythm to them, they're more erratic in shape and spacing. There are some sacrifices to be made for a contender to handle the bumps well. They are a bit softer, to shape themselves to the terrain with plenty of pop to bounce quickly. Pairs with consistent flex and that are quick underfoot handle this terrain best. Sizing down to shorter skis makes them more nimble in the bumps as well.
While none of the products in this test are designed specifically with moguls in mind, the Faction Dictator 2.0 handled all sizes of bumps well. The tip rocker and slight tail rocker in this ski helps provide easier turn initiation and release.
We've all been there, looking for a new pair of skis for the season, but unsure of where to start and not wanting to dump your life savings into buying several pairs of skis. We hope we've been able to help you decide which pair of planks to spend your dough on. For the all-mountain review, we sought out products that are wide enough to handle soft snow but have dimensions and design features that allow them to rip up the hard-packed snow as well. Rest assured that there is a pair out there for everyone, and we've made it our mission to help you find them.
— Bobby Garrett & Andrew Pierce
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GearLab is founded on the principle of honest, objective, reviews. Our experts test thousands of products each year using thoughtful test plans that bring out key performance differences between competing products. And, to assure complete independence, we buy all the products we test ourselves. No cherry-picked units sent by manufacturers. No sponsored content. No ads. Just real, honest, side-by-side testing and comparison.Learn More