Before getting down to the business of picking favorites, let’s re-examine the fundamental question, what makes a ski a women’s ski?  

Not to be flippant, but any ski its maker markets as a women’s model qualifies in that it will come in shorter lengths, which are scaled to match smaller people, a considerable percentage of which are women. To drive this point home, the women’s models will also be decorated in themes deemed – however correctly – to be more appealing to women.

As a general rule, the wider the ski, the more likely it is that the women’s version will be a clone of its unisex model. The category that makes the most accommodations for gender is the ultra-narrow, deep-sidecut Technical genre, which is all but extinct in America. The reason a lot of women’s Frontside skis are aimed at intermediates is their big sisters are pricey Technical models that are rare as hen’s teeth in the U.S. 

Please note that there are no reviews of women’s Non-FIS Race models as there’s no such animal.  There are a smattering of women’s Powder and Technical models in existence, but not enough to merit mention.  The Women’s All-Mountain East category (85mm-94mm underfoot) is far and away the most populated and the most popular genre, which is an indication that most women are choosing wisely.

The models selected here were not picked by our women’s test team because the pandemic wiped out our test plans. This year we published reviews provided by the manufacturers’ testers, which do not lend themselves to direct comparisons.

The shortfall in data, while regrettable, is not catastrophic. “No numbers” does not equate to “no knowledge.” While I readily confess to being gender inappropriate, in all other regards I’m amply qualified to evaluate women’s equipment. My Dear Distaff Readers may rest assured that I assume this risky assignment in the full knowledge that I dare not be condescending or worse yet, clueless.

Frontside

 Any women of less-than-advanced ability should be ushered towards the Frontside category, home to low-geared carvers.  Women who spend most of their ski time on groomers belong here, as well as intermediates looking for a stepping-stone ski that will coddle them while they sharpen their skills.

Dynastar Intense 4×4 82 Pro

Dynastar is among the brands that don’t distinguish its women’s constructions from its unisex fare, so the Intense 4×4 82 Pro pulls no punches. It’s more capable than most in the category off-trail, and it’s on-trail performance is first-rate.

Read the full review here.

Völkl Yumi 84

The Völkl Yumi 84 keeps getting better with age. It doesn’t have quite the power of big sis Kenja 88, which is perfect. You don’t have to be strong physically or technically to enjoy it, yet it has a high performance ceiling. Great one to grow on.

Nordica Astral 84 Ti

Nordica’s Astral 84 Ti is an outstanding value for a ski with its performance range. It’s a Frontside ski with an All-Mountain mentality, able to ski more than just docile groomers. Easy to bow yet it grips like super glue, it fits right in with any age group.

All-Mountain East

If this were the only women’s category, female skiers would still be well served. There are over 20 quality models in the genre; almost all of them come from an off-trail bloodline, so they segue from groomers to chop without a hitch. 

Blizzard Black Pearl 88

Blizzard’s Black Pearl 88 has set sales records for women’s skis that may never be broken. It’s gone through another round of refinement, opening up its ability range to include women who have no top end. The reigning queen of all-terrain skis uses a women-specific design that includes a sliver of Titanal to keep her calm.

Read the full review here.

Head Kore 87 W

The AME category is hot, inspiring brands to multiply off-trail models in ever narrower versions. Head’s new Kore 87 W boosts the on-trail behavior of this ultra-light design, without gutting its natural proclivity for powder, crud and bumps.

Read the full review here.

Nordica Santa Ana 88

Each of the 5 Santa Ana models exhibits slightly different behavior, in part attributable to Terrain Specific Metal, which tempers the measure of Titanal to the situation. The Santa Ana 88 ends up with an insane performance range that includes, well, everything.

Read the full review here.

All-Mountain West

Women’s All-Mountain West models aren’t for gals tiptoeing for the first time into the sidecountry.  Every ski in the genre targets the advanced to expert skier who knows how to rip. They are first and foremost for off-trail adventures, although they have the stuffing to hold on firm snow when it’s the only option.

K2 Mindbender 98Ti Alliance

This ski’s version of K2’s Torsion Control Design was so impressive during testing that it was adopted for all of K2’s Mindbenders, men’s and women’s alike. Handles hard snow with the playfulness and ease of a narrower ski, yet has plenty of float and power to motor through crud.

Read the full review here.

Blizzard Black Pearl 97

Blizzard keeps working to refine its Woman Specific Design to find the optimum balance between power and finesse. The new Black Pearl 97 uses an even-flexing, TrueBlend all-wood core embellished with a dose of Titanal so she’ll keep tracking on course even in heavy, battle-scarred terrain.

Read the full review here.

Fischer Ranger 99 Ti WS

Fischer draws no distinction between men’s and women’s skis, so when it beefed up the Ranger 99 Ti a couple of seasons ago, the women’s series (WS) version perforce raised its performance profile. Strong enough to kick crud sideways yet nimble and grippy on hard snow. No part of the mountain is off limits.

Big Mountain

There are probably some athletes who use a Big Mountain ski as their everyday ride, but you should consider where and how well you ski before doing the same. Because wide skis aren’t user-friendly on hard snow, we suggest women use them only in the conditions for which they were intended: new, or recently new, snow. Women who want a ski for both in-resort runs and backcountry forays should look into a Big Mountain model.

Nordica Santa Ana 104 Free

Nordica carefully calibrates the dose of Titanal it layers into the Santa Ana 104 Free; too little, and it’ll be bullied in junky snow, too much, and it’ll steer like a tanker. By hitting just the right note in a ski that also has a lively camber line, Nordica has made a powder juggernaut with surprising quicks.

Rossignol Blackops Rallybird Ti

Rossi’s new Blackops Rallybird Ti is a very different ski from the Soul 7 HD W it replaces in the line, deploying multiple damping technologies to maintain snow connection. The tail tells the tale: nearly flat and square, it’s made for a skilled skier who attacks the fall line. Ready to drift or charge, it boasts a big performance envelope.

Read the full review here.

Völkl Blaze 106 W

Völkl took aim at three targets with the new Blaze 106 W: create a lighter weight Big Mountain model with a smidgeon of Titanal for stability; make it equally adept at in-resort skiing and backcountry escapades; and price it to sell at $600, well below the category’s average street price. It’s one of the best deals in the sport.

Read the full review here.