Skiing on the East Coast can be a fantastic experience. It’s an area packed with accessible resorts that boast superb facilities and enough slopes to suit most skiers.
However, the perceived downside of Eastern resorts often lies in snow quality. Hardpack, ice and a dash of man-made snow are a common theme that can leave many lusting over the powder fields in Colorado and Utah.
Despite the pitfalls; skiing challenging snow doesn’t have to be doom and gloom. If you can nail the right technique and find appropriate equipment; you may actually learn to love these conditions.
In this guide; we have reviewed, analyzed and compared the best skis for East Coast. The options listed have ideal characteristics to support your technique and give you the confidence required to excel on hardpack snow.
Ranking The Best Skis for East Coast
Best Skis For East Coast Comparison
Popular and time-tested beginner ski that's easy-to-handle and well-suited to East Coast hardpack
Light and playful intermediate ski that can easily be handled on East Coast snow
Strong performance when carving hardpack and equally adept at tackling sidecountry snow
Stiff and stable piste ski that has serious carving performance and power on groomers
Strong and powerful all-mountain ski that is impressive on any terrain and feels energetic
Forgiving, lightweight, manoeuvrable, reliable, time-tested, great for learning the basics, easy-to-use
Playful, lightweight, manageable, intermediate flex, great for bumps, capable on snow days
Reliable, good edge grip, carving performance, can handle speed, does well in powder, stable
Stable, powerful, great edge hold, can cope with any speed, wide enough for crud
Powerfull, stable, true all-mountain performance, energetic, good power transfer, trustworthy
Lack power in heavy snow, not for speed
Can lack edge hold at times, speed limited
Lacks agility, not for new intermediates
Not playful, high energy input required
A bit wide for frontside, expensive
Why Do I Need The Best Skis for East Coast?
Skiing on the East Coast requires a specific skillset. It also helps if you have an awesome pair of skis with the characteristics required to slay challenging terrain.
The hard, icy and windswept snow renders most wide skis obsolete; with a performance orientated shape best suited to maintaining precision and grip.
The best skis for East Coast generally use a narrow to mid-range waist width. The optimal range is usually between 75-95cm; which is ideal for providing performance on hardpacked groomers.
East Coast skiing is usually centered around ‘piste performance’; with the humid weather conditions making powder days a rarity. If you stick to skis that are narrow, powerful and have a good edge hold; you have a great chance of mastering the ice.
How To Choose The Best Skis For East Coast
The term ‘waist width’ refers to the width of the skis when measured across the middle. It can also be referred to as the width ‘underfoot’, and is measured in millimetres.
Waist width is the best indicator of how a ski will perform in specific snow conditions. In general; narrow skis are best for hardpack snow, while wider skis perform well in powder.
The narrowest race skis typically start at around 60mm, while the widest backcountry skis usually top out at around 130mm. In between these values, there are a variety of width ranges that correlate to different conditions.
Since the East Coast serves up predominantly hardpack snow, we will be looking for skis in the hardpack, groomed and all-mountain categories. In this instance, skis with a waist width of 75-95mm are ideal.
Remember that waist width is a personal choice. If you love carving hardpack and only ski groomed slopes; look towards the narrower options. However, those hoping to search for some off-piste or crud might prefer an all-mountain design.
If you are going to frequently face variable terrain; we also have an article detailing the best skis for crud. Those looking to mix it up would also benefit from taking a look at our guide to the best all-mountain skis.
Waist Width (mm)
Type of Skiing
Turn Radius (Sidecut)
Modern skis are generally designed using an hourglass shape, which is commonly referred to as ‘sidecut’. By combining a narrow waist with a wider tip and tail, they have the ability to produce a rounded turn arc. The perceived size of this natural arc is known as the ‘turn radius’, with each ski being given a value in meters.
Skis with a short turn radius are best for energetic performance on groomed ski slopes. They can provide optimal edge hold when carving and great short turn precision.
Skis with a longer turn radius will produce a wide and sweeping turn shape. They are often the most stable at speed and offer enhanced power through variable snow.
The shape of ski you prefer will depend on your terrain preference and technique. If you often ski in tight spaces and want optimal control; a narrow ski will fit the bill. If you’re a hard charger that loves producing long turns; you might look for something wider.
In order to help you navigate the world of turn radius, we have produced this simple table that correlates different metric values into categories:
Type of Skiing
Flex (Ability Level)
The term ‘flex’ refers to the flexibility of a ski. It’s one of the biggest traits that can impact performance and is often the differentiator between beginner and advanced level skis.
- Flexible skis are best suited to beginners. They are easy to manoeuvre, forgiving and have a playful feel. These characteristics make them ideal for new skiers, progressing intermediates or those seeking off-piste enjoyment.
- Rigid or ‘stiff’ skis are best suited to advanced skiers. They are stable at speed and feel powerful across a range of snow conditions. Advanced intermediate to expert skiers will love their hardpack prowess. However, they can feel like hard work for less experienced skiers.
It’s also worth noting that stiffer skis usually incorporate layers of metal into their core to add stability and durability. It can also help to reduce chatter, which is incredibly important on icy East Coast terrain. However, be warned that beginners will likely find this ‘heavy duty’ construction difficult to handle and generally tiring.
Manufacturers don’t give flex a numeric value, but it is possible to judge a skis flexibility based on its characteristics, product description and test data. In addition, the level of skier it’s aimed towards should give you a clear indication of a ski’s flexibility.
Ski length is traditionally measured against your height. It’s commonly thought that the skis should sit somewhere between your chin and the centre of your forehead. Although this isn’t always a perfect system, it’s a good parameter to work within.
- Skis on the shorter end of this spectrum will be the lighted easiest to manoeuvre and often the most forgiving. It makes them ideally suited to learning the basics or skiing with a playful style.
- Longer skis tend to favour advanced skiers. They offer the most stability at speed, perform better on variable snow and usually have improved edge hold during sweeping turns.
Length is a completely personalized choice that should be made based on your ability, skillset and preferred terrain type.
In order help you simplify the process, we have included the below ski length chart that will give you a good ballpark length range to work within:
Reviewing The Best Skis For East Coast
The Volkl Kendo has been a favourite amongst all-mountain skiers for a number of years. Its impressive versatility and performance across a variety on snow types made it our clear winner upon review.
Some ‘traditionalists’ will view the Kendo’s 88mm waist as too wide for piste performance, but we found the power and grip to be outstanding across hardpack. It feels trustworthy at all times and stable at any speed, while still remaining accessible to intermediate skiers.
Away from the groomers; the Kendo proves to be powerful through crud and has ample float in deep snow for those rare East Coast powder days. Despite previous models being stiff and hard to handle; the latest 2022 version feels a bit more nimble underfoot.
The overall performance of the Volkl Kendo 88 makes it a super choice for anyone looking to power across East Coast hardpack. Despite being an all-mountain ski; its performance on ice is superb and it gives you the option of hitting the sidecountry when fresh snow is falling.
- Truly versatile
- Good grip on hardpack
- Stable at speed
- Feels secure and trustworthy
- Consistent performance
- Does well in crud and powder
- Struggles in tight spaces
- Doesn’t feel playful
- New intermediates can find it unmanageable
If you’re a hard charger looking for a frontside ski that can handle the hardpack; we highly recommend the Blizzard Brahma 82. It was our favourite groomer ski upon review and impressed us with its ferocious carving ability.
The Brama is a stern and stiff ski that can handle the highest speeds without any wobble. It’s incredibly stable in any scenario and the edge hold on ice was second to none in our test.
Away from the hardpack; the Brahma also excels in choppy snow and instils confidence across the mountain. Its two-layer Titanal core feels solid and trustworthy underfoot, especially on steep and windswept black diamonds.
Frontside skiers that love the challenge of steep and icy terrain will find solace in the Blizzard Brahma 82. It’s a high performance, ‘hard charging’ ski that can easily cope with any speed.
- Stable at speed
- Great carving performance
- Super edge hold
- Busts through crud
- Very strong and durable
- Not very playful
- Can be hard work to control
- Not for powder days
Anyone looking for a true all-mountain ski that remains capable on ice should consider the Nordica Enforcer 94. It’s the widest ski in our review and does lend itself to sidecountry skiing; but its performance on hardpack should not be underestimated.
The skis feature a 94mm waist width that allows you to explore a range of snow conditions. The solid two-layer Titanal base feels solid and powerful when crushing choppy snow or travelling at speed.
Despite being on the wider end of the spectrum; the Enforcer 94 provides superb stability when carving ice. It feels strong yet poppy and playful when put to the test, making it a superb ski for those looking to explore moguls and the occasional treeline.
The Nordica Enforcer 94 is a genuine all-mountain ski that will appeal to a variety of advanced level skiers. It’s powerful and solid when necessary, yet still retains the playfulness required for enjoyment in tight spaces.
- Wide enough for powder float
- Stable at speed
- Crud buster
- Poppy and playful at times
- Fairly easy to drive
- Performs well on hardpack
- Solid when put on edge
- Genuine all-mountain appeal
- Width makes edge changing slow
- Very expensive
- Pure frontside carvers should look elsewhere
The M-Pro 84 is an accessible intermediate ski that feels lightweight and ‘easy going’ underfoot. Its width makes it a frontside biased ski that retains the versatility for sidecountry exploration.
Upon review; we found the light and playful feel to be enjoyable across hardpack conditions. The skis feel manoeuvrable in tight spaces and remain forgiving if you make a mistake on the ice.
Despite lacking a touch of power at the highest speeds; the M-Pro feels solid enough for most intermediate skiers. The flex pattern is smooth and consistent for an overall enjoyable ride that resists chatter on icy mornings.
Overall; we found the Dynastar M-Pro 84 to be an impressive all-rounder that has appeal to all types of intermediate skiers. It’s fun and easy going on a range of surfaces, but can still withstand some pressure when pushed a bit harder.
- Poppy and playful
- Consistent flex
- Good for progressing your technique
- Can cope with sidecountry skiing
- Can lack control at high speeds
- Reduced edge hold compared to advanced models
Beginners that are looking for a forgiving ski that can support their progression will be impressed by the Rossignol Experience 76. It’s a soft and accessible ski that can make learning the basics much less daunting.
The skis feature a narrow 76mm base that is responsive and manoeuvrable. Despite lacking stability at speed; they have sufficient edge hold on ice that beginners and new intermediates are sure to appreciate.
The lightweight design and short turn radius offered by the Experience 76 makes turn initiation easy. In addition, it’s the latest model in a time-tested range that has been a proven success with newer skiers for countless seasons.
Finding a beginner ski that feels secure on East Coast hardpack can be challenging; but we believe the Rossignol Experience 76 is up to the task. Its forgiving, accessible and responsive style makes it an ideal choice for progressing past the beginner slopes.
- Time-tested product range
- Easy turn initiation
- Great for learning the basics
- Very limited at speed
- Lacks power in wet and heavy snow
- Heavily impaired on off-piste snow
It’s probably safe to say that few skiers relish the prospect of hardpacked and icy snow. However, if you’ve got the proper tools, it can be a base for you to produce some fantastic skiing.
Having the right skis holds significant importance in these conditions. It can improve your stability, improve your edge grip and help you maintain peak performance.
In essence, getting the best skis for East Coast is a great idea. Whether you’re heading to Vermont, Maine, New Hampshire or New York; we’re sure you can find a pair of skis on this list that will enhance your ability.
James is the founder of SnowSunSee. He started skiing when he was five years old and has been a qualified ski instructor for 8 years. He has taught skiing in many countries, including UK, Europe, Japan, China and Malaysia. When he’s not on the slopes, James spends his time travelling the world one trail at a time.