Best Skis Under $500

Best Skis Under $500: Top 5 of 2021

If you’re searching for high-quality skis that won’t break the bank, you’ve come to the right place.

Choosing the best pair of skis can be a tricky task, especially if you’re on a budget. Type of skiing, ability level, product quality and cost must all be taken into account when making your decision.

In order to help you sift through the myriad of options, we’ve reviewed the best skis under $500. Every option on this list is sure to improve your ski performance for a reasonable price.

Best Skis Under $500 At A Glance

Photo

Summary

Price

  • Responsive camber profile with 14m turn radius

  • Lightweight and snappy poplar wood core

  • Playful and forgiving flex for improving skiers

      

      

  • Carbon rods give the skis an energetic feel

  • Wood core feels playful yet powerful

  • Titanium reinforcement adds stability at speed

      

      

  • 88mm waist width for off-piste excursions

  • Lightweight wood core is nimble and playful

  • Multi-radius sidecut feels intuitive and maneuverable

      

      

  • Poplar wood core is light and playful

  • Fibre layer gives a poppy and snappy feel

  • 98 waist provides floatation in soft now

      

  • 106mm waist with rocker tips for powder float

  • Beach and poplar wood core is maneuverable

  • Super lightweight design feels nimble

      

      

Why Do I Need The Best Skis Under $500?

The skis you choose will have a significant impact on your performance. Each pair of skis has various attributes that are best suited to different skiers, so choosing an option that suites your style is vital.

Skill level and preferred terrain are usually the biggest deciding factors. However, budget can also play a role, with modern skis often costing eye-watering sums.

This article is designed to prove that it’s possible to find quality skis for a reasonable price. Every option on this list is capable of improving your ski performance for under $500.

Hint: If you’re looking for a more specific ski; we have also reviewed the best mogul skis, best powder skis, best skis for crud and best skis for trees.

Best Skis Under $500
Choosing the best skis can be difficult when you’re on a budget

How To Choose The Best Skis Under $500

Waist Width

Waist width is a measurement of the width of the ski at its narrowest point, which is the middle. It’s a major determining factor and dictates how the ski will perform in different snow conditions.

In general, narrower skis are best for piste and wider skis are best for power. Skis can range from 60mm for race skis to 130mm for powder skis.

Within these parameters, you will find skis of almost every width that are fine tuned to excel in specific conditions. The key is to find skis that are suited to the terrain you will face most frequently.

We have included the below table that breaks down the widths into categories. It will give you an idea of how your preferred type of skiing translates into waist width.

Waist Width (mm)

Type of Skiing

<85mm

Hardpack/Groomed

85-95mm

Groomed/All-Mountain

95-110mm

All-Mountain/Powder

110+mm

Powder

Turn Radius

The turn radius, or ‘sidecut radius’, of a ski determines the natural turn size it will produce. It gives you an idea of whether a ski is best suited to long or short turns and is measured in meters.

  • Skis with a short turn radius allow you to make sharp and quick turns. They feel responsive on hard snow and can make it easier to control your speed.
  • Skis with a long turn radius prefer long and sweeping turns. They provide stability at speed and prefer pointing down the slope.

Ability, type of skiing and preference will all impact the turn radius you prefer. However, the below chart gives you a rough idea of the turn radius you can expect from different ski types.

Turn Radius

Turn Size

Type of Skiing

<17m

Short

Carving/All-Mountain

17-22m

Medium

All-Mountain

>22m

Long

Powder

Profile

The profile of a ski refers to its shape when you set it down on the snow. The most commonly used shapes are ‘camber’ and ‘rocker’.

  • Camber is the more traditional ski shape. It features an arced design that raises the middle of the ski away from the snow, with the tips and tails touching the floor. It’s a shape that makes the ski feel lively and responsive.
  • Rocker is a newer ski shape. It’s the opposite of camber, with the ski middle touching the snow and the tips and tails raised. These skis provide great floatation in powder and feel manoeuvrable.

Many skis also use a rocker/camber/rocker profile, which aims to get the benefits of both shapes. The amount and location of the rocker can change between different skis, with each shape offering various benefits.

Length

Ski length is measured with the tails of the skis on the ground. In this position, the tips should be somewhere between your chin and the top of your head.

Ski length has a big impact on performance. It will affect the way they feel at different speeds and on different snow types, while also making them more or less easy to control.

  • Shorter skis feel manoeuvrable and responsive. They are easy to turn and control in tight spaces, making them preferable for beginners.
  • Longer skis are stable at high-speed. They offer better float in powder and can power through crud, making them the preferred choice of advanced skiers.

Ski length is usually judged on ability, type of skiing and personal preference. In order to help you find the right length, we have included the below table.

Skier Height
(ft. in.)

Skier Height
(cm)

Ski Length
(cm)

4'6"

137

125-140

4'8"

142

130-145

4'10"

147

135-150

5'0"

152

135-155

5'2"

158

145-165

5'4"

163

150-170

5'6"

168

155-175

5'8"

173

160-180

5'10"

178

165-185

6'0"

183

170-190

6'2"

188

175-195

6'4"

193

180-200

Best Skis Under $500 Reviewed

Salomon S/Force 7

Key Features

  • Ability Level: Beginner-Intermediate
  • Waist Width: 76mm
  • Turn Radius: 14m
  • Weight: 7lb 9oz (3.4kg)
  • Snow Type: Groomed

If you’re an improving intermediate looking for budget skis, the Salomon S/Force 7 is a top choice. They come with a nimble 76mm waist and 14m turn radius that feels intuitive and makes turning easy.

Inside the skis they have used a poplar wood core that is snappy and responsive. The semi-sandwich sidewall construction allows these skis to hold an edge well during longer carves on hardpack snow.

The Salomon S/Force 7 is a great value for money purchase that can facilitate performance improvement. It has a responsive and forgiving feel that is great for intermediate skiers.

Pros

  • Nimble 76mm waist
  • Snappy 14m turn radius
  • Light and responsive core
  • Good edge grip on groomers
  • Flexible enough to be forgiving
  • Easy turn initiation
  • Confidence inspiring intermediate ski

Cons

  • Lacks stability at high speed

Elan Wingman 82 TI

Key Features

  • Ability Level: Intermediate-Advanced
  • Waist Width: 82mm
  • Turn Radius: 13.1m
  • Weight (pair): 7lb 12oz (3.5kg)
  • Snow Type: Groomed

The Elan Wingman 82 TI is built to prove that advanced level skis don’t need to break the bank. Featuring an 82mm waist and short 13.1 turn radius, they have a great snap coming out of the turn.

The use of carbon and titanal laminates gives this ski a stiff and burly feel that provides stability at speed. The skis have a lightweight and responsive feel, but are still able to maintain grip when laid on edge.

If you’re looking for power without the price tag, the Elan Wingman 82 TI is the ski for you. It has the stability to accommodate fast carving, while still remaining agile enough for short turns.

Pros

  • Snappy 13.1m turn radius
  • Wood core is light and responsive
  • Titanal laminate adds stiffness
  • Solid grip on hard snow
  • Energetic turn transitions
  • Stable for a budget ski
  • Secure and forgiving feel

Cons

  • The hardest chargers might find it has a speed limit
  • Limited performance in the bumps

Line Sick Day 88

Key Features

  • Ability Level: Intermediate-Advanced
  • Waist Width: 88mm
  • Turn Radius: 17.4m
  • Weight (pair): 7lb 5oz (3.3kg)
  • Snow Type: Groomed/All-Mountain

The Line Sick Day is built for skiers that spend most of their time on groomers but still want to have the occasional off-piste adventure. They have a super lightweight construction with an aspen wood core that feels nimble and playful in all conditions.

The 88mm waist width gives them on-piste agility, while also being wide enough to glide over sidecountry snow. The lightweight early-rise tips and tails give them a manoeuvrable feel in tight spaces and variable snow conditions.

If you’re looking for a fun and playful all-mountain ski on a budget, the Line Sick Day 88’s are a great choice. With a lightweight design that is responsive in a range of snow conditions, they will add a sense of energy to your skiing.

Pros

  • Light and nimble feel
  • Wide enough for off-piste snow
  • Soft tips make turn initiation easy
  • Manoeuvrable in tight spaces
  • Poppy wood core
  • Fun and easy to use in most conditions

Cons

  • Lacks the width required for true all-mountain use
  • Don’t expect the short turn snap of a piste ski

Dynastar Menace 98

Key Features

  • Ability Level: Intermediate-Advanced
  • Waist Width: 98mm
  • Turn Radius: 19m
  • Weight (pair): 8lb 2oz (3.7kg)
  • Snow Type: All-Mountain/Freestyle

The Dynastar Menace 98 has the pop and play of a park ski with all-mountain capability. Its 98mm waist width and rocker tips provide ample float and control on powder days.

Using poplar wood core with ‘springblade’ technology gives these skis an energetic feel across any terrain. They also have great on-piste stability with a long 19m sidecut that can rail turns at most speeds.

If you’re looking for a true all-mountain ski that is fun to ride, the Dynastar Menace 98 might be your best bet. It’s a lively ski that performs well on a range of terrain types, making them some of the best skis under $500.

Pros

  • Can lack stability in crud

Volkl Blaze 106

Key Features

  • Ability Level: Advanced
  • Waist Width: 106mm
  • Turn Radius: 16m
  • Weight (pair): 7lb 9oz (3.4kg)
  • Snow Type: Powder/All-Mountain

The Volkl Blaze 106 brings a playful yet agile feel to the mountain without breaking the bank. Featuring a 106mm waist and fairly lightweight construction, they feel fun and manoeuvrable in soft snow conditions.

Turn initiation is made easy by soft tips and tails, giving the skis a responsive feel on any snow. They also have a 3D radius sidecut that adapts to a range of turn shapes and gives the skis great personality.

The Volkl Blaze 106 is a great all-mountain ski that is capable of performing on powder days. Its energetic design is great in tight spaces and a lot of fun off-piste.

Pros

  • 106mm waist for powder days
  • Easy turn initiation
  • Multi-radius turns feel intuitive
  • Poppy and lightweight core
  • Easy to manoeuvre in tight spaces
  • Shock absorbing elastic design
  • Budget price for a powder ski

Cons

  • Lacks precision on hardpack snow

Summing Up

With so many skis on the market, finding the best option is never easy. This is especially true when you’re on a budget, with top-quality gear often costing high prices.

The best skis under $500 offer great value for money. They have the attributes required to improve your skiing and support your ski slope ambitions.

Take the time to read the buying advice and assess the attributes of each product. If you stick to the skis on this list, you will find great performance for a reasonable price.