Buying skis for (and with) your kids should be a fun experience; however, every one of the well-known ski companies has a high-quality junior line, which can sometimes make it hard to choose. In this review, I focus on all-around ski models, meaning that these skis work well for most conditions and can be used by advanced beginners and beginning advanced skiers alike. Unless your kid is a junior racer or wants to exclusively hit the terrain park, these skis will do just great from the slopes to easy powder.
When buying skis, first make sure you know your kid’s level of ability. There is really no gain in buying the most expensive race ski (the ones that usually cost the most) when for now your child only feels comfortable skiing at medium speeds down easy blue runs. Advanced skis are usually stiffer, much less forgiving, and even an intermediate skier can easily become frustrated on them. The rule of thumb is that beginner’s skis are soft and forgiving, while more advanced skis are stiffer and thus more responsive. Don’t try to be skimpy though by buying the lowest model you can find. When your boy tries to ski fast on a true beginner’s ski, he’ll soon notice that the edges aren’t gripping as firmly and will give out, especially in fast, tight turns. This is not a good thing, and can be dangerous. The skis reviewed here are all stiff enough to hold up safely at moderate speeds (nobody should go too fast on crowded slopes anyway), but are also forgiving enough to ensure a pleasurable day on the slopes.
These days, skiing the terrain park is the coolest thing to do, so when I recommend the best all-around ski for kids, I definitely have to take the terrain park into consideration. A number of the skis reviewed here feature “twin tips” (on both ends of the skis the tips curve upwards) and this feature is helpful, if not essential if your youngster wants to do tricks like skiing backwards or doing the rails. Snoqualmie Pass has a small terrain park (next to a major one) that has been designed mainly with kids in mind. I use it often with my students, as the terrain park has become a part of today’s skiing.
Since the introduction of shaped skis, I have always been an advocate for shorter skis. Yes, longer skis will offer more stability at higher speeds, but I just don’t believe anyone should go too fast these days because the slopes are crowded and accidents can happen so easily. In my opinion, a good middle-of-the-road length is what you need to look for. Standing up on their ends, the skis tips should reach somewhere between nose and chin, give or take an inch or so.
Generally, most kids’ skis are built to support skiers with a weight of up to about 140 lbs. If your child weighs a little more than that, or is especially tall, I suggest trying a shorter adult ski. Generally, adult skis are made from stronger materials and will much better support the extra weight.