Ski width - Wide or Narrow Skis? Complete Guide

Ski width - Wide or Narrow Skis? Complete Guide - snowfeet*
When it comes to choosing the right ski for you, there are a lot of factors to consider. One of the most important is ski width, or the measurement of the ski at its widest point. But does ski width really matter? Let's take a closer look at this topic and answer some related questions.

What are Wide Skis?

Wide skis typically have a waist width of over 100 millimeters.

They are designed to provide better flotation in soft, deep snow, making them ideal for powder conditions. The increased surface area reduces the pressure on the snow, allowing the skis to stay on top rather than sinking. The wider shape works the best combined with shorter length. Wider skiboards ensure that wide skis will not become too much of a burden on your legs. 

Shorter = better

Benefits of Wide Skis:
  • Improved Flotation: The large surface area provides excellent flotation in deep snow, making wide skis perfect for powder days.
  • Stability: Wide skis offer greater stability, which can be beneficial in uneven terrain and when skiing off-piste.
  • Versatility: Modern wide skis are versatile enough to handle not just powder, but also groomed slopes and variable conditions, albeit with some compromises.
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Drawbacks of Wide Skis:
  • Less Maneuverability on Groomed Runs: In hard-packed conditions, wide skis can be more cumbersome to turn and may not edge as effectively as narrower skis.
  • Weight: Wide skis are typically heavier, which can lead to increased fatigue over long skiing days.
  • Speed: The larger surface area can create more drag, reducing speed on groomed runs.

 What are wide skis good for? 

Wide skis are amazing for a rough terrain you will encounter primarily off-slope. Plus, if you enjoy skiing in that fresh fluffy snow, wide skis are your gear of choice.

Wide skis provide multiple benefits with specific condition. 

1. Powder Skiing

Wide skis shine in deep, fresh snow—commonly known as powder—due to their broad surface area. This increased width helps the skis float on top of the snow rather than sinking into it, making them ideal for powder days where skiers want to glide effortlessly over soft, fluffy snow.

2. Off-Piste and Backcountry Skiing 

For skiing outside groomed slopes, wide skis offer the stability and flotation needed to handle varied and unpredictable terrain. Their design helps manage the challenges of skiing through tree lines, off marked trails, and in natural terrain where deeper snow and obstacles are more common.

Walkski by Snowfeet backcountry skis
3. Freeride Skiing

Wide skis are a favorite among freeride skiers who tackle natural terrain with a mix of powder, crud, and even hardpack. The stability and support provided by wide skis are essential for landing jumps and executing tricks in natural terrain features.

4. Stability in Varied Snow Conditions

In conditions that mix powder, packed snow, and ice, wide skis provide a stable platform. Their width helps distribute the skier’s weight more evenly, which can lead to a smoother ride in challenging conditions.

5. Comfort and Forgiveness 

The larger surface area of wide skis makes them generally more forgiving, meaning they can smooth out some of the rougher aspects of uneven terrain. This can make skiing more comfortable, especially for those venturing into mixed snow conditions or learning to ski in less-than-ideal environments.

Available in multiple lengths

Are wide skis hard on your knees?

No, wide skis are not necessarily hard on your knees. In fact, wider skis can be easier on your knees in certain conditions. Because they provide more flotation in deep snow, you may not have to work as hard to stay on top of the powder, which can reduce strain on your knees. On the other hand, you might find them difficult to maneuver than thinner skis on a groomed slope. 

Are wide skis good for moguls?

Wide skis are generally not considered ideal for moguls. Here’s why:


Mogul skiing requires quick, precise turns and the ability to navigate tightly spaced bumps. Wide skis, due to their larger surface area and often greater weight, are less nimble than narrower skis. This can make it more challenging to execute the rapid changes in direction that mogul skiing demands.

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Edge-to-Edge Quickness

One of the key aspects of skiing moguls effectively is the ability to quickly shift from one edge to the other. Narrower skis have less material between the edges, which facilitates faster and more responsive edge transitions. Wide skis can feel sluggish in this respect, potentially hindering performance in tightly packed moguls.

Physical Effort

Skiing moguls can be physically demanding, and the added weight and bulk of wide skis can increase fatigue, especially over long mogul runs. Narrow skis are typically lighter and easier to maneuver, which can help conserve energy.

Bump Absorption

Narrow skis can more easily dip into the troughs between moguls, allowing skiers to maintain a smoother line and better control. Wide skis, however, tend to ride over the tops of the moguls, which can lead to a bumpier ride and reduced control.

Skiboards snowblades skiblades by Snowfeet short skis little skis

When it comes to moguls, to really enjoy the ride, choose rather more narrow and shorter blades to actually enjoy the ride. 

Are wide skis good on ice?

Narrow skis are more suitable for frozen surface. 

Generally speaking, wide skis are not as good on ice as narrow skis. This is because they have a larger surface area, making them more prone to slipping and sliding on hard-packed snow and ice. However, some wider skis are designed with features that can help with edge control on icy slopes, such as metal edges and a stiffer flex.

Skiboards snowblades skiblades by Snowfeet

Do wider skis go slower?

Not necessarily.

The speed at which you ski is largely determined by your own abilities and the terrain you're skiing on, not the width of your skis. Ultimately, the best way to determine the right ski width for you is to consider your skill level, the type of terrain you'll be skiing on, and your personal preferences.

Gear up for your next winter adventure

What are Narrow Skis?

Narrow skis generally have a waist width less than 85 millimeters. They are designed primarily for groomed runs and hard snow conditions. Their slimmer profile makes them more agile and easier to turn.


Benefits of Narrow Skis:
  • Agility: Narrow skis are more responsive and easier to turn, making them ideal for carving precise lines on groomed slopes.
  • Speed: The reduced surface area decreases resistance, allowing for faster speeds on hard-packed snow.
  • Energy Efficiency: Less effort is required to initiate turns, which can reduce skier fatigue and extend skiing time.
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Drawbacks of Narrow Skis:
  • Poor Performance in Powder: In deep snow, narrow skis tend to sink rather than float, making them less ideal for powder conditions.
  • Reduced Stability in Rough Conditions: They can be less stable on uneven surfaces and in variable snow conditions, where the bumps and dips might be more jarring.
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Are narrower skis easier to control?

When it comes to controlling skis, length is more important factor than width. Shorter skis are much easier to control than longer skis. Therefore, the best skis to star with are skiboards: they are wide, providing extra support, but short which makes them light and easy to manuever. 

Are narrow skis better for ice?

Yes, they definitely are. They have better grip, they cut more precisely into ice, plus, they are not so slippery are the wide skis. Narrow skis allow better control and easier turning on the icy surface. 

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Choosing the right ski width 

Are wide or slim skis better?

This depends on the type of skiing you plan to do. If you'll be primarily skiing on groomed slopes, narrower skis are generally better. However, if you plan to venture off-piste and into deeper snow, wider skis can be a good choice. Wide skis provide more flotation in deep snow, making it easier to stay on top of the powder.  

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What width skis are best for beginners?

Generally speaking, wider skis are better for beginners. This is because they are easier to maintain balance and they provide great support for the first unsure rides on skis. As a beginner, opt for short ski, too. Shorter length is lighter and easier to grasp than the long and clunky skis. 

Skiboards snowblades skiblades short skis little skis skis for beginners

What ski shape is best for beginners?

For beginners, a ski with a traditional camber shape is usually the best option. This shape allows for good edge control and stability on groomed slopes. Additionally, a slightly rockered tip can help with turn initiation, making it easier to link turns together.

 If you are a rookie, the best solution is a pair of shorter and wider skiboards: these skis will ensure enough support, but they will not hold you down with extra weight and length. 


Both wide and narrow skis have their place on the slopes. When choosing skis, consider the terrain you will be skiing at most often and choose your skis accordingly. 

 What do you prefer? Narrow or wide skis? Let us know in the comments!  

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jerry bonner

jerry bonner

having a harder time doing short turn with my wide skis my narrow skis were easier ? have to tip over wide skis more ? what’s a good width for both turns

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