Each year, ski companies modify and update their current fleet to offer fresh innovations on the ski industry. As they one-up and out-do each other, skiers reap from the ski industry competition, skiing on faster, lighter, and better equipment and enjoying performance-enhanced ski apparel made for men, women, and kids.
The all-mountain desire and the adrenaline rush acquired from skiing have greatly addressed skiers’ preferences by bringing in creative efforts through an explosion of latest ski gears and refined classics.
In truth, the best ski brand does not exist. Every ski brand has its own set of avid customers, where they turn to a single trusted manufacturer for all their ski gear items. Meanwhile, skiers who are brand eclectics treat every single gear with its own merits, where each item is a collage of different ski brands.
Choosing the best ski brand involves several factors. Each company has different priorities, philosophies, and target markets. Some are best known for selling skis, goggles, boots, and even socks.
This guide will give you a smattering lineup of best ski brands for 2020. These include established ski brands with an extensive history of product excellence. You may find some fresh faces in the ski industry as well.
Secondly, this list also exhibits popular ski brands obtaining glowing reviews on online markets such as Amazon. It also includes in-depth details about which ski product best represents the company. More importantly, the best ski brands you will find on this list are most recommended by ski enthusiasts.
Top 10 Best Ski Brands Reviewed
- 1 #1. K2 – “Passion Drives Innovation”
- 2 #2. Rossignol – “Pure Mountain Company”
- 3 #3. Völkl – “Hightech made where we live and ski.”
- 4 #4. Salomon – “Time to play”
- 5 #5. Armada – “We are what skiing will become.”
- 6 #6. Atomic – “My Ski – My Story.”
- 7 #7. The North Face – “Never Stop Exploring”
- 8 #8. Wagner Custom – “Taking Your Skiing to the Next Level”
- 9 #9. Smith – “Do it your way… but see it our way.”
- 10 #10. Marker – “Rule the mountain.”
#1. K2 – “Passion Drives Innovation”
Coming in from Washington State, K2 ski company claims itself as the original American ski brand. It is a massive ski gear innovator garnering medals and awards for every ski product they release annually. K2 specializes in helmets, snowboards, skis, and outdoor accessories like hats and beanies.
Founded in 1962, this ski company got inspired by the legendary K2 Mountain. Popularly known as Mount Godwin-Austin, K2 is the second-largest mountain worldwide and the deadliest. Statistics show that K2 has at least one death for every four climbers that reach the summit.
As a sports brand, K2 got its name in honor of the 14-person expedition on the “The Savage Mountain.” K2 seeks to convey the spirit of the first American K2 expedition, including local Settle pride and grit it exhibited to the global ski industry.
K2 made an impressive performance in 1987 by expanding its product line into snowboards. In 1999, they were the first to manufacture ski products exclusive for women called Women’s Alliance.
For over 50 years, K2 has made a long-standing mission to focus on innovation. They continuously strive to deliver advanced technologies on their ski products while applying sustainable responsibility to their manufacturing process.
K2 follows strict measures on achieving sustainable initiatives for their ski products. These include developing top-quality ski gears and equipment with long useful life to prevent immediate disposal and producing the right material that will not sacrifice longevity and quality. To reduce environmental impact, K2 reduces harmful chemicals, increases recycled content, and improves the manufacturing process.
K2 has a team of professional skiers and snowboarders that represents their brand in international competitions. These include international pro skiers and snowboarders, such as Karl Fosvedt, Sean Pettit, Lexi Dupont, Jake Kuzyk, and Tim Eddy.
Today, K2’s product line has evolved from skis, snowboards, and helmets. They also have clothing apparel for men, women, and youth. These include sweats, hats, beanies, t-shirts, and accessories.
K2’s legacy in the ski industry started in the 60s by using fiberglass technology and producing skis with multitasking abilities. They take pride in their latest K2 Konic technology in their Pinnacle ski releases. K2 got a few excellent skis for men, such as the Poacher and Press. For women, they have Missconduct and Empress skis, which are fantastic options for an all-mountain pair.
Currently, K2 proudly introduces another innovation in step-in system design and development. The K2 Clicker X HB is a step-in system that boasts of its secure toe and heel metal mount point, which delivers secure connectivity between the snowboard binding and boot. This step-in system creates an ultra-fast edge-to-edge transition response while providing natural and lateral mobility while snowboarding.
Official Site: k2snow.com
#2. Rossignol – “Pure Mountain Company”
Rossignol has been leading the ski industry as far as innovation goes in 2020. It is a French ski company that has been serving millions of skiers for more than 100 years. Currently, Rossignol serves as a one-stop-shop among its brand loyalists. Their ski product line markets to men, women, youth, and varied selections for Nordic and alpine skiers.
Rossignol’s rich and authentic heritage began with its founding father, Abel Rossignol, a carpenter in Isère, France. He produces wood products such as spindles for the textile industry. When he’s not busy crafting wood, Abel enjoyed skiing in his free time. In 1907, Abel used his carpentry skills to produce a pair of wood core powder skis. Because of this, Abel Rossignol became the oldest pioneer in the ski industry.
In 1937, Émile Allais used the Rossignol skis for a world championship ski competition for France. Her winning stunt with Rossignol skis led to her third world championship. In the 1960s, Rossignol’s all-metal Allais 60s skis made a sweeping win at the Winter Olympics.
The continuous legacy among champion ski athletes solidified Rossignol’s reputation as an international ski brand. By the 1970s, Rossignol became the largest producer of skis worldwide.
Rossignol is a well-known snow sports brand. It has a vast selection of ski products for amateur and seasoned skiers in snowboarding, Nordic skiing, and alpine skiing. Rossignol draws its strength from over a hundred years of breaking new ground and forging expertise.
One example is the Rossignol boots, which is known for its well-constructed features and design. The AllTrack boots are suitable for intermediate skiers, but they also have other models for skiers with higher flexes, making it an appealing ski gear for aggressive skiers. AllTrack has additional liners for an added level of warmth with its premium comfort features.
With their close ties with international pro ski champions, Rossignol created a wide range of intuitive and hi-tech ski products to deliver a rewarding and intense winter sports experience for skiers. These include Olympic champions, such as Alberto Tomba, Julian Mancuso, and Henrik Kristoffersen.
Rossignol highly recognizes the alliance of fashion and sports. That is why Rossignol has been investing in chic sports collections and casual lifestyle. Their mission is to transform the French ski brand into the contemporary and active fashion segment and high-end sportswear while maintaining its century-old legacy in winter sports.
Rossignol’s ski products vary from alpine skiing, cross country, snowboarding, and biking. Each category includes unique sports and ski wear, lifestyle apparel, shoes, and accessories for men, women, and kids.
Official Site: www.rossignol.com
#3. Völkl – “Hightech made where we live and ski.”
Völkl has been pushing its limits in the ski industry since they introduced their initial lineup of ski models. They manufacture skis with German precision while fusing performance and fun. Using outstanding and high-quality materials and progressive technologies, Völkl boasts of Germany’s unique ski products.
Based in Straubing, Bavaria, Völkl started its journey in 1875 with its founder, Georg Völkl. Georg was a master cartwright who designs horse-drawn carriages. His son, Franz, expanded their family business by manufacturing boats and sleds. In 1914, Franz started producing skis. Since then, Völkl became one of the largest ski product manufacturers in Germany.
Due to their high-performance ski products and unlimited passion for skiing, Völkl started making waves in the ski industry in 1923. Today, their headquarter, located in Germany, is one of the most modern production facilities for ski products globally.
Völkl’s team consisted of tinkerers, experienced artisans, engineers, testers, and top athletes. These ski experts blend high-tech innovation and traditional craftsmanship on Völkl’s ski products marked with preciseness, high-quality, advanced technologies.
Since the beginning, Völkl has made an impressive reputation as a ski brand. The Zebra-Ski in 1967 became a worldwide hit despite the ski industry mocking its white-and-black stripes and cracked edges. Conversely, Zebra-Ski’s legendary zebra pattern eventually became a bestseller.
Today, Völkl has continuously produced all-performance skis for amateurs and advanced skiers. The M5 is the fifth-generation ski in the iconic Mantra series. The first-generation Mantra ski was the most successful in its lineup. With M5, Völkl boasts of its lightweight carbon tip that is suitable in all types of snow. Believe it or not, the M5 Mantra got the highest score in the 2018 Colorado demos.
Today, Völkl continues to push its legacy in ski innovation. New ski products continue to turn heads and bag awards, making Völkl the most recommended ski brand among seasoned skiers. Besides skis, the Völkl product line includes poles, bags, skins, and logo wear.
Official Site: www.voelkl.com
#4. Salomon – “Time to play”
The French Alps ski community paved the way for Salomon in 1947 to become the epicenter of outdoor recreation experience. Although Salomon has several mountain sports branches, it has established a reputation as the ski industry leader. Today, Salomon comes in as a well-recognized European ski brand with an extensive product line.
Salomon began its humble beginnings in a wood saw and ski edges’ workshop owned by François Salomon and his family located at Lake Annecy, France. From there, François started his one-room shop to produce saw blades. Later on, François modified their machinery to create metal edges for skis. This entrepreneurial decision became François Salomon’s stepping stone to become a global leader in the winter sports industry.
By 1955, François and his family decided to devote their business by manufacturing ski parts. Within ten years after opening the shop, the Salomon family expanded their business by producing bindings. These bindings, called Le Lift, has made a reputation as the safest bindings available on the market due to its pressure-release technology. Because of this, Salomon set the groundwork for the first step-in heel piece binding in the world, the S505.
Today, Salomon’s passion for craftsmanship, new technologies, and outdoor sports has led their team to produce progressive gears that will enable outdoor enthusiasts to have fun and challenge themselves in the great winter outdoors. Their slogan is to encourage people to play while connecting with nature.
When it comes to their product line, Salomon has impressed the ski industry with their QST series. It is a freeride ski that is light and rigid. Salomon’s ski series consisted of four skis, but the most popular is the QST 106. On the other hand, if you need a competition level park and pipe pro ski, you will certainly love the NFX skis.
Besides skis, Salomon’s ski boots are a great addition to your ski gear kit. It is a perfect fit and the top pick for immediate skiers, especially those who like to push their skills to a higher level of expertise. To complete your hiking collection, you may also like their bestsellers, such as the Wayfarer Alpine Denim Pants, Outspeed 360 3L JKT W, Cross Hike MIDT GTX, and Out Night 30+5.
Official Site: www.salomon.com
#5. Armada – “We are what skiing will become.”
Armada is a skier-owned and operated brand founded by JP Auclair and Tanner Hall. They work closely with world champion skiers to transform the existing perception of skiing as an upper-class old man sport to a gritty and rootsy form of self-expression within a natural medium.
During the early 2000s, a new form of skiing made an impressive arrival in the snow sports culture, called freeskiing. Freeskiing combines the freestyle elements of snowboarding while building from backcountry skiing trends. It has an off-trail approach like skateboarding, but with skis.
This modern ski movement led to a shared sentiment among five skiers and one snow sports photographer. They decided to adopt a team-based model of skateboarding and snowboarding to a modern ski brand.
Armada’s founding team started its operations in November 2002 in Truckee, California. From there, Armada pushed the limits of this ski sport through progressive riding techniques and creativity, which later integrated into their original ski design. They also organized their product lineup, including poles, skis, bindings, and outwear for men, women, and youth.
Armada’s expertise on the “core” essentials of a ski gear kit exhibits the ski bum personality, which they would like to promote among modern skiers. At the same time, Armada remains loyal to its roots by devoting its product line mainly to freeskiing.
Once you have seen Armada’s ski gears and apparel, you will discover how Armada is certainly in love with their unique skiing approach. They have fiercely loyal customers despite their relatively small client base. Although their “street-smart” ski products don’t exhibit the specs required for an average skier, Armada’s ski products are wildly inventive nevertheless. They also work with international pro skiers to transform the public image of skiing as a snow sport.
Armada’s high-performance threshold consistently reflects on its products marketed to modern freeskiers. One example is Invictus 99 Ti. It is an all-mountain ski designed for experts and advanced skiers built for straight-lining runs at ultimate speed. With its medium-wide turn radius, the Invictus 99 Ti is ideal in open ski spaces with no bumps or trees.
Official Site: www.armadaskis.com
#6. Atomic – “My Ski – My Story.”
Atomic is a staple brand in the skiing industry since its foundation in 1955 under Alois Rohrmoser. Since Atomic started their operations, they have met a massive influx of demand by producing over 17,000 skis from 1966 to 1967. It later increased to 35,000 Atomic skis by 1968, and 72,000 in 1969. This early success led Atomic to expand its factory site in Austria.
In 1981, Atomic extended its production site as they became the first west-block brand to establish a production plant. By 1989, their company expanded its product line by producing poles, boots, bindings, and skis.
Today, Atomic produces over 600,000 skis every year. Besides skis, Atomic divided its product selection between Nordic, alpine, and touring skis. This way, skiers will find decent selections of ski gears that match their skiing lifestyle. Each category includes bindings, boots, helmets, goggles, poles, protection, bags and packs, and apparel.
Atomic made an impressive success in the ski community due to the two essential principles they follow, including environmental consciousness and technology. The technological advancements gave Atomic an impressive ability to deliver creative innovations in their products. On the other hand, being environmentally sound encouraged Atomic to product skis that will last for many years despite rigorous use.
With over 50 years of making premium quality skis, Atomic is indeed a pioneer in the ski community. Their notable products include the Vantage series composed of Olympic quality skis. They also have Bent Chetler 100 to give you maximum float and maximum feel in deep snow conditions. Meanwhile, those who prefer a fully committed on-trail ski should go for Vantage 86 TI, with Warden MNC 13-DIN bindings and a rock-solid ski power.
Amidst the fast pacing skiing industry, Atomic made sure that they stay on top of the curve by offering excellent performing technology in their ski products. They provide camber technologies and top rockers in their skis with varying core materials like titanium and wood. With different ski technologies, Atomic guarantees that they have a ski offering based on your ability and style.
Official Site: www.atomic.com
#7. The North Face – “Never Stop Exploring”
For those who are wondering, The North Face earned their brand name from the coldest and unforgiving side of a mountain. For over 50 years of innovation and exploration, The North Face has offered genuine solutions to outdoor explorers’ diverse needs. Although The North Face may be an odd addition in this list of ski brands, many skiers still prefer The North face as their ski outerwear brand.
Ironically, The North Face began its humble beginnings at San Francisco’s North Beach neighborhood. Two hiking enthusiasts followed their passion for mountaineering by setting up a small mountaineering equipment retail store. Later on, that little shop became a trusted retailer of high-performance backpacking and climbing equipment.
In the succeeding years, The North Face expanded their expertise by manufacturing and designing its exclusive technical mountaineering equipment and apparel. They later explored the ski community in the 1980s by offering extreme skiwear. The North Face proudly claims that they laid the groundwork for the free-spirited snow sports enthusiasts.
The North Face committed itself to inspire keen adventurers to conserve the natural wild. They also launched countless innovations on their outerwear apparel, including Dryvent, Flashdry, Gore-Tex, Windwall, and Thermoball.
A leading product specialty of The North Face for modern skiers is the Fuse Brigandine Ski Jacket. In truth, The North Face has received warm acclaim for its exclusive dedication to the free ski community. Although free skiing demands high durability and flexibility in extreme conditions, the Fuse Brigandine Ski Jacket can withstand any tough challenge.
As one of the best ski clothing brands, The North Face takes pride in their ski jackets and outerwear that can stand up against the most extreme freezing conditions while balancing the skiing and mountaineering demands.
Today, The North Face delivers an extensive line of outdoor equipment, performance apparel, and footwear. They also take pride in their partnerships among the most accomplished explorers, endurance runners, snowboarders, extreme skiers, mountaineers, and climbers.
Official Site: www.thenorthface.com
#8. Wagner Custom – “Taking Your Skiing to the Next Level”
Wagner Custom might be one of the best ski brands you have never heard of in the ski community. Despite being an underrated ski brand, Wagner Custom has served thousands of satisfied loyalists for custom skis. Tagged as the King of Custom Skis, Wagner Custom builds and designs stylish and advanced skis.
Establish in 2006, Wagner Custom is located at the Rocky Mountain base in Telluride, Colorado. This small ski town is an all-time favorite destination among skiers since the 1980s. The annual snowfall in Telluride occurs over five times on an average.
It was Pete Wagner, an avid skier, and mechanical engineer, who founded Wagner Custom. He started by custom designing golf clubs. Later on, he realized that skiers deserve similar customization options as well. Pete Wagner made it possible by creating software that analyzes thousands of ski designs. As a result, he developed Skier DNA, modern software that creates a ski set according to your unique preferences and specifications.
Customization of skis involves several factors, including the level of expertise, gender, weight, height, regions where you ski regularly, frequency of skiing, type of terrain, and your preferred brand.
The Skier DNA produces a unique pair of skis with the optimal combination of materials, tip/tail shapes, flex pattern, stiffness, camber/rocker, sidecut radius, width, and ski length. As a ski brand, they put an extreme priority on customization by staffing an in-house graphic designer. As a luxury ski brand, Wagner Custom’s downside is the massive price tag for their custom skis, which starts at $1,750.
Since Wagner customizes each ski they produce, they don’t have several plank models that you can choose. As much as possible, all of their products are the result of expert craftsmanship and cutting-edge technology with a dab of style instead of mass-producing skis. You can be sure that every pair of Wagner Custom ski is unique on its own.
Besides custom skis, Wagner has a vast selection of ski products that vary from beanies, hats, bindings, ski travel cases, and souvenir items like ski factory apron, t-shirts, and handcrafted Wagner mugs.
Official Site: www.wagnerskis.com
#9. Smith – “Do it your way… but see it our way.”
Smith Optics specializes in a few ski essentials. However, they don’t cover the entire ski gear kit as they offer extreme specialization on ski products worn above the neck. Their flagship ski products, Smith Optics helmets, and googles are known as the best ski essentials for sports authorities and regular skiers.
Original ski bum Dr. Bob Smith, an orthodontist, developed an obsessive hobby with skiing. In 1965, he was the first to introduce ski goggles with breathable vent foam and sealed thermal lens. The goggles insulated a skiers’ face in freezing climates while preventing both fogging and glare. The first Smith goggles were all hand-built by Dr. Smith in his garage and sold on weekend ski trips.
By 1969, Dr. Smith took his innovation further using a manufacturing plan and refined design. He released the first Smith Original ski google with a contract manufacturer. Since then, Smith started introducing creative innovations with ski goggles, such as the Turbo Fan, Roll Off, Warp, I/O Goggle, etc.
Today, Smith Optics delivers an exclusive line of sunglasses, ski helmets, and ski goggles. Besides skiing essentials, Smith expanded its product line by producing outdoor gear for fishing, mountain biking, cycling, running, and surfing. Smith guarantees that all their goggles and helmets are top-tier when it comes to performance and quality.
One of Smith’s notable ski products is the Vantage. It is a specialized ski helmet that includes multiple safety specs. It has a distinctive Honeycomb Aero Core Construction that is visible through the helmet’s vent openings. It also has an optional MIPS liner.
Besides its safety features, Smith’s Vantage helmet takes the lead when it comes to comfort. At a weight of 18oz, the Vantage is so light as if you’re wearing nothing. It also comes with an adjustable BOA dial for a perfect fit.
Official Site: www.smithoptics.com
#10. Marker – “Rule the mountain.”
Marker is an international ski bindings manufacturer founded in Germany. While they dabble in various ski products such as gloves, goggles, and ski accessories, Marker made a remarkable reputation for their ski binding designs. When it comes to ski bindings, Marker is the leading manufacturer worldwide.
In the 1950s, almost all ski bindings and skis have the same design and built. Skiers use cable binding to secure their ski boots to ski planks. Others call it “bear trap binding,” a primitive system of cables and belts that buckles the boot to the ski. As a result, this technique led to serious injuries, even during minor falls.
A German ski instructor also noticed the same problem among his ski students who suffer from faulty bindings. Although the Look Nevada has introduced the first modern binding, Marker decided to modify this product by introducing the Duplex binding.
Unlike Nevada’s ski bindings, the Duplex is one of the first ski bindings with releasable binding technology. It features two small wedge-shaped metal clips that allow the ski to eject forward and sideways. In the event of a fall, the Duplex bindings will go outward to release the boot’s toe.
Marker’s most popular ski bindings are the Griffon 13 ID, which is often marketed to young and amateur skiers. However, the Griffon 13 ID is also suitable for a wide range of ski ability levels. Its versatility makes it suitable for resort slopes, cross-country, and alpine backcountry. Overall, the Griffon 13 ID is highly-maneuverable, competitively priced, and lightweight.
Today, Marker has continuously produced the lightest, safest, and most budget-friendly bindings in the ski industry. With their massive contributions in the ski community, Marker has made a mark as an industry leader for seven decades. Besides ski bindings, they also expanded their product line, including helmet, goggles, and other ski accessories.
Official Site: www.marker.net
Wearing a Ski Brand
How you choose the best ski brand defines you as a skier. After all, only you can determine the best ski brand that suits your needs and preferences. It is not easy to categorize these ski companies since the best ski brand may not be the best brand for others. Each skier has a unique set of principles when it comes to performance and quality.
Those who prefer specialized goggles and helmets may turn to Smith Optics. Skiers who want premium ski bindings may try Marker. On the other hand, fashionable free skiers may discover great ski apparel with The North Face. No matter your skiing preferences, there is always a ski brand with tailor-fit options for you.
Whether you are an amateur, a seasoned skier, or an international pro, what matters is that you choose a ski brand that knows how to satisfy your needs in the winter slopes.
Apart from all the ski brands mentioned in this article, there are still countless ski brands worldwide. Each company has its unique line of expertise from skis, goggles, helmets, bindings, boots, etc. They also vary in terms of performance, quality, style, and innovations.
Since the ski market is a sub-market of the winter sports industry, only a few ski brands exclusively dedicate their product lineup to skis. Depending on your skiing preferences, you may try different brands to complete your ski gear kit.