Best Women's One Quiver All Mountain and Tour Skis for 2024
For women who want a one quiver ski for All Mountain or for Backcountry Ski Touring discover our recommendations for next ski season 2023-2024Round-Up of Women's All Mountain Skis
What is the best one quiver ski? Is it possible for one ski to do all including touring? What are All Mountain skis like on the piste? What sort of compromises do you need to make if you only have one ski to do all conditions?
These were the questions we were debating in the van as we drove the three hour journey from Serre Chevalier to La Clusaz for the 2023 SIGB Ski Test.
For the three of us, Gav, Ken and I, who live all season in the French Alps, however, the questions are somewhat hypothetical because we all have more than one ski, accumulating quite full quivers in the garage over the years, choosing whatever is best for the conditions. Even so, we do each have our favourite (skip to the last para).
My aim at the Ski Test was to ride Women's All Mountain skis, a category of ski that I actually don't own*, unless you count my 10 year-old SCOTT Realms, which at 82mm underfoot are far narrower than today's fatter waist All Mountain skis, mostly around the 90-98mm width.
*My quiver is currently made up of three touring set ups (DPS, Nordica, SCOTT), two powder skis (SCOTT, Armada), the old SCOTT Realms and a pair of Rossignols for pure piste.
SKI TEST CAVEAT
We had under two days and over 600 skis available with 125 skiers from UK ski shops and media all wanting to try the latest skis, meaning you couldn't ride them for longer than a couple of runs.
So the test centre was like a racing circuit pitstop for a quick click out of your bindings and change onto new skis. The problem with a flying ski test like this is, of course, the fact that there is no time to try skis in all conditions, let alone the ones they are designed for. Also it can be subjective. My height, weight and style of skiing might be very different to yours. I could love a ski, you might hate it.
But there are ski websites dedicated to sending whole teams to test skis, with skiers of varying weights and abilities trialling each ski in different conditions and terrain to give solid objective assessments available online.
ALL MOUNTAIN SKIS PISTE PERFORMANCE
The conditions in La Clusaz were not ideal for All Mountain testing as all the mountain was skied out within any traversing distance from a lift but, as most people worry how their wider skis will ride on the hardpack, one thing I could do was see how well they performed on the piste.
Riding the 1,200m red/blue runs linking from the top chairlift down to the SIGB test centre was a fair way to assess on piste performance, bearing in mind that the late January piste conditions changed radically from perfect cold corduroy at first lifts to what felt like sheet ice at the end of the day.
I tried out All Mountain women's skis and two ski touring ones, which were mounted with pin bindings and generally lighter but good for all mountain skiing if you want to tour up without too much weight underfoot and still enjoy the descent.
SHRINKING NOT PINKING
What I did like was the fact that the major brands are finally treating women as serious customers for all mountain skiing, no longer thinking that dollying up the top sheet with pastel colours and pretty flowers is what women want from their skis.
Today among the top brands, there is a good choice of great performance All Mountain skis for women, with most carrying a 90 plus width ski that's more than capable of doing powder and piste.
But you don't even have to pick from the women's lines. Shrinking rather than pinking is good news for women choosing from such backcountry performance brands as DPS. Elan and Black Diamond (image above), who offer women the same ski as men, the lengths being what separates most guys from the girls, ranging from around 160mm to 185mm.
It is, though, not a year for any great innovations, many are carrying over their popular All Mountain skis with sometimes just a tweak to the construction and a new top sheet for winter 2024. And why not? If it ain't broke don't fix it but it does mean you could pick up a bargain at the end of this season that'll still be in the range for next.
So if you're looking for an All Mountain women's ski or a wider touring ski then these are the ones based on personal experience and/or online reviews, that I'd recommend considering for next season. Obviously do your research, check out those dedicated ski test results yourself, and, if you can, try before you buy by hiring or test riding from a ski shop...
NORDICA SANTA ANA 93
I am a huge fan of Nordica and their skis for women. I bought the Santa Ana 100 demo skis five years ago, sold them to a friend, who was skiing powder for the first time in Japan (who loved them), replacing them with the Santa Ana 110s, mounted with Fritschi Tecton 12 touring bindings.
They are, without doubt, at the top of my list of favourite skis of all time, great for the backcountry.
During the Ski Test, I took out the Santa Ana 93s, 165cm. They have a wood core paired with carbon and a sheet of terrain-specific metal to make the ski lighter and easier to manoeuvre. I handed them back after a fantastic fast descent, thanks to the great edge hold, with a smile on my face.
The Nordica Santa Ana 98 were Outdoor Gear Guide Editor's Choice for 2023 and were at the top of On The Snow's list of the best All Mountain skis for women.
There is no doubt that Nordica know how to make great women's skis. At £510 what's not to like?
BLACK CROWS CAPTIS BIRDIE 90
I rode the 166cm Captis Birdie on the first lifts down perfect corduroy non-stop for over 1,000m. At 90mm width I, personally. feel this is a little narrow for any seriously deep snow off piste but, certainly, they skied super easy on the piste.
With its freestyle heritage, this is a ski that likes all terrain, holds the edge well and is easy to steer to adapt to all styles. The latest version is more incisive but also more playful. There's double rocker, great manoeuvrability, control and pivot.
This ski came second on Powder 7's list of best women's All Mountain skis for 2023. A great buy for £600.
ARMADA RELIANCE 92 Ti
My first superwide powder skis were Armada VJJs at 115mm waist and lots of rocker, bought around 9 years ago. As an ex-snowboarder, the width felt like home, giving me the confidence to head into the deep powder and float like a butterfly. Nearly a decade later, however, I'd be happy off-piste on an All Mountain ski that's not as fat and less clunky on the piste than the VJJs.
But powder should be fun and Armada really know how to make that happen. The Reliance 92s come high on many lists including Ski Mag and Outdoor Gear Guide for 2023.
The elongated tip rise and taper of the EST Freeride Rocker help the 92 Ti effortlessly plane and initiate turns in deep snow and variable conditions. The full length AR100 Sidewall and Articulated Titanal Banding combine with the fully cambered tail to help the ski track confidently and hold an edge when things firm up.
They are as playful as a puppy even on the piste. Well worth £630.
ELAN RIPSTICK 94
Any best All Mountain ski tests will have Elan Ripstick 94s. They come in at No 2 position for On The Snow and No 3 for Outdoor Gear Guide top women's All Mountain skis for 2023.
Amphibio Carbon Line technology takes asymmetrical ski design to the next dimension by strategically positioning carbon reinforcements above the inside edges of the skis, which provide more power in turns, while inserted carbon tubes in the wood core maximise both weight reduction and stability.
I rode the 162cm. They felt quite heavy, not a bad thing for bashing through the crud, but on the last run down on a very cold January day when the sun had disappeared over the hill, it was a super slippy descent. But we were all finding it hard to get an edge, almost sliding into each other. Only an icepick could have saved you on that hardpack.
Tagged at £599, I wouldn't say no.
BLIZZARD BLACK SHEEVA 9
I didn't have time to ride these at the Ski Test but, if you're shopping for women's All Mountain skis then take note that Blizzard's Sheeva 9 came top of the league of women's 2023 All Mountain skis for Ski Mag.
To develop the women’s specific design, Blizzard’s Women2Women programme brought together female skiers from all over the world - from athletes, to retailers, to coaches, to lifelong passionate skiers - and along with their engineers, developed the Sheevas to answer the needs of women freeriders.
Described as 'a ski that loves everything the mountain can throw at it' the Sheeva 9 has smooth rocker-camber-rocker profile making it responsive and stable yet super playful in softer snow conditions and on any type of terrain. Carbon Flipcore DRT Technology is combined with a women's specific design, which provides the perfect balance of reduced weight and increased performance.
This is their one-ski quiver, designed for the progressive All Mountain female skier, priced at a cool £540.
So check them out.
FOR THE SKI TOUR POWDER HOUND
Image: Jono Carmichael
For Day 2 of the Ski Test first thing, I was in the cafe by the gondola, dog-sitting our mountain powder hound (image above) who had just had an op to mend his ruptured achilles from a backcountry encounter with a friend's ski. So as I only had a couple of hours, I decided on my touring boots rather than my downhills, both being in the freezing cold van, but the former much easier to pull on in the cold temperatures.
Again there wasn't time or decent snow to test skis in the backcountry, but I tried a couple of women's touring skis to see how they handled on the piste, creating the potential for a one quiver ski.
As I wrote on Style Altitude a couple of years ago, many backcountry skiers are on a quest to find that one ski that is all they need for touring, powder, piste, whatever.
THE LIGHT BRIGADE
The ski tour revolution, accelerated by closed lifts during Covid lockdowns, meant a surge from the top brands to produce touring gear, specifically skis that are lighter and user friendly uphill without sacrificing performance going down - and, therefore, much more appealing as a one ski fits all.
But there's always been the fear of the ultimate superlight touring ski not having what it takes performance-wise downhill, especially on less than perfect terrain and hard pistes.
So do we have the Holy Grail of skis? After all the research into different materials, constructions and designs, do we now have a one ski to do it all? Uphill climbing, downhill float in powder, hit the piste for some café skiing and not make your teeth rattle on hardpack?
Arguably no. There always going to be compromise somewhere. But some skis brands are now getting pretty close.
SCOTT PURE TOUR 90
In a year, when there's not much innovation ski-wise, the ISPO award winner, SCOTT Pure Tour 90 and 100, new for next winter 2023-2024 deserve a fanfare. They are proof that this is where brands are concentrating innovation, namely on lightness for ski touring, versatility and sustainability. So I was keen to get onboard.
The Pure Tour has a shorter radius, longer rocker and new tip shape, designed 'to be used every day, light enough for touring and shaped for freeride', a one ski quiver, versatile for all the conditions, and one of a new generation of skis that is constructed as sustainably as possible, using flax fibre for smooth flex, and poplar for the pop.
The Pure Tour 90 in white caters to smaller and lighter skiers including women, and comes in shorter lengths of 152,160 and 168cm. The Pure Tour 100 in black is wider under foot and comes in longer lengths of 170,178 and 186cm.
The Pure Tour 90 that I tried was actually 93mm width for the women's 160cm (increasing waist in proportion with the length) so it's not too fat to fit in your mountain guide's ski tracks but wide enough to give float downhill in the pow. (NB. I would have chosen the 168cm for my height, which have 96mm waist, but they weren't on the rack).
And, boy, are they light. The 160s are a featherweight 1340g per ski, the 168s are a mere 1410g.
This will certainly take the weight off your feet going uphill. And the lightness doesn't affect piste performance. On the midday piste, they were an easy ride so I have absolutely no doubt that they'll do the rest of the job as in skiing down in powder or spring snow.
I particularly like the simple muted unsexist topsheets throughout the men's and women's lines, for 2023-2024, vibbing with the natural 'pure' sustainable ski trend.
So an excellent choice for the woman ski tourer who wants that one quiver ski. I'd have my bank card out now to buy them for £740 if I didn't already have my DPS Pagodas (see below).
FACTION AGENT 2X
I would expect Faction skis to be a fun ride with their park pedigree. The women's Agent 2X is 96mm for the 163cm ski so it's good for float as well as a blast down the piste. Definitely worth £629 if it's going to be your only ski.
These touring skis have karuba woodcore and weigh 1610g for 171cm length ski, so superlight for the ascent. The modern tip helps rise above the snow and easily initiates the turn, a stiffer tail supports a strong finish, the downhill performance is solid, reliably handling variable snow and terrain.
I'm not sure what to say about the dazzling neon purple top sheet except, of course, your ski should be easy to find if you stack it in deep powder.
And for the record these are my favourite skis:
DPS PAGODA TOUR 106
I have been riding the super lightweight Pagoda Tour 106s, length 171cms, for two seasons. They weigh 1470g, so with Xenic 10 bindings, each ski is nearly a kilo less than my Nordica El Nina set-up with great downhill performance in powder and spring snow and, also crucially, ice, crud and crust.
They also power down the piste so long as it's not super hardpack or icy bumps, in which case I just grit my teeth and remember how amazing the lightweight construction is for climbing up on long ski tours.
So, yep, there's the compromise.
But, if I can only take one pair of skis on a trip, to Japan for instance, then hands down it's my DPS Pagoda Tours (see review).
BREAKING ONE QUIVER SKI NEWS:
DPS have just launched the Kaizen 105 for the winter 2023-24 ski season offering a completely new construction and shape with a new split core and updated carbon fibre laminate. Combined, these elements have led to what DPS claim to be their most stable and energetic ski ever.
"Inspiring confidence for all abilities and providing fun across the mountain, in all conditions," DPS claim, "The single quiver ski is a big claim, but we think this one lives up to it."
In lengths 155cms - 189cms so aimed at women and men.