How to Choose the Right Ski Equipment

Snow + Rock is a specialist retailer of Skis and winter sport equipment with 7 stores in London, including one in Harrods, and an additional 18 stores spread throughout the UK and Ireland.

Whether you're planning on buying skis before your trip to Bansko, or hiring them when you’re there, this page will help you through the decisions required. But remember these are merely guides if you need more detailed advice seek a good specialist winter sports specialist retailer, like Bansko Sport in Bansko, or any branch of Snow + Rock in the UK, for a list of these, click here.

Skiing in Bansko

Your three step guide to choosing your skis & bindings

Choosing a pair of skis can be a daunting prospect so we have made this process as easy as possible. The right ski for you depends on three factors: -

The ‘Snow + Rock’ Guide to Choosing Skis and Bindings.

  1. ONE: Your Skiing Ability. Identify your level below
  2. TWO: Your Ski Style and What terrain you ski on
  3. THREE: How Tall you are

More information about these three factors is shows below.

ONE: Ability Level


  1. You are a First Time Skier OR you've skied once but are not yet able to do a snowplough on a gentle nursery slope.
  2. You have skied at least once before. You can make changes in direction and stop using a snowplough on gentle slopes and prefer to ski at a slow pace around the nursery slope area.
  3. Able to link snowplough turns, you’ve left the nursery slope and tried skiing on easy Blue runs but they remain a challenge.
  4. You link your snowplough turns consistently, perhaps finishing your turns with the skis parallel, or you have a wide parallel stance most of the time. With your new found mobility you have started to explore the mountains, but are cautious where you travel since you prefer groomed Green and Blue runs.


  1. You are now exploring many more of the groomed runs on the mountain in a wide parallel stance, but may have to use a snow plough if you feel you are getting into trouble on steeper slopes. You’ve noticed that things become easier when you travel faster and enjoy the confidence of being more in control by doing a series of turns. You may have tried an easy Red run, and you may have come across moguls in your travels, but at this stage would not choose to ski them.
  2. You are a much more confident skier now that your skis are parallel most of the time; this is because you are skiing faster and you are consistently linking your turns. You have felt the ski carve and enjoy using the shape to help you change direction. You are now able to travel at different speeds on pisted runs. You can ski all Green and Blue Runs and are feeling much more confident on Red runs, you may even have tried a Black run, and you are now choosing to experiment with easy moguls.
  3. You are now skiing with strong parallel turns in various conditions and you have begun to develop your ability to ski short & long radius turns. You enjoy the feeling of carving your turns and the speed it brings.You are more accomplished at skiing on Black runs and feeling more comfortable in the moguls but you want to improve. At this stage you want to learn about different types of terrain such as Off-Piste and and how to ski them. You are ideally looking for skis or boots that will help you to excel both on piste and off or even in the terrain park.


  1. You are a confident skier who's skied in many resorts and you are much more aware of different equipment. Because of your experience you may; A) be someone who wants to do high speed or carving for most of the day. OR B) be looking to develop your all mountain freeriding skills and want to further explore what off piste has to offer. OR C) want to explore the Pipe and Terrain Park and you are looking for a product that will help you to learn tricks easily.
  2. You can vary your turn shape on a given run and enjoy the challenge of skiing. You have the ability to ski on and off piste; but you also know where you prefer to spend your time because you’re trying to improve those skills and perhaps considering instructor training or skill specific coaching. You may currently own a pair of piste skis but are looking for a more specific pair for Freeride or Twin Tips. So you either; A) mainly ski off piste, and may even have hiked for your turns so you are looking to further develop your freeride and off piste skiing ability. OR; B) you have been exploring everything the mountain has to offer from Powder & Bumps to Pisted runs - You like a little bit of everything and want to be able to do it all. OR; C) you want a high end performance product that allows you to confidently ski fast on mainly pisted runs, but has the ability to venture elsewhere. D) you now know your way around the Pipe & Park and want a ski that is going to allow you to focus on improving your tricks.
  3. You are a top level skier who can ski in all types of terrain & conditions and may: A) hold a professional instructors certification or you actively compete in events in the park & pipe OR B) you are someone who mainly skis in the back country, has Avalanche safety and mountaineering experience and tend to ski big mountain runs off piste.

TWO: Your Ski Style/Type

The next step is to determine your skiing style and the terrain you want to ski on.There are many types of skis, each designed and constructed for a specific type of skiing. It is important to choose the right skis for your individual style in order to get the most enjoyment and progression out of them. Over the last few years ski technology has shown that a wider ski increases stability and enables skiers to handle a wider variety of terrain and snow conditions. Ski manufacturers have recently introduced skis with camber, rocker and sidecut. Recently ‘turn radius’ has been developed in order to bring us stable skis capable of exploring the entire mountain whilst keeping the ski lively & manoeuvrable.

Below, we have outlined the basic factors for each ski type and this should help you to establish the most suitable ski for you.

Piste Skis; 63mm to 73mm wide
Piste skis focus on providing stability and edge grip on groomed slopes. Piste skis are designed to encourage the skier into making perfect carved turns on groomed runs inspiring confidence and giving edge grip. A great example of a piste ski is the Salomon 24Hrs or the Volkl Sensor 2. If you plan to venture beyond the piste markers then why not consider an "All Mountain ski".

All Mountain Skis; 74mm to 81mm wide
All Mountain skis focus on giving the skier a more stable platform from which to tackle a wide variety of snow conditions and types of terrain. All Mountain skis are designed to allow the skier to venture beyond the piste markers and enjoy a wide variety of conditions and terrain. A great example of an All Mountain ski is the Salomon X Wing 8 or the Rossignol Zenith Z76 TI. If you plan to venture further off the beaten track then why not consider a Freeride ski.

Freestyle Skis; 80mm+ wide
Freestyle skis are twin tipped for easy spins and switch (backwards) moves. The latest generation of freestyle skis also work well in deep snow and across the entire mountain.

Freeride; 82mm to 102mm wide
The all-terrain ski, perfect for people who want to go everywhere that snow can take them. Largely designed for half on-piste and half off-piste skiing. Their increased surface area gives greater floatation in deep snow, while the side-cuts are deep for stable carving and quick response on the piste.

Big Mountain Skis; 102mm+ wide
The massive surface area on these skis provides the ultimate platform from which to confidently explore the deepest and softest snow, and thanks to Rocker technology, many Big Mountain skis are also manageable on piste or through trees.

Race skis provide fantastic edge grip and confidence for skiing at speed but require energy and constant technical input to get the best out of them. Mainly designed for skiing on-piste, they are ideally suited to expert skiers and racers.

THREE: Your Height and the Right Length

Bansko Royal Towers

The simple visual aid (left) will provide an estimate to the length of each ski category for a recreational skier of average height and weight. To obtain a more specific ski length, please refer to the chart underneath. It is also necessary to adjust the length for your ability level and aggressiveness. Please use this chart as a guideline only - for more detailed advice please consult trained staff in-store. The given length from the chart will provide your ideal ski length for piste skis. However, as our visual aid of the skier suggests, different styles of skiing will also affect the length of your skis.

Below are outlines of how to adapt your ski length accordingly for other ski types:

  1. For freeride skis, add between 5 and 10cm in length for better floatation and stability in powder.
  2. For big mountain skis, add between 5 and 20cm, depending on how much off piste you ski and for improved floatation and stability in the steep and deep.
  3. For skis designed to be skied in shorter lengths (for example any slalom ski), you should reduce the measurement by 10 to 15cm, in accordance with the specific manufacturer’s guidelines.
  4. For freestyle skis, use the same length as for piste skis.

Weight (Kg)


50 - 56

57 - 62

63 - 68

69 - 75

76 - 81




110 - 123

125 - 136

138 - 149

151 - 164

167 - 178


Ski Length








Ability Level

Recreational +0cm

Advanced +5cm

Expert +10cm

Ski Servicing

Serviced regularly, your skis will not only perform better but also last longer. How often your skis need servicing will depend on the snow conditions; if you are not sure take them to a branch of Snow + Rock or a specialist sports store.

A Guide to Kids' Ski Sizing

In general the length of a kids’ ski should be somewhere between their chin level and forehead level. However the actual length depends on a number of factors.

  1. Weight: As with adult skis, the heavier the skier, the longer the ski they can ski on. (This ties in with the flex of a ski).
  2. Flex: The flex of any ski is determined by its construction, and different manufacturers use different types, which in turn affects how stiff the ski is. A 110cm ski from one manufacturer may well be stiffer than that of another; because of this your child’s length requirement may change, dependent on the make of ski.
  3. Category of ski: Because skis are designed for different uses and although the performance level can be comparable, they will vary in size. Generally, piste based skis will be skied shorter than freeride skis.
  4. Ability: The more competent the skier, the longer the ski they can use. A competent skier will use a longer ski than a beginner of the same size/weight.
  5. Your child will enjoy their skiing more if they are supplied with the correct ski for their size, weight and ability.

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