Winter is here—Are you ready? v1.3 The Buyer’s Guide is Live!

Independent Skier Magazine - v1.3 The Buyer's Guide   2015 SKI BUYER’S GUIDE 80 brands that matter 104 skis that rip 3 ways to build your own skis PLUS JT Holmes Brighton, UT Community Skis a funky cat & life on the beach Get the issue FREE here for your iPad or iPhone:

2015 Ski Buyer’s Guide

Skiing is fun.

That’s why we do it. And equipment can make you have more fun.

In this, our first Ski Buyer’s Guide, we don’t test skis, or give brands ratings. Rather, this guide provides an overview as which products from the top brands in skiing are new and notable. We’re also focusing on skis only in this guide. We plan to review other products such as bindings and boots in the future.

Our methodology was simple:
We reached out to as many brands as possible and asked them to showcase their top new products for 2015.

The parameters were:

  • That brands could only pick a total of three skis.
  • Ideally these products should be new in the last two years (no returning models from a few years back with tweaks or new graphics).
  • And, if they had three cool new offerings, at least one of their submissions had to be for the ladies.

Some brands understood our parameters better than others (thank you for that), and some were more motivated than others. If you don’t see your favorite brand here, it’s most likely because someone at that company flaked out and never got back to us, despite repeated enquiries.

This is all fine and dandy. But what does this mean for you – the end user?

Well, first off, new stuff is cool, and fun and interesting. Secondly, almost every ski manufacturer today is making great skis. Sure certain brands may claim to be the “best”, have the “best” warranty or the “best” new technology, but the reality is that almost everyone makes a great ski for you.

Because of this, it’s important that you put what you think you know about what brands stand for aside and start thinking about what you stand for as a skier.

Do you always search for powder, love the bumps, stay in bounds or spend a lot of time in the park? Those are the considerations that should drive your equipment purchases, not brand names, graphics or a cool logo.

1. Once you’ve done some soul searching about the type of skier you are and the terrain you regularly ski, the next consideration will be the footprint of the ski.

  • < 90 mm — Skis less than 90 mm underfoot are harder snow oriented: think park and pipe, groomers and moguls.
  • 90 mm – 115 mm — Skis from approximately 90 mm to 115 mm underfoot are more do-it all types of skis, products that can handle a bit of everything and tend to be fun in most conditions.
  • > 115 mm Finally, skis that are fatter than 115 mm will be soft snow oriented (at least for most people) and will make you happier when you’re skiing powder.

2. look at the profile of the ski.
Traditional camber skis (without tip and tail rocker) are less soft snow oriented and tend to be designed – and perform better – in harder conditions, tip rocker allows for more flotation in softer conditions while full rocker skis tend to be (with some dedicated park and pipe exceptions) soft snow oriented, and offer a surfy, more playful ride.

3. It’s also important to understand that most of the ski “tests” that one reads about in traditional print media are now pay-to-play affairs, where companies shell out cash to ensure that their skis are tested. As print media refugees, we at the Independent Skier Magazine feel that pay-to-play tests are a disservice to skiers everywhere.
We aren’t interested in “testing” products or charging manufacturers to be in our guide. We just want to keep you – the skier – informed and educated when it comes to the new skis that each brand is the most stoked about for next season.

Finally, we’d like to call your attention to what we think is the most important trend in skiing today, and a development that has the potential to shake up the hardgoods industry in ways that will be unexpected and profound. There is budding insurgency of brands that offer semi-custom choices when it comes to your skis. Products where you can pick the graphics from an assortment of designs, or skis that feature a choice of flex coupled with standard footprints and lengths. These companies aren’t traditional ski manufacturers, but they’re not solely custom manufacturers either. Are they the future? We’ll be watching closely to see what happens.

Given that you’re an Independent Skier reader, you probably already knew most of this already. You also already probably understand that when it comes to skis, only you can decide what is best for you. In the meantime, new is fun and fun is good.

Enjoy this year’s Buyer’s Guide.

Get Started >

2015 Ski Buyer’s Guide – Brand Index


Click on a brand to see what’s new:

‣ Amplid
‣ Atomic
‣ Big Wood Ski
‣ Black Crows
‣ Blizzard
‣ Blossom
‣ Deviation
‣ Dynastar
‣ Elan
‣ Faction
‣ Fat-ypus
‣ Fischer
‣ Folsom Custom Skis
‣ GC Skis
‣ G3
‣ Head
‣ High Society Freeride
‣ Icelantic
‣ Idris
‣ J Skis
‣ K2
‣ Liberty
‣ Line
‣ Meier
‣ Moment
‣ Nobile
‣ Paranormal Skis
‣ Powder Factory
‣ Rocky Mountain Underground
‣ Rossignol
‣ Salomon
‣ Scott Sports
‣ Shaggy’s Copper Country Skis
‣ Skevik
‣ SkiLogik
‣ Snoday
‣ Völkl
‣ 2CO

‣ Custom Ski Directory


It’s OK, We Still Love You
Not every ski company we spoke with got back to us. Here’s a look at the brands that missed out:

‣ Armada
‣ Black Diamond
‣ Catalyst
‣ Caravan
‣ Dynafit
‣ Goode
‣ Hendryx
‣ Lib Tech
‣ Nordica
‣ ON3P
‣ Powder North Skis
‣ Ramp
‣ Slant
‣ Stanston Skis
‣ Stöckli
‣ Volition
‣ White Dot
‣ White Doctor
‣ 77 Project

Community Skis

It’s hard not to get excited about Community Skis. The company’s approach to ski making might just be the first real new thing in skis since rocker. In this sense, it’s worth putting their recipe for ski manufacturing into a larger context.

Like microbreweries, the eat local movement or the organic process that has lead to even the smallest of surf town having several shapers to choose from, Community is a return to place.

It’s a space where purchasing, consuming and creating is centered around the people, topography, resources and context of the local environment.

But as everyone knows, today local can be global. Which means that anyone can become part of Community, the ski company or the concept. It just takes the desire to do so.

This summer, we caught up with Community’s Kristin Broumas to see what Community is up to.

What’s the background of Community Skis, the motivation?

Michael Lish has been building factories, mono skis, snowboards and skis for over thirty years.  I started working with Michael at 333 skis in 2009.  We are now co-owners of Community Skis.  The motivation is simple: build out a company that feeds the mind and soul. Focuses on creativity and labor. Is strongly integrated with the community we work in. Keep innovating ski design, supply chain management and business systems.
Give us a quick overview of what you guys are about.

We are a full custom ski manufacturer that builds for the working persons wage up through ultra high tech carbon skis.  Michael designed and fabricated our factory space to be transparent, slightly enchanted and a venue for community based events.  Most important, the factory is designed to respect labor or the work we do. As ski smiths we are convinced that the environment we work in is key to our personal and business success.

Is this the future of ski manufacturing?

Yes. Our next step is to open Community Skis Telluride, Bend, Hokkaido, Chamonix and other national and international locations. We also have an apprenticeship program to seed other efficient ski manufacturing companies that are not boutique.  The final step is 3 tent manufacturing.  Off grid, on-site for seven months a year, scaled out to accommodate upwards to 12,000 sets of fully custom skis and split-boards per month through a six month manufacturing cycle.

What’s your take on the role of big brands, like the well-known guys from Europe or a K2?

These companies have survived and continued to innovate.  This is a big accomplishment in itself.  We are developing Community Skis through multiple locations and 3 tent manufacturing to compete with European brands and Chinese manufacturers.

Give us some insights into what makes a great ski.

Four things and no gimmicks.  The correct flex, shape, weight and tune.  Graphics make a significant contribution to your personal connection with the product so Community only does custom or raw.  What does not make a great ski is marketing.

How can someone figure out how to design a ski for themselves?

Designing a ski is simple.  Designing a ski that will do precisely what you want or need it to do takes a great deal.  We provide this service for free and what you receive is an in-depth overview that correlates design aspects with performance gains or loses.  It’s based on your inputs such as how you ski, type of snow, amount of camber/rocker, tip and tail flex, reinforcement package, turnability and turn radius.

What’s next? What’s next for Community and what’s next for ski manufacturing?

Community is continuing to develop a lean manufacturing and business platform.  We are also in the process of designing a second-generation trailer for manufacturing and workshops. As far as ski manufacturing goes there shouldn’t be any significant changes in the industry.

Ski design will continue to develop with a trend towards lightweight for on-piste as well as AT gear.  The impact of small-scale manufacturing will probably be negligible unless it is paired correctly with effective business practices. Retail may make an adjustment if it decides to focus on customer service otherwise internet and overstock will continue to be the prime product movers.

Demographics will probably continue to shift towards a higher income bracket but that could be slightly offset by a growing number of backcountry skiers.  Global warming will have an impact due to significant variation in long term weather patterns.

Our position is to focus on the individual customer experience in an efficient manner rather than whole market segments. So our intent is to stay above the fray and grow Community into multiple locations.

Along these lines, will people eventually make skis at home? After all we’re seeing 3-D printers, do you envision a revolution where you hit “print” and you print your skis in your garage?

It might become possible to hit the print button. At this point you can already make a well performing ski from two materials: polycarbonate sheet and steel edges. So we should expect to see in the coming years the technology and/or innovative approaches to 3-D printing tackle ski design.
Keep in mind a ski is only a sandwich; a composite. The industry can throw all the hype, graphics, incentives, marketing, pro endorsements but a ski is just a sandwich. Whether it comes from a 3-D printer or a factory that is designed for custom ski building or a Chinese mega factory, what influences buying decision most in any product is knowing that it exists, a belief that is it going to get the job done and the price is right. If you wrap that in a package of customer service excellence, can deliver on time and make a profit, that is the new trend in American manufacturing- Community style.

Any final words?

If you want to ski better get the right boots and take a lesson then talk to a custom ski builder, not the boutique type, and work with them and design something that is truly going to rock your world.

Watch the origins of Community Skis, 333 Skis, here:

PE Perspectives – 333 Skis from Planet Earth Clothing on Vimeo.

Follow Community Skis on Facebook


Be A Cook In The Kitchen

Community Skis is not the only company to offer classes as well as a venue to build your very own skis. Big Wood Skis, based in Sun Valley, Idaho also offers  ski manufacturing classes as does Austrian builder SPURart.

Big Wood offers three different classes, ranging in cost from $950 to $2500. Each class is five days long and features different levels of ski manufacturing from building a pair of skis using a pre-designed template to CAD aided design for a shape of your choice. At the end of each class, participants will have built their own pair of skis.

The Innsbruck, Austria based SPURart custom ski manufacturing company also offers classes where you can design and build your own skis. Their three-day workshops run every weekend during the winter season and once a month during the summer. Worshops cost € 690, and include the initial design consultation and support, all building materials and personal support and guidance during the building process. Group rates are available.

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The Winter, Spring, and Summer 2014 issues, including the Ski Buyer’s Guide are on the Newsstand now for both iPhone and iPad.

Download it here:


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Independent Skier
noun, [in∙de∙pen∙duh nt  skee-er]
plural: in∙de∙pen∙dent  ski∙ers.

1. An autonomous being or thing that skis.
2. A small, privately owned business devoted to telling stories about skiing.

We believe skiers are skiers. It makes no difference how old they are, what their education level or income is, if they live in the mountains and ski 100-plus days a year, or take one ski trip a year.

Our readers are all over the map. What they care about is high-quality storytelling to fuel their love of their sport and lifestyle anywhere, anytime.

Mission: To provide the highest quality mobile storytelling possible to skiers worldwide, for free. Always fresh, always deep.

We Are:

- A digital lens focused on covering all aspects of skiing: the sport, the lifestyle, and the mountains through words, images, video, and audio.
- An app that features the highest quality storytelling with the best production values and user experience available.
- Available to everyone for free, on iPads and iPhones anywhere in the world via the App Store.
- Four issues released throughout the winter of 2014 and one to follow in summer 2014.

We Are not:

- A website polluted with top ten lists, pay-to-play content, forced slide show galleries, and irrelevant ads, pandering for every click.
- Another ‘core-brah’ publication.
- Out to win any popularity contests.
- A print magazine limited by page sizes and paper quality.
- Going to take ourselves, or our sport, too seriously.


Tom Winter  -  Editor, Co-Founder

Tom’s ski journalism background includes positions as the founding editor of the influential skiing title Freeze Magazine, Editor at Large for Freeskier Magazine and a Senior Contributor to Powder Magazine. In addition to his work as a journalist, Tom has created, designed and organized some of the most important freeski events in North America, including the Berthoud Pass Bad Ass Championships, the Colorado Freeride Championships and the New Mexico Extremes, a 4* Freeride World Tour Qualifying event. He’s also acted as a judge for the Freeride World Tour (FWT) at events ranging from Sochi, Russia to Squaw Valley, USA.

Tom’s skiing background includes ski mountaineering descents of Ecuador’s Chimbarazo (6,268 meters) and Cotopaxi (5,897 meters) volcanoes as well as first descents on smaller peaks in North and South America. His writing and photography has been featured in ESPN, Skiing, The Ski Journal and others, and he is a three-time winner of the Howard Hirsch Award for snowsports photography.


Mark Lesh  -  Creative Director, Co-Founder

A geologist by training, Mark is drawn to telling the story of mountains and how we live and play in them. Mark currently art directs, designs, and illustrates for various publications and websites including The Drake, Inspirato, 5280 Magazine, and He has served as an Art Director and Photo Editor at Skiing Magazine. His work has also appeared in Ski, Powder, and Mountain Magazines.

Mark grew up ski racing in Utah in the early 1980’s as a founding member of the Waterford Ski Team, worked on the Race Crew at Park City Mountain Resort, cooked at the Alta Peruvian Lodge, and taught skiing at Eldora Mountain Resort.

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True to our name, we’re not part of a bigger company or the pet project of a few deep pockets. We’re just a few skiers who love figuring out new ways to tell great stories. We are completely community supported right now through many generous Kickstarter backers and talented contributors.

We cannot do what we do without our community support. We gladly take donations and beer whenever offered and are happy to review your story ideas and media. We’re doing our darnedest to product the highest quality storytelling for mobile devices for free and appreciate your support greatly. Thank you.

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If you’ve got a story to tell we want to hear about it. We’re looking for essays, narrative features, profiles, business stories, history, travel, periphery, and culture. We want your words, photos, videos, and multi-media experiences.

Please, no fiction, how-to, instruction, fitness or resort guides. Keep it real.

Send your pitch queries to

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