Big Boards: Top 10 Powder Skis 2014

Slashing turns in the bottomless abyss, throwing sheets of snow into the air as you leave a great white trench across a snow-blanketed valley. It may only happen once or twice a season, but skiing a big powder day is the pinnacle of the skiing experience. It's gravity done gracefully, and the only way to do it is on a big fat pair of big mountain powder skis.

There are several big mountain skis on the market with behemoth waists and a lot of platform real estate. With large, shoveled snouts and upturned tails, many big powder boards can smear, slash and soar in any kind of turn, be it short and sweet, or at wide-open Super G speeds. Lighter wood core skis like paulownia and poplar, as well as bamboo and carbon are becoming the norm for performance and longevity, with metal stringers, plus a mix of capped and sidewall construction for greater versatility in the ever-changing snowy hills. We chose 10 that embody the truly big mountain feel of performance, playfulness and precision:

Faction Candide 3.0
Ever playful, the 3.0 offers a relatively modest waist (112mm) with an early rise tip and upturned tail. Matched with traditional camber underfoot and sidewall construction, the 3.0 is a super versatile, quick turning powder gun that also enjoys wide-open turns on a variety of linear planes. 142/112/132

G3 Empire 115
In reality, the G3 Empire 115 is a step down from the 127. No matter. The large paddle tip and tail float through snow like a hydrofoil, yet the slightly narrower profile and flat camber underfoot can actually get on edge for satisfying turns on more demanding conditions. 145/115/126

Black Diamond AMPerage
The full tip and tail configuration and camber underfoot allow the playful AMPerage the luxury of transitioning from deep to shallow waters with little fuss. The sidewall construction adds to its hardpack capabilities, while the surfy 115mm underfoot stays true to big mountain expectations. 141/115/123

Kästle BMX118
Yes, it's pink, but its dual-radius big mountain sidecut has hook-free shovel and tail for superior turn initiation, release and overall feel. Kästle's progressive low-profile tip doesn't reverberate on hardpack either, nor does it dive in the deep, instead providing a commanding plane through the slopes that inspires confidence. 139/118/128

Rossignol Super 7
With a reinforced honeycomb-styled tip and tail, beguiling edge hold, and savvy rockered profile, the Rossi Super 7 is lighter than it looks, can pivot on a dime, and lay a trench through just about any big mountain condition the hills can bring. 140/116/130

Salomon Q-115
Nimble so it can milk turns in any powder stash, the progressive shape and sidecut of the Quest put it in a class of its own. Plenty wide enough to accept challenges from the great white deep, the Quest can also handle the rigors of previously ravaged snowfields. 139/115/131

DPS Wailer 112RPC
A more aggressive version of DPS's popular RP ski, the RPC boasts a slightly wider waist, plus a lower-profile tip and tail for better control and power to handle more demanding conditions, such as crud and stiff, wind-hardened snow. 142/115/127

RAMP Sports Kapow
RAMP's Kapow uses their own bamboo wood core—four times stronger than the more frequently used poplar—that's laminated with Kevlar for a strong, stable ski with lots of rebound and plenty of life to make it a long-lasting arrow in your skiing quiver. 153/125/142

Völkl Shiro
The Shiro has a long, low-profile tip and tail that engages its edges as you arc turns on groomers and hardpack. In soft snow, it planes with the best, offering a smooth, buttery turn at any speed, and allows effortless pivoting for short swing turns in tight trees or chutes. 151/119/135

Voile Buster
Light, snappy and playful for those who want to take their big boards deep into the backcountry, the Buster is a hike-to-adventure skier's best friend. The wide waist, pronounced shovel and modest sidecut prefer the civility of medium-radius turns, but can be easily lured into taking on higher speeds and steeper terrain. 142/120/129