Freeride vs All-Mountain Skis: The Differences Explained


Freeride and all-mountain skis are both designed to be versatile and work on different types of terrain, however there are several differences between them which makes them more/ less suitable for different scenarios.

Freeride vs All-Mountain Skis 101

All-mountain skis are usually slightly narrower, softer and have more camber compared to freeride skis which have more rocker. All-mountain skis are designed mostly for use on-piste but can also be used on un-groomed terrain. Freeride skis are mostly designed for use on ungroomed terrain/ powder.

All-Mountain SkisFreeride Skis
Designed for groomed and ungroomed terrainDesigned primarily for ungroomed terrain
Better for carving on-pisteBetter on powder
Waist is usually between 90-100 mmWaist is usually over 100 mm
Usually have more camberUsually have more rocker
Moderate turning radiusModerate-large turning radius
Suitable for all ability levelsMostly designed for advanced skiers
All-mountain vs freeride skis

Freeride Skiing

Freeride skiing is performed on ungroomed terrain. It’s for skiers who want a challenge and already have a lot of experience as it is much more extreme compared to on-piste skiing.

Freeride skis need to perform on deep snow (powder) and are designed for use on the entire mountain. They are typically wide which allows them to float on powder, and have a profile with more rocker which helps the ski to float and makes it easier to maintain control on uneven terrain.

There are different types of freeride skis which each have their own pros and cons.

  • Freeride skis with a moderate waist width (90-100 mm) and more rocker at the tip and less at the tail. They are very versatile and the most closely related to all-mountain skis.
  • Freeride skis with a wider waist width (over 100 mm) are designed for use in powder primarily and do not work as well on-piste as slightly narrower skis. They also typically have more rocker at the tail end.

Freeride skis also usually have a longer turning radius (above 21 m) compared to other types of skis. This is created by a shallower sidecut. This helps the ski make bigger turns more smooth at high speeds however, some freeride skis have a more moderate turning radius to help manoeuvrability around trees.

In terms of flex, freeride skis usually fall into the moderate-stiff category with a flex rating between 5 and 8. This makes the ski feel stable for the more aggressive skier who is usually travelling at high speeds, but it’s not too stiff as otherwise that would make the ski perform poorly in powder.

All-Mountain Skiing

All-mountain skis, as the name suggests are designed to work well on a range of different terrains. They tend to have fairly moderate characteristics to make them suitable for use on both groomed and ungroomed pistes.

All-mountain skis typically have a moderate amount of flex so they are still good for carving but aren’t too harsh on bumpy terrain. They also usually have a moderate turning radius (15-22 m), a mix of rocker and camber profiling and are roughly 90-100 mm wide.

This allows the skis to work on powder as well as groomed pistes, however it’s worth noting that all-mountain skis are usually better on-piste compared to powder.

There is a lot of variation within the “all-mountain” category to cater for different ability levels and terrain. Some all-mountain skis are narrower and have a shorter turning radius making them better for carving than on powder. Alternatively, some all-mountain skis are wider and have a longer turning radius making them better for powder.

Characteristics of the Skis

  • Flex
  • Width
  • Turning Radius
  • Camber Profile

Flex

Freeride skis are usually stiffer compared to all-mountain skis which are softer and have a lower flex rating. This is because freeride skis are typically designed for more advanced skiers who are skiing more aggressively and the extra stiffness helps to provide more stability at high speeds