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Discover the best on piste equipment setup for this season

The feeling of your edges digging into a crisp, freshly groomed piste on a clear morning is hard to beat. As you accelerate through the turn you can really feel your whole body being worked before switching direction as your skis transfer from one edge to the other. This rhythmic descent of a snow-covered mountain is what piste skier’s dreams are made of.

Choosing the right gear can make the difference between zipping from edge to edge in the blink of an eye with ultimate confidence and skidding through turns and reduced power transfer. We spoke to Snow+Rock to uncover a few gems of information that will help you find the perfect carving setup and get you that one step closer to the “perfect turn”.

Skis

The Best Piste Performance Skis of 2019 - Men's

Filmed in Galtur during the Ski Club's annual tests.

Piste skis, sometimes called carving skis, are designed with a deep sidecut - the arc that runs tip to tail on a ski – to enable riders to easily manoeuvre the skis through turns of different radii with increased control.

On piste skis should generally measure up to somewhere between your chin and your eyes when upright - longer for increased stability at speed, shorter for easy carving and added responsiveness.

This type of ski typically features a traditional camber profile to increase edge grip, where the ski arches up towards the centre, and some will have a slight amount of rocker in the tip to make turn initiation a doddle. 

This year the Ski Club’s male test team were particularly impressed by the Volkl Deacon 74, saying:

“The ski consistently delivers a very high level of performance, with a precise, accurate ability, which allows it to carve out high performance turns with ease”

Volkl have claimed that the steeper the slope the better, which is something we certainly agree with. The level of control is almost unparalleled thanks to the wood and titanium construction, precision engineered in Germany. This piste ski really challenged testers to identify any imperfections.

The Best Piste Performance Skis of 2019 - Women's

Filmed in Galtur during the Ski Club's annual tests.

Women’s skis received identical test treatment from a team of female reviewers and the Dynastar Intense 10 ski came out trumps. The brand has a long history with producing piste focused skis and were one of the first manufacturers to focus on female-specific skis, the result of which is immediately present in this ski.

“Although its light it still retains great stability and performs really well at high speed. It works well in all turn shapes and delivers a faultless performance on the groomed runs.”

The word ‘faultless’ is seldom used by our testers, there’s not really much more to say about this fantastic piste ski.

The Volkl Deacon 74 and Marker rMotion 12 binding are available in-store and online at Snow+Rock, as well as the Dynastar Intense 10 ski and binding.

Bindings

Most piste skis will come with system bindings designed specifically for that model, and these two models above are no exception. While the bindings may look like other models on the surface, each system binding is designed to interface with a specific ski to ensure maximum power transfer and therefore grip for that unique product.

The Marker binding that comes as part of the Volkl package and the Dynastar setup mentioned above both perform well on piste with predictable release characteristics and appropriate DIN ranges that accommodate most skiers.

How do I calculate my DIN?

Your DIN setting will vary depending on your skiing ability, weight, height, and boot sole length.

The DIN setting is the industry-standard measure of release force setting. The higher the DIN setting, the harder it is for the skis to come off. There are various charts and tools online to help you determine your DIN setting, but for the best results we recommend visiting your local Snow+Rock store and talking to a member of staff.

Boots

The general rule of thumb for piste boots is that beginners go for softer boots and advanced riders will opt for a stiffer model. Stiffness ratings are displayed on boots ranging from 50 for the softest boots up to 130, or even 140 for the stiffest. A stiffer boot is more responsive and allows you to maximise your power transfer, while a softer boot is more forgiving. Each model will have a slightly different last (or fit) meaning that buying online is a risky game, instead, we recommend visiting your local Snow+Rock store, where their trained staff will be able to find the best boots for your body.

From the men’s Snow+Rock range, we like the look of the Dalbello DS120 boot, available in black or racing red. The stiff ‘Powercage’ exoskeleton wraps around a softer PU boot yielding for incredible power delivery to the ski with great damping and rebound. A generous 100mm last for the forefoot accommodates most feet, with a performance shaped heel pocket keeping even the skinniest of ankles glued to the footbed. Undoubtedly one of the best new lasts to hit the market in recent years.

For women, our pick of the bunch is the stealthy Salomon X-Max 110, which is derived from the French company’s World Cup winning race boots. These boots have a tried and tested female specific fit with a fully customisable liner and shell, guaranteeing a perfect fit. Suited best to narrow and medium feet these boots are also available in softer flexes for intermediate and novice skiers, with Salomon also offering their X-Pro boots for those needing a wider fit, which is also available with a heated liner.

Poles

Ski poles vary in price depending on the materials they’re made with. At the cheaper end of the scale, aluminium is used by most manufacturers, while more expensive poles tend to be constructed from carbon fibre, which has a higher strength-to-weight ratio and a greater flex for improved push-off power.

For both Men’s and Women’s piste poles, Leki has fantastic options in the Snow+Rock range. The Carbon 14 Lady pole offers women a lightweight carbon option that dampens vibrations and Leki’s patented Trigger release system means that your poles will safely separate from your hands in the event of a crash. For men, the Spark-Lite S pole is worth a look, Leki’s entry-level pole is perfectly suited to beginners and intermediates who want the same Trigger release system found on more expensive poles.

Go for a small, hard snow basket as these perform best on the pisted terrain. For the perfect fit stand (in shoes or ski boots) with the poles upside down, grips touching the floor. Grab hold of them just beneath the basket; if the poles are your size, you should have a 90-degree angle in your elbow.

Snow+Rock carry a range of equipment for all kinds of skiing, not only piste kit. View the range online or head to one of their stores across the country.