Is there a perfect one-ski quiver for Japan? Hakuba ski instructor Mike Humphrey gives us his best picks.
The land of the rising sun is calling, and you’ve finally booked your trip. You’re frothing over pow videos, and it’s time you got a taste. But, you only have room for one pair of skis on the plane. No worries, we’ve got you covered with the best ski for a Japan ski trip.
If you’ve never made it to the land of Japow, you may not know what to expect. The ski resorts are world-class but often smaller than you may be used to in North America or Europe. Japan gets some of the most of that fluffy stuff in the world, and the average resort sees over 15 meters of snowfall each season. Not too shabby!
When it comes to picking the right ski for Japan, there are a few things you’ll want to consider:
- The conditions you’ll be skiing in.
- The terrain and how it compares to what you’re used to skiing.
- You’ll want to consider the size of the ski and how it will ski in powder.
Now let’s get into it and help you pick out that perfect ski for your Japan ski trip.
The best skis for a Japan ski trip
1) Best Powder Hound Ski – Atomic Bent Chetler 120
The Atomic Bent Chetler 120 is a true legend in the ski world, and for a good reason. For the powder hound looking to smash pillow lines and drop snow barries, this is the ski to do it on. The ski floats like no other with a 30/40/30 rocker/camber/rocker profile and 120mm waist. The Light Woodcore and Carbon Backbone make the ski surprisingly agile for its size, allowing you to slash and carve through anything the mountain throws at you.
The Bent Chetler’s surface-to-weight ratio makes them a great ski for backcountry skiers. Although not as light as a dedicated backcountry ski, the float provided by the 120mm waist make them ideal in deep snow.
2) Best Park Rat Ski – Line Chronic
Whether your ultimate Japan trip is about lapping the park, smashing side hits in the resort, or building a kicker in the backcountry, the Line Chronic will not disappoint. This ski’s symmetrical flex and twin tip design make it feel equally at home, switching and stomping landings or floating in all but the most bottomless pow.
With a lightweight paulownia wood core and aspen laminates, the Chronic is poppy and maneuverable for sending it in the park. The Park Rocker 2.0 profile is perfectly tuned for jibbing and butters with just enough tip and tail rise to prevent catching an edge when you’re sessioning a feature. The Line Chronic is your ski if you want a ski that will do it all in the park while still great for freestyling in the powder.
If you’re looking for an intermediate ski that will still perform well in a variety of conditions, the Rustler 9 is a great ski. With a waist width of 90 mm, it provides float in soft and choppy snow while still being able to lay down a carving turn on groomers. It is one of the most versatile skis on the market and an excellent choice for someone who wants a quiver-of-one ski.
The true blend wood core of beech, poplar, balsa, and paulownia provides a lively yet damp feel, while the metal laminate provides stability and torsional rigidity. The tip and tail rocker makes the ski float over powder and crud, while the camber underfoot provides edge grip and carving performance. For an intermediate skier looking for a resort ski that can still do it all, the Rustler 9 is an excellent choice.
For skiers interested in ski touring, consider the Hustle 9, which has the same shape with a lighter core and carbon fiber laminate. The hustler is a poppier lighter version of the rustler 9 but does compromise some performance for the more lightweight profile.
4) Best Beginner Ski – Volkl Blaze 86
A good beginner ski should be forgiving enough not to punish your mistakes while you learn but also grow with you as you progress. The Volkl Blaze 86 hits that sweet spot perfectly. It’s stable and forgiving enough for beginners but also has the carving ability to keep you entertained as you start to link turns while resort skiing. Best of all, it’s light and nimble enough that you won’t get too tired.
At 86mm underfoot, it is the narrowest ski on our list, but for beginners who will ski inbounds, that’s not bad. A slightly narrower ski is easier to control, and the Blaze 86 is still wide enough to provide some float in the powder. If you’re looking for a beginner-friendly ski that will still be fun as you progress, the Volkl Blaze 86 should be at the top of your list.
5) Best All Mountain Charger – Atomic Maverick 100 TI
The Atomic Maverick 100 Ti is an all-mountain charger through and through. It’s a lightweight, versatile ski that can handle any condition. Whether slashing pow, skiing bumps or laying over turns on the hard-pack, this ski is super fun. This ski likes to go fast. It’s stable at high speeds and carves turns like a dream. As the widest ski in the Maverick line, the 100mm waist width gives you plenty of float in powder. But don’t let this “wider ski” fool you; this ski is still agile enough to weave through trees and lay down some tight turns.
The versatile and playful Flow Profile features more rocker and a shovel-tapered HRNZ tech tip that allows it to ride through chop and crud while still maintaining float in fresh powder. Battle-tested by local skiers in Whistler, Alta., and Jackson Hole, the Maverick 100 TI is designed to excel no matter where you take it.
How we chose the top skis
Choosing a single ski quiver can be a challenge. There are so many ski options out there that it can be daunting to try and pick just one that will suit your needs. We made sure to consider snow conditions in Japan, Japanese ski terrain, and the type of skiing you may be doing when selecting our top 5.
One of the primary considerations when choosing a ski is width. Skis come in various widths, from super skinny carving skis to powder-specific skis over 120mm underfoot. In Japan, where the snow is plentiful and days skiing ice are limited, you want a wider ski.
When picking one ski quiver, you must choose a versatile ski that can excel in many snow conditions and terrain. From moguls and trees to hardpack and soft fresh snow, you want a ski that can handle as many situations as possible. All the skis in the list above are capable across various conditions and terrain.
How do I choose the right skis?
When choosing skis, you must consider the type of skiing you will be doing, your experience, and your ability level. Skis should be selected based on the conditions you will be skiing in most often.
What type of skis should a beginner buy?
If you are a beginner skier, it is essential to choose a ski that is easy to control and not too wide. A carving ski or an all-mountain ski would be a good choice for most beginner skiers. Avoid powder-specific or extremely narrow skis, as these can be difficult to control.
Is it worth buying a pair of skis?
A pair of skis is definitely worth the investment if you are an experienced skier who plans to ski often. However, if you are a beginner or intermediate skier, you may want to consider renting skis instead of buying them. This way, you can try out different skis before making a purchase.
How do I fit myself for skis?
Ski length is based on your height and skiing ability. For most skiers, a good rule of thumb is to choose a ski that is between your chin and forehead in height. If you are a beginner, it is better to err on the side of a shorter ski. If you are an experienced skier, you may want a longer ski for stability and speed. Generally, powder skis should be longer. For example, my slalom race skis are 165cm, but my powder skis are 188cm.
There you have it, our top 5 skis for a Japan ski trip. We hope this list has helped you narrow your options and pick the perfect ski for your trip. Remember, there is no wrong choice when it comes to skiing in Japan, so just choose the ski that you think will be the most fun and enjoy your time on. See you on the slopes!
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