Skip to content

Carving Skis vs All-Mountain: What’s the Difference?

Last updated on November 18th, 2021 at 10:01 am

Carving skis and all-mountain skis compared

A lot of people associate the cold weather with more time staying inside at home. For people who ski, the cold weather means that it’s the best time of year. It’s almost time to break out your skis.  As you start getting your gear together for this ski season, you may be thinking about getting a new pair of skis to start strong. Two popular options at outdoor stores include carving skis and all-mountain skis. But when it comes to carving skis vs. all-mountain skis, what’s the difference?  

Carving skis are downhill skis that have an intense sidecut with edge grip along the side of the skis to help increase speed and make carved turns. These carving skis do best on groomed slopes and are too narrow for off-piste. All-mountain skis are wider, but not as wide as truly power skis, and can therefore perform well on groomed snow as well as off-piste. The all-mountain skis will have a bit less edge grip and won’t go as fast as carving skis in the groomed slopes.

Both carving skis and all-mountain skis have advantages and disadvantages. Which one is the right pair for you depends on how you want to ski and what type of terrain you plan on skiing down. If you want to practice skiing on these types of skis, it’s important to be aware of the differences between them.

Comparing Carving Skis vs. All-Mountain Skis

There are a lot of different things to factor in when comparing different types of skis. We’ll be looking at the design of each ski, the terrain each ski does well on, and the advantages and disadvantages of carving skis vs. all-mountain skis. These factors can help you make the best decision for your ski experience. 

The design of each ski varies depending on its purpose. Thinner skis are for speed while wider skis help more with off-piste skiing. If you want to practice skiing off-piste, it may mean you have to change from narrow to wide skis.

Narrow skis built for speed do better on groomed snow, which you find on the majority of slopes you see at ski resorts. This is because the edge of these skis cut into the snow to increase speed. Wider skis help to float on top of the powder that you find off-piste. 

You should take ski length into account when comparing skis. Longer skis tend to be used to help more with stability while shorter skis are best for maneuverability. Your height is an important factor when considering the length of the skis, so try to look for any type of ski that ends between your chin and the top of your head when standing them straight up. 

Carving Skis

If you want to learn how to ski for speed, carving skis are the best way to go. On a regular pair of parallel skis, you’ll notice that people lean into the sides of their skis as they turn down the mountain to gain speed. The name for this action is carving. 

Carving skis intensify the usual carving motion with an intense sidecut and edge grip to help you go faster down the mountain. Think of the competitions where skiers are trying to get the fastest time down the slope. Those skiers need to carve into the slope to gain speed as fast as possible. 

Skiers racing down the slope also need to have precision as they make turns through the course. These skis help them to maneuver down the course with speed and accuracy. Carving skis help skiers cut down the mountain quickly and precisely. 

Carving Skis Design

Carving skis are meant for speed. These skis are thin in appearance, having the narrowest overall waist width size compared to other skis. The edges are sharp and cut through the snow to gain speed. 

The sidecut and the edge grip help the skis to dig into the slope and gain speed as you go down the mountain. The edges also help with precise turning, but you’ll need to make sure you initiate the turns to help you get down the slope. These are some of the most efficient skis when it comes to turning. 

Because of their design, carving skis work best on groomed slopes that help you to go fast. Groomed slopes with little to no powder are ideal for the speed that carving skis are meant to get. You won’t slide on the snow because of how the edges of these skis are designed. 

If you’re interested in looking at different carving ski designs, there are many newly released carving skis that we’re excited about.

Turning on Carving Skis

When learning to ski, you’re often given skis that do a lot of the turning for you. While carving skis do some of the turning work, you’ll still need to work on controlling them to gain stability and speed. Once you get on the edge of your skis, your skis will help you to turn. 

Skiing tips for carving skis include using your turns to accelerate your speed. Since carving skis have a reputation for speed and precision in turning, it’s no surprise that you can gain speed as you turn. These skis will dig into the slope to help increase your speed and move you faster down the mountain. 

Carving skis have a short turn radius. This helps for better maneuverability as you ski. Strong turns on carving skis can help you increase your speed. 

Advantages of Carving Skis

Carving skis are a great fit for skiers who want to get faster. These skis will help you gain speed as you cut through the snow. The turn radius helps skiers to turn quickly and increase speed as they go downhill. 

These skis work great on groomed slopes or slopes with some powder. Since they are designed for groomed slopes, they won’t slide on the snow as some other skis do. 

These are some of the fastest skis you will use. They also are the most efficient and precise when it comes to turning. If you want to improve your speed, these are the pairs of skis for you. 

Disadvantages of Carving Skis

These skis have edges designed to carve through the snow, meaning you’ll be using your edges a lot. You’ll have to frequently wax your skis to make sure they are working according to their design. If your skis get dull, they won’t work as well as they could. 

These are skis that are meant for speed and precise turning. If you still aren’t confident in your abilities on basic parallel skis, these aren’t great skis to start with. Carving skis are for more experienced skiers who know how to use the edges of their skis, gain speed, and turn quickly. 

All-Mountain Skis

All-mountain skis vary in size and purpose. Depending on the design, all-mountain skis can perform well on groomed snow and in powder. This means that they can also do well on slopes with moguls. 

These skis can work for skiers of any age and at any level.  All-mountain skis can handle all different types of slopes. They can cut through groomed snow and provide stability depending on the terrain you’re skiing down. 

If you’re interested in looking at different all-mountain skis, make sure to look at the different styles that are available. There are a lot of different options for all-mountain skis. 

All-Mountain Skis Design

All-mountain skis have the same shape as carving skis but they are wider. They typically have deep sidecuts to help with turns. Rockered tips also help you float if you are going through powder off-piste. 

These skis are especially wider around the feet, ranging from around 85-100 mm. This helps adjust to the different types of terrain you may be skiing down. The deep sidecuts and rockered tips make it so that these skis can both carve on groomed slopes and float on slopes with a lot of powder. 

Due to all-mountain skis being versatile, each pair of skis varies in stiffness and shape. You can choose the best all-mountain skis for you depending on what type of terrain ski on.  You can float on top of powder or practice carving with all-mountain skis.

These skis have a medium turn radius that helps skiers carve different turn shapes depending on where they are skiing. There are different designs of all-mountain skis for you to consider when finding the right pair for you.

Terrain for All Mountain Skis

All-mountain skis work for all different types of situations. These skis can handle different types of snow, groomed slopes, or off-piste skiing. 

If you plan on frequently skiing on groomed terrain, you’ll want to look at skis with a narrow waist size instead. This will allow you to carve while you ski and will prevent sliding on the snow. 

If you plan on going off-piste often, you may want to look into a wider waist size. This will help you keep control through the snow. The rockers will also make it so you are floating on the powder. 

Advantages of All-Mountain Skis 

These skis are incredibly versatile. Skiers of all ages and levels of ability can typically find a pair of all-mountain skis that best fits them. Since there is so much variety, these tend to be people’s first pair of skis. 

All-mountain skis can work well on groomed slopes and off-piste. They are designed in a way that helps them maneuver through any terrain. Sidecut edges and rockered tips help skiers change terrains easily. 

If you get a pair of all-mountain skis, you’ll be able to use them on groomed snow and powder. You can purchase a pair of all-mountain skis that works with the type of skiing that you plan on doing most.

Disadvantages of All-Mountain Skis

Since all-mountain skis have so many options, it may be hard to find the right all-mountain skis for your experience level. You may be unsure what size works best for you and the type of terrain you plan on skiing down.

While you may go to the store to find all-mountain skis, a store near you may not have the size and design of ski that you had envisioned. A store probably won’t hold every variation of an all-mountain ski for you to try out. This means spending time looking at the available options to decide what best fits the type of skiing you plan on doing. 

Carving Skis vs. All-Mountain Skis

So which type of ski is best for you? It depends on what type of skiing you plan on doing. 

Carving skis are best if you want to ski for speed. These skis will work if you plan on skiing at ski resorts with groomed snow.

The sidecut and narrow waist size on carving skis will help you learn how to ski downhill fast. You will also learn how to make quick turns that help accelerate your speed if you choose carving skis. 

All-mountain skis are best if you want a more versatile pair of skis. You’ll be able to try different sizes of skis to fit the type of skiing you want to do. 

All-mountain skis have sidecuts that allow them to carve down groomed snow. They also have rockered tips that can help you learn how to ski off-piste. 

Making the Best Decision

Do you need new skis? Deciding between carving skis vs. all-mountain skis can be a tough decision. As you plan for your next pair, it’s important to factor in a few things. As you make your decision, be sure to consider what type of skiing you plan on doing and the type of terrain where you plan on spending most of your time. 

It’s important to shop for new skis with the design and features of your ideal pair of skis in mind. Consider length and width, as well as features like sidecuts and rockered tips. 

Whether you pick carving skis or all-mountain skis, your purpose should be to have the best time on the slopes. If you want to learn more about skiing tips, visit our page to get even more advice for the ski season.