Skiing and snowboarding are amazing winter sports for the whole family. The question is: do you ski or snowboard? Most stay loyal to one or the other, but then the black sheep say they use ski blades as their weapon of choice when going down the mountain.
If you don’t know what ski blades (aka snow blades) are, keep reading as we explain what they are, why you would use them, and what they are used for. In addition, we will cover the three recommended ski blades to consider for your next trip to the mountain.
What Are Ski Blades?
If you are looking for a new experience the next time you head to a ski mountain, checking out ski blades should be on your list. What are ski blades, you ask?
Also known as trick skis, scorpion blades, bigfoot blades, snowblades, or short skis are hybrid skis and snowboards, giving more maneuverability and agility when shredding the mountain.
I will use the terms ski blades and snow blades interchangeably in this piece.
These hybrid skis are typically 65cm to 100cm in length, notably smaller than standard skis that range between 150-200cm. And like snowboards, ski blades are made to be a little wider than normal skis…. but not to the extent that a snowboard is wide.
Ski blades are very agile at lower speeds, making them ideal for skiing in tight spaces, such as in the trees or on narrow trails.
Snow blades aren’t a new trend that is turning heads on the mountain. They were first invented in the 20th century, but lacked attention because of their slower speeds than a typical ski.
Who Are Ski Blades For?
Even though ski blades didn’t take over the ski and snowboard scene, they didn’t go away. In later years, ski blades started to get the name of Trick Skis because of their maneuverability while tree-riding, hitting rails, or jumps. This makes them good for terrain parks, like snowboards.
As is often the case, the younger crowd took to the trick skis, helping them re-emerge again in local ski shops. Ski blades were also beneficial for kids and new skiers because of their wider stance, increased stability, and slower top speeds.
Bigfoot blades are also suitable for going into areas that Bigfoot himself would generally go. The deeper snow in the trees is a good option for adventure seekers equipped with these. The wider stance of the ski blades helps you get in and out of tough spots working similar to a snowshoe.
These short skis probably aren’t the best choice for speed demons or thrill-seekers because of their limited speed capability. Nonetheless, if you are looking for something different to try on the mountain when it’s not an epic powder day, then ski blades are worth a try.
Pros of Using Ski Blades
Ski Blades are Something New and Different
Ski blades are the new thing, in a way. Everyone who has done a lot of skiing or snowboarding knows that it can be fun to mix it up, especially if you are starting to get bored with your home mountain or ski hill. The snow blades are shorter than traditional skis, which makes them more maneuverable and allows for a different skiing experience even if you are tackling terrain you have skied 100 times. They are a great option for those who want to try something new and different in their skiing adventures.
They can be lots of fun in Terrain Parks
Maybe the main reason that lots of skiers like ski blades is because they are fun in the parks. Ski blades are great for terrain parks and freestyle skiing. Their shorter length and increased maneuverability make them ideal for performing tricks and jumps.
Blades are Easy to Learn On
Ski blades are easier to learn on than traditional skis. Their shorter length and increased maneuverability make them easier to control, which can help beginners gain confidence and progress more quickly. This can be useful as you transition to trying snow blades, as the learning curve will be shorter. But it can also be a good “baby step” for those who are just getting on skis for the first time.
Snow Blades are Easier to Haul Around
Ski blades are easier to transport than traditional skis. They are shorter and lighter, which makes them easier to fit in a car trunk or on a ski rack. This can be especially beneficial for those who frequently travel to ski resorts, or someone whose transportation to the resort requires lots of tight quarters or mass transit.
Cons of Using Ski Blades
Ski blades are shorter than traditional skis, which can make them more difficult to control. This is especially true for beginners who may struggle to maintain balance and control on the slopes. Additionally, ski blades are designed to be used on groomed runs and can be challenging to maneuver in deep powder or off-piste terrain.
The biggest risk comes when you are going at a high speed on the blades. They just don’t have the control or carving ability that you probably want, so you need to keep your speed down.
They have a Stigma
Like snowboards, ski blades received judgment when they were first being seen on the slopes. They were seen as dangerous and completely useless snow equipment that could potentially harm other visitors.
Let’s just say that they are not universally beloved.
If you plan to use ski blades, know that you might get some shade thrown your way by other skiers and even boarders on the mountain. Just be ready to have thick skin.
Some Resorts Don’t Allow Ski Blades
There are still ski-only mountain resorts that don’t allow ski blades or snowboards because of their membership rules. Don’t worry, though, because there are only four ski-only resorts left in the United States, so there are plenty of places you can shred using your snow blades.
Why are there ski-only resorts though? The main reason that ski-only resorts were made is because of the stereotype that snowboards and ski blades are harder to control, increasing the chance of running into somebody. The other argument is that these different styles of riding tear up the snow, making the terrain harder for skiers to enjoy.
Honestly, for people who want to take on ski blades, the best place is in tree trails, terrain parks, or beginners on the green slopes. They aren’t ideal for the deep snow powder runs, so they don’t affect runs that are meant for veteran skiers. For these reasons, ski blades are accepted and used at several ski resorts.
How To Choose Ski Blades
Before we discuss our top pick for ski blades, let’s talk about what to look for when buying them.
Length and Width
The first thing to look at when shopping for ski blades is the length and width. If you are a shorter person, short ones are better because the longer they are, the harder they are to maneuver. On the other hand, if you are taller, you will want to try longer ski blades because they will be slower if they are too short, making it tough to get down the mountain. It is also important to note that the shorter the blade, the less control you have at high speeds.
Width is also important because how wide the blade is will determine how it handles different terrain. A more narrow blade will be faster, which is great for people who want a nice mix between speed and maneuverability. For newer skiers and tree riders, wider blades are a better choice because they can make quick turns while having impeccable stability.
Finally, wider blades will usually do better if you are skiing on soft snow. Ski blades are not going to give you the flotation of powder skis or a snow board, but wide blades can hold their own on a couple inches of fresh snow.
Construction and Design
Similar to regular skis and snowboards, the construction of a good ski blade is important. A lot of ski blades are made with a wood core for better durability. They are also made with aluminum plates, graphite bases, and fiberglass layers to increase stability and performance. For people who have a need for speed, looking at narrow ski blades with sintered bases is a good choice.
The sidecut of the blade is also essential when choosing which snow blades to go with. Ski blades with a longer sidecut are better for carving, while blades with a short sidecut don’t fare as well. With that being said, if you are thinking about getting ski blades for terrain parks to do tricks, then getting a short sidecut is better.
Another thing to consider when shopping for ski blades is if they have camber or not. Camber adds a degree of arc when laid flat on the ground. Ski blades with more camber make it easier to lift off the snow. This is ideal for park riders who need more pop when hitting rails or jumps.
Finally, the terrain type is an important factor to consider when choosing ski blades. Different ski blades are designed for different types of terrain, such as groomed runs, powder, or park and pipe. It is important to choose ski blades that are designed for the type of skiing the individual plans to do most often.
If you aren’t sure if you will be doing more park riding, slope riding, or a mixture of both, then keep reading as we discuss our top three recommendations for ski blades.
Best All Mountain Ski Blade
Line Skis Blade Skis
If you are set on getting ski blades that can handle a little bit of everything, Line Skis Blade Skis should be at the top of your list. Line Skis has been making award-winning skis for years and their ski blades are no exception.
The Line Ski blades have a 3mm tip and 1mm tail, giving them more lift in deep snow. The overall construction will provide you with the freedom to ride how you want. At the center of the blades is a 5mm camber giving an excellent glide over powder and control at high speeds. Just like an all-mountain ski, a good all-mountain blade should give you confidence to go on most runs, assuming you are a competent skier.
The Line Ski blades are lightweight, using an extremely thin core giving the skier the ability to carve and take quick turns. Overall, this is a great all-mountain ski blade that offers great stability, enhanced grip, and control.
- Versatile for lots of terrain
- Might sink in fresher snow
Best Ski Blades for Terrain Parks
K2 Fatty Ski Blades
Line Skis isn’t the only ski brand that is known for making award-winning skis. In fact, K2 has been making top-tier skis for nearly sixty years. As far as snow blades go, we’ve been seeing lots of the K2 Fattys on the mountain, and reviews from the skiers we talk to are resoundingly positive.
The K2 Fatty Ski blades is in keeping with K2’s reputation as a gear maker for serious skiers, and are a great choice for anyone looking to hit the terrain parks with shorter blades. The Fatty’s have a cambered center, full twin tip tail, and a graphite core making it ultra-lightweight for easy lift-off the snow.
While they are animals in the park and on pipe, they can also do all mountain terrain when needed. They are also a great choice for beginner riders because of their stability and ability to quickly turn in deep powder.
- Excellent for terrain parks
- Really maneuverable at lower speeds
- Hard to control at higher speeds
Best Ski Blades for Beginners
Let’s say you want to have a pare of snow blades around but don’t want to invest a lot. The Snowjam 540 is a good, reliable entry-level ski blade that will help you get your fix, if you still want your primary equipment to be a nice board or pair of skis.
They are quality snow blades made with a wood core that offers ultimate flex, making them easy to maneuver on different snow surfaces. The 540 Titans are also a thicker ski blade which makes them great for beginners because of their stability.
If you haven’t ski bladed very many times, then the 540 Titans are a good choice to start out with. They are shorter in size than other ski blades but are wide, giving more control to a beginner.
- Entry-level price point
- Shorter, so better control at low speeds
- You might soon graduate and need something a little higher-end
Safety Tips for Using Ski Blades
Of course, ski blades can cause injury, both to you and other skiers. We don’t want that to happen! Here are a few tips for making sure you use the blades safely.
- Always wear a helmet and other protective gear, such as goggles and wrist guards. Ski blades can be fast and unpredictable, so it’s important to protect yourself from falls and collisions.
- Make sure your ski blades are the right size for you. Blades that are too long or too short can make it difficult to control your movements and increase your risk of injury.
- Keep your speed down! People don’t realize that you don’t have the same top-end control on blades that you do on skis. Always ski in control and within your abilities. Ski blades can be fun and exciting, but it’s important to remember that they require a certain level of skill and experience to use safely.
- Be aware of your surroundings and other skiers. When using ski blades, it can be tempting to do tricks, jumps, 360s, you name it. But only do these where other skiers are not present. People often think they will need, say, 20 feet to complete a jump, when it reality it is more like 50 feet. Give everyone some space!