Updated November 29th, 2023
The midwest has a lot more and better skiing than it gets credit for. The character of midwest skiing is unique in that our vertical drop is small compared to out west or out east but our snowfall can be pretty significant due to the Lake Effect of Lake Michigan and Lake Superior. What skis should you choose for skiing in the midwest to get the maximum enjoyment? Let’s look at what the best skis for midwest skiing and the midwest.
The short answer for those who don’t want to read any farther. 95mm width All Mountain Skis. I ski these skis every day on skiing in the midwest and would use them any day out west with one exception which is heli or cat skiing.
Now let’s explore the topic a little deeper.
Midwest skiing – What’s great about it
One of the best things about midwest and Michigan skiing is the glades and potential for powder days. You say what? Michigan and powder days? Yes. We get them. Not multi feet dumps as Lake Tahoe gets. We do get regular 6 inches to a foot days in the Lake Effect zones.
I grew up in Pennsylvania and we would have killed for the natural snow amount we get here for our local skiing. There was rarely ever enough snow there to head into the trees. Glade skiing was something I never learned to love until moving to Michigan.
The best skis for midwest skiing
There tend to be 2 popular ski types we see out on the slopes here a lot. Front side carving skis and all-mountain skis. There are some people who go out there with full rockered wide powder skis but these probably aren’t the best choice.
The 95mm all-mountain ski
My preference after all these years here and trying several skis is the 95mm width all-mountain ski. I have tried 105mm’s. I have tried some front side pure carving skis. In my opinion that 95mm All-Mountain ski is the perfect ski for Michigan and midwest skiing.
What I always come back to is this:
Front side carving skis
Carving skis are fun for groomers for the first hour the resort is open if there is any kind of crowd. After that your slamming crud piles all day. Good luck if you take them into the trees and there is new snow since they have zero float factor to them.
Our runs are short. Our skiing isn’t focused on charging down every run as fast as possible. Not unless you really enjoy 10-20 second runs.
105mm all-mountain skis
If you go 105mm you will love life on any day with 6 inches of snow or more. When you take them out on a day with no new snow you’ll find that they have a tendency to shake and vibrate at speed and they wear your knees out faster because the width puts more offset loading down your lower leg. If you are on full rockered skis then you won’t have much grip or any ability to carve.
Skis for the best days in the midwest and Michigan
The best ski day we can possibly get here in Michigan or the midwest is a foot of fresh snow either at Nubs Nob for most of us or Mount Bohemia if your out in that area. Those 2 places have the most glade skiing in Michigan for the upper and lower peninsula. Nothing is better than fresh snow in the trees.
95mm width all-mountain skis will give you enough float and turning ability to really enjoy the tight technical aspect of the glades. For places where the trees open up a little bit, you can put some speed on and get a lot of floaty feeling.
All-mountain skis with some tail rocker are a lot friendlier for tight turning spaces like glades and also for soft deep slushy spring days. If the tails are straight they tend to dig in and resist turning. I once took a pair of Blizzard Bonafide’s heli-skiing on a warm slushy day and had an absolute miserable time trying to get them to turn.
Going out west – Demos and Rentals
Like many of you, I also like taking trips out west to ski. Demos and rentals can be a good idea if you are staying and doing your whole trip at one ski resort. If you do a trip to say SLC where your skiing several different places then picking and dropping off can be a pain. If you do get a powder day that is one more line to wait through before you can hit the chair.
95mm width all-mountain skis are a good all-around choice for skiing out west as well as the best skis for Michigan. They will take care of you on a powder day and hitting the groomers. I never feel as if I’m lacking in the ski department when wearing them.
When you need the truly big and fat
If you do go head out to heli-ski or cat ski then, by all means, get the rentals that the company going with provides. That is the one situation where 120mm width full rockered skis are absolutely essential. Leave your Michigan ski resort skis at home for that.
What skis are in the 95mm all-mountain category?
I’m personally a fan of Shaggy’s Copper Country Skis. I like their skis and I feel like supporting local businesses in our state has a lot of benefits to the sport of skiing here. I have a pair of Ahmeek 95’s and my wife has Belle 95’s. I think they are excellently suited to skiing here. If you click my Shaggy’s links you’ll get a $25 off coupon.
Below are some suggestions for skis that are perfectly suited to skiing Michigan’s and other Midwestern ski resorts.
Men’s best skis for Michigan Skiing
Shaggy ‘s Ahmeek 95
Blizzard Rustler 9
Nordica Enforcer 94
Volkl M6 Mantra
Women’s best skis for Michigan skiing
Shaggy’s Belle 95
Blizzard Sheeva 9
Nordica Santa Ana 98
Völkl Blaze 94
Are you still confused about what to buy? Talk to an expert at Curated.com
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Co-Founder & Chief Editor
I grew up back east in Pennsylvania and learned to ski on a family trip to Killington, Vermont when I was 6. I immediately fell in love with the mountains and outdoors and have been skiing across the US and Canada ever since. I went to school for Mechanical Engineering, and have a Master’s Degree in Material Science and Reliability.
I am a total gear nerd and love learning how things work and thinking about how they could be improved. Nothing excites me more than trying out new gear. I’d rather spend 3 hours taking my bike apart and learning how to change something than go to a bike shop. These days I reside in Michigan by the Great Lakes and go skiing, biking, and boating as much as possible.