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Best Intermidiate/advanced skiis under $400 [for Colorado, to replace old model Volkl]

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 

It has been hard to find a good ski fit. Most reviews say nothing but good things about skis. I have been skiing on an older pair of 162cm Volkl 320 Energy Control skis from 2005 and would like to take advantage of some newer tech. I have looked at Volkl RTM, Salomon q-85 and q-90's, and am leaning toward a pair of 2013 Nordic Hell and Back Fuel skis 162cm since they are more narrow underfoot than the salmon and considered a lower end expert ski. I only ski once a year for about 5-6 days but I am hoping to increase that, but I would like to maximize my fun factor. I am trying to find the best value for the money. I am looking at skis that may be used or new but a few years old, but a better ski than something that is brand new.


I consider myself an intermediate-advanced skier. Ski mostly out west Colorado and I ski mostly on piste but will take side trails, small jumps, half pipe whenever I have a chance and would like to improve my bump/mogul experience and go a bit faster without feeling unsteady. I like to ski a good mix of casual and push some speed on steeper runs.

post #2 of 12
Height and weight?
post #3 of 12
Thread Starter 

5'8 175lb

post #4 of 12

The skis you're coming off of are lower-end boards that are probably a bit too short for you, as well as being too narrow for typical Colorado conditions. At your size, you should probably be on something in the low 170s rather than the low 160s. The two Salomons you mention might be good candidates. Keep them tuned and take a lesson.


P.S.: Don't bother with anything more than 3 or 4 years old; the small amount of money you save is not worth the wear and tear and looming obsolescence you're likely to get on anything older than that. Note that sellers of used skis commonly mis-state the age of skis, usually out of wishful ignorance, not conscious intent to deceive. Many a "three-year-old" ski is actually five or six or even ten years old. Do your homework. "New Old Stock" is generally a better bet than used unless a reliable shop is standing behind them.

post #5 of 12
Thread Starter 

Thank you for the information qcanoe. Per your suggestion I have changed some of the specs I was looking for and narrowed it down to two skis. I changed out the Nordica Fuel for the Nordica Burner (wider ski, step up) Both pairs are brand new, not used. The Nordica's seem like a step up from the Q-90 from what I have read in reviews and the Q-90 hasn't changed much the last few years, but does have a tail rocker and a little thicker waist.


1. New 2016 Salomon Q-90 - 169cm, 130-88-116mm, 15.5m, 1510g (tip and tail rocker)

2. New 2013 Nordica Burner 170 cm 126/84/112 , 17m radius, Tip rocker


Specs seem pretty close to me. Price is the same. The Nordica is a more expensive ski if compare to the same year as the Q-90.


Am I getting a "better" ski with the Nordica?

Will the Noridca be easier, quicker to turn because it's a bit skiiner?


Either way I think I am looking at a good upgrade from what I have.

post #6 of 12

mackstro, if you only do one ski trip a year for 5 or 6 days why don't you consider renting? That way your always on the most up to date skis.

You can rent Volkl RTM 75's for $49 per day. Yes that will increase the cost of your trip $250 but you don't have to transport them or tune them and next year you can ski on better skis. You can also change sizes, stiffness and brands to find out what you like.

Instructors don't mind at all if your on rental skis. In fact if you do a multi day lesson the instructor may help you change skis to find what works best for you. Then when you are ready to buy skis they will be something that will work well for several years.

Check out rentskis.com or Breeze Ski Rentals for examples.

post #7 of 12
Thread Starter 

Hi RCC55125,

   You make a good point and I have considered renting demos. This Dec I will be skiing 8 days and I am hoping to make a second trip, so for the same price roughly I can own. I don't mind transporting them. I love arriving and not having to mess with getting rentals. Since owning we arrive early, unpack and head to the mountain for Night Skiing! The biggest advantage is getting to change out skis, try new tech, but I probably wouldn't try out too many skis. Once I get on the mountain I don't want to come back down, haha. Between my wife and me (she owns her own gear too) we save a bundle in rentals. My whole skiing life I have been on sport rentals, then these old volkl's. Anything I get will be better than anything I have skied on so I am not so particular as to get the perfect ski. I just want to get something that will let me take the next step. There are probably 100 options I would enjoy. Thank you for the suggestion!

post #8 of 12
Funny, I just got some new skis and have been debating about selling my 2014 Hell and Backs 169's. I agree with previous poster, you need to be around the 170 range given your weight and ski style/experience. The 177 H&B's would be a little too much for you if you aren't just charging hard and looking for speed all the time. 169's are a good mix of stability and agility for your skier profile. I loved mine, and at 98 underfoot they are the perfect one ski quiver. I moved out West and advanced my skiing and aggressiveness to warrant 177's. PM me if you want more info on Hell and Backs and have more questions on the H&B's. I'm not sure I want to sell them as I want to keep skis that I don't mind getting roughed up a bit when I volunteer to help skiers with disabilities, but am happy to answer any more questions you have on this ski.
post #9 of 12

Going wider underfoot is not a benefit on piste, except when it becomes "not piste".  Your original in the 80s underfoot range was perfect.  They are nailing length.


The rest of your question is too personal and subjective to answer   It is impossible to say is the "this" in general better than "that".  Every major manufacturer has at least one if not more skis in the category you are looking at.  Rossi has the Experience 88, Scott The Ski, Black Crows the Ova, from Head the Strong Instinct or Monster series, and on and on.


By any of their highest performance mid '80s models in the lengths these guys are recommending mount them with a track binding such as the PRD series from Head so you can fine tune binding position and go have fun.  Every one of these skis will be a step up from where you are now.



post #10 of 12

Should have said Buy, not by.


Have fun.



post #11 of 12

In reply to the demos idea,  You will find when you demo skis you are comparing more factors than you think.  You are comparing the skis yes, but are also comparing each companies binding position and each stores tune and the binding delta of each binding.  Getting your personal skis tuned at a good tune shop and using an adjustable track system like Heads will let you fine tune position on your own and correct some of the differences you'll notice between brands.


Get it done and don't look back.



post #12 of 12
Thread Starter 

Thank you for all the advice. Based off of what I read here and elsewhere about the Hell and Back's I think that is not the right fit for me. I ended up biting on the q-90 169cm with the Salomon Z12 ti bindings. I may take a lesson to get into more of the side country and trees. I feel like the q-90 is wide enough to do that, but still narrow enough to carve out west. I am also going to drop some weight and get into better skiing shape.

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