Small is Beautiful: The Rise of the Micro Ski Brand

It’s not all about Jordan and Pippen. Sometimes it’s about the glasses-wearing underappreciated power forward Horace Grant. Dig? Although huge ski companies and their premium products may be your go-to for next year’s setup, it’s worth your time to check out some other options. And if you appreciate geographically-oriented ski design—think ‘East Coast tight trees’ tail taper—then it’s a no brainer. Niche ski brands are growing, and now might be the best time to jump on board with these small-batch companies.

Here’s just a taste of what micro ski brands have to offer and what our testers said about their products. For more on micro brands and their place in the ski industry, pick up the September issue, on newsstands now.

worth2

Worth Skis in their home territory of Vermont’s Green Mountains. [Photo] Dalton Harben

WORTH SKIS THE GEORGE
MIDDLEBURY, VERMONT | WORTHSKIS.COM
$749/$824 (carbon) | DIMENSIONS (mm): 150/118/127
SIZES (cm): 171, 178, 185, 195 | WEIGHT/PAIR: 8 lbs. 14 oz. (185, carbon)

george-highres-2

The George is a big ski with big ’tude. One tester called it a “floaty pow ski that responds well in light snow.” Another said it’s “traditionally piloted.” But beware: the pintail design required a front-seat-driving stance.

MONTANA SKI COMPANY TATONKA
WHITEFISH, MONTANA | MONTANASKICOMPANY.COM
$899 | DIMENSIONS (MM): 144/112/126
SIZES (cm): 193 | WEIGHT/PAIR: 9 lbs. 12 oz. (188)

MSC-Tatonka

“All around solid” was one tester’s simple accolade for the Tatonka, the Native American word for buffalo. Others called it “well balanced in powder,” and a “champ in chop and crud,” with camber underfoot and early rise tip and tail.

ROMP SKIS 120
CRESTED BUTTE, COLO | ROMPSKIS.COM
$1250 | DIMENSIONS (MM): 148/120/139
SIZES (cm): 186, 176 | WEIGHT/PAIR: 8 lbs. 4 oz. (186)

romp120

The 120 is ROMP’s lightweight fat ski featuring a brand-new carbon layup. One tester said it “may be the most powerful turning tool made with carbon.” Another said it “turns like a racing ski in a foot of powder.”

SHAGGY’S COPPER COUNTRY SKIS TUBBY
BOYNE CITY, MICHIGAN | SCCSKIS.COM
$750 | DIMENSIONS (MM): 142/117/142
SIZES (cm): 168, 178, 188 | WEIGHT/PAIR: 9 lbs. 7 oz. (178)

Tubby_168

The Tubby was the most widely tested of Shaggy’s offerings, and testers called it “smooth, stable and even-flexing,” and “floaty in softer snow conditions.” But it was a spicy ride on hardpack with heavy tip and tail rocker and slight camber underfoot.

CARAVAN DAILY DRIVER
BOZEMAN, MONTANA | CARAVANSKIS.COM
$599| DIMENSIONS (MM): 130/105/120
SIZES (cm): 170,178, 186 | WEIGHT/PAIR: 8 lbs. 8 oz. (178)

daily-driver

Testers agreed the Daily Driver likes high speeds. “A ski this hearty demanded a bigger, more badass mountain to be at home,” one tester said. Like Bridger Bowl, for example, right outside Bozeman, where Caravan skis are handmade by former tester Zeph Hallowell.

Comments

  1. Hello. been skiing for over 30 years whihc includes on and off piste. from a consumers perspective there are many online choices with which to obtain information to evaluate ski equipment. Print is done or soon to be so. all your ski test results should be posted on the net and not in a mag. advertisers will pay to be on your site if it is worth it as now the media can actually track exactly how many viewers a specific site is getting versus a virtual guess. seen it in blue chippers but the marketers will tell you they have scientific data stating otherwise which is a way to justify a pay cheque. whether you attract enough dough will tell you everything about your site. will not be purchasing your mag. dont need to. Think the internet will be big one day!

  2. Kudos for telling people about the smaller ski companies out there. There are more than 300 interesting, innovative and passionate ski builders people should be aware of. See the list and some tests at http://www.ExoticSkis.com, and let us know if you discover new ones! We discovered caravan skis by reading this article at backcountry magazine!

    Cheers.

  3. I’ve been riding Praxis sks for the past 10 years plus. Got one of the first Garage pair from Keith. EXCELLENT skis and a group of core fella’s making them right there in Tahoe.

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