You’ve decided to take the plunge and commit yourself to being a skier; no more rented skis for you — you’re ready to purchase your own! However, buying skis can be an overwhelming process. With numerous options on the table for shapes and sizes, as well as waist widths, tail design, flex patterns, and more, it can be difficult to know where to start. To simplify the process and help make sure you buy the skis that will best serve you, check out this guide to buying your very first set of skis.

Gather your info

If you’re purchasing skis, chances are that you’ve used them before and have a foundational knowledge of how to ski. Think of where you most often ski and what conditions you’re used to seeing. If you’re going to be using these skis at all of your favorite slopes, knowing the common conditions can help inform your purchase. Alternatively, consider new slops you’d like to be able to go with your new skis and what conditions there are like. Tailoring the skis you buy to the slopes you’ll be hitting will help you get the most out of your purchase. You can also try compiling a list of skis that you’ve used previously to help you determine which will best serve your purpose. Having details about the length, model, and anything you loved or hated about them gives you a good place to start.

Learn the terminology

Don’t know the difference between a narrow tail and a wide tail? Not sure what camber is? Before you go making a big purchase, make sure you understand the features that you have available to you, because different features will come with different advantages and disadvantages. One feature might help you fly down the slopes with greater speed while another might help you take the slope more easily.

For example, a narrow tail is advantageous on a tight terrain as it allows you to exit turns sharply and easily, allowing you more control over your movements. A wider tail, on the other hand, will allow you more power when you exit turns which provides an advantage when high-speed carving. Knowing the difference between the options you have available and how they’ll each affect your skiing is a great way to prepare.

While buying skis can be a tricky process, if you make sure that you’re well-informed beforehand with a solid knowledge of where you’d like to be using these skis most, you’ll have no trouble finding the perfect skis for you.