I grew up skiing in the east, Vermont to be exact, so I was a Rossi girl.  I became a Völkl girl I went to college in the Upper Connecticut River Valley, minutes from the Völkl US headquarters in Lebanon, New Hampshire. Apart from a brief (but prolific) sojourn to K2 skis in the early 2000s (when they launched their first high performance women’s skis), I have stayed pretty true to the Völkl brand. I still contest the Mantra is one of the best one-ski quivers you can find, and I skied the Shiros in the deep Chugach powder this winter and they crushed it.

However, the old tried and true brands we’ve grown up skiing are no longer the only ponies in the race. Increasing numbers of boutique, independent ski brands are entering the scene and competing handily against the big, established brands. Some indy brands with humble beginnings (Line) have even pushed through to the main stream.  These five, in no particular order, are some of the hot new(ish) comers to watch (and ride!):

Bluehouse Skis, Salt Lake City, UT

Bluehouse began in 2007 with the quest to create a line of more innovative and affordable skis.  Bluehouse quickly gained notoriety amongst the Utah skiing community and beyond.  The company sells everything factory-direct so no retailers, no distributors, no middlemen. This allows Bluehouse to deliver on their promise of kick-ass ski technology at affordable prices.  Bluehouse actually let Liftopia design a custom top sheet and preorder next year’s models of our choice with this killer design we developed. Yeah, that’s an avalanche of animals. Jealous? You might be able to win a pair through a future Liftopia sweepstakes, if you’re extremely, extremely lucky.

 

Independent Ski Brands: Bluehouse Skis

 

DPS, Salt Lake City, UT

Officially founded in 2005, after years of dabbling in ski design on the part of the founders, DPS is known for its innovations in rocker technology and carbon fiber design. Most models afford you the choice of pure carbon construction or the less expensive fiberglass, carbon and bamboo hybrid. DPS offers a full range of skis from big mountain to all-mountain and even has a women’s specific line. They sell direct on their website and through many retailers.

 

Independent Ski Brands: DPS Skis

 

Wagner Custom Skis, Telluride, CO

This independent manufacturer is special to me, as I actually know the founder, Pete Wagner.  I met Pete a decade ago back in my Telluride days, but when I knew him he was a software engineer/ski-and climbing-bum – designing high-end golf club shafts by night while ripping pow lines in Telluride and sending cracks in Indian Creek by day. Peter then left town for a brief stint to get an MBA and came back in 2006, ready to apply his engineering prowess and business acumen to innovate ski design and manufacturing. As a result, Wagner Custom Skis was born.  Pete’s skis are unique in that they are custom designed for each rider and every pair is handmade from scratch.  Not only are the shape and the guts of the ski customized, clients can also choose the design of the top sheet. AND Pete’s manufacturing facility is super green, running on solar power and offsetting its carbon-footprint through the purchase of wind energy credits. You can check out their website here: Wagner Custom Skis.

 

Independent Ski Brands: Wagner Custom Skis

 

 

Praxis Skis, Truckee, CA

Praxis Skis takes a hybrid approach, they offer both standard and customized models to choose from. Praxis boasts a new perspective on ski design, getting away from skis designed for a specific purpose like groomers or gates and instead offers customers skis built for skiers, not specific use cases. You can buy Praxis skis through their website or through a few North Lake Tahoe local authorized dealers

 

Independent Ski Brands: Praxis Skis

 

ON3P, Portland, OR

Industrious founder of ON3P, Scott Andrus, came up with the idea for his custom ski company as a sophomore in college. By the time he graduated he was ready to launch into production in 2009.  ON3P prides themselves on meticulous craftsmanship and using only the best materials. There is nothing “mass” about the way they produce skis. In fact, they are so confident in their methods their factory in Portland is always open for ad hoc tours. ON3P’s design team is known for pushing the envelop with their unusual prototypes (see Oar Skis) but through trial and error have honed their core concepts into some of the more innovative designs on the ski market today.  You can buy ON3P skis direct from the company or through a few select retailers including evo.com.

 

Independent Ski Brands: ON3P

 

Wish for snow and happy shredding this winter on whatever boards you choose!

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  • Matt

    You should also check out 333 Skis (www.333skis.com) — the best pair I’ve ever owned!

  • Gregg Blanchard

    I second the Bluehouse recommendation. Been following their story since they first got started and always feel a little touch of pride when I wear my Bluehouse t-shirt to the office.

  • Grace Skis (http://www.skigrace.com/) out of Denver should also be on this list. Big mountain skis made in the most environmentally sustainable ways possible — they’re orange hot!

  • Michael

    Uups, whats up with Fat ypus…., PM gear….

  • Derek Pearson

    Everyone should really check out Wubanger (Bangin’ skis by a guy named Wu) Ski Design & Manufacturing based in SLC. Highest quality materials, every pair is meticulously put together by hand, not mass produced and are absolutely bomber. You can choose from an array of pre-made shapes, go with a semi-custom model and dial in your flex pattern with a pre-selected shape, or build your own full-custom dream ski. Anyone who has ever been on some Wu’s will absolutely agree that they are some of the best skis they have ever been on. http://www.wubanger.com

  • pureblood

    chinese skis aren’t special. come on people pull your heads out!

  • Great article. What about an article about the Independent guys designing, manufacturing and skiing here in the USA? Check out http://www.skigrace.com for one…

  • Evan

    This is great, but lets also support the ski companies who keep all of their production right here in the USA. Ramp Sports make all of their skis right in Park City, Utah on all US machines with all US materials. Killer looking graphics as well.

  • Mike

    You missed one ski manufacturer that has handmade skis in the USA. You might want to check out http://www.skipowdernorth.com

  • Cory

    Montana ski company in Whitefish, MT makes custom skis

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