4 Independent US Ski Brands You Need to Know About

It wasn’t until the 1950s that U.S. brands started to make skis. Before then, you could really only get skis from Europe.

And Europe still dominates the ski market, but since the 1950s, U.S. brands like K2, 4FRNT and Armada have broken into the mainstream.

Now, there’s a newer wave of independent ski brands in the Untied States that are hitting the market, as well as custom-made skis sprouting out of basements and garages all around the country. Here are some of our favorites (both old and new).

DPS Skis

DPS Skis edging in Engelberg. Photo: Courtesy of DPS Skis

In 2005 DPS (Drake PowderworkS) – which hail from the Wasatch Mountains in Salt Lake City, Utah – was founded by Stephan Drake and ski engineer Peter Turner.

The company which is known for introducing the world’s first pre-pregnated carbon fiber sandwich skis, as well as a whole slew of other firsts including rockered skis and technologies like Phantom (their ski wax replacement, which only needs to be applied once to a base).

Reaching cult status early on, DPS has become one of the most sought-after ski brands in the world. Recognizable by their beautifully minimalist top sheet designs, DPS skis are not only high-tech but have a clean and aesthetically pleasing look.

RMU Skis

Guy Fattal ripping on some RMU skis. Photo: Courtesy of Wiley Miller

RMU (Rocky Mountain Underground) Outdoors started like most great companies … with a passion.

That passion was to learn more about skis. With no real intention of becoming an internationally known brand, RMU, founded in 2008 in Breckenridge, Colorado, began to make skis for themselves out of a garage (that was underground – hence their name.) But like most great gear, people noticed, and the demand for RMU began.

By 2011, they had already had won their first innovation in design award from ISPO. Since then, they have become a staple in great shops around the globe, selling their beautifully shaped skis as well as their award-winning softgoods products (like their dog collar Grrowler and super durable equipment).

RMU also has a concept store in Breckenridge that features a tavern, rental bikes, demo skis, classes and more.

Igneous Skis and Snowboards

Getting air with Igneous. Photo: Courtesy of Igneous

It would be a shame not to mention Igneous Ski in a story about small independent U.S. ski brands. Ingneous, which is the first custom ski brand, was founded in 1993 by Adam Sherman. The brand was small and expensive, but everything made-to-order, handcrafted and 100-percent custom.

A robotics engineer named Michael Parris, who was once an architecture major at Carnegie Melon University, helped Sherman by methodically constructing skis that would float down the mountain.

Parris has since taken over the brand and still makes the skis and boards today. The logo-less skis are only identifiable by their wood print or carbon top sheets. Part of Ingneous’ genius is that they are all word of mouth, which (to be in business this long) means loads of mouths are talking.

Parlor Skis

East coasters can get rad too. Photo: Courtesy of Parlor Skis

There might not be any mountains in the Boston area, but there is a great ski brand called Parlor. Their skis (named Parlor because their first shop was in an old funeral parlor in Cambridge) is a fully custom, made-to-order ski brand.

Started by a few ski racing buddies for fun, Parlor is now available for anyone who wants to design their own skis (they even offer classes to learn how to make your own). Whether you use Parlor’s online 4-factor algorithm (a.k.a. the “fit tool”) or you just ring them up, chances are you will end up speaking with co-founder Mark Wallace, who will create you a pair that’s 100-percent custom-made for you. (Yes, you can put a photo of your dog wearing sunglasses on the top sheet.)

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