Finally out on the slopes? We’re rounding off the highlight of the season and that means one thing: it’s a perfect time to find new gear.
While people believe summer is the time for all tent sales business (and then you can’t go wrong), finding new gear or clothing now is an added beauty: you can test it out on snow right away, and you can enjoy it for the rest of this season.
If you’re new to buying gear, here are a few tips:
• Never buy a pair of skis or snowboards without testing them first.
It doesn’t matter what you read in a review (although annual equipment test reviews in publications like SKI Magazine are a great way to ponder what you want), you just don’t know what a ski or board feels like under your feet until you try it out.
Demo packs are relatively cheap, and most stores will credit you the cost of the demo if you purchase equipment after you try it out.
Ideally, you can get a package at a store in the base area or at a store near the base so you can try several. However, if you’re pretty sure what to try, get your demo pack at your local ski store and spend a day or two on it.
You will know it fits right when you find it.
• Spend a reasonable amount on your ski boots. Indeed, consider custom boots. Well-fitting ski boots not only make the difference for a day of skiing, but also for your skiing career.
First, you better ride in well-fitting shoes. Happy feet lead you to become smoother and with more grace.
Second, but maybe the main thing: you just feel better. When I finally switched to Custom Boots about 15 years ago, I wondered why I had waited so long. I assumed how my feet felt to take a break and not even reach down to loosen myself. Ahhhhh. Worth every penny.
And socks are also important. Pick a brand and type that you like best, and when you get these boots wear these socks and then stick with them every time (but not the same pair. That’s gross!). You will always have the fit that the boot people helped you with, a custom fit or just store-bought boots.
• Invest in a good base layer. Or as we said earlier: Don’t skimp on your long johns.
The fabric on your skin is key to keeping you warm and comfortable all day. You want a base layer that isn’t too thick and that wicks away moisture (nothing cools you down more than building up sweat, stopping in the base lodge, warming up the sweat and then stepping back out into the cold. Brrrr.
Look for long johns that fit the skin but are not too tight, that are wick and easy to wash. If you ski for more than a day, bring two sets so that you start each day with fresh warmth.
• Keep your helmet up to date. And no, don’t give me any of your “You can’t tell me to wear a helmet” silliness.
Helmets have not only proven to be safe, they are also comfortably warm, ventilated for warmer days and look great. Go to a high quality ski store and ask for help choosing your size. And if you’ve had your helmet for a while, it will wear out over time. Take yours to your trusted shop and ask if it’s time to replace them.
A solid and up-to-date helmet can mean the difference between a hilarious story about the yard that went on for years or an injury. Having fun is a lot more fun. Wear the helmet.