Know Before You Go: Ski Equipment Basics

Ski Helmet - SnowlinkPairs of Skis - SnowlinkSki Goggles - Snowlink

When you're ready to buy your own gear, prepare to be overwhelmed with choices! Skiing today offers a wide range of price points, performance features, looks and sizes. Understanding some facts about ski equipment construction and types can help you narrow your search and prepare you for your visit with a salesperson at the ski shop.

Choosing The Right Ski For You

Your preferred style of skiing is going to be the most important factor when choosing your own skis. Manufacturers have fine-tuned this revolutionary technology to cater to the needs of every skier, whether beginner or expert, pipe, park or racer, groomed trail enthusiast or back country explorer. Are you getting into moguls lately? Rather have something you can use effectively all over the mountain? Your decision will yield a specific selection of skis to choose from, and from there you can be sized appropriately as well.

Getting the Boot: Comfort is the Key

Your boots are arguably the most important part of your setup. They have to be comfortable but they also have to fit your feet for skiing. Ski boots come in traditional American sizes and also "mondo point," which is simply the length of the boot in centimeters. While you can start with your regular shoe size, don't get hung up on anything but the right fit.

 

Ski Boot - Snowlink
  • When trying on boots, wear one pair of medium-weight or light-weight socks.

  • The fit should be snug and your heel should remain in place when you flex your knee and ankle forward into the boot.

  • Your boots are arguably the most important part of your setup. They have to be comfortable but they also have to fit your feet for skiing. Ski boots come in traditional American sizes and also "mondo point," which is simply the length of the boot in centimeters. While you can start with your regular shoe size, don't get hung up on anything but the right fit.

  • Make sure there aren't any pressure points or spots that pinch your feet and legs.

  • Remember, the boots will stiffen in the cold.

Bindings and Poles

Bindings hold your boots to the skis and are designed to release when you need them to during a fall. They can be adjusted to release more easily (for beginners) and more tightly as you progress. Other factors include weight, height and style. Many bindings also have vibration-reducing features that allow you to ski more smoothly. Integrated ski systems physically combine ski and binding components as one unique and complete unit to best customize this process.

Poles are used to help you with your balance and rhythm while skiing. Poles can be made from fiberglass, aluminum, graphite or some combination of these materials. A standard sizing strategy is to hold your arms at your sides, bent at the elbow in 90 degree angles with your hands in fists, and measure from your thumbs to the ground. Like with everything else, ski pole length varies with ski style and ability.

One Last Reminder

Even after an education in equipment basics, we can't stress enough how important it is to consult the experts. Listen to any objections or alternate suggestions a salesperson may make when you're choosing your gear. Take time to have them adjust everything for you in the shop, so you're ready to go when you hit the mountain.

Pre-season Ski & snowboard checklist

Inspect and prep your gear, outerwear and accessories for the upcoming season!

Before the first snowflakes start flying, smart skiers and snowboarders take the time to go through their closets and garages to make sure their first day is stress-free. Doing a little prep early in the season can go a long way when you’re itching to get on the hill. So, that’s why SnowSports Industries America (SIA) has put together a handy pre-season check-list that can help get everyone on the hill a little faster the day after an epic snowfall.  

Equipment 

When’s the last time you had your skis/snowboard tuned? If the answer is “I can’t remember” then it’s time to get your equipment in for a tune. A general rule of thumb: if you've ridden five times on your boards, it’s time for a tune-up. Plus, an expert wax and sharpening makes skis/snowboards last longer and provide more control for turns and stopping.

Gloves/Mittens 

If your hands are blocks of ice, you’re not going to enjoy any winter activity and your dexterity and performance is also affected. Make sure the whole family has a pair that fits properly.

Jackets/Pants 

Does your jacket still fit? Have your kids outgrown their outerwear? Are they up to the demands of winter activities? Some kids' jackets and pants have hems that can be let out to get one more year of wear. However, if you/your kids are heading out on the slopes in varying weather conditions, it’s worth it to invest in well-made, quality outerwear. 

Travel/Pass/Lesson Discounts

Fall is the time to take advantage of discounts on travel packages, lessons and lift tickets/passes. Check with your local resort and retailer or a destination resort you’ve been planning to visit to see if they’re offering any “early bird specials." 

Helmet  

Do you have one – does your kid need the next size up? For all ages of skiers/snowboarder, helmets are becoming the norm on the slopes. Not only do they protect against head injuries, but also provide warmth since up to 60% of your body's heat can escape from an uncovered head. 

Goggles 

If you can’t see where you’re headed on a mountain, you’re in big trouble. It’s amazing how much fun you can have on a mountain when glare, snow and flat light aren’t holding you back so make sure your goggles still fit properly. Check to make sure your goggles still fit and didn’t suffer too many scratches last season.

Hit the slopes!

Now that your gear is all up to date and you’re ready to go to the snow, we’ve put together a suggested packing list for you to reference. Download Here