Why the Right Gear is Important
Improper equipment can severely sabotage your best efforts to learn to ski or snowboard, hampering your learning curve, your progression, and worst of all, your desire to continue!
The wrong gear can make beginners give up before they even get started. It can make turns – and even going straight – too difficult, makes it dangerous when you fall, and can make your day uncomfortable or even painful. When you're supposed to be focusing on learning technique, you shouldn't have to be distracted by discomfort or incorrectly assigned equipment.
Start with the most important piece of equipment--your boots. Skis and snowboards react to your feet just as car tires respond to the slightest turn of the steering wheel. Too much play in the steering wheel, and your car won't react quickly. Too much room in your boots, and your skis or snowboard won't react quickly, either. Not to mention blisters and cramps. Both ski and snowboard boots are designed to fit differently than your shoes, too. Make sure you have an expert go over the proper fit or you'll end up a size or two too big.
Skiing is based on balance and pressure from the soles of your feet. Boots that are too tight, too loose, too tall, or have too much play don't allow that transmission to happen.The same is true for snowboarding. You don't want your heel lifting in the boot when you press your board from edge to edge – it will take that much longer for the board to follow suit. And there's nothing worse than making a short stop and your feet sliding forward to slam your toes (and toenails) into the front of your boot.
It's not just about size, either. Different brands offer different fits – flexibility, width of footbed and height especially (you don't want a ski boot digging into your calves). All these elements are key to the boot fitting, and ultimately your performance and safety. Boots that don't fit well also place increased stress on knee joints – ouch!
As with boots, your bindings need to fit your foot, ankle and leg shape, and should be adjusted until they fit like a puzzle piece with your boots. Ski bindings need to be adjusted for proper release of your skis when you fall. If they don't release during certain types of wipeouts you risk injury. Snowboard bindings shouldn't be too stiff or too flexible because you need some give but also support. Once you get better and begin to gravitate towards a riding style, you can select bindings designed for that purpose.
Read on about equipment fitting in more detail.
Skis and snowboards that are too long can be difficult to maneuver. Conversely, equipment that is too short offers less stability and less effective edge to turn on. Make sure you're sized correctly so it's one less thing to worry about – or blame – as you're taking to the slopes for the first few times. While this technology is exciting, there's a lot to learn. Ask an expert about it in your local ski shop! .
When renting, borrowing or buying equipment, make sure you are not getting equipment that is either geared towards a specific style of riding – like freestyle skis or a freestyle/park snowboard, for example. Flex that is too hard or too soft will limit your learning curve. Instead, focus on the task at hand and look forward to scoring skis or a board like that in the future.
Camber & Rocker
Rocker, or reverse camber, is the curve underfoot. While a traditional camber ski touches the ground near the tip and tail and arcs away from the snow under your foot, reverse camber has a flat middle and curves up and the tip and/or tail. A resurgence in this hundreds-year old technology offers new variety when shopping for skis. Different camber profiles serve different conditions, and each brand has their own take.
Tuning - Keep Yours Tuned and Waxed
Skis and snowboards without a good tune-up or sharp edges are significantly more difficult to maneuver. They will be slower, offer less traction, and much less response. Tuning and waxing generates improved performance and better control, in addition to extending the life of your equipment. Make sure your equipment is properly tuned before you get on the lift!
Get Out There and Hit the Slopes!
Enjoy a completely unhampered learning experience by making sure your gear is comfortable, appropriate for your size and skill level. Trust us - choosing equipment that matches your abilities, and taking care of its condition, is going to keep you most stoked on skiing and/or riding, offer the best progression, and most important of all, keep you looking forward to your next turns.
Pre-Season Ski & Snowboard Check List
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.
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.
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.
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.
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”.
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.
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
Content courtesy of SnowSports Industries America | SIA and Snowlink.com.