When it comes to winter sports, nothing quite beats the freedom, adventure, and pure joy that skiing can bring. Feeling the rush of cool air past your face as you enjoy time in nature is unlike anything else. To be prepared for skiing, you need to have the right gear. Whether you are a beginner who has just started training for skiing or a seasoned pro, having the right gear for skiing will make a world of difference. To help prepare yourself from head to toe with the right gear and get the right tools to maintain and transport your skis, we have put together the most comprehensive guide to ski gear available.
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The Importance of Having High-Quality Gear
As is true with any sport, having the right kind of gear will make a world of difference when it comes to not only performing well, but also being comfortable. Performance and comfort are magnified when it comes to quality skiing gear. Not only do you need to be safe while you are on the slopes, but you need to ensure you stay warm and protected. Having high-quality gear will not only allow you to stay outside longer, but it will allow you to stay safer too. Skiing is often done in difficult conditions with freezing temperatures, with low visibility, and high winds. Having the right high-quality gear will not only keep you comfortable, but it will keep you safe.
Obviously when it comes to skiing you are going to need the right equipment to get out on the slopes. To a first timer though, it might come as a surprise just how complicated skis are, and how much necessary gear is required. There are several pieces of equipment necessary, and different styles of skis available for all the different styles of skiing.
In order to hit the slopes and enjoy a day of skiing you want to start with the essentials. There are many different styles of skis to choose from, with each ski intended for a slightly different style of outdoor fun.
- Downhill Skis – These skis are what you commonly find at ski resorts and are intended for use down ski slopes. Downhill skis can also be referred to as Alpine skis. Downhill skis come in several different lengths and widths that are intended for different snow conditions and ability levels. Typically wider skis are intended for lighter and fluffier snow, while thinner skis are meant for icy conditions. The longer the ski length the faster the ski will carry you, while shorter lengths are perfect for tight turns and working through moguls.
- Cross Country Skis – Compared to downhill skis, cross country skis are meant to be used on a flat ski track. Cross country skis can often be referred to as Nordic. These skis allow the user to explore trails and paths intended for skiers through flat plains and through the trees. Cross country skis have a different binding (we will get to that later!) that allow more flexibility around the ankle. Plus, cross country skis are usually very long and narrow, perfect for gliding through the tracks and trails.
- Telemark Skis – Telemark is a style of skiing that is not as common as downhill or cross country. In fact, it combines the two styles into a technique that forces the skier to center his or her balance over the center of the skis. Telemark skis provide the flexibility of cross country skis with the downhill nature of Alpine skis.
These are just three of the different types of skis you can choose from. In addition, there are also freestyle skis, race skis, powder skis, and this is still just scratching the surface.
The second most important item when it comes to ski gear is the bindings. The ski bindings attach to the top of the skis and give you a place to insert and lock in your ski boot. Bindings are the reason your skis don’t fall off your feet when you’re riding the ski lift. The bindings are what gives your ski the rigidity, or flexibility, needed to perform the type of skiing you are interested in. Ski bindings come in a range of styles and most can be modified to fit your particular skis.
Your ski binding style will also determine the manner in which your boots will eject from the binding when you clip out of your skis for the day or when you take a tumble. Downhill skis have extremely stiff and rigid bindings whereas cross country skis have extremely flexible bindings.
It is important to know that ski bindings can be adjusted as your ability and strength increases. In this sense, bindings have the ability to grow with you as you learn the sport. Always allow a professional to adjust your bindings to match your skill in order to keep you safe.
One might argue successfully that your ski boots are the most important piece of equipment that you need when skiing. If you are purchasing new ski equipment, make sure you focus the majority of your attention, and resources, into purchasing high-quality and high-performing ski boots. The boots are where your feet go, and attach directly to the bindings, which are then attached to the skis. There is no way around it, ski boots are clumsy, clunky, and somewhat cumbersome. However, your feet will be inside the ski boots for the entire day of skiing, so it makes sense to find boots that fit well and are comfortable.
Ski boots are generally made the same with some slight modifications that vary between companies. Some boots have a three latch closure across the top, while others only have two. It’s even possible to find boots with four latches. The number of latches is purely a preference between skiers, so make sure to choose what is most comfortable for you.
Other men’s ski boots will have a feature at the back of the boot on the heel that allows for more flexibility while walking. Often, a small latch can be opened to allow the boot to enter into “walk mode”. This small-but-important feature can be a life saver when walking through the ski resort. Further, other ski boots will have a moldable, customizable shell that can be modified to fit your specific foot. While this is a premium in ski boot design, it may be a great option for people with hard-to-fit shoe sizes.
Ski poles can be helpful navigating around the slopes and maintaining your balance, and they’re essential for cross country skiing. To select the right height ski pole for you, hold your hands out in front of you, with your elbows bent at a right angle. The height from your hands to the floor should determine the length ski pole needed.
Whether you are downhill skiing or cross country skiing, this can be a dangerous sport. It is important to remember to take the right safety precautions before hitting the slopes. Not only can safety gear keep you protected throughout the day, it can make the sport more enjoyable, so you continue to learn and stay out on the slopes longer.
- Ski Helmets – The most important piece of safety equipment when it comes to skiing is a helmet. Falls, trips, and slides can happen at any time, so protecting your head is paramount. Make sure you find a ski helmet that fits well, doesn’t move around, and covers the entire back of your head.
- Shin Guards – Shin guards can be helpful if you are learning to ski in ski races. Navigating through the poles and flags can give your shins a beating, so be sure to protect them with shin guards.
- Ski Pole Guards – Having pole guards cover your ski poles is a great way to protect your hands and knuckles from bangs against ski flags and trees. Ski pole guards are essential if you are interested in participating in slalom racing.
- Skiing Impact Shorts – Even the best athletes will still fall from time to time when skiing. Give your body some extra protection with skiing impact shorts. These tight-fitting shorts are added as an underlayer and can give your body some extra padding and comfort when falls occur.
- Mouth Guard – Although skiing is not usually thought of as a contact sport, having a mouth guard can help protect your teeth. Falls can be hard and can jostle the head around. Having a high quality mouth guard can not only help to protect your teeth, but can help prevent a concussion.
As lovely as it would be, we don’t all live right next to a ski slope. In order to get to and from a ski slope chances are you will need to transport your equipment. To make life easy there are several ski gear items available to help safely and efficiently transport your ski gear.
Having a ski bag is a great way to pack your skis and take them wherever you go. Ski bags come in an over the shoulder design, as well as a roller board design which can be great for navigating airports. Ski bags are often padded to protect your skis during transport, and are able to accommodate one or two pairs of skis.
Skis are clumsy pieces of equipment that can be hard to store and transport. For this reason there are several ski rack options available.
- Wall Rack – Having a ski wall rack at your home will not only give you a neat place to store your skis, but it can help them dry after a long day on the slopes. Wall racks are typically inexpensive, but if you’re crafty, you could even make your own.
- Roof Rack – Transporting your skis to the slope via automobile is quite easy with a roof rack. Easily clip skis into the roof rack for safe and efficient transport. Ski roof racks are available to fit most makes and models of vehicles.
- Hitch-Mounted Rack – If a roof rack isn’t your style, there are several hitch-mounted ski racks available that attach to the back of your car. The nice thing about a hitch-mounted ski rack is that it is possible to store several pairs of skis and snowboards on one rack.
Maintaining Your Gear
In order to keep your skis in good condition it is important to have the right gear needed to maintain them for years to come. While many of these items are optional, they can make your skis and equipment last longer and reduce the amount of times you need to pay for a professional to care for your skis.
If you plan on waxing and sharpening your own skis it is a good idea to invest in a ski vise. This specific vice gently clamps your skis to a workbench so that you can easily work on detailing your skis without having them slide away each time.
To keep your skis gliding smoothly through the snow it is important to keep them clean with a fresh set of wax between ski outings. Wax can help keep your skis moving freely, and can help you make better turns through the slopes. There are several ski waxing kits available that include the right tools and equipment necessary to apply a fresh coat of wax to your skis.
Ski Boot Dryer
If you are preparing for a ski trip and planning on skiing for days on end, a ski boot dryer will be your best friend. Simply place the ski boot dryer into your boots at the end of the day and wake up with dry, warm boots the next day. Ski boot dryers help to remove any extra moisture from your boots allowing you to start a new day skiing with dry and comfortable equipment.
Strap on Your Skiis and Hit the Snow
Skiing is an amazing winter sport that can’t quite compare to anything else out there. It can be as leisurely or as intense as you make it, and is the perfect opportunity to enjoy some time outdoors in nature. Whether you are a first time skier, or have been skiing for years, it is important to have the right ski gear. Having high-quality ski equipment and gear from the start can not only make your skiing adventure more enjoyable, but it will help to keep you safe and protected. From having the right safety equipment, to the right tools to maintain your skis, be sure to stock up on the right ski gear for your next outing to the slopes.