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Ski Season Essentials

Our Checklist For A Successful Day On The Mountain

The days are colder, leaves are changing colors, and we’re starting to see little white patches on the mountaintops. Ski season is almost here! Whether this is your first season of resort skiing or you’re switching from renting to owning your own setup, we’ve got your ski essentials covered. 

Skis

For your first season of resort skiing, we recommend looking for skis that will perform well in a variety of conditions. The all-mountain ski category is a good place to start looking. 

  • All-mountain skis with an 85-95mm waist (the ski’s width at the middle) are good for a mix of groomed and powdery trails.
  • For beginners and intermediate skiers, look for a length that’s a few inches shorter than your height. Stand your ski on end and it should come to somewhere between your chin and forehead.
  • Skis with integrated bindings are an easy choice since you know they’ve been pre-selected to work well together. But if you’d prefer a custom combination of skis and bindings, use the chat feature to connect with one of our expert gearheads and we’ll make sure you get the right pairing.

Boots

With boots, there are multiple factors to consider:

  • Flex: This is an indication of a boot’s overall stiffness. Flex ratings can range from <80 (soft) to 125+ (very stiff). Less aggressive skiers need a lower flex, while more aggressive skiers usually choose a higher flex. Factors like height and weight should also be considered.
  • Fit: Ski boots use mondopoint sizing. Consult a sizing chart to convert from your normal shoe size.
  • Volume: Also known as “last,” you’ll see boots listed as low-, medium-, and high-volume, and these correspond to how wide or narrow your feet are.
  • Binding compatibility: If you’re alpine skiing, your best bet is to look for boots with alpine compatibility.

If you want a good all-around boot that’ll perform in a variety of conditions, and you’re only skiing in-bounds, go with an all-mountain ski boot. They’ll do for a variety of skill levels so you don’t have to worry about growing out of them too soon. If you want an elevated experience look for features like walk mode (so it’s easier to go from last chair to après) or heated liners. Boots can get complicated quickly, so we recommend chatting with a Gearhead or finding a local boot fitter to help you choose the perfect pair.

Poles

Ski poles need to be strong, light, and flexible. But most importantly, they need to fit right. 

Here’s how to get the right fit:

  1. Stand in your shoes or ski boots. 
  2. Flip the poles upside down and put the grips on the ground.
  3. Grab the pole right underneath the basket.
  4. If the pole is the right length for you, your elbow should be bent at a 90-degree angle.

Outerwear: Jackets & Pants

Your outerwear is your main defense against the elements. So while you consider different ski jackets and pants, here are a few things to check:

  • Waterproofing: If you’re in a relatively wet and warm area, you need an outer layer that can handle all wet, slushy snow. If you spend most of your time in drier areas like Utah or Colorado, you can get away with a lower waterproof rating.
  • Warmth: Pay special attention to your ski jacket’s insulation since it’s crucial to keeping your core warm. If you want a jacket that’ll work through the entire ski season, we recommend a 3-in-1 jacket. It’s got an outer protective shell with a removable insulated liner. That makes it really versatile since you can wear the shell and the liner separately for milder conditions or combine them for those frigid days on the mountain. If you already own a midlayer, all you’ll need is a shell to achieve this same level of versatility.
  • Other features: Venting, pockets, cuff design, built-in gaiters, etc. Consider what additional benefits you’d like and make sure your top pick includes these.

Helmets

More skiers are admitted to hospitals for head injuries than for any other injury. So even if you’re planning on sticking to blue runs, we highly recommend wearing a helmet. Fortunately, gone are the days of clunky helmets cramping your style. Modern ski helmets are lightweight, provide a perfect place to mount your GoPro, and some are audio compatible so you can rock out while you ski. 

Additional features to consider when shopping for a helmet include:

  • Fit: Make sure to measure your head, check the sizing chart, and even read reviews to find the perfect fit. 
  • Ventilation: If you’re sticking to groomers, you might not need extra or versatile ventilation, but if you like exploring the side country or taking occasional bootpacks to find powder stashes, an adjustable ventilation system is clutch.

Goggles

If you can’t see where you’re going, you’re going to have a bad time. Plus, goggles protect your eyes from sun, wind, snow, and cold. A lot of resorts don’t rent goggles, so you should always be sure to bring your own. 

Here are a few goggle features you should consider:

  • Fit: Some ski goggles are one-size-fits-all with flexible frames that adjust to your face. Others come in men’s and women’s sizes to ensure a better fit.
  • Lenses: 100% UV protection is a must. It’s also nice to have lenses with filters that enhance contrast and vision. And interchangeable lenses are really practical for adapting to changing weather conditions. Make sure to choose lenses suited to the conditions you most often ride in.
  • Anti-Fog: With a combination of special lens coatings, dual-lens designs, and ventilation, you need goggles that won’t fog up mid-run.
    Pro tip: 
    Buy your helmet and goggles together. A lot of brands make their helmets and goggles with matching contours so they fit perfectly together. This helps eliminate the gap between your helmet and goggles, and increases airflow to the goggles for fog-free riding.

Accessories

Don’t forget to add these items to your bag before you head to the resort for the first time.

Ski Socks

Easy to overlook, but the wrong pair of ski socks can make or break your ski day. It’s tempting to reach for a comfy, well-padded pair, but we recommend something relatively thin. If your boots fit properly there isn’t a lot of extra space in your boot, and a thin sock will minimize pressure points and enhance circulation for an ultimately warmer foot.
Options like the EURO SocksSki Superlite Sock even have an ultra-smooth fabric that makes it easier to get your boots on and off.

Gloves & Mittens

Your standard winter gloves might work. However, ski-specific gloves have some nice features that keep your hands comfortable throughout the day—like waterproof fabric, extra-long cuffs, wrist leashes, and grippy palms for holding onto your poles.

Balaclava

For super snowy or windy days, a neck warmer or balaclava is key. Go with thin merino wool for cool, blustery weather or polar fleece if you need extra warmth.

Ski and Boot Bags

Boot bags simplify travel with extra space and protective pockets for accessories like your gloves, goggles, and helmet. A ski bag is essential for long trips or if you’re flying to your destination.

Ski Rack

Don’t forget that you need a way to get your sticks from your garage to the resort. Sure, you can stuff your skis into the back of your car, but if you’re riding with friends a special mount for your roof rack comes in handy.

Most ski racks fit onto your existing roof rack. And with the option to lock the rack, you can make an end-of-the-day pizza run without having to worry about your skis getting stolen.

Ready for a sendy ski season? Still have questions about your ski gear? Give us a call at 1-800-409-4502 or use the chat feature to connect with one of our expert Gearheads today.