If you’re going to ski or board, you’ll need equipment and gear. The great news is, most of the gear needed can be rented. Below is some information on the basic equipment you will need. Also make sure you check out the dressing properly page for how to dress for a day on the slopes.
Buying Vs. Renting
Renting, when starting out, is a great idea. It makes getting all the equipment you will need very easy and affordable and will let you try the sport in a very inexpensive way.
Affordability -The biggest advantage to renting is not investing in equipment – you’ll only pay when you are actually skiing or snowboarding. This makes most sense if you are not a frequent skier, or for kids who may outgrow the equipment quickly. For children, many ski areas and ski shops offer seasonal rental programs, that allow you to keep the equipment for the full season, and exchange throughout the year as your child grows!
Convenience – It is very convenient to rent. At the end of the day, just return your equipment and there is no need to carry it to and from the ski area. However keep in mind each time you rent you will need to fill out forms and line up to get your equipment. Having your own equipment means you can get on snow as soon as you arrive.
Comfort and Performance – The biggest consideration with comfort is your boots. Having your own boots means that you will get used to them and if fitted properly your own boots should have the same feel every day you’re on snow. Rental boot selection will vary from rental shop to rental shop and the comfort level will also vary. If you are just starting out, regular rental skis will be perfect; however, if you want to try a better ski ask if the shop has “demo” or “high performance” skis. Renting demo skis is a fantastic way to check out different styles of skis before you buy.
1. Ski Boots
Ski boots, as well as snowboard boots, that are properly fitted will make the difference between an enjoyable day or a very uncomfortable experience. Choosing the right boot for you is the most time consuming and most critical piece of equipment. The key to a great day of skiing or snowboarding is a pair of boots that not only fit your feet well but also your performance level.
How should they fit? Comfortably snug all over. It should fit similar to an ice skate. Your feet should not move laterally or back and forth, because if they do, you’ll reduce the steering and edge control of your skis. It is important that you get proper boot fitting advice from professionals at your local ski shops. The pros will help determine the best boots for you based on your level of skiing, type of skiing you do, your feet, weight and more. You should place more value on a comfortable snug fit than how they look or a “sale price”. For those looking to maximize the comfort and performance of their boots, many ski shops also offer customized boot fittings – including moldable footbeds, shell modifications and more.
If you are just starting out, a ski designed for groomed runs will be perfect. There are many technical features involved in ski manufacturing and it is good to get advice from professionals that can explain in detail what type of ski is best for you. Some of the factors are the flex, shape or side cut, and length of ski will be determined by the person’s weight, height and how aggressive a skier they are.
A general “rule of thumb” is the stiffer the ski flex is, the more advanced it is. The softer the flex the more intermediate and forgiving it is. Ladies will benefit by purchasing ladies-specific skis, where the midpoint is further forward to accommodate a female lower center of gravity.
The ski length should generally be between your chin to the top of head. For the most part, bindings will come with the skis. If not get some advice on the best binding choice for you from the professional ski shop you are purchasing from.
A No Brainer!! When it comes to protection this is the most important piece of equipment you can buy. Helmets not only protect your head but are warm, light and don’t itch nearly as much as most hats or toques. As with ski boots, they should fit comfortably snug and protect all parts of the exposed skull. They should not fit high on the crown of the head, but rather level on the forehead. Your helmet should provide enough room to fit a goggle nicely against the top of the helmet without gap and it may be best to buy your helmet and goggle at the same time to make sure they are compatible. “Hats off” to Canadians for their increase of “Helmets on”!!! For more information on helmets, check out this video.
Goggles will improve vision in all skiing and snowboarding conditions. By helping provide terrain definition in flat light and reducing tears caused by wind and snow, goggles can be an important part of your equipment. Goggles also provide eye protection against harmful UVA and B rays which can cause damage to the retinas.
Note – most ski areas do not rent goggles. This is an important item to invest in.
The major consideration for pole choice is length. To check what length is right for you, hold the pole upside down and put your hand under the basket grasping the pole itself. This means the handle or grip will be touching the floor. Now look to see the angle of your arm. A proper fitting pole should form a 45 degree angle. Poles vary in price, generally speaking the more expensive poles are lighter and more flexible.