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 to see if you like it in a very inexpensive way.
Affordability -The biggest advantage to renting is you do not have any money invested in equipment, so you’ll only pay when you are actually are on snow. This makes most sense if you are not a frequent skier, or for kids who may outgrow the equipment quickly.
Convenience – It is very convenient to rent and then just return your equipment at the end of the day and not carry it to and from the mountain however keep in mind each time you rent you will need to fill out forms and wait 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 perforamce” skis. Renting demo skis is a fantastic way to check out different styles of skis before you buy.
Ski boots that are properly fitted will make the difference between an enjoyable day or a very uncomfortable experience. As such choosing the right boots for you is the most time consuming and most critical piece of equipment. The key to a great day of skiing is a pair of boots that not only fit your feet well but your performance level as well. 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. They will help determine the best boots for you based on your level of skiing, type of skiing you do and your weight to name just a few variables a professional boot fitter will discuss with you. You should place more value on a comfortable snug fit than how they look or a “sale price”. For those looking to mazimize the comfort and performance of their boots, many ski shops also offer customized boot fittings – including moldable footbeds, shell modifiactions 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, and 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”!!!
Goggles will improve vision in most all conditions. By helping provide terrain definition in flat light and reducing tearing 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. An additional benefit is they will provide protection from possible damage caused by an impact from poles, skis, etc.
Note – most ski areas do not rent googles. This is an important item to invest in.
The major consideration for pole choice is length. A good way to check what length is good for you is to hold the pole upside down and put you’re had under the basket grasping the pole itself. This means the handle or grip will be touching the floor. Now look to see what the angle is of your arm. A proper fitting pole should form a 45 degree angle. Poles vary in price and generally speaking the more expensive poles are lighter and more flexible.