Equipment Guide - What You Need, and How to Get It

Equipment is Not Included

Equipment is not included. Students MUST bring equipment each week to the mountain. Please do not expect to rent equipment weekly on the mountain, without expecting to spend up to one hour to do so! To avoid wasting time with daily rentals, try Take Home Season Rentals.

Where to Purchase Your Equipment

Pro shops train their staff to understand product and service equipment. Most of their sales personnel will be able to clearly explain why you should select one product over another. Almost every manufacturer makes a range of equipment which is appropriate for your skill level and goals. A skilled salesperson will make several recommendations and provide sound reasoning for their choices. Expect this kind of treatment or find somebody else to help you. See our 'Recommended Equipment Vendors' below.

Recommended Equipment Vendors

Bothell Ski & Bike 425-486-3747 bothellskiandbike.com
Eastside Ski & Sport 425-485-7547 eastsideskiandsport.com
Gerks Alpine Hut Redmond 425-883-7544 gerksonline.com
kitsap Sports 360-698-4808 kitsapsports.com
Play It Again Sports 425-481-8676 playitagainsports.com
Pro Ski & Mountain Service 425-888-6397 proguiding.com
Ski Mart Bellevue 425-637-8958 skimartnw.com
Sturtevant's 425-454-6465 sturtevants.com
Summit Central 425-434-7669 summitatsnoqualmie.com

Selecting the Right Equipment

Skiing

Boarding

What to Consider When Selecting Ski Equipment

Selecting suitable equipment is critical to success. If your purpose is to maximize learning, go faster, or increase your enjoyment, then you need to accurately communicate the following information to a salesperson:

  • Your intended purpose in boarding and what you realistically expect to do by season-end.
  • Your height, weight, strength, and age
  • Your level in relationship to speed and turn radius
  • The terrain conditions you like to ski.

Where to Purchase Your Equipment

Pro shops train their staff to understand product and service equipment. Most of their sales personnel will be able to clearly explain why you should select one product over another. Almost every manufacturer makes a range of equipment which is appropriate for your skill level and goals. A skilled salesperson will make several recommendations and provide sound reasoning for their choices. Expect this kind of treatment or find somebody else to help you. See our 'Recommended Equipment Vendors' on the top right of this page.

What New Skis Need Before Hitting the Slopes

Most skis need to be tuned. Professional skiers do not ski on new skis until they have been tuned. Skis must be flat-filed, edges sharpened, and skis waxed. Your foot/leg/hip alignment should be checked to see if your skis will sit flat on the snow and edge evenly when standing in your normal skiing stance.

What Else to be Aware of Before Skiing

Check your alignment. Very few people are aware of how their feet hit the ground when walking. Some land on their outside heel and roll to a flat foot. Others are pigeon-toed. The goal is to have the skis sit flat on the snow when standing in the stance you have chosen.

Chosen is an important word because it relates to purpose. A recreational skier may choose to ski a closer stance because he wants to look elegant. A downhill racer may maintain a hip-width stance for stability. In both cases the skis should be sitting flat on the snow. However, edging increases as the stance widens. Therefore a downhill racer may be over edged in a hip width stance and need to be under canted by putting the cant under the little toe side of the foot. The reverse is also true. People that bring their feet closer together or walk "duck-footed" may have to over canted by putting the cant under the big toe side of the foot. Again, the objective is to have the skis lie flat on the snow when you are standing in the width of stance you want to maintain while skiing. Orthotics and cants are devices used for correcting alignment. Orthotics are footbeds which are adapted to your feet so your weight is evenly distributed over the whole foot. Cant adjustments may be made by adjusting the boot shaft outward or inward or by placing a narrow plastic wedge between the binding and ski.

What to Consider when Selecting Ski Boots

Boots should be comfortable for the recreational skier. Boots should maximize balancing and efficiency according to how the body works best in relationship to a given task (racers choose different boots than recreational skiers). Boot alteration is very common during the fitting process. A skilled shop technician will modify boots to adapt to the unique characteristics of your feet or suggest another boot. Listed below are some basics about boots.

  • Stiffer boots respond more quickly but are less forgiving over uneven terrain. Softer boots respond more slowly but are more forgiving over uneven terrain.
  • A more upright upper boot shaft allows a taller stance, more skeletal support, and causes less muscle fatigue. It provides a greater range for flexing and extending and promotes a stronger stance for resisting forces in a turn. However, it is a weaker position for creating rotary leg movements. An upright shaft makes it easier to pressure the front of the skis and more difficult to pressure the tails of the skis.
  • A more flexed upper boot shaft promotes a stronger stance for leg turning (steering) but causes greater muscle fatigue from the flexed stance. It limits flexing and extending movements and lowers the center of gravity. A more flexed shaft makes it easier to pressure the tails of the skis, but it also makes it easier to fall off balanced backwards.
  • When the heel of the footbed is raised it makes it easier to put pressure on the heel of the foot and reduces calf tension. However, it promotes hanging in boots.
  • When the heel of the footbed is lowered it makes it easier to pressure the front of the skis and more difficult to pressure the tail of the ski. It also causes more calf tension at flexion.

What to Consider When Selecting Ski Bindings

Bindings work toward maintaining an optimum balance between holding the boots securely to the ski for maximum control and releasing when excessive stress is applied. There are many excellent well-known bindings with models suited for all skiers. An appropriate binding is selected according to weight, height, ability, age, and intended purpose. Ski shops set the release tension according to an international standard called a DIN setting.

To keep bindings operating correctly: (1) Keep the binding and bottom of your boots clean. Use binding bags when carrying your skis on the top of a car (2) Have the bindings function tested each year by a qualified ski shop. They will check for worn spots on the boots and anti-friction devices.

Ski bindings generally release side-to-side at the toe and upward at the heel. Some also release upward and diagonally at both the toe and heel in a sideways rolling action. Ski brakes come with most bindings. When the binding releases, the brake snaps out and creates a drag which stops the ski from sliding.

Ski brakes are excellent because they are activated when skier leaves the ski. The only drawbacks are walking back up the hill to get your ski or spending time looking for it in deep snow. Use deep powder cords when skiing deep snow. They are long ribbons attached to the binding.

What to Consider When Selecting Skis

Skis fall into four general categories: (1) beginner skis are usually slightly shorter, (2) sport skis for recreational skiers up to advanced intermediate, (3) versatile high performance skis for advanced/expert skiers, and (4) competitive skis for racing, moguls, or ballet.

Most companies provide models for juniors, ladies, and men. It is difficult to discuss ski design in detail without writing another book. However, listed below are a few general guidelines about skis.

  • Shorter skis are easier to turn and less stable at higher speeds. Longer skis require more effort to turn, but are more stable at higher speeds.
  • Softer skis turn easier but are less stable as speed increases.
  • Stiffer skis require more effort to turn but are more stable as speed increases.
  • A softer tip is more forgiving. A stiffer tip more responsive.
  • A softer tail is more forgiving. A stiffer tail holds the turn better.
  • A ski with more sidecut makes it easier to turn by using the characteristics built into the skis. When you stand on the edge the ski turns. However the skis tend to wander more while straight running.
  • A concave base tracks better while a convex base allows the skis to turn easier. Most skiers tune their skis so the bases are flat and the edges at a 90 degree angle or slightly beveled.
  • Waxed skis are much easier to turn than unwaxed skis. Waxed skis also protects the base.

What to Consider when Selecting Ski Poles

The pole is usually planted when the skier is in a flexed stance. The pole may be planted while sinking, at the bottom of the down, while starting to extend, at the top of the extension, or while just riding.

The correct pole length varies approximately four inches depending upon how the pole is to be used. A longer pole is measured by inverting the pole and grasping just under the basket. The forearm should be parallel to the floor. A shorter pole is grasped on the handle and the pole pointed straight down touching the floor. Again the forearm is parallel to the floor.

The more advanced skiers tend to use shorter poles because it requires less effort for the pole to swing through and be planted. Listed below are some general guidelines about pole selection.

  • Shorter poles allow a straight pole swing and less movement. Longer poles result in a rounded pole swing with some arm swing, usually resulting in a taller stance and are good for walking, pole tricks, and deflection.
  • A straight grip with a strap allows an easier pole swing. An enclosed grip holds the hand and restricts freedom of movement, but supports the hand during pole plants.
  • A spring-loaded grip reduces shock to the wrist and shoulder and helps reduce impact injuries. Poles with no straps allows quick release in a fall or when hooking a tree.
  • A smaller basket causes less drag when speed is the objective and swings easily. A larger basket is good support for walking in soft snow.
  • Soft poles are easy to bend and straighten after a fall and are generally less expensive. Stiff poles are much more difficult to bend or break.

What to Consider when Selecting Ski Clothes

  • Layers. It is better to use a shell parka and several layers of sweaters, T-necks, and underwear than one heavy parka. This is called the layering principle which is most effective in controlling body temperature.
  • Helmets protect the head when a rough fall occurs (not if but when)!!! It also provides additional warmth during cold or rainy weather. A considerable amount of body heat is lost through the top of an exposed head on cold days. A good helmet also can be vented when you get hot. A good helmet doesn't restrict your hearing. If you choose a hat, wool hats are recommended since dampness does not affect wool's ability to maintain warmth. No-itch wool hats are available with non-wool liner material.
  • Thermal socks. Your feet get wet because of perspiration and sometimes snow gets inside the boots. Thermal socks are somewhat water repellent and maintain enough dead-air space when wet to act as insulation and keep the feet warm. Cotton socks should be totally avoided. Cotton wicks moisture into the boots.
  • Thermal underwear has the same characteristics as thermal socks. It is warm even when wet. Underwear constructed with polypropolene wicks perspiration away from the body so the moisture doesn't cool the body.
  • Pants should be loose fitting, reinforced in the knees and seat, and extremely waterproof.
  • Turtlenecks and sweaters should be lightweight. One or several may be worn depending upon the warmth of the skier. As it gets colder more sweaters could be worn to create greater dead-air space which provides further insulation against the cold. A cotton T-neck or sweater is not recommended.
  • Shells (parkas) are usually unlined and are worn in warmer weather or with more sweaters or vests. When fitting a parka, pay particular attention to the cuffs. The cuffs should butt right up to or fit snugly so the wrists are not exposed. Also look for a high collar since it may be zipped or snapped up around the neck and chin for additional protection and warmth.
  • Mitts are warm since all four fingers are encased in one area and touch one another (it's warmer in a crowd). Fingered gloves allow greater freedom of movement so the hands may do more things without taking off the gloves. In both cases a thermal liner adds to the warmth. Gloves should be sprayed with a waterproofer or sealed with a water-repellent wax. Mitts should always be worn while skiing, even on sunny days. They protect against cuts caused by the roughness of the snow during a fall.
  • Goggles protect the eyes from the wind and snow. Light-colored lenses are recommended because they are usually worn during cloudy, stormy weather. Thermal lens goggles (like thermal pane glass - two lenses) or coated non-fog goggles are available and work the best. A no-fog cloth may also be used to make ordinary goggles fog-free for a short period of time. Those who wear glasses should select goggles specifically designed for use with glasses.
  • Sunglasses protect the eyes from the intense ultraviolet light of the sun which is predominate at high altitudes and reflect off the snow. Select shatterproof sunglasses with a very dark lens. They provide additional safety and protection for your eyes.
  • Raingear. Plastic raingear keeps the rain out and the perspiration in. Fabric raingear is better because it allows perspiration to escape. All clothing should be sprayed with a waterproofing substance. Trust me!

What to Consider When Selecting Boarding Equipment

Selecting suitable equipment is critical to success. If your purpose is to maximize learning, go faster, or increase your enjoyment, then you need to accurately communicate the following information to a salesperson:

  • Your intended purpose in boarding and what you realistically expect to do by season-end.
  • Your height, weight, strength, and age
  • Your level in relationship to speed and turn radius
  • The terrain conditions you like to board.

What Boards Need Before Hitting the Slopes

Most boards need to be tuned. Professionals do not use a new board until it has been tuned. A board must be flat-filed, edges beveled and sharpened, waxed, and bindings adjusted to your boarding stance.

How to Check Your Footedness for Boarding

Do you perform best with your right or left foot forward? If you don't know, a salesperson will give you a little test. They may stand behind you and gently shove you forward. The foot you step forward with is usually the foot you will place in the forward binding. People usually step forward with the foot that maximizes balance

What to Consider when Selecting Boarding Boots

Boots should be comfortable for the recreational boarder and should maximize balance and efficiency. Listed below are some basics about boots.

  • Stiffer boots respond more quickly but are less forgiving over uneven terrain.
  • Softer boots respond more slowly but are more forgiving over uneven terrain.
  • A more upright upper boot shaft allows a taller stance, more skeletal support, and causes less muscle fatigue. It provides a greater range for flexing and extending and promotes a stronger stance for resisting forces in a turn. However, it is a weaker position for creating rotary leg movements.
  • A more flexed upper boot shaft promotes a stronger stance for leg turning, but causes greater muscle fatigue from the flexed stance. It limits flexing and extending movements and lowers the center of gravity.
  • When the heel of the footbed is raised it makes it easier to pressure the heel edge. This reduces calf tension, but may increase being off-balanced.
  • When the heel of the footbed is lowered it makes it easier to pressure the toe edge and more difficult to pressure the heel edge. It also causes more calf tension at flexion.

What to Consider when Selecting Bindings for Your Board

There are many excellent well-known bindings. Step-ins are becoming very popular but tend to be more expensive. Consult your local shop for expert advice or do some reading. A binding that seems to work well in town may be difficult to manage on the snow.

Safety Strap or Leash is Required

This strap is required in order to ride lifts. It attaches to the board and wraps around the leg. It is used to control the board so it doesn't fly off downhill. Many a boarder has walked long distances in deep snow to recover their board because it got away.

What to Consider when Selecting a Board

Boards fall into four general categories: (1) beginner boards which usually are shorter, (2) sport boards for recreational boarders, (3) versatile high performance boards for advanced/expert boarders, and (4) competitive boards for racing, boardercross, or half-pipe. It is difficult to discuss board design in detail without writing another book. However, listed below are a few general guidelines about boards.

  • Shorter boards are easier to turn, better for tricks and the halfpipe, and less stable at higher speeds. Longer boards require more effort to turn and are more stable at higher speeds.
  • Softer boards turn easier but are less stable as speed increases. Stiffer boards require more effort to turn but are more stable as speed increases.
  • A softer tip is more forgiving. A stiffer tip is more responsive.A softer tail more forgiving and a stiffer tail holds the turn better.A board with more sidecut is easier to turn by just standing on it. However, it wanders more while straight running.
  • A concave base tracks better while a convex base allows the board to turn easier. Most boarders tune their board so the bases are flat and the edges are at a 90 degree angle or slightly beveled.
  • Waxed boards are much easier to turn than unwaxed boards and waxed boards protects the base.

What to Consider when Selecting Clothing for Boarding?

  • Layer. It is better to use a shell parka and layers of sweaters with T-necks and underwear than one heavy parka. This is called the "layering" principle which is most effective in controlling body temperature.
  • Helmets to protect the head when a rough fall occurs (not if but when)!!! It also provides additional warmth during cold or rainy weather. A considerable amount of body heat is lost through the top of an exposed head on cold days. A good helmet also can be vented when you get hot. A good helmet does not restrict your hearing.
  • Thermal socks. Your feet get wet because of perspiration and sometimes snow gets inside the boots. Thermal socks are somewhat water repellent and maintain enough dead-air space when wet to act as insulation and keep the feet warm. Cotton socks should be totally avoided. Cotton wicks moisture into the boots.
  • Thermal underwear has the same characteristics as thermal socks. It is warm even when wet. Underwear constructed with polypropylenes wicks perspiration away from the body so the moisture does not cool the body.Pants are loose fitting, reinforced in the knees and seat, and extremely waterproof. Boarders sit on the snow a lot.
  • Turtlenecks and sweaters should be lightweight. One or several may be worn depending upon the warmth of the boarder. As it gets colder more sweaters could be worn to create greater dead-air space which provides further insulation against the cold.
  • Shells (parkas) are usually unlined and are usually worn in warmer weather or with more sweaters or vests. When fitting a parka, pay particular attention to the cuffs. The cuffs should butt right up to or fit snugly so the wrists are not exposed. Also look for a high collar since it may be zipped or snapped up around the neck and chin for additional protection and warmth.
  • Mitts are warm since all four fingers are encased in one area and touch one another (it's warmer in a crowd). Fingered gloves allow greater freedom of movement so the hands may do more things without taking off the gloves. In both cases a thermal liner adds to the warmth. Gloves should be sprayed with a waterproofer or sealed with a water repellent wax. Mitts should always be worn while boarding, even on sunny days. They protect against cuts caused by the roughness of the snow during a fall.
  • Goggles protect the eyes from the wind and snow. Light-colored lenses are recommended because they are usually worn during cloudy, stormy weather. Thermal lens goggles (like thermal pane glass - two lenses) or coated nonfog goggles are available and work the best. A "no-fog cloth" may also be used to make ordinary goggles fog-free for a short period of time. Those who wear glasses should select goggles specifically designed for use with glasses.
  • Sunglasses protect the eyes from the intense ultra violet light of the sun which is predominate at high altitudes and reflected off the snow. Select shatterproof sunglasses with a very dark lens. They provide additional safety and protection for your eyes.
  • Raingear. Plastic raingear keeps the rain out and the perspiration in. Fabric raingear is better because it allows perspiration to escape. All clothing should be sprayed with a waterproofing substance. Trust me!

 





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