It is one thing to have an interest in skiing. It is another thing to actually start skiing. But then again you need to be properly fitted before embarking on a skiing exercise. Getting the right ski gear not only ensures your safety; it also facilitates efficient skiing. This guide will give you the basics so that by the time you get to the hill you are well set for an enjoyable ski exercise. You don’t want to have a fine skiing session then complain afterwards due to side effects of using poor gear. You should want to get back on the hill at the earliest convenience. I’ve had the pleasure of skiing in several countries in Europe over the years and would like to share the knowledge I have garnered to date.
Getting Suited Up
There are some basic elements of attire that skiers MUST have before they step out onto the hill. Skiers should never go on a ski trip without these fittings. However, with time I also learned there are some articles of clothing that are not essential to skiers but go a long way in making the ski exercise an efficient and enjoyable one. A quick breakdown of a skier’s attire is as follows:
These are the things I can never step out for a skiing spree without.
Here is a fact check: skiing is not as easy as they make it seem on television and movies. Actual skiing is much harder; considering that you have to coordinate your ski movement in addition to your body positioning. So naturally, skis are your most prized possessions if you want to go on a skiing exercise. There is nothing like a beginner’s ski; every skier can have a suitable ski basing on a number of factors. However, many beginners get duped into buying poorly designed skis. My first skis were horrible to say the least and I am sure the seller knew I was not going to venture into any steep hills in a couple of months. By then I was too naive to differentiate between a best ski and a bogus one (except for the price tag).
As a newbie skier, my major target was to reach a level where I could ski at least twenty times in a year. For starters, I needed skis that stayed attached to my snow boots at all times. My instructor drilled into me that my first ski episodes were purely meant for me to get a hang of basic movement and eventually adjust my coordination. For this purpose, I was to opt only for skis with ample tip rocker. This would allow me to initiate turns at mid speed and also probe the jutting slopes.
I got to use fully cambered skis half a year down the line. The customary camber profile and complete effective edge was much up to my liking for faster skiing shuttles with sharper turns.
As an outdoor skier, I knew I was up against some very harsh weather conditions. I wanted something that would serve me well in cold stormy terrains. I consider my head to be the popular “oval” so I knew finding a suitable ski helmet would not be a humongous chore. To date, my best helmets have always been in the Giro line of brands. They worked well for me in sub-zero conditions and have ample ventilation to allow skiers to cool off briefly in between skiing shuttles. However, I learned only too well never to use Giro Seam helmets in warmer conditions. Fixed ear pieces mean that skiers will feel very hot and the meager ventilation cannot just cope. An “all-weather” ski helmet remains a myth to some extent, but latest designs offer more comfort for a wider variety of terrains.
The good thing about ski goggles is that they are available in unisex. However, you can also get best men’s goggles as well as best women’s goggles. They all serve the same purpose, really, but the most appropriate goggles for you will depend on your overall comfort. The best goggles also depend largely on the kind of headgear that you use. Some fit in very snugly with ski helmets while others – well – others just end up being a bother during your ski trip. Skewed goggles can be a tragic distraction while in mid – ski. In as much as most ski goggles are designed for snowy, windy, and sunny conditions; choice of goggles is down to personal preference.
The ski jacket is one of the most underrated sporting equipment. Many consider it only as an item of clothing solely meant to protect the wearer from chilly weather conditions. However, the jacket is a very deliberately designed item of clothing that comes handy in ski environments where visibility is incredibly low. At times when it gets extremely stormy, the jacket may turn out to be just the lifesaver in case a skier veers of the track or gets injured. Rescue teams should be able to pick a skier out from all the snow around. I always ensure that I see a rescue system standard emblazoned on a jacket before I purchase.
The ideal jacket should be first and foremost waterproof. Nobody wants icy water trickling down their bodies on a chilly day. But here is the tricky part – a good ski jacket should also be air permeable. There is always the chance that you will feel unbearably hot as your body sweats (plus adrenalin kicking in. If a jacket is air permeable your sweat cools off much faster. You will still feel fresh and dry even after numerous ski shuttles.
In the fledgling period of my skiing experience I quickly realized that gloves are minor but very important accessories for any skier. At first, I thought I could do without gloves because I considered my naked palms to have a better grip than when gloved. I could not have been more wrong. Latest ski gloves now come with some interesting designs. Removable wool liners have become popular because the same set of gloves can be used in various weather conditions. I am a huge fan of Hestra handcuffs; they always keep the gloves stuck to my hands. Always remember that fitting gloves will come in handy for your concentration during skiing. Other factors to consider are durability, warmth, and air-permeability. You can settle for any color that you prefer too.
The ski pants are most probably the most vital outerwear for a skier. That is why they are very pricey. While it is good to have your own gear, the best option for beginner skiers is to first locate a store that rents out pants. Try out rented ski pants for a while until you settle on the type that bodes well with you. From there you can opt for buying second hand ski pants basing on your findings from the rented attires. You can experiment with the other articles of ski clothing but never gamble with your ski pants. Jeans material gets horribly wet and freezes against your skin while sweatpants are not very air permeable. If you use regular pants you may end up having a very uncomfortable ski exercise.
The recommended material for ski pants usually has a moisture wicking base layer. Remember that you may have to tuck the pants into the boots so overly thick ski pants are also a no-go zone.
A blend of acrylic and nylon works best for socks. A gentle elastic band should also be made so as to snugly fit above your calf. Ski socks should be secured just above the calf to avoid them slipping down into your boots. At all costs avoid woolen socks. They are warm but midway through your ski you’ll quickly realize also how quickly they absorb water or moisture. Woe unto you of your ski is schedule to take hours; it would be a very uncomfortable excursion for you. Furthermore, wool when soaked for a long time smells horrible. So when you are out to get ski socks opt for the ones with odor guard.
While skiing is an acquired skill, getting the above pointers right will go a long way in getting you ready for the next level. It is a matter of getting the basics right before venturing into the heavy duty stuff. The gear that you put on will vary with the terrain on which you ski but mostly they will follow a preset trend.
Have a happy skiing!