With the holiday season in full swing, there may been many of you wondering what presents you might want to get for your friends and family. Or maybe you’re looking for a new hobby this winter. Whatever your motivation, Campika is here to help. When you head to the slopes this winter, it’s important to have the right gear and to be prepared to face the snow. Skiing and snowboarding are gear heavy sports and the choices can be daunting.
Skis and Snowboards (and Bindings)
First things first, you’re not going to get much riding done without these most important pieces of equipment. There are different types of boards and skis depending on the rider’s preferences; terrain park, backcountry, all terrain. You also need to account for the rider’s height, weight, and foot size. I suggest going to your small, local ski and snowboard shop and talk to a salesperson. They’ll be able to take the time to set you up with the right ski or board, bindings, and boots for you. If you’re not sure if you’re going to be on the mountain regularly, look for local shops that have equipment rentals. This is usually cheaper than renting on the mountain. Renting allows you to try out skiing or snowboarding and avoid big upfront costs until you know if you like it or not. Once you fall in love with the mountain as most do, you can return to the shop and look into purchasing your very own equipment.
The two most important aspects when looking at ski or snowboard boots are functionality and comfort. You want your boots to be sturdy and made well. The aesthetic of your boot shouldn’t worry you. The worst thing that could happen is you are riding down the mountain when a piece of equipment breaks. The salesperson at your local shop can point your towards the right boot for you. The second important thing is comfort. Depending on how long you spend at the mountain, you could be wearing these boot for a huge portion of the day. Nothing ruins a day on the slopes like cramped or sore feet. Make sure you can walk around comfortably in the boots while wearing thick socks before you rent or purchase them. While they won’t feel like your favorite slippers, it’s important that foot pain doesn’t distract you while your tear up the ski hill.
According to the National Ski Areas Association, around 41 people die every year from ski related accidents. Many of those people were not wearing a helmet. You don’t have to worry about being cool or not cool by wearing a helmet, it’s the smart thing to do. Even if you do not plan on doing anything too dangerous, accidents can and will happen. You are in an area surrounded by people traveling at high speeds that are not always in control. And you if you are skiing or snowboarding for the first time, you will fall. A lot. You want to make sure you are protected. Try on helmets and find one that will rest on your head comfortably. Make sure it keeps your head warm and covers your ears. Once you find one you like, ask if it comes in your favorite color and you’ll be ready to go.
Jacket and Pants
Dressing correctly for a day on the mountain can be difficult. You want to dress warmly in something that is waterproof, but that also breathes so you don’t get overheated. My favorite jackets and pants are the ones that come with vents. These vents are able to be zipped up and allow air to flow inside when you’re getting a little sweaty from all those runs down the hill. When looking at types of jackets, make sure you find one that is brightly colored. Not only will it make it easier for your ski buddies to spot you on the hill, you will be more easily seen on foggy days by other riders, as well as being visible if you become lost. If you tend to be on the warmer side, a few sweaters and rain coat can also substitute for a ski jacket.
I have had days where I forgotten my gloves. It is not a good time. Gloves, or mittens, whichever you prefer, are very handy when you’re on the mountain. Waterproof gloves are essential to keep warm and possibly avoid frostbite. Many come equipped with goggle wipes for when your goggles fog up from your own body heat. Make sure you find gloves that you can move your fingers around easily, especially boarders. Snowboarders have to strap in and out of their back binding a few dozen times each day. And having finger mobility is a huge help. This is also essential to be able to work you smart phone touchscreen. Look for gloves that are made to work with touchscreens so you don’t have to remove your glove every time you want to use your phone. Bright colored gloves also make them easier to find inside of your bag or on the snow.
Visibility is key when you’re on the hill. The main functions of goggles is to make sure you can see when shooting down the slope. Goggles protect your eyes not only from wind and snow but also from the sun’s rays. When skiing on a sunny day, you are at an even greater risk of hurting your eyes due to the sun reflecting off the snow. Goggles protect your eyes from these damaging rays. They also make sure you can see when it is foggy or raining. Anyone who has traveled at high speeds in open air will tell you it is almost impossible to keep your eyes open. Buy or rent goggles with your helmet. While most goggles and helmets fit together, you want to make sure they both fit comfortably on your head at the same time.
Long Johns and Sweaters
When trying to stay warm on the mountain, most riders will swear by their long johns. They are usually a cotton blend pant that keep your leg warm under your pants while you’re on the mountain. While ski pants protect moisture and wind, it’s the long johns that keeps your legs warm and cozy from the outside elements. Those along with an undershirt are key to feeling comfortable while you’re facing the snow and wind. I personally wear an Under Armour long sleeve tee and a light sweatshirt under my jacket to keep warm. With those and my long johns, I am able to snowboard comfortably without worrying about staying warm.
Trust me, you don’t want cold feet. That’ll ruin anyone’s day. Get socks that will keep your feet warm and will fit comfortably inside your boot. Make sure you are able to wiggle your toes, otherwise your feet will cramp up and make the day that much harder. Everyone should have some warm socks on hand, regardless if you’re on the mountain or not. I also recommend that you bring an extra pair of socks for the ride home. By the end of the day, your feet will get sweaty and sore. And there’s no better feeling than letting your feet breathe in a fresh pair of socks on the ride back to town.
As I mentioned before, your risk of being exposed to harsh sun rays doubles when you are on the mountain. Many people don’t think to bring sun screen because they’re going to the mountains in the winter. But it’s very important to protect the exposed parts of your face, even when the sun might not be out. Have a bottle with your equipment and make sure to lather up your face before you get on the chairlift. Your face will thank your over the years.
When buying a pass to get onto the chairlift, you have two options; a lift ticket for the day or a season pass. Depending on the mountain, lift tickets can be somewhere between $50 and $150. Sometimes they can be lower if you buy them later in the day. Season passes are considerably much more expensive, usually somewhere between $500 and $1500. They are convenient, usually letting you pass the long lines to buy passes, but are meant for those who go on a very regular basis. When considering buying a season pass, do the math. Find out how many times you would have to go for a season pass to be cheaper than the total cost of each individual lift ticket. If that number is around how many times you plan on going to that mountain in the year, than it is a good idea to get the season pass.
Lunch and Water Bottle from Home
If you’re on a budget, the best thing you can do for yourself is bring your own lunch to the mountain. There is always food provided for you in the mountain lodge, and while it is your prerogative to eat there, it is usually on the expensive side. In addition, the food choices usually aren’t the healthiest options. I recommend that you plan ahead and bring a bagged lunch of something simple but filling to get back those calories you burned on the slopes that day. And while it might not be as glamorous, growing up, nothing tasted better than a ham sandwich and goldfish shared with my dad after a long morning on the mountain. Having water on hand is also highly recommended. Staying hydrated is important in any physical activity. Hydration packs work great for when you don’t feel like carrying a water bottle in your jacket all day.
Hot Chocolate in a Thermos
This last one is not necessary for your trip to your local ski resort, but it’s always nice to finish your day on the hill only to come back to a thermos of hot cocoa waiting for you in your car.