Ski Gear Needs TLC, Too
Taos Ski Valley, NM – So I admit it, I’m guilty. At the end of the ski season in years’ past I may have randomly tossed my skis and boots into our office closet, grabbed my Frisbee golf discs, and shut the door. Sure, I’d completely ignore the gear that I maintained so carefully all winter, but just because my stuff didn’t see the light of day for seven months doesn’t mean I’m a bad person, right?
After talking with Daniel Aguilar, the Taos Ski Valley retail manager, I learned that while I’m not a bad person, I do have poor ski gear habits. Apparently I’m not alone. I’ve heard from many friends that they too are guilty of gear neglect. Determined to turn things around this summer, I’ve talked with my ski friends and some gear experts and we’ve identified some simple remedies for keeping ski equipment in top form.
- Stay Cool. It turns out I was on the right track with my closet ski-storage technique. The biggest thing to remember when storing your gear for the summer is that it should be kept in a cool, dry place, especially if you live where it is humid. Bindings and boots are made of plastic and should not get stored where it is really hot. Ski bases get dry from heat and the edges rust in a humid climate; so the hot garage is not a good home for your stuff in the off season. A closet is the best place if it is more or less kept at an even temperature. However if your only option is the garage, beware of creatures that may make a summer home in your boots. It’s a very cozy place to nest. Yuck.
- Boots. The key to keeping your boots in good shape is to store them buckled with the liners kept inside. This helps the liners keep their shape which you’ve worked hard to form to your feet.
- Lay it On Thick. At the end of a long season it’s important to bring your skis to a local ski shop to prep them for storage. Ask your shop to put a really thick coat of wax on your skis. This leaves a protective layer on the edges and seals the bases. Then just before your first day skiing next season, take them in to have the wax scraped off. While some people enjoy waxing and tuning their own skis, I wouldn’t recommend it. In my opinion it’s a great way to ruin your skis, unless you’re experienced. That is what ski shops are for── it is like changing your own oil. Save yourself some headaches and get it done right the first time by the pros.
- Bindings. While some people recommend that you get your binding loosened during the off season, other long-time skiers don’t see the value in it. Whether you loosen or not, we all agree that it’s important that you get your binding’s torque tested every fall before you use your skis for the fist time. Your weight could change; the bindings could adjust from heat fluctuations, or any number of factors. Regardless, better safe than sorry.
- Ski Apparel. Of course it’s not all about looking good on the hill, but it sure doesn’t hurt. Reward your favorite ski pants, jacket, and other synthetic clothing for a great season with a wash before you pack them away for the year. Some wash and spray-on cleaning and waterproofing favorites, include: Nikwax Tech Wash, Granger’s G-Wash Cleaner and Revivex.
- New Equipment. As I’m sure you’ve noticed summer is a good time to buy equipment because you can find great deals, however the selection can be pretty limited. If you ski less than 10 days a year, consider buying just boots. Having boots that fit well is paramount and they can often last you several years. Another factor to keep in mind when making the decision to purchase new gear is, ‘how much do I travel to ski?’ If you live in Dallas for example and routinely drive or fly to your favorite mountain, ski boots can be a great investment. Packing your boots and taking them with you for a ski trip is relatively easy, whereas schlepping your skis across country can be torture. And keep in mind that almost every ski area has a demo center where you can try out new ski models. This way you can always ski with the newest gear and it’s kept well tuned. The other plus to demoing skis is that you always have the right skis for the right conditions, i.e.: powder skis on powder days, (which you hope you need a lot), bump skis on the day you take a bump clinic, and race skis on the day you feel really really fast.
Neglect No More
While it’s true that today’s equipment requires little maintenance, taking a little extra care and effort with your skis, boots, and clothes will keep your gear in top-notch condition for many seasons.
Adriana Blake is the Marketing Director for Taos Ski Valley where she has been skiing and playing for 33 seasons. She is the granddaughter of Ernie Blake, a ski-industry legend who founded the ski area outside of Taos in Northern New Mexico in 1955. www.skitaos.org.