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Gear Review: Renoun Z-90 Skis

Ulysses S. Grant

Ulysses S. Grant

The great Civil War general, Ulysses S. Grant, was famous for being unnaturally calm under pressure; the hotter the action, the cooler he became.

Today I’d like to introduce you to the Ulysses S. Grant of skis: Renoun’s Z-90.

A strange comparison, I know. So perhaps I better explain.

Renoun is the only company that makes its skis using a non-Newtonian polymer, incorporating it into a patented technology: HDT™, or Hyper Damping Technology™.  HDT doesn’t follow Sir Issac Newton’s Third Law of Motion, which states that for every action, there’s an equal or greater reaction. Instead, the HDT core minimizes chatter by constantly changing its density, adjusting in real time to the skier and snow conditions. So if you ski on hard snow, the ski actually becomes stiffer, more damp. And if you’re in soft conditions, it becomes softer, more flexible, and less damp. And it does all this in real time.

Hence the Ulysses S. Grant comparison: As the pressure amps up, the Z-90’s become steadier and more stable. Pretty cool, right?

Last year I tried Renoun’s Z-77’s, and I was sold. I believe the word I used was ‘exceptional.’ Here’s a recap of what I said in my review:

“These are skis that will make your ski day better than it’d be if you were skiing something else. Skis that will make you grin. Skis that will make you fall in love with skiing all over again. And really, you can’t beat that.”

Fast forward to this year. Renoun offered to send me the Z-90’s, and believe me, I was excited.

First, a bit about me:

Size: 5’1″, 112 lbs
Skier type: Advanced
Where I ski: Mostly in Vermont. Which means I see it all: a lot of ice (AKA hard pack), packed powder, sometimes powder on top of ice , and once in a while — but not too often — some actual powder.

And now, the Z-90’s:

157 mm, 136/90/124
Core: Canadian Maple and 8-layers of HDT™ inlays (15% core volume).
Reinforcement: Carbon fiber, metal and tri-axial fiberglass


So do these skis deliver?

You know what I said about the Z-77’s? I could do a cut and paste here. The Z-90’s provide the same smooth, stable, smile-inducing ride I enjoyed before, without being dull and damp. The condition of the snow doesn’t matter. They transition smoothly from hard snow to soft in a heartbeat, without either bucking you around or feeling dead. The company says HDT reduces vibration by 300%. I don’t know if that’s the exact number, but I will say this: these are skis that will make you fall in love with skiing all over again.

How are they different from the Z-77’s?

It’s a matter of dimensions. The Z-77’s are narrower, measuring 123/77/111. So their ride is a bit different. Let me put it this way: the 77 is a sports car, perfect for groomer zoomers when you want to carve, carve, carve. Sure, you can take it off piste or into the powder. But it’s still a 77-waist ski, and it behaves like one. The 90’s are dimensionally larger, so they’re more of an SUV.  You can take them anywhere, though they’re still easy to turn and get on edge. I had them on hard pack, in 6 inches of powder,  in pushed up piles, in powder with ice underneath — it didn’t matter. Wherever these skis go, whatever they do, they perform.

I’m actually smiling as I write this. They’re that good.

An unmatched guarantee.

No, you can’t get the Z-90’s in a store. Actually, you can’t get any Renoun ski in any store. They’re only available on line at the company’s website. And though Renoun used to hold demos at ski resorts from time to time, they’ve decided to concentrate their efforts on getting skis out the door instead of schlepping them from one ski resort to another.

So what’s a skier to do?

Order them. Because if you don’t like them for any reason — and you have 100 days to decide if that’s the case — you can send them back and Renoun will give you a full refund. I don’t know any other ski company that does this. You have absolutely nothing to lose.

So what’d you think, Ski Diva?

I hereby pronounce The Z-90’s the perfect East Coast ski. They can rip the corduroy, handle the ice, take you through chopped up stuff, powder, trees, you name it, like a champ. They’re agile yet stable, lively yet smooth. The Z-90 is a one-ski quiver any eastern Ski Diva would be happy to own — and I’ll bet a lot of western Ski Divas, too. Take a look at the picture below. My smile says it all.

Me and my new best friends, the Renoun Z-90's.

Me and my new best friends, the Renoun Z-90’s.


© 2018,  TheSkiDiva.com. All rights reserved. Any use or publication of content, including photos, requires express permission.

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Got cold feet? Here’s what to do.

I’m not talking about being too afraid to do something, as in “I was going to huck the cornice but I got cold feet.”  I’m being a bit more literal here. As in “My feet feel like they’re encased in ice; I have to go inside right now to warm up.”

A real wet blanket on a great ski day. And no, not an actual wet blanket.

Cold toes can be a bummer, but there are things you can do to keep them warm. (I’ll fill you in on my super-effective-OMG, it’s minus 20 and my feet are still warm-combo later.)

So let’s start from the top.

Make sure your boots fit: Believe it or not, cold feet can be caused by ill-fitting boots. Something could be cutting off your circulation, and determining if that’s the cause is a worthwhile endeavor. A good boot fitter can  help.

Wear proper socks: I know it seems counter-intutive, but thicker socks will not make you warmer. All they’ll do is 1) make your feet sweat, which will make your feet colder, or 2) bunch up in  your boots and either give you blisters or  interfere with your boot fit, thereby cutting off your circulation and making your feet colder (see above). You really want a thin ski sock. Trust me on this. And be sure to avoid cotton. Cotton stays damp. You want socks made out of merino wool.

Keep your boots dry and warm: This is pretty obvious, but if you store your boots in the car overnight, they’re going to be plenty cold when you put them on in the morning. So keep them inside. Also, dry your boots out from one use to the next. Sweat can make the liners damp, and once again, a damp boot is a cold boot. Use either a boot drier or remove the liners to dry. But let’s say you do leave your boots in the car overnight (hey, everyone makes mistakes). Here’s a tip: stick a couple hand warmers in each toe for a quick warm up. And an extra boost, put them next to a heater for a few minutes.

Keep your feet dry, too: Dry feet are warmer feet. I spray mine with anti-perspirant before I head out to ski. Not only are they drier, but they don’t stink, either. :)   I also wear different socks over to the mountain, and put on my ski socks right before I put on my boots. Some folks even change their socks at lunch, to keep their feet extra dry.

Heat your feet: Heaters can do a lot to keep your toes toasty. You use use either disposable heaters that stick to your socks or the interior of your boot (some people swear these work better when they’re stuck to the underside of a boot glove; I’ll talk about these next). Or you can use a  battery-operated heater, like Hotronics. The former are very cheap, the latter, not very. The way you go is up to you. I prefer the latter.

Wear Boot Gloves: If you thought gloves were just for your hands, think again. Boot Gloves are neoprene covers that fit over the outside of your boots. Added bonus: they keep your boots drier and prevent snow from invading any cracks, too.

Replace the liners: Some boot liners just aren’t that warm. You can replace yours with a custom moldable liner, such as those made by Intuition. Not only do they keep your feet warmer, but they feel great, too.

Keep your core warm: The warmer your core, the less blood flow you’ll need to keep it warm. Which means more blood flow to your extremities — your hands and feet. So wear those extra layers and that warm jacket. It’ll help your feet.

Any one of these things may work for you. Or more than one. Which leads me to my extra-special-heavy-duty-works-like-a-charm method for warm feet. I’ve had success with this even in temperatures down to -20°F: I dry my boots each night, keep my boots indoors, and even spray my feet with anti-perspirant. On top of that, I use the triple threat: battery-operated heaters, Intuition Liners, and Boot Gloves. Okay, maybe it seems like overkill. But if my feet don’t get cold in those conditions, they ain’t never going to be cold.

Remember, dry feet are happy feet. And happy feet love to ski.

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Gear Review: Chaval SuperNova Heated Gloves

You’ll have to forgive me. I know I posted my holiday gift guide a couple weeks ago, but that was before I had the chance to review the SuperNova heated glove from Chaval Outdoor. The upshot: I need to amend the list. Because if you’re looking for a gift that’ll warm the heart – and the hands – of any skier on your list, you need to consider the SuperNova.

Chaval isn’t the biggest glove company on the planet, but they’ve been making waves in the heated glove category since they first came on the scene six years ago. Located in the Seattle area, the company was founded by two high tech guys who are avid skiers and outdoorsmen. I first learned about them in 2013, when they sent me a pair of their XRT gloves to review. Right away I was a convert. You see, even though I love to ski, I hate being cold — and I get cold pretty easily. I suffer from Raynaud Syndrome, which means my hands and feet are profoundly affected by cold temperatures. It’s really unpleasant, so I do as much as I can to keep them warm. My usual solution had been really warm mittens, glove liners, and hand warmers. Effective, but pretty bulky. Let me put it this way: The XRT gloves were a godsend.

Fast forward to this year: Once again, I was contacted by Chaval. The company had a new heated glove, and would I be interested in giving it a try?

Lord, yes. And I’m glad I did.

Right out of the box

Right out of the box

The technology
Conventional heated gloves pretty much operate the same way. Think about the old electric blankets of the 70’s and 80’s, which were powered by a network of heating wires and controlled by a switch with three heat levels. Conventional heated gloves use this same principle. Chaval, however, decided to toss out the wires and replace them with a paper-thin nanotech polymer heating film. This polymer film has a proprietary molecular ‘programming’ that allows it to self-regulate heat output and maintain an even temperature in each finger and thumb. So instead of requiring you to regulate the heat levels by constantly adjusting them up or down, Chaval’s technology does it for you, automatically. Pretty slick. Extra bonus: the film is considerably less bulky and easier to flex. So you get better dexterity, too.

The glove
While the technology for the SuperNova and the XRT are pretty much the same – oh, there’ve been some refinements since the pair I received in 2013 – the biggest difference is the glove itself. First, the sizing. As much as I loved the XRT, the glove, even in the extra-small size, was simply too large for me. That’s because it was sized for men’s hands, and an XS men’s is not the same as an XS women’s. The extra-small in the SuperNova fits me perfectly. Second, the SuperNova is made entirely from goat skin — no synthetic materials on the shell at all — which amps it up from a lot of the other gloves on the market. It also makes it softer and more supple than the XRT (which is made with cowhide), which means it has a shorter break-in period and just feels great.

Some of the other features include:

The "C" lights up when the heat is on.

The “C” lights up when the heat is on.

• One touch technology: There’s only one button to deal with – an on-off switch. Hold it down for 3 seconds, and the glove comes on (the “C” on the outside of the glove lights up). Hold it down for three more seconds, and it goes off. This prevents you from turning it on or off accidentally and draining the battery.
• Wrist straps. You may think this seems like a trivial matter, but not to me.  I need straps on so I don’t drop my gloves if or when I take them off on the lift, something I’m in mortal terror of doing.
• No batteries. This is a biggie. Instead of bulky batteries, each glove features connectors that attach to an exterior power supply for charging. A full charge takes from 5-7 hours. When you’re ready to use them, simply disconnect from the charger, latch the connectors together, and you’re ready to go. Pretty idiot proof.
• Built in drying system: The charging system doesn’t just charge the glove; it also acts to dry the liner. This means the gloves are comfortable when they’re ready to use, and prevents bacteria from growing in the glove.
• Reinforced fingers: The gloves have extra padding that extends up each finger and thumb.  This makes them sturdier and improves wearability.
• Warm interior liner. Even with the heating element off, these are nice, soft warm gloves.

So cut to the chase. How long will the heat last? 
A good question. After all, the whole point of these gloves is to heat up and keep you warm. According to Chaval, the SuperNova lasts three times longer than other heated gloves on the market. Company co-founder and managing partner, Mark Boone, says that though other gloves promise 2 to 8 or 10 hours of run-time, this is misleading. “Only their highest heat level setting will produce an effective level of heat, and the run-time at that level is only about 1-1/2 to 2 hours. In the very coldest conditions, our gloves will produce an effective level of heat for a minimum of 4 hours. In warmer conditions, up to 6 hours of run-time.”

Is this true? I have to be honest: I can’t say for sure because I haven’t been out more than 4 hours at a time, and the temps haven’t been lower than the teens. That said, the gloves stayed on for as long as I was out, and generated a nice level of warmth. My hands were not cold. At all.

A couple things to consider
First, a word about care. The gloves are treated to be water-resistant and have a waterproof breathable lining beneath the leather to protect both the technology and your hands. But Chaval also includes a special waterproofing treatment along with your order, and provides very specific instructions on how to apply it.  I strongly suggest you use it to optimally protect the leather from moisture and abrasion, and preserve the overall condition of your gloves.

Second, cost. The SuperNova gloves are not cheap, but that’s pretty much the case with all heated gloves.

So what’d you think, Ski Diva?
I liked these gloves. A lot. They’re comfortable, fit well, and are extremely well made. I liked them even when the heat was off, and when it’s on, wow. Just wow. I wish I could fit my entire body in these gloves. But since I can’t, I’ll just have to settle for my hands.

Bottom line:

If you’re like me and cold hands can really hamper your enjoyment of the day and effect how long you stay out, these are definitely a worthwhile investment. 

Two ski poles up.

For more, go to ChavalUSA.com

UPDATE, JANUARY 4, 2018: We’ve been having an incredible cold snap here in Vermont, with temps below zero and wind chills you don’t even want to think about. I’ve been using the SuperNova, and I’m pleased to report that these gloves absolutely rock! My hands have stayed warm in the most severe conditions. I know I recommended them before, but I double recommend them now! They’re that amazing.

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Ski Diva Holiday Gift Guide, 2017

Unless you’ve been waaaay out in the backcountry and completely cut off from any sort of civilization, you know that the holiday season is upon us.  Sure, there’s been Christmas stuff in stores since even before Halloween, and though IMHO that was wildly inappropriate, I think it’s safe to say the shopping season has begun.

So what do you say, Divas? Have you been naughty or nice? If it’s the latter, here are a few things you might want to put on your list. And if it’s the former, well, you still need to buy gifts for the other Ski Divas in your life. So here are a few things I’ve come across that you might want to consider:


Mountain Khakis Teton Market Tote

Teton Market Tote

Teton Market Tote

If you can’t go to the mountain, why not bring the mountain with you? Mountain Khakis is offering this limited edition Market Tote that’s perfect for carting your stuff, wherever you go. Rugged and water resistant, it features recycled climbing rope handles (each is unique).


Sorel Tivoli III Boot

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Why can’t all snow boots be this cute? Sorel’s Tivoli III boot is the perfect combination of warmth, water resistance, and style. I love the black and red plaid; sort of lumber-jackish, don’t you think?


Personal Prints Ski Name Art

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Now here’s something that’s a bit unique: Wall art that uses ski-themed letters to spell out a first name, last name, or any word of your choice! It popped up on my Facebook theme, and I thought, gee, that’s cool! From Personal Prints.


Women’s Ski Clinic


This is a great gift for anyone who wants to improve their skiing. And after all, who doesn’t? Give them the gift of a women’s ski clinic. I did a blog post a few weeks ago where I listed tons of them throughout the country. So take a look and give someone the gift of lessons!


Kulkea Micro Day Pack


I recently reviewed Kulkea’s Micro Day Pack and can’t recommend it highly enough for days on the hill. Its low profile, well thought out design provides places for all the stuff you might need for your ski day. From Kulkea.


Astis Mittens

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So who here is sick and tired of plain old black mittens? Yep, me, too. That’s one of the reasons Astis mittens are so appealing. I mean, look at these. They’re gorgeous. Every pair is hand made of natural materials and lined with dry-wicking Polartec® Thermal Pro® High Loft. I have lusted after these for years. Maybe one day Santa will bring me a pair.


Slalom Half-Zip Baselayer Hoody


Slalom Half-Zip Baselayer Hoody

Baselayers don’t have to be boring, and his one from TitleNine sure isn’t. The Slalom Half-Zip Baselayer Hoody features panels of 240 g jacquard knit with 4-way stretch 180 g knit side panels for ventilation.


Prêt Lyric X Helmet

Pret Helmet

Pret Helmet

Pret Helmets gets its name from the French word for ready, as in ready to go, and any Ski Diva with one of these will be ready to go down the hill — tout suite (French for right away). I have a Pret helmet and I love it. Not only is it low profile and light weight, but it features MIPS technology, which helps reduce rotational forces on the brain caused by angled impacts to the head. It also has plenty of venting and removable cloth ear pieces, and comes in a variety of colors. And it’s cute, too.


Chips 2.0 Bluetooth Speakers

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A great solution to messing with your head phone cable, Outdoor Tech’s CHIPS 2.0 speakers can be used with nearly any audio compatible helmet to stream music from any Bluetooth audio device. There’s also a push-to-talk function and a microphone so you can answer your phone without taking off your gloves.


Ugg Wrin Slipper

Wrin Slipper

Wrin Slipper

Warm feet are happy feet, and the Wrin slipper from Ugg will keep you plenty warm. Made of sheepskin and water-resistant suede, it features a rubber outsole, too.


Lego Snow Resort Ski Lift


This may be for kids, but aren’t we all kids during the holidays?  The Lego Snow Resort Ski Lift  lets you build your own resort and features a ski lift with a winch function, a ski slope with slide function, mountaintop restaurant, rock climbing wall, bear cub cave, equipment hire stand and trail map stand.  Watch out, Vail! There’s a new ski area in the mountains!





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16 quick tips for a better ski day


The Princess and the Pea

You know the story The Princess and the Pea? It’s about how one little thing — a pea under a mattress — ruined an entire night’s sleep for an aspiring princess. The takeaway: sometimes minor things can have a major impact. This can be true for your ski day, too. So with that in mind, I thought I’d share some little things you can do to make your ski day a whole lot better.

Plan ahead for lift ticket deals: I don’t need to tell you how expensive lift tickets are. The walk-up window rate at Vail last season was $175.  That’s nose bleed territory. Sure, you can save a lot with a season pass. But if you don’t have one, don’t despair. You can save a lot if you…..
• Buy though a discount site like Liftopia;
• Buy off mountain at a place like Costco, a grocery store, or a local ski shop. Every resort has different discount outlets, so check around;
• Belong to a ski club. These can be a great source for low price tickets;
• Buy in advance at the resort’s web site.

Make sure you have everything you need before you leave the house. Then check again. I used to work in a ski shop at a resort, and I can’t tell you how many times people came in because they’d left their jackets/pants/socks/gloves at home. Trust me, your life will be so much easier — and so much less expensive — if you check and check again before you leave your house (and the car, too).

Eat a good breakfast. This isn’t always easy, particularly if you’re pressed for time and anxious to get on the road. But trust me; it’ll pay off. According to Diana Sugiuchi of Vertical Drop Nutrition, breakfast provides the fuel you need for a good ski day. “Our blood sugar drops overnight, which means that muscles and brain don’t have the glucose they need to function optimally,” she explained. “The only way to get this fuel is to eat a carbohydrate-rich breakfast, combined with some protein for staying power and not a lot of fat, since that slows you down.” What makes a good ski breakfast? Diana recommends oatmeal with yogurt, raisins and nuts, or eggs and a few pieces of whole grain toast with jam. And as a follow up to this…..

Bring along some snacks. Stash some in your pocket. You’re going to need a boost during the day. Here, Diana recommends carbohydrates with a little bit of protein, like PB & J on whole grain. Cut it up, put it in a plastic bag in your pocket. Easy, peasy.

Dress in layers. I get cold pretty easily. And once I’m cold, well, that’s pretty much it for me. So I dress in layers. It’s much easier to take something off than to be caught without a layer to put on.

Change your socks when you put on your boots: Wet feet are cold feet. So don’t start out with socks that are already damp with sweat. Your feet will stay warmer if you put on your ski socks at the same time you put on your boots.

Check your zippers before you begin. Are they all done up? Are the vents in your helmet closed? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve inadvertently skied with my pit zips open, and I couldn’t figure out why I was so cold. As part of this, close your powder skirt, too. It’s not just for chest deep powder; it helps keep the cold out.

Carry a map. Say you want to be waaaaaaaay over here on the mountain, and you end up waaaaaaay over there. Or say you want to ski blues, and you end up in a spot where there are nothing but double blacks. Keep a map handy so you can get where you want to go.

Put the number for the ski patrol in your cell phone. Just in case. Because you never know. And as part of that….

Keep your cell phone warm. Your cell phone battery drains a lot faster when it’s cold. So carry it in an inner pocket, maybe even next to a small heat pack. Even better, keep a charger in the lodge so you can re-charge your phone at lunch.

Use sunscreen. And lip balm. You gotta protect your skin. According to the Skin Care Foundation, skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. More than 3.5 million skin cancers in more than 2 million people are diagnosed annually. And it’s getting worse. According to the Foundation, a new study reveals an alarming rise in melanoma among people aged 18 to 39. Over the past 40 years, rates of this potentially deadly skin cancer grew by 800 percent among young women and 400 percent among young men.

Avoid the crowds. Timing can be everything, so plan your ski day accordingly. Eat lunch either very early or very late. The trick is to stay on the hill when everyone else is in the cafeteria for their mid-day break.

Carry hand warmers. Or glove liners. or both. My hands get cold really easily, so for me, these can make the difference between staying out and skiing or heading into the lodge.

Go on a mountain tour: Many resorts offer these for free, and and they’re a great way to get oriented and discover great places to ski. If you’re skiing somewhere new, go for it!

Don’t drink and drive. Apres ski is a great way to unwind. But think ahead. Don’t ruin the day by drinking too much and pulling a DUI on the way home. Or even worse, getting into an accident. Drink responsibly or don’t drink at all, if you have to drive.

Remember to have fun. Sometimes we forget the essential element in skiing: having a good time. So don’t let the little things — even a little annoyance — prevent you from enjoying the day. And if you get to the point that it’s not fun anymore, call it a day. Go home. There’s always tomorrow.



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Ski Swaps, ’17-’18

We all know that ski gear ain’t cheap. If you have to have the latest and greatest, then sure, there’s no denying that’s true. But there are definitely ways to save, and one of the best is buying second-hand at ski swaps. Swaps are a great way to enjoy new-to-you gear without doing too much damage to your wallet.


You can find ski swaps just about everywhere: ski resorts, ski clubs, high schools, and colleges. Swap season usually starts in the fall, so keep your eyes open; chances are there’s one near you.

To make your search a bit easier, here’s a list of some of the swaps you’ll find in the months ahead. Know of any that aren’t listed? Post ’em in the comments section:


Sept 22-23: Potter Bros. Ski Swap, Fishkill, NY

Sept 29-30, Oct 1: Potter Bros. Ski Swap, Kingston, NY

Sept 29-Oct 1: Pico Ski Swap, Pico Mountain, VT

Oct 5-9: Wachusett Mountain Ski & Snowboard Swap, Wachusett, MA

Oct 7: Ski Butternut Ski Swap, Great Barrington, MA

Oct 7-8: BBTS Ski Swap, Waterville Valley, NH

Oct 6-7: Killington Ski Club Ski Swap, Killington, VT

Oct. 18-19: Bousquet Mountain, Bousquet Lodge, Pittsfield, MA

Oct 21-22: Great American Ski & Snowboard Sale, Mount Peter, Warwick, NY

Oct 29: Greek Peak Hops & Swaps, Cortland, NY

Nov 3-5: Sundown Ski Patrol Ski Swap, New Hartford, CT

Nov 4: Gunstock Ski Club Swap, Gilford, NH

Nov 24-26: Pat’s Peak Ski Team Ski & Snowboard Sale, Henniker, NH

Nov 6: Brunswick Ski Swap, Brunswick, ME

Nov 15-19: Ski Haus Ski Swap, Brewster, NY

Nov 18-20: OMS Ski Swap & Sale, Okemo Mountain, Ludlow, VT

Nov 19-20: Cambridge Rotary Ski Swap & Sale, Jeffersonville, VT

Jan 7-8: Skirack ski swap, Burlington, VT


Oct 7-8: Mt. Pleasant Ski Swap, Cambridge Springs, PA

Oct 7-8, Nov 4-5: Alpine Ski Swap, Sterling, VA

Oct 11-14: Buckman’s Tent & Ski Swap, All stores, PA

Nov 4-5: Ski Roundtop Mega Sale, Lewisberry, PA

Nov 24: Wintergreen Ski Swap, Wintergreen, WV


Sept 29-Oct 1: Buck Hills Ski Swap, Burnsville, MN

Oct 6-7: Welch Village Fall Ski Swap & Sale, Welch, MN

Sept 30-Oct 1: Granite Peak Ski Swap, Wausau, WI

Oct 7: Harbor Springs Ski Team Ski Swap, Nub’s Nob, MI

Oct 7: Skitoberfest, Boyne Mtn Resort, MI

Oct 7-8: Wild Mountain Open House & Swap, Wild Mountain, MN

Oct 6-8 & 13-15: Afton Alps Ski Swap, Hastings, MN

Oct 9-15: Boston Mills/Brandywine/Alpine Valley Ski Patrol Ski Swap, Peninsula, OH

Oct 13-14: Mt Kato Ski Patrol Ski Swap, Lake Crystal, MN

Oct 20-22: Giants Ridge Ski Swap, Biwabik, MN

Oct 27-28: Team Duluth Ski Swap, Duluth, MN

Oct 28: Ski Swap at Crystal Mountain, Thompsonville, MI

Oct. 28: Chestnut Mountain’s Open House and Ski Swap, Galena, IL

Nov 4: Snowstar Winter Park Ski Swap, Andalusia, IL

Nov 11: Central Wisconsin Ski & Sport Swap, Stevens Point, WI

Nov 11: Pioneer Ski Swap, Osseo, MN


Sept 22-24: Snowbird Sports Education Foundation Ski & Snowboard Swap, Snowbird, UT

Oct 7-8 & Nov 19-20: Larson’s Ski Swap, Wheat Ridge, CO

Oct 14-15: Winter Park Ski & Snowboard Swap, Winter Park, CO

Oct 22: Sac State Ski Swap, Sacramento, CA

Oct 20-21: Vail Ski Swap, Vail, CO

Oct 27-29: Sandia Ski Patrol Ski Swap,  Albuquerque, NM

Oct 21: Jackson Hole Ski Club Swap, Jackson, WY

Oct 28: San Ramon Valley High School Ski & Snowboard Swap, Danville, CA

Nov 3-4: City of Loveland Annual Ski & Sports Swap, Loveland CO

Nov 3-4, Red Lodge Ski Swap, Red Lodge, MT

Nov 4: Truckee Ski and Snowboard Swap, Truckee, CA

Nov 4-5: Bridger Foundation Ski Swap, Bozeman, MT

Nov 11-12 & 18-19: Helm of Sun Valley’s Ski Swap, San Mateo, CA

Nov 17-20: Ski Dazzle, Los Angeles, CA

TBD: University of Nevada Ski Swap, Reno, NV


Oct 14: Skyliners Winter Sports Swap, Bend, OR

Oct 21: 49° North Ski Swap, Chewelah, WA

Oct 22: Leavenworth Gear & Ski Swap, Leavenworth, WA

Oct 19-22: Corvallis Ski Swap, Coravallis, OR

Oct 26-28: Eugene Ski Swap, Eugene, OR

Oct 28-29: Mt. Spokane Ski Swap, Spokane Valley, WA

Nov 3-5: Ski Fever & Snowboard Show’s Ski Swap, Portland, OR

Nov 3-5: Bogus Basin Ski Swap, Boise, ID

Nov 4: Lookout Pass Ski Patrol Swap, Coeur D’Alene, ID

Nov 10-11: Newport Ski Swap, Bellevue, WA

Nov 11: Schweizer Alpine Racing School Ski Swap, Sandpoint, ID


Oct 6-29: Canada’s Largest Ski & Snowboard Swap, Toronto, ON

Oct 20-22: Calgary Ski Swap and Sale, Calgary, AB

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Do you need new gear? Here’s how to tell.

Hard to believe it’s almost Labor Day. And what does that mean, Ski Divas?



Yep, there are a lot of great deals on ski gear over the holiday weekend. So how can you tell if you need something new?

Note I said need instead of want. Want is something entirely different. Plenty of us want something even though our equipment is perfectly fine. Maybe we think it’ll improve our skiing under certain conditions. Maybe there’s a new technology that promises to turn our world upside down. Maybe we’re just plain bored and have enough disposable income to say what they hell, I’m going for it.

All that’s fine. After all, there’s nothing wrong with expanding your gear closet just because you want to.

But I’m talking need here. How do you know your ski equipment is safe? If it can still give you the same great performance that stole your heart at the very beginning?

Here are a few things you should look at:

Skis: Like everything else, ski performance diminishes over time. A ski with 80 days on it won’t feel the same as it did the first day out. The wood inside will lose its snap, the fiberglass break down and become less rigid, the edges lose their grip. Regular maintenance helps, of course, but time and use do take their toll. Give your skis a good inspection. Are the top layers delaminating? Are the edges pulling away from the top layers? Damage like this lets water seep into the core, which can cause it to rot and swell. Now check the bases: are there gouges and nicks? These can hurt your skis’ performance. What about the camber, the portion of the ski that arches into the air? Is it starting to flatten out? If that’s the case, your ski will lose its ‘pop’ and be less responsive than it was in the past.

Some pretty bad edge damage here.

Some pretty bad edge damage here.

If you’re skiing’s improved, you may need new skis, too. Did you buy beginner skis and now find they’re chattering? Do they feel noodley? Are they refusing to go faster? You may be in need of an upgrade.

Bindings: These are hard to separate from skis, but still, don’t forget to take them into consideration. Each year manufacturers release a list of  indemnified bindings, or bindings that they continue to support. If a binding doesn’t make the list, the manufacturer no longer backs it. This is important because most retailers won’t service a binding that’s not indemnified. How do you know if your binding is on the list? Bring your bindings to your ski shop for an inspection and a tune-up. They’ll let you know.

Boots: Depending on how much abuse they’ve had, most ski boots in the $399 – $599 range will last about 120 days of skiing. For maximum performance, your boot should fit like a snug handshake. But if your foot is moving around a lot, your boot may be packed out and ready to be replaced. Check your boots’ sole, too. A toe or heel that’s too worn will allow too much movement in the binding. This can cause you to release when you don’t want to. And that can be dangerous.

Helmets: I know, your helmet looks great. But manufacturers agree that a helmet must be replaced after a significant impact or collision. Even if you haven’t had a crash, they also recommend replacing it every 3 to 5 years. Why? The useful life of a ski helmet with an EPS liner varies based on use. The outdoor, dry environment in which helmets are used can cause the liner to deteriorate. Storing it in a humid environment like a basement can cause it to degrade, too. Bottom line: if there’s any question, get a new helmet. Your head is worth it.



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What to do with your old skis.

Got some old skis you don’t know what to do with?

You have plenty of options:

• You could sell them on ebay or at a ski swap;
• You could pass them along to someone who needs them;
• You could do something that I think is super cool: repurpose them into amazing items you can use around the house.

I love the last idea. Parting with skis isn’t always easy, particularly if they took you through some really great times. I mean, why abandon an old friend, just because something new comes along? This way, you don’t have to. You can keep them around to remind you of the great times you had, yet enjoy them in an entirely different way.

The off season is a prime time for ski-related crafts. I found a number of terrific ideas on the web you might want to try your hand at. Take a look:















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Announcing TheSkiDiva’s Best of the Year: Our 2017 Mountain Top Picks

It’s the season for awards. This past weekend the US Ski Hall of Fame inducted its Class of 2016, which included three women: Ellen Post Foster, Marion Post Caldwell, and Gretchen Rous Besser (for more about them and the other inductees, go here). Congratulations, one and all.

MTP-2017But that’s not the only award that’s being handed out right now. Because at TheSkiDiva, we’ve come up with our Mountain Top Picks — our selections of the best of the best in skiing for the past year. Sure, there’s no fancy-dancy ceremony, no gold statuette, and no certificate with ornate Latin script. And no, you won’t see any celebrities posing on a red carpet with paparazzi taking pics. Instead, our winners just get the satisfaction of knowing they’re a favorite of all of us at TheSkiDiva.com — which by itself, is pretty darn cool. And yes, they can even use the logo here, if they want. S’okay.

So now, for your reading pleasure, here are TheSkiDiva.com’s Mountain Top Picks for 2017:

[Drum roll here]

Ski Gear
Favorite ski for groomers: Volkl Kenja
Favorite ski for deep snow: Nordica Santa Ana
Favorite all mountain ski: Blizzard Black Pearl
Favorite ski boot brand: Lange
Favorite Ski Goggle: Smith IO/S*
Favorite Helmet Brand: Smith Vanage


Favorite Helmet Brand: Smith Vantage Helmet

Ski Apparel
Favorite Brand of Baselayers:  Smartwool
Favorite Brand of Socks: Smartwool*
Favorite Jacket Brand: The North Face
Favorite Brand of Ski Pants: Arc’teryx*

Favorite Base Layer: Smartwool

Smartwool Base Layer

Ski Resorts
Favorite Eastern Resort: Sugarbush
Favorite Western Resort: Mammoth
Favorite Resort, eastern Canada: Mont Tremblant*
Favorite Resort, western Canada: Whistler-Blackcomb*
Favorite European Resort: St. Anton
Favorite Women’s Clinic: Okemo Mountain Resort
Favorite Kids Program: Smugglers Notch

Favorite Eastern Resort: Sugarbush


*Second win in a row! For a list of our 2015 Mountain Top Picks, go here.

Congratulations to all!

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Gear Review: Kulkea Tandem Ski Duffle

I’m often asked to do product reviews. Which is fine, except when there’s a product I really can’t use. Enter Kulkea Tandem Ski Boot Duffle, a bag especially designed to hold kids ski gear.

You see, I don’t have any little kids. So to do the job properly, I called upon Emily Bryk, a mother of two who has lots to carry to the ski hill. Emily agreed to put the bag to the test, and here’s what she had to say:

When you’re skiing with young children, a lot of the challenges have very little to do with what happens on the hill. There are the snacks. There are the bathroom breaks. Adjusting the boots. Adjusting the boots again. But for me, one of the hardest things is just managing all the gear. The most difficult part about a ski day is sometimes getting to the mountain in the first place.

My 5 year old son has been skiing for two years now. He’s excited about skiing and, in the manner of all kindergarteners, he’s very confident, but he’s still a little guy and he can’t yet be relied upon to pack or to haul his own equipment. My daughter is two and this winter was her first time trying out skis. She’s just going out on some little Lucky Bums toy skis, but she wants to keep up with her big brother. Between the two of them, I’m swamped before my husband and I even start to pack up our own things.

Enter Kulkea’s Tandem boot duffle bag. This bag makes everything easier. It’s a double duffle, large enough to hold two kids’ ski gear and with enough specialized storage to keep everyone organized all day long.

Kulkea (the company name comes from the Finnish verb “to go,” appropriately enough) has designed exactly the bag that every ski parent needs. When I started to open up the Tandem, I understood why: the cooler top means that the entire top of the bag opens, which allows access to every part of the bag. No more twisting and angling to fit boots or helmets and no more wondering exactly which wrinkle the chapstick fell into. With the entire bag opened up wide, it’s easy to load up fast and to check out your gear at a glance.

Kulkea Tandem Bag, all packed and ready to go.

Kulkea Tandem Bag, all packed and ready to go.

And there’s a lot you’ll want to keep track of inside the Tandem. This bag is B-I-G. It holds a startling 64 liters – that’s 13” tall, 32” long, and 12” wide. It could be easy to lose things in that amount of space, but it’s not. The bag has four large interior compartments. Two are designed to hold helmets and boots (they’re ventilated, thank goodness!), and two more designed to hold snowpants, extra layers, and other clothing. On top of that, the lid has two mesh pockets, perfect for smaller items like hats, gloves, or (if you’re me) snacks.

As I was loading the Tandem, I worried that all the gear packed inside would make it too difficult to carry. Honestly, though, this isn’t a problem. The adjustable shoulder strap is padded enough to distribute the load nicely, and the messenger-style structure kept it easy to carry.

In fact, this bag is so big that I used it for my gear as well as my kids’! The Tandem is so adaptable that it got all three of us to the mountain. While the bag promises to fit only boots up to 22.5, I actually fit my 24s in there without a hitch. Want to know how much I could carry?

  • 1 pair of women’s boots in a size 24
  • 1 pair of kids’ boots in a size 19
  • Three (three!) helmets: two kids’ and one adult
  • Three pairs of goggles
  • Three pairs of mittens
  • One pair of toddler snowpants
  • Sandwiches, oranges, and bananas for one and all
  • Gaiters

On the way home from the mountain, things got even better. Those boot compartments? They have grommets for drainage, so damp boots don’t stay damp for long.

So do you need a Tandem? If you have small kids, absolutely. This bag’s size and features make it easy to pack, easy to carry, and easy to organize. I’m not going skiing without it.

Emily with her Kulkea Tandem Bag.

Emily with her Kulkea Tandem Bag.

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