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.
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.