Call me a wuss, but until recently I was never someone who booted up in my car. Sure, I’ve seen people dancing around on one leg in ski area parking lots, trying to maneuver their boots on without getting their feet dirty or wet. But it’s never been me. If that means I’m not hard core or really a skier, so be it. I live and ski in Vermont. It gets brutally cold, and most every ski area around here has a nice, warm, dry lodge that’s the perfect place for putting on your boots. So unless you’re backcountry skiing, why not go ahead and use it?
Of course, all that’s changed now. Thanks to the pandemic, most — if not all — ski areas have told us to treat our cars as our private base lodges. Which means this person-who-never-booted-up-in-her-car has become a complete noob at getting ready, all over again.
To gain some insight into what works, and what doesn’t, I did what any self-respecting Ski Diva would do. I called on the collective wisdom of the Ski Diva community, and got some great tips on the best way to get ready in your car.
So here goes:
• Don’t put your boots in your trunk or the roof box. And don’t put them in the car the night before. They’ll be freezing cold. If possible, keep your boots right beside the heater outlet. Another alternative: bring your boots to the mountain in a heated boot bag, like Kulkea’s Thermal Trekker Boot Bag.
• Use an old mat or piece of carpet to stand on, if you’re booting up outside the car. It’ll keep your feet from getting dirty or wet.
• It depends on the how tall your vehicle is, and how tall you are, too. When I’m in my Impreza, I can use my open hatch like a bench, because my feet can easily reach the ground. When I’m in my Outback, I sit in my trunk/hatch and press my feet against the other side to put on my boots. Sometimes I’ll sit sideways in the passenger seat with my feet on the ground outside, or if it’s super cold and windy, I’ll slide the passenger seat back as far as it’ll go and boot up inside. If you’re short and drive a tall SUV, it might be easier to sit in a folding chair so you get the right leverage to get into your boots. Since I’ll typically lean against my car at some point, I like to keep a crappy old towel in my trunk to fold over the bumper so I don’t get road dirt all over myself.
• A little folding painting ladder or a step stool can make booting up in the lot a great deal easier. They’re firmer to sit on than a camp chair, so you don’t feel like you’re sinking down or your knees are folding up into your chest. Bonus: you can use them to stand on to reach your roof box.
• I usually boot up in car by pushing the driver’s seat back as far as it’ll go. I keep my boots on the floor of the passenger side of the car so they stay warm and soft, which makes them easier to put on. I also put my coat, gloves, and helmet on the passenger seat so I can put all of them on while I’m still in in the car.
• Before we leave the house, I open my hand warmers and drop them in my boots. Then I put my boot bag on the heated back seats. My boots are plenty warm when we arrive.
• If you’re gearing up by your trunk/back hatch, be sure to take note of the wind direction. This is important; if there’s a headwind, the door could hit you in the head!
• If it’s snowing and you’re getting ready outside, pull out only what you’ll be immediately putting on so it doesn’t fill with snow and get wet. This requires organizing everything at home so that your things come out in the order you want to put them on.
• Keep your boots under the seat with heat directed to the floor. Keep your jacket, helmet, and so on in a soft-sided freezer bag — the kind you use to carry frozen food. This will prevent anything from freezing if it gets cold.
• If you have kids, have them boot up at home. It’ll be a lot easier for all of you, once you get to the mountain.
• I bring puppy pee pads to line my trunk/boot tray to catch melting snow and dirt on my way home. I buy them from Costco ($16 for 100 pads).
• Don’t forget to use ski boot sole protectors when you walk to the lift, like Cat Tracks or YakTracks. They’ll provide some traction so you don’t slip on the ice or snow. And they’ll keep your soles from wearing down, so your boots will last longer.