Before it snows, take a close look at your gear and ask yourself “Should I chuck, share, replace or repair’”. If you are not sure then, this article is for you.
SKIS, SNOWBOARDS AND BINDINGS
Carefully inspect all of your skis and snowboard, paying attention to the bases, bindings and edges. For adults and teens who have stopped growing, wear and tear will be more of an issue than length.
If your child is still growing, ask him or her to stand next to their equipment. The ski or snowboard tips should reach between your child’s forehead and chin. If so, they still fit.
Skis or snowboards that are too short are better for most kids than skis that are too long.
The average lifespan of skis is between 80-100 ski days. While younger children rarely get this much use on their equipment, it’s not inconceivable that older kids and adults will wear their equipment out within a few seasons. Old bindings are also an issue, as shops will not adjust or work on bindings that are considered too old. If you are unsure about your bindings, check with a shop tech.
If your children have outgrown their lightly used equipment, trade it with other families or sell them on consignment or at swaps meets.
Save money by buying last season’s models. If you want to buy used gear, look out for edges that are too thin to sharpen, significant base damage and old bindings.
At a minimum, take all of your equipment for a tune-up and fresh wax. The shop may recommend other repairs.
With proper care and minor in-home repair, ski poles can last a lifetime.
If the poles are clearly broken or bent significantly, they’re done.
As with skis, children’s poles can be passed on and shared with siblings and other families. Remember, however, that most young children and beginners won’t use poles until they’ve been skiing for a while.
Place poles upside down next to your child and ask him to grip the pole just above the basket. Ideally, his arm will be bent at 90º. If the angle is wider than this (meaning the poles are too short), it’s time for new poles.
Missing baskets can be inexpensively replaced, likewise broken or frayed straps. A bit of muscle will straighten minor bends, while duct tape can cover and reinforce dings.
First, see if the boots fit. While you might think this is just an issue for kids, well-fitting boots are important for everyone.
Here’s how to check the fit of your children’s boots.
1. Turn the boot upside down. Center your child’s bare foot on the upturned sole. You want about 1” (2.5 cm) of sole extending beyond their foot on both ends.
2. Remove the boot liners. Put ski socks on your child and place their feet into the empty boot shells. Direct your child to move her feet forward and get into a skiing “ready position” (knees bent, ankles flexed). Using a flashlight, look for space behind her heels at the back of the boots. Ideally, the boot should have 5/8” to 1” of open space (1.5 cm to 2.5 cm).
3. Replace the liners, put the boots back on and ask her to walk around. Boots should be tight, but not painful.
For everyone else, try on ski boots wearing ski socks. Boot liners can become “packed out” over time, meaning the boots become progressively looser. If it feels like your feet feel are swimming in your boots, new boots are a better option than adding more socks.
Damaged, broken boots don’t have much of a future. Same with worn out, packed out ski boots, with one exception (see below).
Lightly used kids’ ski boots can be passed on to others. Follow the boot fitting tips above to make sure they fit the child who will be using them.
Boots that are worn out, too small or have a damaged liner, sole or shell, should be replaced. If the boots still fit, but the liner is packed out, consider a custom replacement ski boot liner.
Damaged boot buckles and lace locks can be repaired. To prevent damaged buckles and lace locks, store your boots buckled or tied up and never walk with them unbuckled.
If your child complains that his boot feels small, but it measured to fit, take the boots to a shop and have the liners stretched. This may buy you several months or even an entire season.
Helmets are a critical piece of snowsports safety gear. It’s important that helmets be in good condition and not too old.
Ski and snowboard helmets have a shelf-life of about 5 years. If your helmet is within this age range, is damaged or has been in an accident, chuck it.
Don’t pass helmets on and never sell (or buy) a used helmet.
Replace everyone’s helmets after 3-5 years, whether damaged or not. Only purchase new helmets. Used helmets are not an option. If you don’t know the helmet’s history, you don’t know if will protect your family member’s head.
If a helmet has been damaged in an accident, toss it out. If a helmet is younger than 5 years and has damaged straps or interior padding, contact the manufacturer to find out if it can be repaired.
Hailing from Colorado (USA) Kristen Lummis, or as she is better known, the Brave Ski Mom, is an avid skier and true family mum in every sense of the word. www.thebraveskimom.com