Ski goggles… Don’t leave home without them!

gogglesOne of the most important items of equipment to purchase before going skiing is a good set of skiing goggles.

It does not matter what level of skiing you are at, from first time beginner to professional racer, a set of goggles is essential for many reasons. There are a wide variety of models available that have a range of prices, to suit all budgets. Typically, you can spend between $30 to $200

The differences in pricing mostly reflect the goggles lenses and the added benefits more expensive lenses would offer.

Why do we need to wear ski goggles?
There are two main reasons why we wear ski goggles:
The first is protection from the wind and the cold on our eyes when we are travelling at speed and the second is to protect the eyes from the sun.
There is another reason, which is of course fashion, and like all accessories some it is not an essential consideration but certainly one that many people take seriously.wind exposure

Higher priced goggles might offer more anti fogging abilities, lenses that are made from materials that allow more clarity of vision and also anti scratch properties. All ski goggle lenses should have 100% UV (ultra violet) sunlight protection.

Ski goggle lenses are also designed for different weather conditions.
Some lenses are designed for bright sunlight whilst others are designed for foggy or cloudy (white out) conditions. Professional skiers will have several sets of goggles to use for whatever weather conditions they face. It is also sometimes possible to have inter-changeable lenses on your goggles, although as it is the lenses that make up the bulk of the cost, it is just as effective to buy a second set of goggles and wear them according to the weather at the time.

As a beginner or recreational skier who can understandably only justify one set of goggles, I would recommend lenses for cloudy, foggy and white out conditions. (A white out is when it’s difficult to determine the difference between the cloud and the snow, therefore creating a feeling of disorientation). These lenses will enhance the contrast and help to minimize the impact of white out conditions. When the weather is sunny then you can wear sunglasses instead of your goggles, so you have goggles for bad weather, and sunglasses for good (sunny) weather.main picture

I have come across many recreational skiers who dislike wearing goggles and therefore always wear sunglasses for the following reasons: They feel uncomfortable, their face gets too hot, they think they look stupid, they prefer sunglasses as they think they look better in them.
The downsides to wearing sunglasses even on a sunny day are that it might still be very cold and your eyes can water/start to freeze up, the wind gets in your eyes, they can fall off too easily if not properly adjusted.

Personally I do wear sunglasses on sunny days, especially if teaching, mainly for some of the reasons I have given above! But, if skiing at anything approaching high speed, I would rather wear goggles with clear lenses on a sunny day then wear sunglasses. Also, they are not uncomfortable to wear, especially today as the manufacturing technology has improved.

If you are skiing in deep powder snow, always wear goggles, do not wear sunglasses, whatever the weather. If you fall, you will either lose your sunglasses in deep snow or they will get wet on the inside and you won’t be able to clear them until you get indoors.pic 1

Goggles can also ‘fog up’. This can be a common problem, especially with beginners. This generally happens when moisture forms on the inside of the lens due to overheating or water/snow entering the goggles. Once snow gets onto the lenses, either inside or outside, it can be difficult to stop the goggles from fogging up. The best solution is to try and prevent any snow or water getting on the lenses, but it is often easier said than done if you fall over in the snow or it is snowing. You should carry a good lens cloth with you and if the goggles do fog up, try and use covered type ski lift, where you will have time to dry them off. If you don’t have that facility and you really have problems with vision, it would be best to find a restaurant or other indoor area once in a while to dry the goggles off.

More expensive lenses can certainly help prevent fogging up but in my experience; if the weather conditions are humid and wet then all goggles will fog up at some point. It’s just part of the skiing experience. The best advice is just to keep them as dry as possible.

 

The Sun & Ski Cure for the Winter Time Blues

How are you supposed to switch gears from sunshine and wakeboarding to ice covered lakes? When summer ends, it can sometimes be hard to make the adjustmentto cooler weather.

Why not try investing your downtime into a new sport this winter?

Believe it or not, snowboarding can actually make you a better wakeboarder.The skills you can develop while snowboarding can translate to help improve your already impressive wakeboarding skills.

Some of the areas that snowboarding can help you improve include:

  • Strength – Snowboarding requires you to move in ways similar to wakeboarding. This means you will not lose all the progress you made over the summer.
  • Turning – Snowboarders shift their weight using their toes or heels, which differs from wakeboarding. However, if you can work to develop a strong snowboard turning technique, it will most likely improve turning when you wakeboard.
  • Focus – Just like wakeboarding, it’s essential to be aware of your surroundings when snowboarding. Maintaining this level of awareness all winter will help you stay alert when you start wakeboarding again.

If you do plan on hitting the slopes this winter season, you’re going to need the warmest snowboarding and skiing clothes. Shop for the top brands and you’ll be sure to start off in style. Here’s a list to get you started:

  • Men & Women’s snowboards
  • Men & Women’s skis
  • Men & Women’s Ski boots
  • Men & Women’s ski and snowboard jackets
  • Men & Women’s ski and snowboard pants
  • Ski Goggles

Invest in only the essential items and grow your wardrobe when you decide you’re going to stick with the sport. Shop Sun & Ski for a wide selection of name brands including The North Face, Spyder, Canada Goose, and more to get you started.

So many choices, so little time…

2011 Phoenix Air Shell
2011 Tecnica Phoenix Air Shell 90

Sorry for the delay in my postings. As I’m sure you’re aware, Mother Nature has given us a sneek preview here in the Northeast. With truckloads of 2011 product has been arriving daily and curious customers checking it all out, there’s been little time to write.

So, how about you? Have you paid a visit to your local ski shop and spoke to an ‘experienced’ boot-fitter? If so, I hope you asked all the right questions and had a pleasant experience. If not, the clock is ticking. It won’t be long before the mountains are open and you’ll still have your old boots to manage.

Whether you have or have yet to, here’s some things to consider when looking at the boot wall –

Just as there are many brands of skis, so are there for boots. Within each brand, there will be a multitude of models. Gone are the days when Lange was the ‘narrow’ boot brand and Salomon was the ‘wider’ boot brand. Each model of boot will represent a certain shape/volume of foot. Within that model, there will be a variety of ‘flex patterns’ specific to a skier’s ability, agression level & physical weight.

Confused, yet? Now you can see why it’s so important to find the right boot-fitter.  

Regardless of your foot shape and ability, nearly every brand of boot will have something for you. However, it may not be that the store chose to stock every model from every company. In fact, I can guarantee they did not – Nordica alone has 50 models of boots – men’s, women’s & kids; high performance, all-mountain, freeride/park & recreational; 98 to 104+mm last – and those are the ones they publish on their website. There are even more that aren’t listed. Multilpy that by Atomic, Dalbello, Full Tilt, Head, Lange, Rossignol, Salomon, Tecnica…well, you get the picture.

So, where does that leave you? Back in the hands of a qualified boot-fitter. Set that appointment and set aside the time to try on 2-3 pair of boots…MAXIMUM! This could mean up to an hour! You’ll be spending at least 15 minutes in each boot and there will likely be more time for ‘fitting’ of the boots – liner and/or shell heating, bucklet & cuff adjustments, insole fitting and possibly a liner stretch or two. This should help clarify the difference between a ‘boot-fitter’ and a ski boot salesperson.

Whether you are new to owning boots or this is your 10th pair, treat yourself to NEW skis socks upon your arrival. It is imperative that you fit the boot to the sock you’ll be wearing.  Just picking out socks can be a daunting task. In a nutshell, I prefer the Smartwool PHD brand – light weight for the performance fit or wider foot, medium weight for the average skier and narrower foot. Get at least two pair – one to start the day and a second pair for the afternoon. Dry feet are warm feet.

Get measured/evaluated properly. You should be measured four ways on a Brannock style measuring device – length, forefoot width, arch height and instep height. An experience boot fitter will also observe even more about your particular anatomy – leg, ankle and foot alignment…or lack there of. Don’t worry about the numbers, your shoe size will not come into play here. It’s all about the boot sizing. A snug fit will take shape of your foot. Along with the proper foot support from a quality footbed, the result will be relaxed muscles and maximum circulation = maximum warmth & performance.  A ‘comfy’ fit will become looser in no time =cold & tired feet on the mountain. Remember – this is an athletic sport, not a walk in the park….they won’t feel like your UGG’s.

The 2011 gear reviews can be a blessing and a curse for the retailer. It’s somewhat easy to pick out your next pair of skis based upon what you read. However, the boot is completely different. While customers often feel the desire to pick out their own boot based upon appearance, let the boot-fitter offer up suggestions after the evaluation. Doing so will save you a great deal of time and aggravation.  While the prices may be higher than you expected, don’t let that weigh in your decision. As we mentioned, ‘happy feet’ are what’s most important – let your feet make the final call. Trying on two different boots side by side will narrow down the selection. Take off the ‘loser’ and put on the third option, if one exsists. Since feet are often different in size, make sure  you try on both and stay in them for another 10-15 minutes – stand, flex and read a magazine…better yet, take a look at the ski wall and start planning that purchase.

All in all, a sound boot fitting experience should yield a pair of great fitting ski boots – one that will surely improve your skiing ability as well as your overall skiing experience.  Next time, we’ll discuss the importance of foot beds for every skier’s & boarder’s boots. Then again, you may have learned about them already from your boot-fitter.

Boot Fit Basics

2011 Dalbello Blender
2011 Dalbello Blender

Welcome back.

Hopefully by now you’ve had a chance to try on your boots. I’m guessing that you found there’s ‘room for improvement’. Most people would think that a tight fit is the problem when feet hurt. In fact, the one problem I see all too often is a boot that is TOO BIG. While everyone wants that little extra toe room, adding extra toe room often brings on other fit issues.  We’ll talk about that and other ailments in later segments.

For now, here’s your next assignment –

While the there’s plenty of time before the season starts and there are great bargains to be had, pack up your boots, socks and footbeds (if you have them). Find yourself a qualified boot technician make an appointment to get ‘fitted’.  Treat this as if you were going to the doctor’s office for a check up – experience matters. How do you know where to go? Ask! How do you know who has the experience? ASK!!! Just because someone works in a ski/snowboard shop and calls themself a ‘custom boot fitter’ DOES NOT make them an expert at fitting. Only years of experience gets someone a reputation in this industry.  While the more seasoned techs are usually around the resorts, that’s not a guarantee. You may just find you have someone right in your area. However, you may have to travel some to find the best. 

Expect some to spend some time with that person. I always like to schedule a full hour to do a proper evaluation of the skier, their feet, their present equipment and to have them try on some new product. You may only need half that time to realize what needs to be done. 

Be prepared for the unexpected. A good boot tech will fill you in on a great deal of information. If you get the ‘quick sell’, move on and find another shop. When you find the right one, you’ll know it!  More than likely the initial evaluation will be ‘on the house’. However, expect the better ones to charge for their time and materials – it will be a very worthwhile investment.

In the next segment, we’ll discuss the boot fit process in greater detail and point out some things you’ll need to get the season off on the ‘right foot’.  Until then, start searching.

Blogs from a Boot Fitter – Introduction

As a Master Certified  Boot Fitter with many years in the industry, it is both an honor and my pleasure to be a new contributor to the Sun & Ski Sports Blog. Throughout the coming months, I will be addressing a variety of topics of interest in my field. Whether your are a skier or snowboarder, man or woman, newbie or veteran, I am certain that there will be something to help you improve your experience on the slopes.  

My Mission – To share all that I’ve learned over the years, to make the wintersports experience enjoyable for all and most important to preserve and increase the number of people participating in our winter sports.

While my list of topics is quite large, I will be more than happy to respond to any questions you may have. Please feel free to post your question/comment at any time.  I will do my best to address them all in a timely manner.  In the meantime, here is your first assignment – find your gearbag, pull out those boots and try them on. Ask yourself  one simple question – Do I really like everything about my boots?  If the answer is ‘yes’, then start looking forward to a great 2011 season. If the answer is ‘no’, then your quest to an enjoyable boot fitting experience has just begun.

Stay tuned…

Don’t get caught on the slopes unprepared, check out our interactive packing list

Planning your winter sports trip can be tricky, did you bring the goggles? How about the ski lock? Your friends and Sun & Ski have developed the perfect solution that will prevent you from being on the slopes unprepared: the ultimate interactive packing list.

Available on the home page or on it’s dedicated page, the ski and snowboard packing list is divided into four categories: apparel (e.g. jackets, sweaters); essentials (e.g. thermals, socks, googles); luggage; comfort (e.g. ski locks, after gloves, footbeds); and equipment (e.g. skis, boots, poles, bindings). Additionally, users can read helpful tips and print out their list.

The packing list also allows customers to locate which items they may be missing to the products on the Sun & Ski site.  Sun & Ski carries such ski gear lines as K2, Volkl and Nordica and Rossignol, and snowboard gear from Burton, Ride and K2.  If you are visiting one of our stores, print the list out and allow our team of experts to guide to answer your questions.

And while you’re on the site, don’t forget take advantage of our holiday sales.

As always, let us know what you think in the comments or on Twitter (@SunandSki)

SnowPackingList

Winter Sports Equipment For Kids

Ok, so now you have kids, but that doesn’t mean you have to give up your favorite winter sports. Instead, introduce kids to skiing and snowboarding. As winter sports becomes a family event, be sure that the kids have the right winter sports equipment for their interests and activities.

-Skis/snowboards: Visit one of our Sun & Ski sports shops and talk to our expert staff about how to select the right skis and snowboards for your kids. Our kids’ snowboards include the K2 Youth Vandal, which features a dual progressive shape and 3-inch base bevel. As with adult snowboards, it’s important to find the right boot and binding combinations for kids’ skis and snowboards.

-Apparel: Kids’ winter sports apparel should include the same insulating and moisture-wicking properties as adult gear. That includes starting with a quality base layer, such as Thermotech performance thermal underwear, available in kids and toddler sizes.

-Accessories: Kid-friendly accessories such as the Burton Youth’s Vent Mitt feature Thermacore insulation and a pocket that can open for venting or close to hold hand warmers.

Enjoy Spring Skiing

You can enjoy winter sports into the early spring if you have the right gear and accessories. Some useful items for spring skiing include:

-Sunblock. You should wear sunblock on your face for winter skiing, too, but the brighter spring sun is more likely to burn your nose, your lips, and the skin around your eyes. Look for sweat-resistant sunblocks in stick form that you can tuck into a jacket pocket for easy reapplication.

-Glove and boot dryers. Spring skiing can be a wetter experience than winter skiing. You may not need foot warmers, but consider using glove and boot dryers after an early spring day of skiing or snowboarding.

-Lighter layers. For early spring skiing, you can leave your heavy ski jacket at home and pack a lighter weight jacket or a fleece. Vests are also great options for spring skiing or snowboarding. To keep your ears warm, a moisture-wicking earband can be a great alternative to a hat.

Save Money, Buy Your Favorite Skis Online

When you are ready to buy skis, consider buying online. Do you have a favorite model of downhill skis that’s a few years old? Look online. Snow skis don’t go bad after one season, and just because a ski manufacturer changes the composition slightly for next season doesn’t mean that last year’s model won’t give you the performance that you want. If you really have a favorite model, buy two pairs. Some other points to remember when online ski shopping:

-Visit in person. If you are scoping out a new-to-you style of ski online, try to check it out in person so you can get a better sense of the weight and feel.

– Don’t sweat the centimeters. When ski lengths change slightly from season to season, it usually more about fashion than function, right? If you can buy skis online that are a little shorter or longer than the latest model, but you know they work for you, then go for it!

Ladies: Suit Up With The Right Ski Jacket

The right ski jacket will keep you comfortable through a long day of skiing or snowboarding, while allowing you to enjoy a stylish look and a full range of motion.
Some tips to keep in mind when choosing your jacket:

-Warmth. Will you be skiing in Alaska, the Alps, or the mid-Atlantic? If you need maximum warmth, consider a goose down ski jacket. If waterproofing is your key feature, look for insulated jackets with a Gore-Tex exterior and with drawstrings and Velcro cuffs.

-Size: Some brands of winter sports jackets have a greater variety of sizes than others. For example, the Columbia Sportswear Women’s Bugaboo jacket is available in plus sizes, too.

-Versatility: Are you looking for a ski jacket that serves your apres-ski needs, too? The Chalet Women’s Solar Coaster jacket features a zip-off hood, a cinch waist for a customized fit, and underarm vents to prevent overheating.

-Special features: Want special pockets to hold goggles, audio, or hand warmers? Visit one of our Sun & Ski Sports shops to try on a few different styles.