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.


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…

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.

Start The Snowboarding Season Right

You may be counting the days until you can get out and ride snowboards this winter, but if you hit the mountains in the late fall or early December, keep a few points in mind so you don’t destroy your season:

-Go easy. Even if you have been training in the off season, the first time back on the board requires a little common sense. Get a feel for being on a board again.

-Ease in with the old. Even if you have a hot new board for 2010, you may want to keep an old board on hand for early season snowboarding, when trails won’t be as well-groomed, powder won’t be as deep, and you may be more likely to hit rocks.

-Check your bindings. They may have loosened up over a summer in storage. And if you have new boots, a binding check is a must.

-Dress right. It may not be that cold in November, but it takes some time for your body to get acclimated to a whole day out in the cold, so dress in layers that you can peel off as needed—everyone acclimates at different rates.

Go Beyond Boots With Custom Footbeds

The right snowboard boots are essential to help you get your best rides, but you might also consider an orthotic insert, also known as a custom footbed, for an even better fit. The benefits of these inserts include:

-Better biomechanics. If you have an orthotic or insert to make sure your feet are properly aligned, you’ll set yourself up for better alignment all the way up through the kinetic chain of your legs, hips, and spine. The better your alignment, the better your balance, and you may reduce your risk of injury.

-Better boot fit. An orthotic device will help keep your feet from flattening out inside your boots, so they will fit more snugly.

-Better feel. Your feet will feel better while snowboarding if they are well supported.

If you don’t want to spend the money on customized orthotics, you can buy generic trim-to-fit inserts for about $25-$50. You can get customized footbeds at Sun & Ski Sports shops. But if you have more serious foot issues, such as pronation, or if you have a history of foot or knee injuries, talk to a podiatrist about sport orthotics to make sure your problems are addressed. And bring the inserts with you when you try on new snowboard boots.

Let Your Snowboard Travel In Style

Even if you are only traveling to the slopes by car, quality travel snowboard bags are a good investment. When choosing a travel snowboard bag, visit one of our shops and look for some of these key features:

-Padding: Make sure your bag is well-padded, especially if you are checking it at an airport, where it will get tossed around from the moment you hand it over until you retrieve it at the baggage claim.

-Durability: As with your snowboard boot bags, choose durable polyester snowboard bags with reinforced edges. Or for maximum durability, you can buy a hard-sided case to transport your snowboard to the slopes.

-Size: Are you hauling one board, or several? If you can’t get by without your full quiver of snowboards, bags such as the Burton Wheelie Gig bag will hold several boards, more if you remove the bindings.

-Extra pockets: Extra pockets are key for efficient packing. Look for travel snowboard bags with outside zipper pockets for accessories such as gloves and goggles, and for snowboard tools.

-Straps. If you want something lighter than a wheelie bag, seek out travel snowboard bags with shoulder straps as well as handles to maximize your carrying options.

Layer Up For Spectacular Snowboarding

When you’re gearing up for the next snowboarding season, it’s a good idea to revisit your clothes as well as your equipment. Why? Because it’s much less fun to carve your way down your favorite mountain when you feel clammy and uncomfortable. So, when you’re choosing the best snowboard boots and snowboard goggles, take some time to remember these rules of layering:

-Embrace your base. Your base layer of snowboarding clothing should be a set of long underwear (top and bottom) made of polyester or polypropylene, or some other moisture-wicking performance material.

-Middle layer matters. Your second layer may be sufficient for your top half if it’s not that cold, so choose wisely. Look for a fleece jacket (or vest, if you prefer) made of Polartec or something similar.

-Top it off. Your outer layer of jacket and snowpants should be wind- and water-resistant, with some breathability. Good quality outerwear made of GoreTex or a similar material will serve you well for many seasons.

Protect Your Winter Sports Investment

You’ve spent time and effort choosing the right winter sports equipment—skis, boots, snowboards—so get the most out of your gear by keeping it in top shape.
To help extend the life of your skis, boots, and snowboards, pay attention to the following:

-Transportation: To protect your skis and boards from the elements en route to the slopes, consider a box-style carrier such as the Thule Spirit Cargo Box, which has 16 cubic feet of storage in a shell-shaped case.

-Maintenance: At the end of the season, apply wax to your skis and ski edges and don’t scrape it off. The wax will help keep the edges from rusting during the off-season.

-Storage: Don’t store your skis and snowboards in the basement where they will be subject to heat and moisture over the summer. Ideally, store them in a dry closet at room temperature. The same goes for ski boots. Make sure they are dry, and then store them in boot bags in a cool, dry area.

Get Ahead With Your Next Snowboard Helmet

The right snowboard helmet is more than a piece of snowboard safety gear—it’s an asset to your comfort and performance. When choosing from among the many types of snowboard helmets, keep a few points in mind and you’ll find something that looks as good as it works.

-Fit. It almost goes without saying, but your helmet won’t protect you if it doesn’t stay on your head. Try on several snowboard helmets to find the one that fits snugly, but not uncomfortably. Gals, check out specialty women’s helmets, such as the Giro Women’s Prima, for the best fit.

-Visibility. Try on your snowboard goggles with your helmet to make sure they fit well together, and that the helmet isn’t blocking your vision.

-Ventilation. A sweaty head doesn’t make for a cool ride. Check out the ventilation in different snowboard helmets to find the breathability you need based on your preferences and your usual riding conditions.

-Special features. If you don’t want to hit the mountain without music, several snowboard helmets, such as the Giro Omen Wireless Audio helmet, feature modular speaker pods that clip into the helmet’s earpads.