Don’t Be Cold, Miserable, or Unsafe on the Ski Slopes
by G. Kunkel
(This article was originally published on Yahoo! Voices on 1/2/2011)
Wearing the right gear while skiing can make for a great vacation while unsuitable ski gear can break it. Inexperienced skiers or those new to winter weather may inadvertently choose clothing and gear not suited for the ski slopes. If you are headed to a ski resort for skiing and snowboarding for the first time this winter, these are the items best left at home.
If you want to be cold, wet, and miserable on the ski slopes – wear blue jeans. Skiing in blue jeans is more than a ski fashion faux pas. Blue jeans are made of cotton and soak up any available moisture. Once wet they lose their minimal insulation properties. Save the blue jeans for the evenings nightlife and buy or rent some snow pants.
Scarves, dangling ski passes, and coat cords are extremely dangerous while skiing. They can become entangled in the chair lift mechanism and present a strangulation hazard. Wear a neck gaiter in place of a scarf and tuck ski passes into coats. Make sure that the coat chords on children’s coats are tucked away as well.
Old ski gear
Throw away or destroy ski gear more than 10 years old. It is unsafe and much harder to use than modern ski equipment. Reputable ski technicians will also refuse to service extremely old skis and ski bindings. Ski resorts and the surrounding community will have a variety of ski rental shops to rent from.
Cotton socks or clothing
Cotton offers little if any insulation from the cold – including coats and socks. Instead of wearing cotton socks that induce cold feet, use merino wool blend or polypropylene socks. They will keep feet warm and wick away any foot perspiration.
Avoid wearing heavy gear on your back while skiing or snowboarding. It will throw your balance off and will make learning difficult in ski or snowboard lessons. Most ski areas have day lockers that you can put your shoes or other items in.
Non-waterproof or poorly insulated ski clothing
If ski clothing can’t keep moisture out or provide warmth, it will give skiers and snowboarders a miserable day on the ski slopes. When purchasing ski clothing, look for its waterproofing rating. Better ski and snowboard clothing will have a 10,000 mm waterproof rating, 5,000 gm breathable rating, and have fully taped seams.
Poor fitting ski or snowboard equipment
Borrowing a friend’s ski equipment may save money but it could land you in the hospital. Boots need a snug fit to provide control of the skis or snowboard and to prevent foot pain. Ski bindings need to be adjusted for the user’s weight and skiing ability. For snowboards, the size needs to match the rider’s ability and weight. Riding on equipment too large or small can make for a miserable day of constant falls and out of control crashes.
Poorly maintained ski equipment
Skis and snowboards with dull edges and poor wax jobs will leave the user with poorly performing ski equipment. The edges will be hard to engage on firm snow or ice and they may not glide far on flat surfaces. Sharp edges and a base wax for the current temperatures can be obtained at many ski resort rental shops. Have the ski bindings lubricated while they are in the shop.
Too many socks
All too often beginner skiers try to keep their feet warmer by wearing two pairs of socks in their ski boots. Instead, this tactic produces colder feet. The ski boot fit is destroyed and the blood circulation to the feet is constricted. Buy a pair of quality wool polypropylene socks or purchase adhesive toe warmers to keep feet warm. The ultimate solution is to buy a pair of battery-powered Hotronics to keep your feet toasty warm all day.
No eye protection or sunscreen
The higher the ski resort elevation, the more UV ray exposure. A skier or snowboarder at an elevation of 9000 ft is exposed to 45-50% more UV radiation than at sea level. Eyes need protection from UV rays, snow glare, and other environmental elements or it could result in snow blindness or other injury. Limiting skin exposure and wearing sunscreen can prevent skin sunburn.
Those new to skiing or snow are often unsure about proper ski clothing and equipment. With ski lessons and functional ski gear, everyone can have a fun safe ski vacation.
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