What should I consider when renting ski equipment?
What should I consider when renting ski equipment?
- Can you pick the equipment up the afternoon or evening before skiing to save time?
- If you damage a ski/snowboard, or they are stolen, what is the policy? Do you have adequate insurance cover either from the shop or travel insurance?
- Does the shop offer a multi-day discount?
- If you are thinking of buying skis, does the shop offer a demo-to-buy program where you can test the skis before buying?
- Do they rent helmets and clothing, if required?
- Do they offer a delivery service, if required?
- Can you exchange equipment during the week if you wish to try a different ski/snowboarding etc.?
- Can you pre-book the equipment online to save time?
- Do you have appropriate, thin ski socks?
What is a Ski Boot Fitter? What do they do?
Most people assume a Ski Boot Fitter is someone that sells new ski boots. This is true, part of their job is to find the best fitting ski boot for their customer. However, the job of a 'good' Boot Fitter, is often very much more complex than this.
- A 'good' bootfitter will know the anatomy of the foot and understand how it works in a ski boot. When selecting a ski boot, a boot fitter must analyse the shape of the foot and leg, checking the flexibility, in order to find the best possible option.
- A 'good' boot fitter must have a good knowledge of all ski boots models - old and new. There are hundreds of ski boot models on the market, which all have different widths, flexibilities, instep heights, heel shapes, toe boxes etc. It takes many years of working in the industry to learn each model and how they actually fit the foot as this varies greatly between each brand.
- A 'good' boot fitter will have the tools and skills to be able to modify any boot to comfortably fit your foot. There are very few customers that are able to step into a ski boot and ski comfortably without any adaptions to the shell or liner. This is to be expected when selecting a boot that fits close to the foot and is all part of the process. A 'good' Boot Fitter will know about the different plastics that are used in each boot and how they react, when trying to modify them.
- Creating a foundation to the boot is another important step that a Boot Fitter needs to assess. The majority of skiers will benefit from having a footbed in the boot to prevent problems occurring and increase control, but of course there are exceptions. As everyone's foot is unique, a 'good' Boot Fitter will have the knowledge to be able to select the correct materials for the flexibility of the foot, take an accurate mould and create an insole to support the foot.
- Checking the alignment of the skier in the boot, is another key part of a boot fitters job. It is important to get a skier centred in the boot so that they are able to easily turn in each direction. For skiers with more complex alignment problems, the angle of the sole of the boot can also be changed to get them more centred and balanced. This level of expertise takes a lot of training.
- A 'good' Boot Fitter must also be able to carry out repairs on a boot, such as replacing buckles and soles, to keep the skier on the hill whenever possible.
To become a 'good' Boot Fitter, it takes a lot of training and many years of hands on experience.
How should I store my skis in summer?
- Once you have finished skiing for the season, it is a good idea to check the ski for any damage before putting it away in storage. You can either check the ski yourself or take it to a trained ski service technician, who will advise you of any recommended work.
- If you are assessing the ski yourself, here are a few key points to look for: Check for any gouges or scratches in the base which may need filling. Check the edges of the skis for any cracks or dents. It is also good to check if the edges still feel sharp which is vital for control. It is important to look for structure (pattern/grooves) in the base which allows the ski to glide over the snow. The end of the season is often a good time to get a Full Tune on the skis so that they are ready to go for next winter. Likewise it is good to have the binding checked on a yearly basis to ensure it is still functioning as it should.
- Once any repair or maintenance work has been carried out, the skis can be prepared for storage. The skis should be dried thoroughly to avoid getting rust on the edges. A thick layer of storage wax can then be applied to the base and edges to prevent oxygen getting into the base and drying it out. The wax should be melted onto the ski using a waxing iron for better absorption into the base. If you do not own any waxing equipment to do this yourself, a ski service workshop will be able to apply the wax. It is usually inexpensive.
- The skis then need to be stored in a cool, dry ventilated room. Avoid anywhere damp and humid, or direct sunlight which can cause damage over time. Garages and attics often see large fluctuations in temperature so aren't ideal.
- When you are ready to ski again, the wax just needs to be scraped from the base and then the skis are set to go.
How should I store my ski boots in summer?
- Make sure the boots are thoroughly dried out before putting them into storage. If the liners are damp, they will begin to smell and over time, break down quicker. You can do this using a boot dryer that blows air through at a low temperature, avoiding damage to the boots or footbeds, or by removing the liners.
- It is a good habit to check the soles and hardware for any damage. Some of these parts can take time to source and need to be ordered.
- Make sure all the buckles are lightly fastened. If the buckles are left open, the plastic starts to lose its shape, becoming increasingly hard to buckle. Ensure that the tongue is sitting in the correct place and that there are no kinks in the plastic.
- Store at room temperature, away from any extreme heat and cold. Ideally in a well ventilated room, avoiding dampness and humidity which is bad for the liners.
- Make sure that mice cannot access the boots. It is not uncommon to hear stories of mice munching large holes through liners, sadly destroying them. Storing boots in a secure boot bag is recommended.
Are you looking to buy a new pair of skis but are unsure of what you want or need?
Are you looking to buy a new pair of skis but are unsure of what you want or need? Why not demo the skis before you buy?
Many ski shops in resort will offer a demo to buy program. This allows you to demo the latest skis on the market over a number of days to compare and see which ones you prefer. There will be a limited number of days that apply towards a purchase, for example 3 days is quite common. And if you do not find any that you wish to purchase, you can simply pay the rental cost. It is a great way of ensuring that you find exactly what you want.
How do I know when I need new ski boots?
How do I know when I need new ski boots?
Usually the first obvious sign, is that you start to feel your feet moving inside the boots and can't control the skis so easily. The more movement you have inside the boot, the more you will have to work to control the skis. All ski boot liners will pack down over time, they can only get bigger. Excessive movement can cause friction, which often results in blisters. Loose heels is another common complaint as the liners breaks down. If the plastic shell is still in good condition, a simple fix is to replace the liner. There are many liners available on the market, so a boot fitter will help you select the correct one to meet your needs and fit the boot.
It is important to also check the condition of the shell, as you do not want to waste money replacing a liner into a worn shell. Over time and with frequent use, plastics lose their responsiveness and can become brittle. Keep a check on the shell for signs of cracks as these cannot be fixed. The typical sign of wear on the shell, is when the sole of the boot becomes worn down. The boot will then move in the binding meaning less control when skiing and it may not release as designed from the binding. Many ski boots now have replaceable soles, so it is a good idea to have a spare set for when needed. Be aware that replaceable soles are only produced for a limited time and after that can be hard to source. If your boots don't have replaceable soles, you can purchase Cat Tracks/Ski Skootys, to wear over the soles for protection, when walking around.
It is also recommended to check the hardware on the boots. Check that all buckles are functioning correctly and all screws are fastened and secure.
Which ski boot brand is the right one for me?
It is important to remember that ALL ski boot brands make a selection of different width ski boots within their range, so that they are able to fit a variety of different foot shapes. Therefore each brand will have a narrow, medium and a wide fitting boot.
Although different brands tend to gain certain characteristics, such as a low instep, stiffer flex etc, it is impossible to recommend just one brand, when there are so many options to consider. A good boot fitter has the knowledge of all available boots on the market and how they compare. They will be able to assess your foot shape - length, width, instep volume, heel volume, ankle flex etc. and will be able to narrow down the selection to 2 or 3 models that would best fit your foot, for optimum comfort and performance.
My boots are feeling loose, is there anything I can do or do I need new boots?
First it is important to check if the plastic shell is still in good condition. If the soles of the boot become too worn, the boot will move in the binding and it will not release correctly. Many boots have replaceable soles but be aware that these are only available for a limited time after the boot is produced, so it is worth buying a spare set early on. Also check the shell for any cracks and that the buckles and components are all functioning correctly.
If the shell is still in good shape, you can revive the boot with a new liner. There are many options available and it will depend on your needs and what fits in the shell. A good boot fitter will be able to assess your foot and the space available to make the best recommendation. Some of the options available include: Intuition liners which are very warm and lightweight; Zipfit liners which are cork injected giving a precise fit and can be remoulded into different boots; Foam injected liners which fill the voids around your foot increasing control and performance.
Custom liners can be a great solution for problematic feet, securing loose heels and increasing durability in a boot.
Help Save Our Snowsports Industry
With Climate Change intensifying at a rapid rate, the impact on our ski resorts is becoming a very concerning reality. With warmer temperatures and lower amounts of snowfall, the winter seasons are becoming much shorter. Many resorts are now relying on snow making to extend their season but unfortunately this isn't the ideal solution as it adds to the problem, consuming large amounts of energy and water. Temperatures must also be cold enough for snow making to be possible, which is becoming increasingly difficult as temperatures rise. Lower altitude ski resorts will be hardest hit as the snow line rises. Potentially we will start to see many close within the next 20-30 years because there simply is not enough snow.
Aside from the environmental impact, low snow seasons have proven to have a large negative impact on the economy, which also results in far fewer jobs being available.
What simple measures can you take at home, to help save our Snowsports Industry?
• Reduce the use of heaters and air conditioners, which often account for almost half of home energy use. Draught-proofing windows and doors will certainly help.
• Reduce water waste – don’t leave taps running, shorter showers etc.
• Don’t waste food and reduce meat consumption.
• Change bulbs to LED lightbulbs which use up to 80 percent less energy.
• Switch off and unplug any devices not in use, including light switches.
• When replacing appliances, look for energy efficient alternatives.
• Walk or bike when possible to avoid using the car. When purchasing a car – research more fuel efficient vehicles.
• Keep car tyres properly inflated which saves wasting money and emissions from fuel.
• When possible, cut down on flying. Travel by train to ski resorts, is a great alternative.
• Plant trees in the garden/open space – as trees grow they absorb carbon dioxide, making it a very effective way of tackling climate change.
Ski Safely & Avoid Collisions
The most common type of ski accident on the slopes is when one skier/boarder collides with another. When skiers are colliding at high speeds, victims can sustain severe and sometimes catastrophic injuries. With far too many collisions happening on the ski slopes, it is important to know your Responsibility Code.
1. Always stay in control and be able to stop to avoid other people or objects.
2. People ahead of you have the right of way. It is your responsibility to avoid them.
3. You must not stop where you obstruct a trail, or are not visible from above.
4. Whenever starting downhill or merging into a trail, look uphill and yield to others.
5. Always use devices to help prevent runaway equipment.
6. Observe all posted signs and warnings. Keep off closed trails and out of closed areas.
7. Prior to using any lift, you must have the knowledge and ability to load, ride and unload safely.
Be aware, that not all ski resorts use signage to show that trails are merging or to warn you, that you are approaching a slow zone. Some resorts are much better with signage than others. So it is your responsibility to ski at a speed where you are in control and can react to any situation. If not for your own safety, then to avoid causing serious injury to others.
How should my ski boots fit?
How should a ski boot fit? When you first step into a boot, your toes will be in contact with the front of the boot. It may feel too small initially but once the upper cuff of the boot is buckled and you flex forward a few times, your heel will settle back in to the heel pocket and your toes will then release from the front of the boot, so that they are comfortable. If the boot is too long, you will find that once you start skiing, you foot will slide back and forth in the boot, which often results in bruising to the toes and a lack of control. If the boot is too short, you will end up with very squashed, cold toes.
Aside from the toes, you want the whole boot to feel comfortably snug and firm around your foot. If you try to move your foot, you want the boot to move with you. This way you have much more control in your skiing, making it more efficient so you are less tired. Ideally the boot should fit equally snug around the foot with as few pressure points as possible.
A key area to check, is that the heel feels secure within the boot. When the heel is loose, it is very hard to control the skis. When buckling, the top two buckles of the boot are the most important and should be buckled firmly so that you have a close contact around the shin and calf. If there is space here, you will end up banging the front of the boot when flexing, causing shin bang. The lower two buckles across the foot, should have little tension on them to avoid compressing the nerves and circulation coming into the foot.
Do you always suffer from heel lift when you ski?
Heel lift is one of the most common complaints in ski boots, it can happen for a number of reasons - the boot can simply be too big; there could be a lack of ankle flexion (dorsiflexion), often due to tight calf muscles, so when the skier bends forwards, the heel lifts; the liner could be getting old and showing signs of wear; not buckling the boot correctly; or it could be as simple as having skinny heels.
When the heel is loose it is very hard to control the skis and takes much more work, leaving you exhausted after a few hours. You may be tempted to over buckle your boots in order to try and secure your foot, but instead you end up cutting off circulation and compressing nerves. However, there are many solutions which can make a big difference.
- When the boot is too big, unfortunately the only way to really solve the problem is to down size to the correct size. As a temporary solution there are some foam boot fitting aids, which can be attached to the liner in various spots to secure the heel, but this won't be a long term fix.
- When ankle flexion is limited, a heel lift can be added to the boot to fill the space under the heel when the skier bends forwards.
- If the liner is packed out and no longer securing the foot, a replacement liner can be purchased to avoid buying a whole new boot. There are many custom liners which are great at filling voids around the heel, such as a cork injected or foam injected.
- If the boot is simply not being buckled correctly, then learning how to buckle and adjust tension, can be a very simple fix.
- If the problem is as simple as having a skinny heel, then foam boot fitting aids can be added to the liner but the ultimate solution would be a custom liner where cork or foam can be injected into the voids.
Do you always suffer from cold painful feet when you ski?
Do you always suffer from cold painful feet when you ski? It's enough to ruin your ski day when you are counting down the minutes to be relieved of the pain. There are however, a few steps that can be taken, to ensure your toes stay warm and snug all day long.
Firstly ensure that you are wearing a good quality ski sock, which breathes well and wicks away moisture from the foot, keeping it dry and warm. Make sure the sock is thin. Thick socks tend to take up too much space in a snug fitting boot, which adds to cutting circulation off to the foot and eliminates air space around the toes.
If you are still feeling the cold, you need to get the boot checked to see if circulation is being cut off anywhere. As the blood vessels run across the top of the foot, it is important to check that you have enough height in the boot, in this area. It is imperative that you do not over tighten the two buckles that run across the top of the foot. When you are in the correct size and shape boot, your foot will be snug and ideally you should have little or no tension on these buckles. Supporting the foot with a custom footbed, will also help to aide better circulation. Drying the boot out at night will also ensure that you don't start the following day's skiing with wet, cold liners.
At this point, if you are still suffering from the cold, you would certainly benefit from adding boot heaters to your boots or wearing heated socks. If you are just renting, then heated socks are definitely the answer as they do not require any installation to the boot. If you have your own boots, either are an option. Boot heaters are installed into a footbed and are so minimal that they do not affect the fit of a boot. Heated socks tend to be a light cushion thickness, rather than ultra thin, so it is important to check you have the space in the boot.
Are custom insoles really worth the extra money?
Are custom insoles in ski boots really worth the extra money? All skiers, from beginner to expert, will certainly benefit from adding a custom insole to their boots, improving both comfort and performance. Custom insoles help to stabilise and support the foot, distributing weight more evenly and alleviating pressure points underneath and around the foot. By supporting the arch and filling voids around the foot, any movement that is made, is instantly transferred to the ski, increasing control. When the ankle is stabilised, overall alignment through the knees and hips will also improve.
Typically custom insoles are not cheap as they require a lot of skill and knowledge to build them correctly. Many stores offer a fit guarantee when buying a custom insole with a new boot, which covers adjustments for a period of time and is therefore, great value. For those that simply can't afford a custom insole, an alternative is to add a trim-to-fit insole which will definitely help. The key, however, is to find an insole which matches the shape and flexibility of your foot.
Do I really need to bother with pre-ski trip exercises?
Do you need to bother with pre-ski trip exercises? If drinking as much as possible and skiing as little as possible, is the aim of the game, then no I wouldn't waste the energy. Other than to increase stamina for longer beer drinking HOWEVER, if you are interested in having an enjoyable week on the slopes, then there are many advantages that result from a small amount of preparation work. Increasing strength and flexibility will mean less fatigue and more time on the slopes. The extra strength will help maintain a better ski posture, improving technique and reducing pressure points in the boot, which were caused from skiing in the wrong position.
You will find many ski fitness videos available online to suit your needs, depending on your level of fitness and time available. Any small amount of preparation work, will be an advantage to your ski trip.
Will badly fitting boots affect my technique?
The fit of a ski boot and skiing technique, have a very close connection. Naturally, when a ski boot is not fitting correctly it will certainly affect performance. When a boot is too tight causing pressure points, it makes it very hard to ski comfortably. When a boot is too loose, it takes a lot more work to control the skis and usually friction points will occur within the boot. However, when the fit of the boot is looking good, but the skier is not standing correctly in the boot, this will again create pressure points. For instance, when a skier leans back in their boots (a very common problem), they will certainly feel pressure on the back of the calves and the toes will hit the top of the boot. So when problems occur, it is key to get the fit of the boot checked first, but when everything looks good you may find the solution is actually a ski lesson. A lesson will aim to get you in a more comfortable, efficient position within the boot, increasing performance and technique.