They say that all good things come to an end and for us, the end of ski season is nigh. Though spring is traditionally a time when love in the air, the cold truth is that not all relationships will last. We’re not talking about the thing you have going with the liftie (that’s for you to decide)—we’re talking about your gear.
We know — you had a great time and learned a lot about each other, but before you pack up your winter gear, it’s time to practice some tough love. And while some relationships can be mended, sometimes it’s better to just part ways amicably. Here’s how to know what gear you should keep and when you should just say goodbye.
Skis and Snowboards
These workhorses of the industry are usually the backbone of any winter relationship, giving you a good 80 – 100 days on the mountain at optimal performance, said Derek Pappas, a sales representative in the winter sports industry. Depending on how often you get to ride, your boards could last several years.
However, any ski or snowboard that has seen close to (or more than) 100 days of use has probably lost its camber over time and become flat. “It won’t have as much energy or pop left in them,” Pappas explained.
If this is the case, then it’s probably time to send those skis to someone like Colorado Ski Furniture, who will upcycle them into chairs, benches and other ski-focused furniture.
Did you have a particularly rough season with your skis or board, with massive chips or perhaps a crushed edge? There might be hope for your relationship. Pappas suggested taking them to a reputable shop: The pros there can tell you if a sidewall or an edge is crushed and if it might be repaired.
Your bindings are the glue between you and your skis or snowboard, keeping you firmly connected and bridging the gap between the little miscommunications that might happen concerning you and the snow. Bindings should last between three and five years with regular wear-and-tear, Pappas said.
If you have any issue with your bindings, take them into your favorite ski shop and have the techs take a look: There’s a good chance that they might be able to fix what’s ailing them or maybe even help you get a new set from the manufacturer.
However, bindings have to be indemnified. What does this mean? Basically, it means that the manufacturer of that binding stands behind it for a certain amount of time: three years, five years, ten years. If it’s “past its date,” a ski shop won’t service them. It’s time to say sayonara and find yourself some new glue.
One thing to consider, Pappas said. Just because you can have a relationship between older bindings (that are still indemnified) and new skis doesn’t mean you should.
“Would you buy a new car with old tires and breaks?” Pappas asked. “If you have bindings that are really old, do you really want to mount them up on a new ski? It might be time for an upgrade.”
Perhaps the shortest-lived relationship that you’ll have on the snow (happy hour hotties not withstanding), your boots are still one of the most intimate and personal gear relationships that you’ll have. You’ll most likely have a glorious 60 – 80 days with your boot liners in which they’ll be supportive and passionate, holding your foot securely and comfortably. After that, you’ll start to notice them drawing away. You can still wear them, but the performance that you fell in love with will most likely be dwindling.
One option for extending the life of this relationship is by building up the liner with donuts, j-bars and other bits and pieces that a good ski shop relationship councilor can help you with. It’s not a permanent fix, but it will extend your days on the slopes with your boots.
Is the sole of your ski boot suffering? There might be a fix for that, too. If plastic on the bottom of you ski boot is worn down, most have replaceable toes and heels, Pappas said. But, if they get worn down enough that they won’t fit into binding, this becomes a safety issue. The bottom of the boot must interface properly with the binding to function correctly and not pop out at inopportune times. Again, your ski shop can put your boot into its binding and, with the use of a torque meter, they’ll be able to tell you if this particular relationship can continue or if it’s time to take a walk.
These are far from the most expensive piece of gear that you’ll have on the slopes, but your poles still need some love. After all, a bent pole can easily throw you off your game. If you have aluminum poles and you have a slight bend in it, this is easily fixed by taping the bent section and lightly whacking the outside curve of the bend against a tree or other solid object. Bigger bend? Fill the pole with sand and commence with gently whacking.
Does the pole have a crease? It’s time to upcycle these beauties into a wind chime or something because this is a relationship that is hard to repair.
The relationship that you have with your gear is a complicated one. After all, it’s a working relationship: “tools, not jewels,” a friend of mine explained. This is a relationship in which you need your gear to work hard—not sit on a shelf to be admired. However, on the flip side, every dig and nick doesn’t mean you need to break up. With a bit of therapy, these relationships can be mended for a little while.
Don’t feel too badly if it’s simply time to say goodbye to old gear. After all, you had some great runs and lots of adventures…and they’ll totally understand when your head gets turned by some shiny new sticks. Which is probably not the case with the liftie.
I am also a person who stores everything forever – even after I should have said goodbye a long time ago. However it is important for your safety that your equipments are always checked, maintained and renewed – if necessary.
Thank you for the detailed and practical article!
[…] If you already own gear, don’t expect to just dust it off and be ready to ride the lift. After a long hiatus, you’ll need to get your skis tuned and waxed to ensure optimal performance. Even more important is to have your bindings checked by a professional ski technician. They’ll be able to determine whether or not they’ve deteriorated to the point that they’re no longer safe. They’ll also make sure they’re set to release properly at your current weight (let’s be honest: it may have changed). Also, be sure not to neglect your boots. Ill-fitting boots can turn a day of fun into an absolute misery. Since feet can change over time, you’ll want to try on your boots to make sure they still fit. I recommend wearing them around the house for a while to gauge how they feel. If they’re not right, find a skilled bootfitter in your area. They may be able to make adjustments that can make them comfortable and responsive. (Check out our blog post for more info on assessing your gear.) […]
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