We’ve all heard the reports: Squaw and Mammoth have announced they’ll be open through Independence Day, Breckenridge through Memorial Day. With the record snowfalls in the west, it wouldn’t be surprising if more were to follow suit.
Yes, it’s been an amazing snow year. But for some of us, it’s time to move on. With warmer temps come other outdoor pursuits: kayaking, swimming biking, hiking . . . all the things we love to do when we’re not spending our time on the slopes.
But before you stow your gear for the summer, there are a number of things you need to do to make sure it’s all in the best possible shape when next season rolls around. This only makes sense: You put a lot of thought and effort into picking out the skis, boots, and outerwear that are just right for you. Besides, ski gear is expensive. If you don’t handle it right, you might end up spending more money in repair and replacement costs next season. And no one wants that.
So here are the proper steps you should follow when you put your ski gear away. It may be a little bit of work, but it’s worth it.
• Inspect your skis for damage. See if there are any core shots in the base or dings in the edges. Now would be a good time to handle any repairs, so you don’t have to later on.
• Clean off the bases and top sheets. This is particularly important if you’ve been skiing in dirty spring conditions. You can do this by spraying them with a garden hose outdoors. Once they’re thoroughly doused, rub them dry with a clean cloth and let them air dry.
• Coat the bases with wax to protect them from air and moisture. Moisture can lead to rust, and exposure to air can dry out the bases. Your favorite ski shop can do this for you. Or if you decide to do this yourself, use at least twice as much wax as you do when you normally wax your skis. Don’t scrape it off. The idea is to leave it there all summer.
• Put a protectant on the edges to keep them from rusting. A dab of oil, vaseline, or even WD-40 on a rag (don’t spray it on) can do the trick.
• Some people say you should turn down the DIN on your bindings to ease the tension on the springs. Others say it doesn’t matter. I’ve never turned mine down and haven’t had a problem yet. So it’s up to you. If you do adjust them, however, don’t forget to set them back before heading out next season.
• Secure your skis with a strap base to base and store them in a cool, dry environment, away from sunlight. This means keeping them off a concrete floor, which can hold moisture and cause the edges to rust.
• Wash the shells (inside & out) with hot water and a mild detergent such as dish liquid.
• Remove the liners and make sure they’re completely dry.
• Remember, plastic has a memory, so buckle your boots loosely so they retain their shape.
• Place them in a clean, dry boot bag and store them in a cool, dry place.
• Go through the pockets just to make sure you remove that half eaten PB&J. You might find some forgotten treasure. I usually stumble across a few bucks here and there, a nice start to next year’s ski fund.
• Wash your shells. Some people believe washing will damage their outerwear. This couldn’t be further from the truth. You get more damage from a build-up of grime, body oil, sweat, dirt, and all the other stuff that accumulates through use. No matter what, the DWR (Durable Water Repellency) is going to wear off over time; it depends more on environmental factors than laundering. In fact, not washing regularly will cause something called “masking,” which keeps the finish from performing properly.
Washing your shell requires cleaning it and then retreating the surface. Start by checking the manufacturer’s tag for any special instructions. To get your garment really clean, pretreat any grimy areas, wash it with a regular liquid detergent, and then rinse it three times before using G-wash or Tech-Wash. G-Wash and Tech Wash are vehicles for getting the DWR to adhere to your item, more than an actual cleaning product. This is why you need to wash, rinse, and use the G-Wash or Tech Wash before applying the DWR, according to directions.
• Declump your down when you dry, otherwise you’ll end up with a garment that has lots of insulation in one spot and none in another. Use an extremely low or air setting on your drier, and toss in a few tennis balls to break up the clumps. Some manual declumping may also be required.
As the saying goes take care of your gear, and it’ll take care of you. Believe it – it’s true.