The Marmot Slingshot down jacket will keep you warm on the coldest day as will an Arc’teryx Sentinel shell with a down midlayer under it. (Karen Lorentz)
The fashions are colorful, the gear rocks, and both are more high-tech than ever — reasons they’ll make you more comfortable and happier on the slopes.
For many snowsport aficionados, the weather presents the biggest challenge to great days on the mountain. For some it can present a problem of being warm enough, for others keeping cool or dry. But when it comes to personal comfort, consider that there is no such thing as ‘bad weather,’ just the wrong clothing.
Ditto for equipment. Skis and boards are so much better than 20 or even 10 years ago that there really isn't any 'bad' equipment out there, but there is 'wrong' equipment if it doesn’t work for your specific needs, terrain preference(s), and ability level. The plethora of choices can be overwhelming though.
The solution to such challenges is good communication with a salesperson at a winter-sports specialty shop. Talking to someone who participates in snowsports and takes an interest in you, your goals and any problems, is the key to making great purchases that will rock your world.
Skis, Boards for All
“Our staff are knowledgeable because they attend clinics, talk with manufacturers, and participate in on-snow testing so we really know how the equipment performs,” notes Lee Quaglia, owner of Aspen East Ski Shop and Surf the Earth Snowboards in Killington, VT.
Quaglia recommends talking to a salesperson who will ask about where you ski/ride, how often, what trails, goals, etc. and then recommend gear to demo. “Always demo, and buy the gear that makes you feel the most confident and puts a smile on your face,” he advises.
Rockered skis are beneficial for all levels of skiers due to their easy turn initiation, being less hooky, and enabling a smoother entry to the turn when on edge, notes ski shop manager Lisa Swett. Depending on your style of skiing and snow conditions, you may prefer more or less rocker — more rocker and a wider ski are great for softer snow and less rocker and a narrower ski for firmer snow and there’s a whole spectrum in between, she added.
Thanks to Jeannie Thoren's pioneering work that led ski manufacturers to recognize that a woman's build and center of gravity are different from a man's, there are women-specific skis designed for all categories of skiers — beginners to experts, racers to powder hounds.
Women’s recreational skis are softer flexing, shorter, lighter, and have a binding location forward of center, Swett explains.
Anyone can find a snowboard to meet their needs, but there isn't one board that will suit everyone so it's important for the salesperson to learn about the rider's experience and preferred terrain, notes Ted Manning, manager for Surf the Earth.
Boards include those designed specifically for learners, powder, terrain parks, kids, ladies, and all-mountain riding. Like skis they come in a variety of flex patterns, camber/rocker blends, or pure rocker or camber only, which make some more versatile and others more specific to a type of terrain with hundreds to choose from, Manning said.
Technical fabrics increase comfort
Some of us have a tendency to hang on to our ski wear for too long and miss out on the new advances which lead to greater comfort, whether it's warmth that is needed or staying dry in all kinds of weather.
High-tech fabrics make a difference, Swett notes, explaining that our bodies generate heat and moisture vapor which can make us uncomfortable if it can't escape. Some manufacturers use Gore-Tex while others feature their own proprietary membranes that are breathable (allowing vapor or sweat to get out) while also being waterproof.
Spring brings bargains in the clothing and gear departments so it’s a great time to solve a problem, splurge, or take one’s fashion/gear level up a notch!