I know. It’s summer. You’re still in beach, bike and (darn it!) back-to-school mode.
But if you can spare a moment, now is a perfect time to do a family ski gear inventory.
Why? Because late summer is when many ski shops and online retailers offer the best deals on last year’s gear.
Helmet and Goggles
If you want to stay safe while skiing and riding (and who doesn’t), a properly fitting helmet is essential for every member of the family.
To check the fit of a helmet, measure your child’s head with a soft tape placed about one inch above the ears and eyebrows. If you don’t have a soft tape measure, use a string and then measure it. Remember to measure in centimeters!
If your child’s head has grown, it’s a no-brainer. He or she needs a new helmet.
Next, evaluate the condition and age of each helmet.
Helmets have a 3-5 year lifespan. Materials used in helmets deteriorate over time and become less protective. This means the age of the helmet is more important than how many days it has been worn.
If you don’t know how old your helmet is, or if your child is wearing a hand-me-down helmet, it’s time for an upgrade.
Inspect helmets for cracks and damage. Helmets are designed to effectively absorb one big impact. Always replaced a damaged helmet and always replace a helmet after a significant blow, even if it looks unharmed.
Now it’s time to check your goggles. Obviously, you’re going to replace goggles that are too small. But you should also replace goggles showing signs of wear, including deteriorating foam and cracked or broken lenses.
In addition to protecting your eyes, goggles provide ventilation and a wide line of sight. They have to fit well with your helmet to do these important things.
Anytime you get new goggles or a new helmet, make sure that what you’re buying will work together as a system.
Properly fitting goggles should fit snuggly against the brim of the helmet. If they don’t, and a gap of skin shows, try on different goggles until you find some that will work.
That’s why we always use a professional boot fitter when buying new boots, adjusting the fit of our current boots and checking the size of our kids’ boots.
Since children are always growing, summer is a good time to gauge how much room they have left in their boots, or if it’s time for bigger ones.
As for adults, you too can visit the boot fitter, or you can simply try on your boots at home.
Are the boots looser than you remember, no matter how tightly you buckle them? If so, they’re probably “packed out,” which means the padding materials are compressed to the point where the boots no longer fit well.
Since loose boots can impair your skiing ability, you’ll thank yourself for replacing packed out boots.
Skis and Snowboards
Skis and snowboards wear out over time and with use. The more you use them, the more quickly they’ll wear out.
In general, most skis and snowboard have about 80-100 days of use in them. Which, depending upon how often your family skis and rides, can be one season or many.
How often your children ski and ride, and how vigorously they get after it on the mountain and in the park, will determine how quickly they’ll need new skis. However, most kids end up outgrowing their skis or snowboard long before they wear them out.
Beginners do better with shorter skis, as do very light children and those who aren’t very aggressive.
If in doubt, visit your ski shop. They’re happy to help.
For adults, teens and taller kids, last season’s demo skis and boards offer huge savings.
Look for lightly used demos, with plenty of edge and base left for future tunings. Demos come with bindings and you can score an entire set up for about half the price of new skis alone.
Demos are a fantastic option for those who have rented in the past and are ready to invest in their own skis and bindings, for older (and taller) kids and teens who can handle adult skis, or for those who are interested in growing their “quiver” with other types of skis, shares Kenzie Genest with Powder 7 in Golden, Colorado.
And she’s right. Those are exactly the reasons we’ve purchased demos for our family in the past (and for me, just last week at Powder 7!).
Finally, if you’ve got young, fast-growing kids, ask about season rentals that allow you to switch out gear if your child grows a lot during the winter. Season rentals can save a lot of money and time. Season rentals are often available for adults, too.
Have your kids try on everything from socks to baselayers, from ski pants to parkas. Set aside outgrown items to pass down to younger siblings, trade with other families or sell online. Oftentimes, children’s ski and snowboard clothing is only lightly used and has a lot more life in it.
If you’re buying new coats and ski pants, look for sleeves and legs can “grow” by snipping a thread and unfolding a few more inches of arm and leg length. These smart designs save money and extend the value of the clothes your kids are already wearing.
Wondering what to do with old skis and boots? Check out these fun ideas from The Ski Diva!
Late Summer/Labor Day Sales
Here are some sales coming up from retailers in Colorado and Utah.
Powder 7 (online and Golden, Colorado), August 25 – September 5
Ski Rex (Colorado Ski and Golf locations), September 1 – September 17
Powder Daze (online and at Christy Sports in Denver, Dillon and Steamboat Springs, Colorado), August 16 – September 5/Dates vary by location
Ski-A-Rama (online and at Ski ‘n See in Sandy, Utah), August 24 – September 4
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