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Help & Resources: Ski Equipment

Buyer's Guide For Ski Equipment by Chris Prunier, K2 Canada

When purchasing new or used equipment there are many factors to take into account. The skier's age, ability, height and weight are all things that must be considered. If you have purchased or been given second hand equipment you should have it inspected and tuned up by a reputable ski & snowboard retailer. Here are a couple of tips to help steer you in the right direction when choosing your new equipment.

Skis:

  • You need to ask yourself what type of terrain you will be skiing 80% of the time.  This will help you choose the model of ski best suited to your needs. 
  1. If you ski primarily on hard pack or groomers, you should consider skis with waist widths of 70mm-74mm.  This width will make edge to edge skiing easier.
  2. If you are a skier that likes to ski a variety of terrain, i.e. tree skiing, bumps and groomed runs, then consider skis with a waist width of 76mm-80mm.  The extra width will give you better flotation in the different types of snow situations.
  • The length of your ski should not surpass the top of your forehead. Somewhere between your chin and eyebrows is a good guide.  Remember that the shorter you go, the easier it will be to make short radius turns; however, you will sacrifice stability at higher speeds.
  • The skis radius will give you a go idea of what length turns the ski likes to make in ideal conditions.
  1. Smaller Radius:  Ideal for short, quick turns
  2. Larger Radius: Ideal for longer, higher speed turns.
  • If you will be considering some used skis, here are a few points to check before making your purchase:
  1. Ski Camber:  This is the life of the ski and can be measured by facing the skis base to base and squeezing the skis together.  If the skis bounce back to their original position, there is still life left in the skis.  If they do not squeeze together or there is no rebound from the skis, there is no life left in the skis.  Find another pair with more camber.
  2. Check the edges to make sure that there is metal left.  Sometimes skis are tuned so much that there is no edge left on the ski.  You will also want to check to make sure that there is not a lot of rust built up on the edge.

Boots:

  • Make sure you take the time to try on and buy the right pair of ski boots.  Comfort is the key factor. If your boot is uncomfortable in the store you will have more discomfort on the slopes. When standing with your new boots on and buckles closed, your toes should just brush the end of the liner in the boot.  When you flex your knees forward, you should feel your toes slide away from the end of the liner. At the top of the boot you should not be able to fit more than one finger in the boot cuff.  This is the correct fit.  All ski boot liners will compact by about 20% in the first season.  If you buy your boot too big, by the end of the season, your feet will be sliding around inside the boot, creating a very uncomfortable fit. Remove the liner and check for proper size as you would with a pair of shoes or boots.

Poles:

  • When sizing the ski pole, stand with one ski pole turned upside down.  Grip the ski pole below the snow basket.  For the correct length, your elbow should be at 90˚.

Bindings:

  • Have a qualified technician inspect and set the bindings for proper release. Bindings must be adjusted for the height, weight and ability of each individual. Do not adjust your own bindings.

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