2010 Ski Season Preview – Gear and Apparel
Ski season is soon upon us (and already is for some of the Western folks), and here we look at some options for building out your gear and wardrobe. If you’re like a lot of ski-enthusiasts that aren’t quite diehard enough to be thinking of skiing 12 months a year, you probably don’t purchase your gear at the end of the season when the price cuts are the widest and deepest. But rather than paying full price now for all the latest 2010 gear (MSRP of new ski models – without bindings – can easily reach 4 digits), do a little legwork and find last year’s models for almost half the price. While ski technology is always advancing, there is little discernible difference year to year for the recreational skier.
Being a true seasonal sport, retailers need to dump their inventory during the spring and summer months in order to make room for next year’s models that arrive in the fall. Still though, that doesn’t mean they successfully sell it all. A lot of this gear remains in the stock room, hidden from the consumer’s eye. If it’s certainly not donated to charity, where does it all go? Online shops like eBay. From local mountain ski shops to big city ski outlets, many retailers resort to extending these huge discounts on eBay.
Many people are understandably apprehensive about making big purchases on eBay. But with ski gear, it is relatively easy to do your homework. There are countless skiing magazines that provide product reviews, and you can also simply visit your local ski store to get some help without even buying anything – get your ski size, boot size, understand what type of ski design best fits your needs. Once your skis, boots, and bindings arrive at your door, take them to the nearest ski shop and have an expert properly fit and adjust them for less than $50.
In short, skiing has long been seen as a fun, expensive activity. But it doesn’t have to be expensive. Make the right quality investments, and your gear will last for years. Then you just need to figure out at which mountains you’ll be carving it up.
Reusch Sonic Control Gloves: Reusch, the venerable European sports company, has been a leader in ski racing and soccer goalie gloves for 75 years. With their Sonic Control gloves, not only do you get the best in materials with Thinsulate and Tussor protection, you have the ultimate gadget at your fingertips – the iPod remote. Buttons built into the back of your hand allow you to skip to the next jam on your ski playlist without taking off your gloves and risking temporary frost bite. If you haven’t tried skiing with music before, be warned – once you do it, you’ll never be able to go without. Online store Backcountry for $110.
Smith Phenom Goggles: Ski goggles are one of the easiest ways to accessorize the look of your ski get-up, while adding the latest in technology. Smith is a leader in both. Found for less than $100 on eBay or at Berg’s Ski Shop for $120.
Swix Hat: Trust your head warmth to the Norwegians. Doing business for over 60 years, the Swix look hasn’t changed much. Avoid the ridiculous headgear fads (remember the dinosaur hat, or still-seen Dr. Seuss hat?) and stay with the classics. Of course, helmets are a great, perhaps even smarter, alternative as well. $25-$45.
Scott Composite Poles: To us, there is one characteristic of poles that is crucially important – durability. There is nothing worse than starting off the day with a crossed ski and light wipeout, only to gather yourself and your equipment and realize that half your pole is missing. Scott’s poles have a one year warranty, but they should last much longer than that. Backcountry has them for $60 a pair.
Flylow Higgins Jacket : Skiers that have experienced both January sub-zero windstorms and the almost-tropical March sunshine understand the different purposes of outergear. Heavy parkas made for avalanche survival work great in the coldest months, but too much sweat in March can ruin a skier’s day just as quickly. Here’s where the Higgins Jacket steps in – with its three layers, it’s protective in the most blustery blizzards, but also light enough for the sunny days with wet, melting snow. And at $260, it’s a bargain.
Spyder Santino Pants: Spyder, long a favorite in the ski world for its racing gear and ultra modern designs, offers a well-fitting pant that is versatile in its functionality. While we’ve always respected the bibs, pants like these allow easy switching between the mountain – lodge – après ski – hot tub routine. Find the white on eBay for $140 or other colors in online stores like this one.
Elan 777 Graphite Skis: Everyone has different needs when it comes to skis. To figure out what yours are, Skiing Magazine has a pretty basic but useful guide. These Elans fall into the Resort On-Piste category, though we hear they hold up reasonably well off the groomed tracks and in powder as well. The 2009 model is rated just as highly as the 2010, so there is little reason to shell out an extra $400 just to have this year’s graphics on them. Find the latest deals here at eBay for less than $400 (with and without bindings), or visit this online shop and get them without bindings for $350.
Dalbello Krypton Cross Boots: The choice of ski boots should focus more on comfort than technical prowess, in our opinion. The best options for most people are those that limit none of the capabilities of the skis and bindings, yet offer the best in comfort and flexibility. Nothing is worse than calling it a day at lunch because of beat up or near-frostbitten toes. Also playing a factor in all of this – sizing. Be sure to be fitted for boots, as they don’t always correspond to traditional US shoe sizes. Here we’ve recommended the dynamic Dalbello Krypton Cross – a high performing boot that is the perfect blend of roomy and well-fitting. Seen for less than $300 on eBay and $330 on REI.