Buying your very first boots and skis By Ski Guru Terry Bartlett
It’s always an exciting moment when you decide to buy your first ski equipment, after having rented for your first couple of trips to the snow. So what do you race out and buy?
The first item to buy is boots, they are the one item that if they’re comfortable and fit well will give you hours of enjoyment, so vitally important you get the right boot and the right fit. Boots start from approximately £179 for an intermediate level skier.
British ski boot fitters are renowned for their knowledge and have a reputation for the best technical expertise in the world. With British boot fitters you have no problems with language barriers and if you need to make any tweaks to the fit, it’s very easy to drop back into the shop to get any adjustments made.
Make sure your boots fit correctly – Be careful not to buy boots too big, your toes should lightly skim the front of the boots when you stand up straight and pull away from the front when you flex forward and push your shins onto the front of the boots.
Your first boots will last you a few years, by which time if you need to upgrade, you will know exactly what to ask for and how they need to fit.
A good boot fitting is not just down to the boot but also the quality and snug fit of your sock. We recommend the Falke anatomically shaped socks, handed left and right for a better fit around your foot. They also have padding on susceptible areas of your foot and shin and are available in different thicknesses depending on how close fitting your boots are. And remember if you wash them through at night don’t leave them to dry on a radiator as they may shrink!!
Your first ever skis – go to a good ski shop with a comprehensive range to choose from and specialist ski staff to help and advise you. If you make sure you’re honest about your skiing ability, you can be assured you will be guided to the correct ski to help you improve and enjoy your skiing. Your first pair of skis should have all-mountain capability and having been skiing a few times now, you don’t need to buy beginner skis. Nowadays the design of skis has improved and they now cover a wide variety of skiing abilities and also terrain, helping you to progress and lasting a number of years. An intermediate level ski will start from approximately £299.
Other items you should also look at buying yourself are good layers of clothing, as there’s nothing worse than being cold! Good quality base layers are important. We recommend merino wool as they look and feel good. Soft merino wool wicks sweat away from your skin and doesn’t retain smell in the fibres. Bamboo thermals are also good – though maybe won’t last as long. Avoid synthetics fabrics, as you will get chilled when they retain moisture and you’ll scare away all your friends with the smell!
Then you need to build up with a few layers, a mid layer of micro fleece or thicker weight Merino Wool works well.
Then choose a jacket that’s appropriate to your style and ability of skiing. Warmer fillings if you’re a more leisurely skier and thinner shells and layers if you’re a more active skier. You want to enjoy your skiing, so remember you get what you pay for! Better quality jackets have fabrics which are more waterproof and breathable and more anatomically fitted for comfort and freedom of movement.
And finally, we go to great lengths urging skiers and boarders to wear a crash helmet – particularly after the Michael Schumacher accident in France last season. In most resorts it’s now more unusual to see someone not wearing a helmet than the other way around. Newer helmets are much more comfortable than in previous years, with lighter stronger constructions, more ventilation and softer padding.
Hats – wool or micro fleece – are needed for walking in resort or sitting outside at lunchtime. Remember you lose most of your body heat through your head.
Buy a warm pair of gloves or mittens. Gloves with pre-curved fingers are much more comfortable and mittens with glove fingers inside help with dexterity and warmth. Don’t skimp on gloves, as cold fingers can spoil your fun.
Goggles are often skimped on, yet if you can’t see you can’t ski! If you buy a good quality pair of goggles they are so comfortable and don’t fog up due to their ant-fog lens coatings and ventilation. – We find most people wearing helmets prefer the fit and comfort of goggles. , however sunglasses are often still needed for sitting around outside and walking in resort, due to the glare from the snow.
Alpine ski regions are campaigning to get lapsed skiers back on the slopes and here are Terry’s Tips for Rusty Skiers returning after a few years away …
If your skis and bindings have been neglected in the garage for a few years, take them to a reputable ski workshop to get them serviced. Edges easily go rusty and bases dry out when they’ve been stored, both of which can be remedied with a good service. Don’t forget to also get the bindings tested to make sure they are releasing properly.
Your feet often change shape over a number of years, especially if you change body weight.. Most of this can be remedied by tweaking the shape of the boots or adding in footbeds to support your foot better. Take them to your local boot specialist retailer and get them to check the fit.