Let’s face the obvious here… winter gear is bloody expensive, costing hundreds to even thousands of dollars. The reason it’s so expensive though is because an incredible amount of technology and materials goes into the making of these products, in some cases decades of engineering and research has been used to create some pieces. If you’re spending large amounts of money you want to get the most out of the product, therefore gear maintenance should be number 1 on your priority list in order to get the best performance possible as well as increasing a product’s lifespan. So looking after and maintaining your gear correctly is definitely worth the time, especially since it may have cost you three kidneys on the black market to buy.
Wax on, wax off?
Throughout the season you will need to regularly wax your skis/board as wax does wear off over time. You’ll notice you need new wax when you’re not flowing as smoothly over the slopes as you should and the base of your equipment has a rough feel to it. Waxing increases performance in speed and turns making it a lot easier to maneuver on the mountain and will make you a much happier rider due to less effort exerted. You can wax your skis/board yourself and there are numerous online tutorials that demonstrate pretty good step by step DIY or if you prefer some face to face teaching you can find tuning companies which do courses on how to wax at home like a pro. Alternatively if you don’t want to buy the iron ($50-$100+ USD) and the wax ($20-$50USD) or spend the time doing it yourself find a local wax shop which will do it for you. In Whistler my local guys are ‘Underground Tuning’ (http://www.underground-tuning.com/) they do an awesome job and are happy to chat with you about your equipment condition and what needs to be done in order to increase performance eg a full tune or edging, which leads us to…
Turn on the tunes!
Like a car sometimes you will notice the performance of your skis/board aren’t as good as they were brand new, the more kilometers you put on them the more TLC they’ll need. Unless you’re pretty good with your hands and you have all the gear at home it’s best to pay the professionals to do what they do best. During a tune your ski/board is checked for gouging to the base (usually happens when you hit exposed objects, rocks, tree stumps, icy chunks) any gouges will be repaired, rusty edges will be removed and a wax and edge grind is also performed. Getting your edges done periodically is another important step of your ski and board maintenance and the difference is quite noticeable. After edge grinding you will have better grip when stopping and therefore more control, increasing the safety factor. If there are icy conditions forecast, getting your skis or board edged is a must. Look around when deciding on a place to get your gear tuned and find the one that is suited to your needs and price range.
After you get down and dirty
Washing Waterproof Gear – Washing your outerwear may only happen a few times a season as most of the time it shouldn’t get too dirty, but using the correct washing liquid is imperative. A regular machine wash laundry detergent will actually break down the waterproofing fibers in the clothing and cause the gear performance to degrade, ergo your clothes waterproof function will no longer work. You will need a soap based detergent, personally I use Nikwax a UK based company but there are of course other. It should also be noted that once cleaned it is best to wash a second time with a re-proofer which increases the product’s water-proofness after the cleaning process.
Washing Down Gear – Like waterproof clothing anything with down feathers in it requires a different type of detergent. If you use your regular detergent the feathers will clump together forming small balls which leave pockets of empty space. This space will not insulate your body and quite quickly will let the cold air in. Not ideal if you’re on a mountain in -20 deg celsius, it’ll be a bit nippy. Again Nikwax Down Wash is my personal choice, but there are other brand options out there.
Summer is here so bye, bye snow
You have maintained your gear all winter and got the most out of it, now it’s time to follow a few simple steps to ensure its all ready to go for next season. Get your skis and boards “summer waxed” and oil any exposed metal so that there is no chance for rust and moving parts remain lubricated. Store if you can in a cool, dry place. Hang your outwear up, folding your ski jackets and down gear can decrease the performance over time. Down feathers and ski jacket insulation can clump together if not hung, make sure they are also washed and reproofed before doing this, no one wants to put on a smelly jacket opening day.
If you take care of your equipment now you’ll save money in the long run and be much more comfortable and confident on the snow.
Go get them trails!