Stoking the season, part 3: Helmets, goggles, boots (with video)
Editors note: This is the third installment in a four-part series about preparing for ski season. The series will touch on physical preparation, gear tuning and fit as well as what to do once you’re at the mountain.
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — There is one piece of equipment you should never forget when you get on the chairlift. When it comes to helmets, fit is the most important thing. They can’t be too big, or too small, or they won’t absorb the impact it needs to.
“You don’t want to feel any pressure, discomfort within seconds of putting the helmet on. You’re going to feel it while skiing,” said Brently McElroy, manager of Hardheaded in Steamboat Springs.
A helmet should fit well without pushing on your head. If it does the slightest bit, the horizontal adjustment may help create more space and alleviate some pressure. If a helmet feels like it’s sitting on top of your head or resting too deep, there is a fix for that, too. Many helmets now have a vertical adjustment. It’s small, just a centimeter usually, but it can go a long way, especially when it comes to helping goggles fit with a helmet.
Once purchased, a helmet last three to five years. Of course, a frequent skier, say 150 to 200 days on the trails a year, will blaze through a helmet far quicker. A crash instantly warrants a new helmet.
“Any good impact, helmets are one and done,” said McElroy. “You always want to inspect your helmet after every single crash. If you’re like, ‘Thankfully, I had my helmet on,’ it’s usually a good indication you need another one.”
Goggles are almost completely dependent on the helmet. They should ideally sit flushed against each other, with neither piece pushing against the other.
“It comes down to having a helmet that fits your head properly,” said McElroy. “If it’s too big, sitting too deep on your head, and you get goggles that are too big, you may have issues that push up on the helmet or vise versa, pushing down on goggles and pushing into your nose.”
Like helmets, boots have a shelf life even if they are kept in pristine condition. Typically, ski boots last 150 to 200 sessions. For some, that may be a season while for others, that may take years to rack up.
A ski boot should be tight and slightly uncomfortable if you’re just standing in them. They should feel like they fit slightly better when in use, and you should be able to wiggle your toes.
Bindings and whether they’re releasing correctly can be tested with a machine located at most rental and tuning locations.
The greatest sign of wear can be seen on the bottom of your boots. The heel and toe piece may have suffered some damage and worn away.
“It’s gonna make it so you release out of your binding too early, which could be very dangerous,” said Harry Martin, co-owner of Ski and Bike Kare.
If they aren’t flat and are pretty beat up, they can be replaced with a few screws and the right size parts.
“You should also make sure there aren’t any cracks in the shell of the boot and that the liner is in good shape,” Martin added.
To reach Shelby Reardon, call 970-871-4253, email sreardon@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @ByShelbyReardon.
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