It’s finally here. That Snowshoe ski vacation you’ve been daydreaming about at work is finally here. You’ve made it to the mountain, got checked in, grabbed a bite at The Junction, got a good night’s sleep. Now its time to get everything ready for the first day on snow. When you reach into your suitcase, make sure to avoid reaching for jeans and that lovably ugly Christmas sweater. Using the proper gear is crucial to making sure your time on the mountain is filled with fun and not trips to the condo to warm up. Keep reading to get the low down on layers, outer wear, safety gear, and how to make sure your equipment is set up to shred.
Layering is key to a good day on the slopes. There is more than meets the eye than one big coat and a pair of snowpants. Using layers allows you to better regulate your body temperature and will provide more warmth throughout the day.
Start out with a base layer. Base layers (or long underwear) are typically made from a moisture wicking material and will fit tighter to the skin. This traps heat while repelling moisture away from the skin, which is really nice if you aren’t into hypothermia. Your base layer also includes socks. Our friends at Darn Tough make some darn good ski/snowboard socks. If you don’t want to get ski and snowboard specific socks, reach for a pair that aren’t very thick and reach up to your calf at a minimum. Never wear multiple pairs of socks as this can cause issues with your boots.
Followed by your base layer are mid layers. Depending on the conditions, you may need many or no mid-layers. These can be t-shirts, sweaters, sweatpants, or hoodies. The colder the temps, the more mid layers you’ll want. As you put your mid layers on, tuck your shirt into your pants. This can help keep snow from getting under your shirt(s) if you wipe out.
Staff Pick: Snowshoe Castlewood Adult Sweater
Finally, you’ll need some outerwear. This is the water and wind proofing level. We highly recommend a Gore-Tex coat and pants, which you can find at shops like 4848 and The MAC. Some outer wears are insulated and some are just a wind and water shell, so be aware as you pick coats and pants.
Once you’ve got your clothing figured out, its time to start thinking about protection. Skiing and snowboarding are dangerous sports. Wear a helmet. All of our rental shops have helmets and all rentals include a helmet and we highly recommend that you wear one. Beginner or expert, groomers or powder, it doesn’t matter. Make sure the helmet fits snug on your head without hurting. Adjust the chin strap to where you can get two fingers between the strap and your chin.
Helmets are the priority when it comes to safety gear but there are a few other things to think about. Number one, your eyes. The snow is bright, and it is very possible to get a sunburn on your face and eyes. We recommend a good pair of Smith goggles and some sunscreen anytime you’re on the snow. Right along with your goggles is a mask. The cold temps and high winds that Snowshoe sees can easily cause windburn or frost bite. On the harshest of days, just 10 minutes of skin exposure can lead to frost bite, so cover it up. If you’re unsure if you need a mask, find a ski instructor and ask, “Is today a no skin day?”
Gloves should not be overlooked when it comes to staying warm. You can lose a lot of heat from your hands. Just like with our clothes, we want to layer gloves. A liner glove under a Gore-Tex mitten is going to give you the most warmth on those cold days. You can often find liners and mittens being sold as a set inside our retail shops.
Boots, Boards, and Skis
Now we’re dressed for warmth and safety, it’s time for the best part, picking up your equipment. Whether you’re picking up from Expedition Rentals, Silver Creek Rentals, or picking up a high end rental from the MAC there are a few things to keep in mind. First and foremost; the boots. It is imperative your boots are on tight. If your foot is loose in the boot you won’t have much control over your skis or board.
- Undo all the buckles and slide your foot into the boot. It will be snug and that’s ok.
- Tighten the buckle that sits on top of your foot, closest to your ankle first. It’s important to secure that heel in place.
- Tighten the buckle over your toes, followed by the lower leg buckle and then the upper leg buckle (some boots may only have one buckle on the upper part).
- Secure the Velcro strap if you have it and check for fitment. If you can fit more than one finger between your shin and the tongue of the boot, it is too loose.
- Loosen the inner liner and the laces or boa dials and slide your foot into the boot. It should be snug.
- Kick your heel on the ground 2-3 times to make sure your foot is all the way in the boot.
- Tighten the inner liner and stuff the pull cord down into the boot. Make sure to lock down that pull cord so it can’t come loose.
- Tighten the boa dial or tie the laces on the outside of the boot. If you can fit more than one finger between your shin and the tongue of the boot, it is too loose.
Pro tip: If your snow pants have an outer leg and an inner leg at the bottom of the pant, BOTH go over the boot. Any extra material beside your sock and long underwear in the boot can cause pressure points and a good bit of pain.
Now you’re layered up and fitted with a helmet and boots there is only one thing left to do; pick up your skis or snowboard. The rental techs will help you determine what size board or skis you need based on your ability level, height, and weight. If you are new to skiing, we recommend skipping the poles. Poles can get in the way and can lead to bad habits in beginners. As a rule of thumb, wait on getting poles until you can comfortably make it down a blue slope like Spruce or Gandy Dancer.
Once you pick up your skis or board it’s time to hit the slopes. If you’re taking a lesson (we suggest you do), meet up with your class outside Expedition Station. If you still need a lift ticket, grab that at the Depot, also located outside Expedition. See ya out there!