Who is making the “best” skis?
There was a time when you could have said one manufacturer made better skis than another but those days are pretty much gone. No one is making a “bad” ski and a lot of ski makers are making great skis. The key is getting on skis that best suit your purpose.
Is there such a thing as a “One Ski Quiver”?
Sure, but it depends on how big you want your quiver to be. One of my least favorite phrases in ski review articles is “but not the best for…”…meaning there is always a ski that’s a bit wider for powder or narrower for carving or stiffer for ice, or softer for bumps, etc. The fact is you will always be sacrificing some aspect of the “performance rainbow” when searching for the “one ski quiver”. However, most of the good ones are in the 80mm-100mm range (under foot).
I’ve read a lot of ski reviews and find very different opinions about the same ski. What’s up?
It’s important to remember that ski testers come in all shapes, sizes and sexes and from all over the country and, in some instances, the world. It’s a big place with lots of different conditions and circumstances. East coast skiing is going to skew toward a bit narrower ski and west coast a bit wider. Then a lot of these folks have brand allegiances that they are not willing to ignore. If the information is in the article, check to see what you have in common with the tester.
Do I need to demo skis?
If you’re a less than skilled skier it would be best to let a trusted ski shop guide you into a ski that will be a bit of a challenge but allow you to grow into it.
If you are a skier with pretty good technique then demoing is a must. You will appreciate the subtle differences from one ski to the next and (although this can be an expensive and time consuming process) it is fun! Talk to friends (you’ll know how they ski) and reputable ski shops and you’ll be able to narrow-down your choices.
How do you choose the skis that you bring into your shop?
Testing! We never bring a ski into the shop that we have not skied and loved. It’s a lengthy process, which is why we ski a lot of days. We ski 2 runs each on as many skis as we can the same day, the same run with a variety of terrain (steep, flat, groomed, powder, junk and crud) from very slow to very fast. We want to know at what speed the ski starts to be fun (5 or 35mph) and at what speed it becomes unstable (25 or 55mph). Is it easy to turn at slow speeds (?), and/or does it like long-radius, high speed turns (?), etc! What we want to know is the “size of the speed envelope” (the bigger the better; is the ski fun at 5 and 45mph?) and where to place the envelope on the speed scale (20 – 55mph? or 5-25mph?). How critical or forgiving is the “sweet spot”. In this way we have a very good chance of matching skiers to the perfect ski. And we always guarantee our choices.
What is the difference between men’s and women’s skis?
There really are no “men’s” skis. There are skis, and then there are women specific skis. Many good women skiers are not skiing on women specific skis. Women specific skis are typically mounted somewhat forward. This makes turn initiation a bit easier. The materials are usually a bit lighter (easier to carry) and the skis somewhat softer.
Why don’t you carry any race skis?
The free skiing market is our target and these skis will go as fast as most humans are comfortable with, without having to go into the gates or race course.
How do I choose the right length ski?
One could write a book about this topic. I’ll start as simply as I can and then add as many exceptions as possible. A reasonable starting place is tip of ski at the tip of your nose and no taller than the top of your forehead. If you are demoing skis and you like what you are skiing then try the next size down. The worst that will happen is you won’t like it. But, you might be surprised to find it’s a lot quicker and still stable at speed. I am 6’1”, 195lbs and pretty aggressive skier. I ski 170cm on groomers and junk, 177cm mixed crud and power, around 180 in twin tips and 186cm on rockered skis in powder. You might have noticed that as the snow gets softer, deeper and conditions get more mixed, the skis get longer. This is not so much about speed as float. Hope this might help you to extrapolate. Cool, I got to use the word extrapolate! Twice!!!
Is it true skis are getting longer again?
Yes but mostly in the case of “rockered” skis only. And we are seeing more of these skis each year. These skis are turned up a much more significant distance at either the tip or tip and tail to allow them to float or find the surface of the snow easier in powder. Think surfboard. The contact point under the ski will be much shorter so it is advisable for stability to ski the skis a bit longer, sometimes a lot longer. In groomed snow the skis will ski much shorter than they look. In powder they are wonderful.
Are any manufacturers making straight skis?
No. The exceptions are bump skis; straight ski w/ round tip and tail and World Cup downhill and Super G. These skis are available to very few shops.
Why do you guys carry wider skis?
From the Rockies west, the snow is generally a bit deeper and softer and the seasons run a bit longer (into the spring and early summer: Mammoth, Mt. Hood). These conditions beg for skis that give the additional float to open-up the entire mountain. Wider skis will also help those who are skiing groomers on those spring days when the now gets very soft later on in the day. Narrower, carving skis will offer little that is advantageous to these conditions.
Which bindings should I put on the skis?
With “system” bindings there is no choice. You get the binding that comes with the ski. There is no choice. With “flat” skis (this means any ski: twin; rockered; or any ski that does not come with a binding as part of the “system”, you my put any binding you want on the ski. It’s always wise to put an appropriate binding (DIN # wise) on the selected ski. More skilled and aggressive skiers are mostly concerned with the binding’s ability to keep them in. Less skilled skiers want bindings that offer a more predictable release. Skiers who are in the air a lot will be concerned more with the ski and binding’s weight. All manufacturers offer a variety of brake widths.
Do I need to buy boots and skis made by the same manufacturer?
Some manufacturers would have you believe so. Absolutely not!
Do you sell used equipment?
Boots – NO! Skis – we do sell our demos each year.
Which is the best boot?
The simple answer is “the one the fits your foot”. The longer version is: nearly all manufacturers make a range of boots, from “entry-level” or “beginner” boots to very “high performance” and “race”. And, they all have their own idea about what the “perfect” foot shape is i.e. roomy in the fore-foot, high over the instep, narrow in the heel and all other kinds of combinations. Your job is to find the manufacturer that makes boots best suited to your particular foot shape in a model most consistent with your skiing style.
How long should a pair of boots last?
It depends largely on the skier and the particular boot, but 150 – 200 ski days is not unreasonable.
How can I tell if my boots are wearing out?
Working on the assumption they fit well from the beginning, the liner will eventually “pack-out”, allowing some movement, creating “hot spots” where there were none. If there are any cracks in the shell get rid of them, they are dangerous. When the soles of the boots are worn to the point they are no longer “DIN” standard, reputable shops will not mount or adjust bindings to these boots. If buckles are not working properly they can and should be replaced. If the boot soles are worn excessively and replaceable soles are one of the features of the boots, replace them.
How should boots fit?
See the beginning of the “custom boot fitting” section. We believe any boot fit should be “custom”, ‘cause nobody’s got feet quite like yours!
How important is a footbed or orthotic in skiing?
Even the simplest, generic footbed is way better than what the boot manufacturers put into the boot for you. There are more than a few very good boot fitters that will not work on problems with boots unless there is some kind of footbed inside. And, if the one you have is ineffective they will recommend something better. An effective footbed or orthotic will eliminate 80-90 percent of all boot fitting problems and allow the bootfitter to accurately address the ones that do remain.
How do I get a proper size boot?
Sitting down, ski socks on, liner out of the boot shell. Put your foot into the shell, toes gently touching the front of the shell, shin forward, you want about 1 – 1 ½ finger width behind your heel. That is the length. To assess width, move your heel into the back of the shell and slide your forefoot back and forth between the sides. You want your foot to be as close to the shell as possible, without any pressure. Light contact on both sides of the forefoot is okay. Any more than a quarter inch total space in the forefoot and you will loose steering control after the boots pack out.
Boot sizing continued: Why would I use my finger behind my heel rather than a fixed measuring device such as a ¾ inch dowel?
This is a relative measurement not fixed. Example; The room created by a ¾ inch dowel behind the heel of a size 14 foot is very different than the ¾ inch behind a size 5 foot. Your foot, your finger.
Why do I measure my feet while sitting down?
When standing, your feet are spread out and they are at their biggest. We want the closest fitting boot not the loosest. Half of the skiing experience is weighted and half is weightless. It’s when you are weightless and in big boots your feet move around and you lack control. Then, the only solution is to tighten your boots but they’ll start to hurt. A proper orthotic will control the shape of your foot so we can get it into the right size. 90% of all skiers, when left to their own devices will choose boots that are too big.
Why do I bang my toes into the end of my boots giving me black toenails?
Probably the lack of, or an ineffective, orthotic. Nothing to stop the foot from sliding forward. If this movement was not there the first few days of skiing, the boot is too large.
How can boots feel so comfortable in the shop and then start hurting after only a few days of skiing?
The liners always pack out and the boots get looser. And loose boots will eventually hurt. This is why we “shell size” and try to ignore what the liner is telling us. Just like a freshly washed, tight fitting, pair of jeans eventually loosens up and fit perfectly.
I have a high instep and it hurts! What to do?
Assuming appropriate boot size and a proper footbed, remove material from the liner tongue, over the instep. This also allows better blood circulation to the toes and does not affect the insulating ability of the boot.
What to do for Big Calves?
Most people with big calves get boots that are way too big for their feet in order to accommodate their lower legs, or they move the buckles to get more room. Both these are bad choices. Resulting too big boots is obvious. Moving buckles to accommodate a large lower leg usually puts the skier into a too forward position and out of balance. The boot liner cuff usually has anywhere from 3/4 – 1 ½ inches of padding that can be removed and replaced with much thinner neoprene. More material can be taken from the tongue in the shin area. This way we fit the skier’s foot and stay in balance.
Have a really narrow foot?
Not all, but most boot manufacturers consider the average American woman’s foot to be a “B” width and man’s a “D” width. One of the most difficult issues to address is the foot with a low instep and arch coupled with a narrow foot. Women “A” and Men “B” or less. One solution is to find the closest fitting shell possible coupled with an aggressive footbed or orthotic. The next step would be to replace the stock liner with a foam liner.
What is the best way to keep my feet warm?
Stay off the snow, wear fluffy booties, sit by the fire and drink something warm. OOORRRRR, wear really well fit boots, with a single layer of medium-thin wool socks. Double layer socks always cause a problem, as do too thick socks. Electric boot heaters work well and today the batteries are much more reliable than in the past. Neoprene “boot gloves” also offer some protection from the cold.
Are my rear entry boots still good?
Assuming the boots are within acceptable DIN Standards, my response is “Do you love them?” If the answer is absolutely “YES” I say, “don’t mess with success”! But, if you want better performance and feel for the snow then 4 buckle overlaps of today have a great deal to offer (performance wise), and still can be remarkably comfortable! There are no more “performance” rear entry boots being made today, but there are still a few people who do need what the good rear entry boots of yesterday had to offer. They were for the high volume foot that had a hard time finding a home!
What is the difference between foam and thermal moldable liners?
Both require an effective footbed or orthotic. Foam is an aggressive procedure where the existing liner of the boot is replaced with a hollow liner. The liner is then filled with a foam and catalyst which pass from the back of the leg out the boot toe, aggressively filling the space between the boot wall and the foot, from the metatarsals to the lower leg. Done right, it creates a very precise fit. Thermal moldable liners are heated and then the foot displaces the padding. Less aggressive and not quite as long lasting as foam.
My feet cramp up!
Boots too big, no footbed, working to hard with the muscles of the feet instead of letting the boots do the work. One other possibility is the foot is not properly aligned with the footbed. If this is the case see www.howtoputonskiboots.com
I’m getting chaffing, rubbing and/or bruising on my shins!
Buckles too loose, cuff too big. It all sounds like motion to me. If you can move, you will move and if you do it will hurt!
What is involved in a complete boot fit?
Click here to see the section on “Custom Boot Fitting”. It’s the only kind we do.
How important is pole length?
Very! Many entry level skiers use too-long poles (many accomplished skiers, also). A properly sized pole will encourage proper hand and forearm position, hence good balance. Too long will often rotate the skier into the “back seat” and too short puts the skier out of balance, forward.
How long should my poles be?
Standing tall, in your street shoes (other clothing optional) with your elbow at a 90 degree angle, your forearm parallel to the ground, the grip comfortably in your hand and the tip of the pole on the floor.
Are there any exceptions to this measurement process?
Always! There are some skiers who ski mostly steeps and will often prefer longer poles to accommodate a longer downhill reach. Bump (mogul) skiers often like shorter poles to compensate for their more active hands when pole planting. Entry level (beginner) skiers often like longer poles so they can push themselves along in the snow (this is not a good choice).
Is there a way my poles can be shortened?
Remove the grip, measure as above, cut the pole and replace the grip. Note: some of the less expensive pole grips are fit to the shaft less critically and must be re-glued to the shaft after being removed.
Is there much difference between regular poles and “thin” poles?
You bet! You may not notice the difference between them until you switch back to “regular” poles, but thin poles offer less resistance to the air, particularly the faster you ski. The “swing weight” is usually better too and most are made with strong, exotic fibers. Expect to pay more$$$$$$.
What’s the difference in grips?
Huge! Talk to your sales person.