Whether you want to enjoy the view from the chairlift and then head down the groomed runs, or you'd rather find your own line through fresh powder before sitting outside on a terrace in the sun, you will need the right clothing to brave the cold, wind and snow. Thanks to our advice on what to wear when skiing, you will be able to ski with a smile, even in a snowstorm!
The Layering System
A quick reminder on what the layering system for outdoor sports is:
- A breathable base layer to remove perspiration
- A mid-layer to keep you warm
- An outer layer to protect you from the elements
The layering system for Alpine Skiing
A breathable base layer is essential to wick moisture generated by exerting yourself while descending, and it prevents you from feeling cold once you are on a chairlift. Long thermal underwear made from synthetic fibers are a suitable option, but merino wool is even better for the breathability and warmth it provides, even when wet.
A mid-layer is worn to maintain your body heat. It could be a fleece, or a light insulated jacket worn over your thermal underwear. Your ski jacket is often already insulated with a fleece lining or a synthetic or down filling, so you should adapt your mid-layer accordingly.
The outer-layer is your ski jacket. As mentioned above, your jacket can often have a fleece or synthetic lining, or for warmer jackets a down quilting. Your jacket must be windproof as there is always wind when skiing, whether it's forecast or due to the speed at which you ski down the mountain. Even when sitting on a chairlift you will be exposed to wind that is linked to its movement. If you ski mainly in nice weather, a Durable Water Repellant (DWR) treatment on your jacket would be enough to protect you from bad weather. If you are an all-weather and powder skier then the protection of a waterproof jacket, for example Gore Tex, is essential.
Finally, other than the cut and color of women's ski wear, their clothing is often warmer than men's, as women are generally more sensitive to the cold.
When buying ski equipment, the choice of ski bindings is often overlooked as it's generally easier to buy a ski package where the bindings are included. However, you need to be sure that your bindings match your type of skiing, ability level, physical build and that they are compatible with your ski boots. Follow our advice to make the right choice!
Skis with or without bindings?
Skis can often be sold on their own, without bindings, or with a plate that is fixed to the ski and where a binding from the same manufacturer can slide on.
Generally, freeride, free touring, ski touring and freestyle skis are sold without bindings, so you are completely free to choose the best ones for you. In this case it's particularly useful to know which bindings to consider and we advise you to keep reading!
Alpine skis and all-mountain skis generally have a plate attached to the ski and are sold as a package with bindings. You can expect the manufacturer to include bindings suited to the ski range. However, remember to check compatibility with your boots and the DIN release setting range (we will talk about the different DIN settings and adjustments in more detail later in this article).
Which bindings should I choose for the type of skiing I do?
First of all, you should ask yourself what type of skiing do you do? The requirements will not be the same on groomed tracks, in snowparks or when touring.
If...I ski exclusively on groomed slopes
If skiing is only a pastime for you, resistance and comfort are the characteristics you should look for. Find light bindings that are easy to step into and mostly made out of plastic.
If you are a more advanced skier who enjoys high speed turns, you will need bindings that are dynamic and precise, providing you with good grip underfoot. In order to achieve this, they have metal parts (made from either steel or aluminum) integrated into them. These bindings are robust and resistant to the forces exerted on them. Your boots should be slightly inclined towards your toes and sit high on the snow, this helps you hold an edge.
If...I practice free skiing (freeride, free touring or freestyle)
For freeriding or skiing off the groomed slopes you will need to find a pair of light bindings.
Good power transmission will help you control your skis as you shift from edge to edge, while the high elasticity of the bindings will improve shock absorption, so they don’t release at each impact. With this kind of bindings, you will also be closer to your skis and therefore closer to the snow, a position which intensifies the sensation of 'floating' in powder!
When practicing freestyle, flexible bindings will act as shock absorbers when landing jumps.
In free touring, you must use free-heel bindings. They allow you to 'walk' with your heel free when climbing with your skis on, using your skins. You can choose either tech bindings (lightweight and efficient when climbing) or frame bindings (reassuring when descending).
Choosing ski bindings adapted to my level and weight
Paradoxically, the most important security feature of a ski binding is whether it releases well or more precisely the “range of release”. In the event of a fall, this release mechanism can help you avoid injuring yourself, protecting especially your knees.
In order to make sure the release threshold is adapted to each skier, there is a standard adjustment to be made on the heel and toe piece of your binding. This is called the DIN setting and is generally measured on a scale from 1 to 13. In order to find the right DIN setting for you, there are tables or smartphone applications based on five criteria: your weight, age, height, skier level and boot sole length.
If you have any doubt about the DIN settings on your bindings, take them to a specialist retailer.
Binding and boots standards
In recent years, we have witnessed the introduction of new standards of ski boots and bindings, which means that systematic checks on compatibility between the two are made.
There are 2 main ski boot standards:
- Alpine standard (ISO 5355) which was the first standard for boots with flat soles made from stiff plastic
- Touring standard (ISO 9532) which allows for a better, more natural walking feeling due to a rounded sole profile. Within this standard, the use of GripWalk has become common place in ski touring and also in alpine skiing
There are certain ultra-light tech touring bindings which are not certified by either of these standards.
The Technical Inspection Association (TÜV) is the organization which certifies the compatibility between skis and bindings:
- Alpine ski bindings without any other specific certification are only compatible with boots with the Alpine standard.
- Bindings with the GripWalk label (logo present on the binding) are compatible with both Alpine certified boots and GripWalk certified boots, without making adjustments to your bindings.
- Certain specialist alpine bindings are compatible with boots with 2 certifications, however, depending on the type of boot used, an adjustment of the toe piece may be needed. This is the case for Salomon's MNC bindings.
- Ski touring tech bindings, also called pin bindings, are not generally subjected to certification and are only compatible with touring boots which have a system of metal pins.
Don't hesitate to take your boots and bindings to a specialist store and seek help from a professional.
Thankfully, there isn't any certification that dictates the color of your ski bindings. If they are suited to your type of skiing, to your boots and are well adjusted, you can go with whichever color you like best!
To be able to ski on groomed slopes and in powder without worrying about your feet, the choice of ski boots is a critical one. Your boots form an essential partnership with your skis, they must be comfortable and give you sufficient support. Here is our advice to help you make the right choice.
Ski boot features
To find the right model of boots for your needs, you will need to take into account factors such as size, flex, the shape of the boots’ shell and cuff as well as other features like whether there is a walk position.
Men's and women's boots
Men's and women's ski boots are ergonomically adapted to differences in body shape, especially on the calf. Women’s calves are generally lower down the leg than men’s.
The cuff (the high part of the boot) on women's ski boots is therefore lower and flares out towards the top, with a specific shape at the back of the boot to suit calf shape.
Women tend to be more sensitive to the cold and therefore are more prone to problems with blood circulation and venous return, this is why boot liners on women’s lines are generally warmer.
Another important factor to consider when choosing your ski boots is the flex or rigidity of your boot. Flex index is measured on a scale of 60 to 150. The choice of flex in a ski boot is linked to the skier’s ability and body shape. The higher the skier’s level, the more rigid the boot should be to allow for more efficient power transmission from the legs to the skis. Skiers of a bigger build will also need a stiffer flex.
Beginner level: flex index between 60 and 90 for men and between 60 and 70 for women
Intermediate level: flex between 90 and 110 for men and between 70 and 90 for women
Advanced level: flex index of 110 and over for men and 90 and over for women
High level competitors: the stiffest ski boots are reserved for them and have a flex of between 140 and 150.
Flex index isn't an official standard, so differences in rigidity are found between different brands.
You can adjust the rigidity of your ski boots by loosening the top strap if you want them to be more flexible.
Choose the right size
Ski boot sizing uses mondo sizing which is measured in centimeters and corresponds exactly to the longest part of your foot. Unlike normal shoes, ski boots need to fit the skier's foot exactly. It is estimated that 75% of skiers choose boots that are two sizes too big!
How do you measure the size of your feet and find your mondo size? It's very simple:
- put a piece of paper against the wall
- put your foot on this piece of paper with your heel against the wall
- flex slightly at the knee and draw round the front of your foot
- do the same with the other foot
- take the longest measurement, this is your mondo size
Ski boots are generally available in half sizes. If your foot measurement falls between two sizes, anticipate the compression of the boot liner and choose half a size smaller.
The width of a ski boot is referred to as the 'LAST' (measured across the ball of your foot) which is also the widest part of your foot. You can easily find this measurement by drawing around your foot.
You should choose your ski boot width/last by taking into account the level of precision you need when skiing:
92mm: very narrow. For competitors only.
96-98mm: narrow. For a narrow foot or a skier looking for precision rather than comfort.
100mm: average. Suited to most skiers
102mm: for wide feet.
104mm: for very wide feet.
Choose a boot that is the right width for you, is comfortable and also gives you control of your skis. If precision is important to you, choose narrower ski boots. Ski boots that are too wide won't support your foot and controlling your skis will be more difficult.
Define your type of skiing
Choosing a boot adapted to your foot (men / women, size, width) is the first essential stage in your quest for the ideal pair of ski boots. You also need to choose a range of boots adapted to your type of skiing as boot requirements won't be the same for people with different ski levels or those skiing on different terrains.
Skiing for leisure on groomed slopes
The ski boot models on offer for on-piste skiing are flexible (flex less than 90), comfortable, and easy to use (easy to step into, lightweight, sometimes come with a walk mode).
These boots are suitable if you are beginner or only ski occasionally.
Performance skiing and racing on groomed slopes
If you ski on-piste and at a high level, you should consider a range of boots that are more rigid (flex between 90 and 130 for men and between 70 and 110 for women). These boots will give you more control due to a narrower fit and a high cuff which is inclined towards your toes.
Freeride and freetouring
If you mainly ride off the groomed slopes and have a good technical level, choose freeride boots with rigid flex (around 100 – 120), a straight cuff, and an average boot width of 100mm. There are specific freeride options to make walking easier, such as rubber soles or a walk mode that frees the cuff.
Skiers that freetour use skins to skin up short climbs before skiing down. These skiers should look for lightweight boots for climbing that also perform well in the descents. Boots with inserts make them compatible with touring pin bindings or hybrid bindings specifically made for freetouring.
In ski touring, climbing is done with the help of skins that are fixed underneath the skis and free-heel bindings that make it easier to walk.
Touring boots are light and their walk mode is very efficient in allowing the cuff to move freely. They are very flexible so details of flex aren't shown when buying them.
The use of metallic inserts is becoming widespread on these boots and it is essential for these inserts to be compatible with light touring pin bindings.
The first thing that freestyle skiers look for is a flexible boot with cushioning in the heel which makes landing jumps more comfortable. The average width at the ball of your foot should be 100mm, allowing for a good compromise between comfort and precision.
Telemark boots and bindings are specific to the sport, due to genuflection, the technique used in turns (the outside ski is in front and the inside leg is bent with the heel lifted up). Telemark boots are chosen half a size to a size bigger than alpine ski boots due to significant flexion.
So, finally you've found the right ski boots but you want to make them more comfortable? Make sure you have the right ski socks. A thermoformable boot liner will adapt to the shape of your foot when heated (best done in a specialist store) and you can also replace the original inner sole with a custom fitted sole fitted to your feet.
Lastly, consider using a boot fitting service offered by specialist stores or podiatrists. This will allow you to custom fit your ski boots by making the shell bigger around pressure points that cause you discomfort.
If your boots are comfortable, you'll be able to put the right foot forward when choosing your skis!
Get the right size and fit for your needs
With the array of snowboard shapes and profiles available nowadays, it can be hard to make a sound decision. Luckily, we have very knowledgeable and experienced staff on hand for our local and visiting customers, but for everybody else, finding the right snowboard can be dreadful when looking for direction and relevant information online.
THERE ARE A NUMBER OF FACTORS THAT COME INTO PLAY WHEN PICKING A NEW BOARD:
- Riding/Ability Level
- Snowboard Width
- Snowboard Length
- Riding Style and Preferred Terrain
While many snowboards are designed for specific types of terrain and riding styles, others are made to serve a more generalised purpose, kind of a “Jack of all trades, master of none” type of boards. But regardless of your needs, there is a perfect snowboard out there for you and this user-friendly guide will help you narrow it down and pick your next weapon of awesomeness!
What is the right snowboard length for me? You may have heard that the proper board should be at least as high as your chin, but no higher than your eyes. And while this rule of thumb is still a good starting point to this day, it doesn’t necessarily mean perfect fit anymore given the variety of shapes and profiles available. Both weight and your riding style are to be taken into consideration when trying to choose the right length, as they will affect the range of boards you should be looking at.
For example, if you are a heavier rider, you may want a slightly longer board than recommended for someone of the same height, given that you would require more support from said board. If you spend the majority of your time on the hill off-piste, you may also want a longer board, as it will provide more float and stability in rougher terrain and deeper snow. On the other hand, if you have a more freestyle approach to you riding and prefer the terrain park, a shorter board will allow you to maneuver more easily when doing tricks.
See the chart below for reference. Please note that every size overlaps by a couple of centimetres, as those are recommendations and are subject to personal preferences.
Snowboard Sizing Chart
As you can see, there is a range of sizes for each rider, the reason being that depending on your build and terrain preference, you may want to go up or down in size.
PLEASE CONSIDER THE FOLLOWING FACTOR WHEN SELECTING YOUR BOARD SIZE:
If you are stoked on riding park or aspire at spending more time perfecting your bag of tricks, you may want to choose the shorter board in your range.
If you like to ride everywhere on the mountain and will never spend time on the groomed runs when there is fresh snow, you may want to select the longer board in your range.
If you are slightly heavier than the average rider of your height, consider longer.
If you are still at the beginner level, consider shorter.
What is my riding level? It is important to be honest with yourself when assessing your riding ability in order to select the right board. It doesn’t matter how great of a board it is or how good the people riding it are, if it isn’t a good fit for your build and your riding style, you won’t progress and more importantly, you won’t be having fun riding it.
Snowboard Width vs Boot Size
Luckily, snowboard width, unlike the length, is not a matter of preference or ability but more so a matter of proper fit and this depends solely on your boot length. The sad news is that not all models are available in mid-wide or wide. Therefore, if you are a big footed fellow, you might find yourself a little bit more limited in terms of options. The good news is, that most brands now have quite a few wide options in their line of boards and that once you know what category you belong to, you start enjoying the benefit of the right fit and you start shopping accordingly.
Riding Style and Preferred Terrain
As we touched on in the first paragraph, some snowboards are designed with a specific use in mind and others meant to be suitable everywhere. While every snowboard can be ridden the way you want, anywhere you desire and in all snow conditions, picking one that is built to suit your needs will increase the likelihood of having a good time and progress into a better rider.
Here are descriptions which should help you shed some light on the various board categories:
Once again, the all-mountain snowboards are the “Jack of all trades, master of none” type of boards. They will perform equally as good on fresh snow, groomed runs and in the park. Nothing is quite as versatile and is usually the most popular choice for the majority of snowboarders. The reason being, that not everyone wants a board for every type of terrain nor for every snow condition.
Freestyle snowboards or Park boards are designed to hit man-made and natural features such as; jumps, rails, tree jibs, halfpipes and anything that will get you off the snow. They are also made to ride switch (other foot forward) with ease, as they are often true twin, meaning exact same shape and length on both ends. Some hybrids are qualified as All-Mountain Freestyle. Designed as a directional twin, with a symmetrical shape and a slightly longer nose. Those snowboards are designed to be versatile and playful at the same time, as well as to be ridden on the shorter end of the spectrum.
Freeride snowboards are designed with a stiffer flex and are meant to be ridden in a slightly longer fashion. They are best suited for snowboarders who seek fresh snow and tend to spend all their time on the hill off the groomed runs. Freeride boards are often directional and have a longer nose.
Powder snowboards are, well, designed for powder surfing! They are often seen with funky features such as short, swallow/fish tails and wider/tapered nose. The stance (mounting points) is set back and the tips are rockered to allow better float in deeper snow. This renders a short effective edge but will ensure turning ease and a no catch feel in fresh powder.
Splitboards are built to access zone that would otherwise only be accessed by snowshoes. The upside being weight and versatility, given that you don’t have to carry your snowboard on your back while climbing. Splitboards also float much better than snowshoe in deep snow and allow you to climb steeper ascents due to the climbing skins. Splitboard bindings are required, as well as other touring and safety equipment. Despite having all the appropriate equipment, your most important tool when touring the backcountry is your knowledge. Please visit our friends at BC Ski Guides for more info on getting proper training for your future backcountry outings.
Found mostly in the freeride, all-mountain and powder snowboard category, the directional shape is meant to be ridden majoritarily in one direction. Its design offers a slightly longer and softer nose for better float and maneuverability in fresh snow while having a shorter and stiffer tail for a more nimble feel and added carving ability.
True Twin Shape
The name refers to its identical/twin tips, meaning that both the nose and tail are symmetrical with the same length and flex. This snowboard shape is most often found in freestyle/park boards and is intended to be mounted in the center of the board in order to react and perform the same in either direction.
Directional Twin Shape
Directional twin can be two things, either a directional board with a longer nose and shorter tail with a twin flex core. Meaning that the flex would be more similar in both tips. Or, it can be a twin shaped board with progressive flex in the nose and stiffer tail. Either of these models will be found in all-mountain/freestyle boards, providing a playful feel on a more versatile platform.
A new wave of snowboards now offers asymmetrical sidecut profiles, core/flex and other unusual features. The idea is that unlike skiing where you should be symmetrical in your edge to edge movement, on your snowboard your flow and amount of weight distributed from your heel to your toe edge is different. Therefore, your board should be shaped and adapted to handle accordingly.
Camber is the traditional and most popular profile in snowboarding. It offers the most amount of control in the park and on groomed runs as is has the longest effective edge and most amount pop a board can pack. You can recognize a camber board by the arch it creates when put on the ground without any weight on it.
Rocker or reverse-camber, is self-explanatory, being the opposite of the regular camber. This profile offers a looser feel and better float in powder. It does not provide as good of an edge control given its shorter surface contact with the upside being that it is more forgiving and playful than the regular camber.
The flat profile is the middle ground between regular camber and rocker board. It offers a better edge hold and precise edging than rocker, but is more forgiving and playful than the regular camber.
The rocker/camber/rocker is intended to offer better control than rocker board, by having an effective edge running from one foot to the other and with both tips leaving the ground early for a more nimble/shortboard feel. It also encompasses the value of rocker in the tips, offering better float than regular camber, by having rockered tips for ease in deep powder. The best of both worlds can be found in the increasingly popular profile found in freeride boards.
This variation is another middle ground trying to offer a better edge hold with a poppier feel whilst remaining looser and more forgiving than its full camber counterpart.
Camber/Rocker/Camber is a profile found mostly in freestyle/park boards. It is designed to offer both the looser feel of rocker boards and the solid edge hold of a camber profile. This profile is most often found in freestyle/park snowboards.
Even though the amount of flex may vary from one board to another and from one company to another, most manufacturers offer a flex rating ranging from 1 to 10, in order to guide customers through the selection of the proper board. Generally, 1-2 is rated as soft, 3-5 medium, 6-8 stiff and 9-10 as very stiff.
Softer flex snowboards are usually more forgiving and easier to maneuver at low speed with the downside of not providing as good a board control at high speed. It is ideal for beginners, lighter riders and park riders with a soft spot for rails.
On the same angle, stiffer flex boards bring more control at high speed and are usually best suited for freeride and backcountry. Stiffer flex will be harder to maneuver easily at low speed, mostly for lighter riders, making the selection of a proper flex for your next board rather important.
Hole Pattern and Binding Compatibility
Four different snowboard hole patterns are currently used in conventional snowboard building. 4x4, 2x4, 3D and Channel. Refer to the diagram below for compatibility. Please note that Channel specific bindings designed by Burton are called EST. While most other binding company make disks that compatible with the Channel system, the Burton EST bindings are designed specifically and only for Channels.
Up until a few years ago, snowboard companies made only the one variety of boards with smaller sizes and pretty graphics to entice the women rider demographic. Fast track a few years in the future and women snowboarding is one of the fastest expanding alternative sport with growing numbers worldwide. Women bodies have different attributes and mechanics, and therefore should benefit from equipment designed specifically to accommodate those needs.
Even though we would all love for our kid's gear to last more than a season or two, it is important, even more so when learning, to find a board that is well suited for the person’s build. Consider that if snowboarding is your passion, you’ll definitely want to increase the odds of your child enjoying the process while learning the ropes, to ensure you get to share more of those precious moments on snow in the future. It will not only help the fun factor but will also make him/her progress faster.
Durability and Price Range
As price is a decisive factor for most when shopping, it is important to know when it is appropriate to look for deals and when it would be better to wait and save up for something that is worth it. At Comorsports.com, we have a plethora of board selection with the best quality and prices. That being said, depending on your snowboarding needs and preferences, we might be inclined to suggest a variety of different products. The type of wood, laminate, base material and edges are all factors that influence not only the price but the way a board will ride, feel, as well as its durability. If you only find yourself on snow a handful of times a season, you may not find value in spending a lot of money on a high-end board. But again, if you find snowboarding to be more of a passion, something that brings you happiness when you’re down or even your reason for everything, it might be wise to spend a little more on a piece of equipment that will not only last longer, but will feel so good that it’ll make you forget that you are attached to it when gliding on frozen water, letting you enjoy the freedom of the winter wonderland in the way it was designed to. All we can do is ask the questions and you make the decision.
Although feedback and rider reviews are a great way to gain more knowledge, nothing will ever beat demo days where you get to actually ride a board before spending your hard earned money on it. We hope this was helpful and do not hesitate to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org with any snowboard related questions and one of our dedicated specialists will be happy to assist you.
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