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Ski and Snowboard Gear for Beginners

What Do I Need to Start Ski Club?

So, you joined ski club and are excited to hit the slopes with your friends but may be wondering what is needed to maximize comfort for hours on the snow. And yes, we will help you not look like a fool. This is the complete need-to-know how to prepare for a great season with your school's ski and snowboard club. This list is organized in what we think is the order of importance in terms of items needed to ensure that you stay comfortable and happy all day and night skiing and snowboarding.

  1. Ski and Snowboard Pants are the most important article of winter clothing in the ski club wardrobe because they are designed to contain heat, repel moisture and breath to keep you warm and dry in the cold, wet elements. Many people make the mistake of wearing jeans or sweat pants to the slopes, but neither jeans nor sweat pants are waterproof, and cotton does not hold heat when wet. Our base level ski pant, the youth Outdoor Gear Cirque Bib starts at $34.95 and will do the job, but there are several of features beyond the realm of the Cirque Bib that will enhance your experience at Mad River Mountain.
    • Taped seams: Critically taped seams or fully taped seams stop wind and moisture from seeping in through the needle holes and seams of your ski pants. Manufacturers quite literally put a piece of waterproof "tape" under the seams to block the elements, ensuring that you stay warm and dry. Critically taped seams mean that only the major seams are taped, so in pants this means the front and back rise seams, whereas fully taped seams mean that every seam on the snow pants have been taped.
    • Breathability: Breathability allows water vapor (sweat) to pass through and out of the fabric. A non-breathable pant will trap moisture on the inside of the pants, making you more prone to becoming wet and cold. Breathability is measured in g/m2 (i.e.: 10,000 g/m2). The higher your breathability rating, the more breathable the fabric.
    • Waterproofing: A fabric's waterproofing is measured by how much water pressure the film can sustain prior to leaking, and is measured in millimeters (i.e.: 10,000mm). The higher the number, the more the snow pants can withstand while you are active in wet elements. We recommend a minimum of 5,000mm for a comfortable experience.
    • Waist adjustment capability: most snow pants have either belt loops or velcro waist adjustment systems (sometimes both) to get a perfect fit every time you go ski or snowboard. Nothing is worse than getting snow down your pants because they are a little too big.
  2. Ski Socks: Wool or acrylic blend socks are ideal for skiing and snowboarding because they have extremely good heat retaining qualities even when wet and wick moisture to keep your feet dry while you are working up a sweat. Many people make the unfortunate mistake of wearing cotton socks, or even a few layers of socks in an attempt to stay warm. Cotton does not retain heat when it is wet and once it gets wet, it stays wet for hours, keeping feet cold. Doubling up socks before putting them in a snug ski or snowboard boot cramps your foot especially around your instep, which in turn restricts the circulation in your feet. Restricted circulation results in cold, numb, and tingly feet. We sell a number of great ski and snowboard specific socks that will keep you warm and dry all day long, while wearing just one pair. Lorpen for example makes great socks for juniors starting at  $9.99 and adults $18.95.  Of course, there are many upgrades available to give your feet a little more comfort.
    • Cushioning: Brands such as Point 6 and Smartwool offer an assortment of sock weights (ultra light, light, medium, etc) and include ski boot specific cushioning. This includes additional padding in the shin and the bottom of the foot to give you a little more cushy comfort where you need it the most, with thinner materials on the back of your calf and top of your foot for increased circulation and warmth.
    • Ventilation: Brands such as Point 6 put ventilation panels in their socks allowing your feet to breathe in order to keep your feet dry.
    • Wool Milling: Smartwool and Point 6 socks are made of wool that has been milled 27 times to remove irritants and give you a softer, cozier sock.
  3. Gloves/Mittens: Ski and snowboard specific gloves tend to be more durable than your average department store glove, and also possess more advanced insulation and waterproofing qualities. Ski and snowboard specific gloves are also anatomically articulated for a more natural feel on your fingers making it easier to grip poles. As for the debate between gloves or mittens, ultimately it comes down to personal preference. Mittens tend to be warmer as your fingers are closer together and retain more heat this way. Gloves tend to be more convenient because they allow for better grip and mobility. With today's materials, gloves are super warm as well, but those with extremely cold hands may want to consider a mitten with a thin glove liner.
  4. Helmet: We think that every skier or snowboarder should wear a helmet, regardless of ability level, and many ski clubs require one. Helmets not only keep you safer, but they also keep you warm and comfortable for hours on end. An added bonus: companies like Smith, Giro, Ride, and POC make helmets in fun colors and patterns so you don't have to sacrifice style for safety. Our base model adult ski helmet, the Giro Bevel, costs $59.95 and has an adjustable size system and ventilation. There are many additional options and upgrades featured in helmets, again to enhance your days on the mountain.
    • Liners: The quality of a helmet's liner enhances fit and comfort. Additional padding and softer materials make these helmets warmer over your ears, and more comfortable sitting on your head.
    • Ventilation: Higher end helmets have adjustable ventilation, allowing you to control the climate of your helmet . Some helmets have one slider on top that adjusts all of the vents of a helmet, some have two so that you can adjust each side. The ability to control your ventilation prevents your head from overheating and sweating on warmer days, or retains heat to keep you warmer on those colder days.
    • Adjustable Fit: Many of today's helmets feature adjustable fit systems to give you the most precise and comfortable fit available. Some companies use a BOA dial system, or something similar, and some use a sliding track. These systems are easy to use and prevent your helmet from moving around on your head, again to improve your comfort. As far as fit goes the skin on your forehead should move with the helmet as it is moved back and forth. Also, the helmet should touch the top of the head without pressing down on top of the helmet.
  5. Jacket: Ski and snowboard specific jackets are designed like pants to retain heat, wick moisture away and repel snow and rain, providing you with unparalleled comfort in even the harshest winter conditions. Many skiers and snowboarders wear cotton hoodies or their street wear jackets to the slopes and end up cold and wet, as the materials they are wearing do not retain heat, or resist water. Today's jackets are packed with features to keep your upper half comfortable in just about any conditions. Even many snowboard hoodies we offer are waterproof.  Wear the hoody to school, on the bus and on the mountain.
    • Breathability: Breathability allows water vapor (sweat) to pass through the fabric. A non-breathable jacket will trap moisture on the inside, making you more prone to becoming wet and cold. Breathability is measured in g/m2 (i.e.: 10,000 g/m2). The higher your breathability rating, the more breathable the fabric.
    • Waterproofing: A fabric's waterproofing is measured by how much water pressure the film can sustain prior to leaking, and is measured in millimeters (i.e.: 10,000mm). The higher the number, the more your jacket can withstand while you are active in wet elements. We recommend a minimum of 5,000mm for a comfortable experience.
    • Insulation: With today's advances in insulation technology, gone are the times when you had to look like a marshmallow to stay warm in the winter. Materials such as Thinsulate or Primaloft are lighter weight, trap warm air, and tend to be thinner and allow for a more streamlined jacket look. The special seams and designs of shoulder and arm areas allow ski jackets to rest on the shoulder without a heavy burden like your typical department store coat.
    • Taped seams: Critically taped seams or fully taped seams stop wind and moisture from seeping in through the needle holes in jackets. Manufacturers quite literally put a piece of "tape" under the seams to block the elements, ensuring that you stay warm and dry. Critically taped seams mean that only the major seams are taped, so in jackets this typically means the shoulders, hood, neck, and front zipper seams, whereas fully taped seams mean that every seam on your jacket has been sealed.
    • Powder Skirt: Built in powder skirts prevent snow and wind from creeping up your jacket, thus keeping you warmer and dryer in the snow. Most powder skirts feature a snap closure and an anti-slip silicone grip to hold on to your pants and seal off the inside of your jacket during falls. Some jackets have removable or stow-away powder skirts allowing your ski or snowboard jacket to cross over to every day winter wear, even when cruising around town.
    • Ventilation: Most of our jackets feature pit zips-- zippered vents under your armpits typically lined with mesh. Open to eliminate excess heat. Pit zips come in super handy on warmer days to prevent you from sweating.
    • Pockets: Jackets are typically loaded with pockets which allow you to secure your valuables without worrying about losing them. Media pockets allow you to stow your phone or music player and have a headphone hole for easy access to your music. Pass pockets give you a place to secure your season pass for easy access. Goggle pockets are typically mesh lined and are on the interior of the jacket so that you can secure your goggles without worrying about scratching the lens while grabbing a snack at the lodge. Almost all jacket pockets feature some method of securing their contents with zippers, snaps, or velcro so that you don't have to worry about losing your valuables on the lift, or during a fall.
  6. Goggles: Aspen Ski and Board has over 2000 goggle in stock from 7 brands. Goggles protect your eyes from the wind and snow, especially when the snow makers are blowing full force. Our base model goggle, the Scott Performance Goggle, starts at $24.95, and features a multi-light condition lens, top and bottom goggle ventilation, and a single layer of foam to rest against your skin. Moderately light lenses are needed for ski club night skiing and riding. Of course there are a number of upgrades available in more expensive goggles to make your goggles look and feel better.
    • Lenses:
      • Color and Tint: Daytime skiers and snowboarders will typically want a darker lens to protect their eyes from the bright sun, or the reflected light from the snow. Nighttime riders will want a lens that is a little more see through, and comes in lighter colors, allowing better low-light visibility.
      • Mirroring: Those looking to use their goggles for primarily day use tend to enjoy fully mirrored lenses for ultimate color balance and contrast. Those looking for a great night-use goggle tend to go with a partially mirrored or reflective lens, better suited for low-light conditions while still maximizing color balance and contrast.
      • Cylindrical vs. Spherical: Spherical lenses are shaped similar to your eyes, and the lens material is pre-shaped to fit the frame. Spherical lenses offer a more natural look. Cylindrical lenses are cut flat and then inserted to the frame, which shapes the lens once assembled.
      • Anti-fogging: Companies such as Oakley coat the inside of their lenses with a premium anti-fogging agent to ensure that your visibility is maximized in any conditions. This coating paired with the ventilation of the goggle allows your goggles to defog in seconds, and even just the airflow of sitting on the lift is enough to lift the fog.
    • Frame: Different frames fit different faces better. Women and children tend to like smaller framed goggles whereas men tend to like a slightly larger frame. The frames are also lined with foam and fleece to rest softly against your skin. If you are looking for a goggle to withstand the test of time, a goggle with a fleece lining is best. Goggles with just a single foam lining may deteriorate over time, especially with frequent use. A fleece-lined foam withstands the test of time by sealing the foam in place, and it is softer and more comfortable on your face. If you wear glasses, companies such as Smith and Scott make OTG (over the glasses) goggles that fit comfortably over your prescription glasses for ultimate comfort.
    • Straps: Most upgraded straps have a silicone band or two to secure your goggles around your helmet, hat, or head, improving their fit and feel. Smith also makes a strap that has a rear snap closure, allowing you to put your goggles on without having to stretch your goggle strap to fit around your head or helmet.The back of helmets have strap holders as well.
  7. Hats: Ears are one of the most sensitive parts of your body, and in cold, windy, and snowy weather, your ears are vulnerable. Your head also gives off a lot of heat and in the winter it is important to retain that heat to keep you warm. We carry hundreds of hats in all shapes, sizes, and colors to keep you warm and comfortable on and off the hill. Hats lined with fleece are soft and super warm. Wool knit hats tend to be thicker and retain heat better. A standard beanie is great for daily wear and is typically thin enough to layer under a helmet. Skullcaps are also great for heat retention and are designed to be worn under a helmet.
  8. Face and Neck Gaiters/Balaclavas: The face on your skin is extremely sensitive especially to harsh winter conditions such as low temperatures, high winds, and snow. Face and neck gaiters are constructed with either fleece or a moisture wicking, and often times wind blocking fabric to keep the elements out while allowing you to breathe. These gaiters are typically tube-shaped or bandana shaped to fit well with your layers and outerwear without adding too much bulk, thus limiting your mobility. Moisture wicking fabrics are wonderful for keeping your face dry while your warm breath condenses in the cold weather. Balaclavas are face/neck gaiters with hoods, so these will wrap your entire head and neck for ultimate weather protection. We now have hundreds of cool color and design options. Balaclavas have holes for your eyes and some have holes for your nose and mouth for breathing. Most balaclavas are thin enough to fit under a helmet or hat, and are goggle compatible.
  9. Wrist Guards: Wrist injuries are the most common snowboard-related injury, which is why we highly recommend wrist guards to snowboarders. Wrist guards are surprisingly comfortable, and there are quite a few options as to how to wear them. There are over the glove wrist guards, under the glove wrist guards, and even gloves with them built in. Parents make Johnny use them!
  10. Equipment: Now that you are all accessorized and ready to withstand the winter elements, you just need some ski or snowboard equipment to get you on the mountain. Aspen Ski and Board both sells and rents equipment.
    • Season Lease: The benefits of leasing as opposed to slope-side renting is that we do a boot fit with you to ensure that your boots will feel comfortable all season long, not to mention you don't have to wait in those long rental lines anymore as you get unlimited use of your ski equipment until it is due back approximately (April 1st). Kids 8th grade and under can lease used ski or snowboard equipment for the season for $99.95, and teens 9th grade and over as well as adults can lease for $149.95, and the equipment is yours to use from the day you pick it up until April 1st. Skiers receive skis, bindings, boots, and poles, and snowboarders receive a snowboard, bindings, and boots.
    • Purchasing: While renting equipment is a great and affordable way to have fun in the snow, nothing beats owning your own equipment that has been selected to perfectly suit your needs. The best part is that you can own your own equipment without breaking the bank.
      • Skis: We offer numerous affordable ski packages starting at just $289.95 for juniors including skis, bindings, boots and poles. Buy Adult ski packages for $359.95 for skis, bindings, and poles by leading brands like K2, Volkl, and Rossignol. And ski boots for adults for a total of only $479.95. The beauty of owning your own skis is that you get lighter weight equipment that is carefully selected for you to suit your needs, and nothing beats owning your own ski boots professionally fit for you.. Our staff of professional boot fitters are happy to get you into a pair of boots that are comfortable and fit your foot shape that you will enjoy for seasons to come.
      • Snowboards: Each snowboarder needs a snowboard, boots, and bindings. We offer many affordable snowboard packages starting at $269.95 for juniors, and $289.95 for adults from brands such as Morrow, Ride, and K2.We offer 9 brands of snowboards and we can’t post our real prices for our snowboard packages on our website. Come in and check out our huge selection and great  prices with over 1000 snowboards in stock. A great add-on to a snowboard to enhance your experience is a stomp pad. A stomp pad is a sticky typically rubbery pad that sticks to the snowboard in between your bindings. Stomp pads allow you to skate, glide, and get on and off the lift easier as you can secure your loose foot on the grippy pad as opposed to your slick top sheet. We have a great selection of stomp pads starting at $7.85.
    • Boot Rental: Many parents worry about purchasing equipment for growing kids. Most juniors will get a few seasons out of their skis or snowboard, but they tend to outgrow the boots much faster. For this reason, we offer ski boot and snowboard boot only season leases for just $49.95, so that you and your child can have the best of both worlds.
  11. Bags: Now that you have all of your equipment and clothing needs covered, get a bag to keep it all together. We recommend a ski/snowboard bag and a boot bag. A nice canvas sleeve is fine for protecting your gear and keeping everything together on short hauls such as bus travel to and from the resort. Ski and snowboard bags are roomy enough to accommodate your equipment as well as your bulkier jacket and pants and layering clothing. A nice boot bag secures your boots, helmet, and smaller accessories such as goggles, gloves, and socks. The High Sierra ski and boot bag combo or snowboard and boot bag combo cost just $34.95 and are perfect for keeping your gear together for ski club travel and summer storage. We have a great selection of padded and wheeled bags for more protection and convenience.
    • Padding:  A padded bag will protect your equipment better especially for airline travel. Some bags have padding around the bindings, and others are fully padded to give your equipment the best protection possible.
    • Wheels: Wheeled bags make hauling heavy gear around so much easier, especially in airports where you have other bags to worry about as well. Wheeled bags typically accommodate 2 pairs of skis or snowboards and have heavy-duty wheels and reinforcement to support the bags.

Ski club is a great gateway to a lifelong passion for skiing and snowboarding, and is a fun and social way to stay active throughout the usually dormant winter months. Now that you have read Ski Club 101, stop in to see us and allow our expert staff to share our passion for skiing and snowboarding as you prepare for ski club. One more tip, take one lesson from a professional. There is an 80 % greater chance you will ski or snowboard for life. We are happy to answer any questions, and look forward to working with you! Thank you for supporting your locally owned ski and snowboard shop. Think snow!