The Ultimate Secrets To Packing Ski Gear - Part 1
There are only a few sports that need bulkier personal gear than skiing.
We’ve put together a short two-part guide to taking kit out of storage, getting ready for the slopes, and safely stashing it for next year. Make sure you give yourself plenty of time to prepare – it’s not as simple as washing a football kit and cleaning your boots!
Skis and bindings
Taking them out of storage
Wipe down and clean your skis. This isn’t for aesthetics: dirty skis can adversely affect your performance on the slopes. Mild soap with a sponge is good enough for first pass. Scrub away any dirt build-up, and rinse well using a hose or a bucket of water. Wipe them dry and make sure that they are fully dried out before going to the next stage, which is to use a specialist base cleaner. This will get rid of any any old wax.
Next stage: check for any issues. For example, check the tops for anything starting to peel or come apart. (This can usually be fixed with epoxy.) Use a professional to both sharpen edges and deal with any major damage to edges or bases.
Check for any rust, which should be cleaned off/treated. If the bases are dried out, or going white or furry, plan to apply extra layers of wax layers of wax, which is the next stage.
Wax not only helps speed but protects – it would be hard to apply too much. Check with a ski shop the type of wax that you should use for your ski type and your destination, and run a good quality liquid wax over the base of each ski.
Don’t forget the option of taking skis to a ski shop for a full service at the start of each season. As they lose their strength with age, bindings should definitely be professionally calibrated by a ski technician who will certify that they are still usable, inspect for breaks, and check the releases.
Faulty bindings can cause serious injury. Check them well, including parts that can’t be got too easily.
Travelling with skis
Before travelling, find out your current ‘DIN setting’, which will be calculated by the type of skier you are, weight, height, age and boot length. It is part of a standard scale that decides how much force is needed for the binding to release to prevent injury to the skier. Knowing this will give you a good point of reference for when your bindings need adjusting.
Check transport arrangements for skis – whether travelling by car, bus, plane, there will be rules and restrictions to follow.
A ski bag helps greatly, as do ski straps which keep everything together. Many ski bags have outer belts which tighten – use them. They help things stop wobbling around. Lying the skis flat in double bags will stop the bag sagging, but if you pack this way, use strong rubber bands to keep your brakes up and out of the way.
Put the poles in too, protecting your skis from scratches, but don’t be tempted to fill a ski bag with anything more if you’re flying overseas. Ski bags notoriously go missing, and whilst it’s easy enough to rent skis (travel insurance will usually pay), it’s probably not so with anything else that was in the bag. Borrowed ski jackets, for example, available on some resorts, are just not the same as having your own.
The only exception to this is removable bag straps. They can get caught on things, so put these straps inside the bag for transit, and take them out for carrying the ski bag at the other end.
However, if you do wrap clothing, or extra pairs of long johns around your skis, it will free up luggage space and help cushion your skis from damage. Your call! Just remember to check weight limits.
Note: check the rules for your carrier, but more than one set of skis carried together in the same bag may count as a single piece of checked baggage – and skis and poles must sometimes be packed in a rigid and/or hard shipping shell case.
Putting skis back into storage
Clean and dry your skis as above. Ensure bindings are free of any dirt or damp before putting skis away.
Out of season is a great time to have a ski shop do a base grind and fix any damage – they have more time and you’ll have less to do when you take your skis out again later in the year.
Seal ski edges with a layer of hot wax. Don't remove this protective film before storing your skis in order to conserve the coating and edges. The film protects from rust/ oxidation, prevents the coating from drying out, and keeps it elastic at the same time.
Never stick skis one inside another - entangling brake levers will put permanent tension on the binding. You can store lying down or standing position but don't lay them down on their coating. Putting them in a clean, dry ski bag will help protect them from dirt and dust.
It’s useful to back off the tension on ski binding springs, so they don’t remain compressed in storage. Only loosen them to the lower end of the DIN scale, but not completely.
Move alpine binding heelpieces to the ‘ski’ position – always check. For Look, Marker and Rossignol bindings this will usually be heel cylinders up; for Salomon bindings this will be latch up and heel interface down. Move tech toe pieces (toe levers up) to ‘closed’ to ease the load on springs.
Write DIN numbers on a piece of tape and stick it to the skis to remember at next outing.
Taking them out of storage
If you’ve changed your skis, check that the skins are still the right size.
Check that the glue hasn’t deteriorated or degraded. If they have, a skin refresh can avoid a full reglue.
If skins were well used last season, try re-waterproofing to be on the safe side and ensure their effectiveness. (If you do this yourself, cover evenly and don’t soak the skin.) Use a flat surface or your ski to do this to ensure a nice, even surface and use a soft brush, non-absorbent, to work it in.
Travelling with skins
Skins can usually be folded safely, but we suggest you roll them like a belt to keep them from damage, unless the manufacturers’ instructions differ.
Putting skins back into storage
Brush off any loose dust or dirt before opening your skins. If they are still dirty, wash them in cold water.
Pull them apart to expose any wetness, and check that the glue side is still intact.
Hang them in a cool, clean place to dry out, away from the sun and not touching the floor. Make sure there are no pets around – glue and animal hair (and dust, to be fair) seem to have a fatal attraction!
A couple of hours drying is usually adequate.
Fold skins ‘glue to glue’ and tuck into a ski jacket/similar to keep dry and away from any direct heat. Researchers suggest the skin savers (otherwise called ‘glue savers’ or ‘cheat sheets’) are the best way to store skins, and are often provided when you buy skins.
Taking them out of storage
Take out ski boot footbeds and boot liners and air them, and check there’s nothing taken up residence in the boots over the summer, especially if you’ve stored them in a garage.
Handwash the outside of the liner as well as the inside of the hard-shell.
Examine the boot for excess wear, especially the heel and toe which can often be replaced. Really old boots can mean brittle plastic which could mean watching the bottom half of your ski fly off down the mountain leaving you with just the top half on your foot! If your boots have already done sterling service, it may be time to replace them. Excessive wear on the heels and toes of your boots can change the interface with the binding, which will alter forward pressure and toe height. If this is the case, take your boots and bindings to a ski specialist for readjustment.
Buckling helps boots maintain their shape, so once your boots are aired, replace the foot beds and liners, and buckle up well.
Don’t forget to try boots on with the socks you’ll be wearing on the slopes to ensure that they still fit!
Travelling with ski boots
Ski boots are solid and inflexible, so plan to pack them into your case first. Having made sure they’re clean and dry, they can be filled with socks, underwear, scarves, mittens that you’re taking with you. If they’re going in the hold rather than onboard, I usually put any jewellery in as well to keep it safe (but if they’re in hand luggage you may be asked to unpack, which risks loss).
Packing boots top to tail should give you a nice secure packing space between them to fill, as well as saving case space.
And a word to the wise: make sure new boots are worn in well in advance.
Putting boots back into storage
Before storing ski boots, clean them thoroughly and let them dry completely, including taking the inside out from the hard shell for several days to air and dry. If you have a boot heater, now’s the time to use it to make sure things are properly dry.
Once dry, put the inner part back without wrinkling it. It’s fiddly but will stop the shoe from pushing on your foot later. Pop in some shoe deodorant or foot talc to keep any residual pongs at bay, but these should have been minimised by good cleaning. Stuff the boots with clean paper to help maintain dryness, but do make sure the boots are fully dry before storing.
Plastic disintegrates, so make boots are stored in a cool dry place, and close buckles to help boots maintain their shape.
Coming up in part two: waterproof jackets, gloves and salopettes; goggles, helmets, transceivers and poles.
We’d love to be part of helping you pack away your equipment and quotes are available, 24/7 here: https://book.easystorage.com/