Hopefully you’ve already pulled your ski and snowboard gear out of a long summer hibernation. It’s now time to start thinking about tuning up your gear and getting ready for the season. As with tools and instruments, taking good preventative care of your ski and snowboard gear may help prolong your time enjoying it.
Keep your gear tuned and waxed
Even if you go to a professional at the beginning of the season for a tune up, with a little bit of time and patience you can save money and extend the life of your gear keeping it regularly waxed.
Wax helps reduce friction when alpine skiing or snowboarding and improve your ability to slide down the hill. Wax also helps prevent oxidation and avoid damage to your gear. One application method is to melt wax onto the base of your skis or snowboard, iron it smooth, remove all but a thin layer with a sharp edge, and then buff the layer in. Others sometimes spray on or rub on wax and apply it regularly.
Personally, I drop my skis off at my local shop at the beginning of the season and ask them to sharpen and wax my skis (and fill any scratches or divots). Then, throughout the season, I’ll take my skis to a slope-side location like Breck Sports and have them wax my skis while I eat lunch.
Longevity depends on habits
Some folks, like my parents, say skis and snowboards can last a lifetime. Others suggest that no more than 100–200 days of use can be reasonably expected.
If you don’t damage your edges and dig big holes in the bottom of your base, you may be able to keep them in service for many years. But, if you like to regularly go off jumps or ride rails in the park, you may see less than an 100 days of use before something fails or snaps.
To avoid unnecessary damage: watch for dark patches in snow so you don’t accidentally ride over rocks. You can only fill so many holes in your base and grind down your edges before you threaten the integrity of your gear.
On top of that, I always check my bases and look at my edges after a day of skiing to see if any preventative maintenance is needed. A little bit of awareness and maintenance can go a long way before a scratch gets too big to fill or a rough edge snags and sends you falling in a dangerous situation.
Transporting and storing your gear
Treating your gear with respect, even after skiing or snowboarding, can help you prevent more unnecessary damage.
If you use a roof rack you may find your gear attracts harsh road chemicals that rust your edges and bindings. When possible, use a closed roof container, rinse your gear off after driving, or bring them inside your car if you have spare room.
When you carry your skis to and from the slopes, dragging them through the parking lot or throwing them on the ground by the lift line can easily dull your edges and damage your base. You probably know better, but your kids or your friends may not. Feel free to help them get more life out of their gear and avoid bad (expensive) decisions.
Finally, at the end of the season, consider storing your skis and snowboards in a dry, dark area with a consistent temperature. My personal preference is the furnace room. Be sure to remove any end-of-season dirt, chemicals, and rust. If your gear had a rough season, consider taking it in to the shop for a tune-up so things don’t get worse over the months (and you may get some deals compared to winter pricing).