It’s that time of year when all you can think about is new skis, the snow forecast, and when your local mountain will open. But being ready for the big day takes a little planning. Have you ever gotten to the resort and forgotten your gloves, your boots, or even your skis? With a pre-season checklist and our expert tips, I will try and limit your “oops” moments so that all you need to worry about is where to go to make some turns.
1. Gather all your gear into one place.
First off, find all of your gear from last season: goggles, gloves, balaclavas, hats, helmets, beacon, probe, shovel, backpack, multi-tool, and water bottles or CamelBaks – anything you need during the ski season.
2. Does it all work?
How are the batteries in your beacon? Below 70%? Get new ones! Are your goggle lenses scraped up so badly that you can barely see out of them? Replace the lenses or even the goggles themselves if it’s been awhile. Technology in goggles has changed a lot in recent years – case in point, the range of choices in the Smith IO goggles.
Did you take a big wreck on your probe and bend some of the sections? Does it assemble nice and smoothly? Do your gloves have holes and duct tape all over them? If so, it’s time to buy some new ones to avoid frostbitten fingers.
Go over each piece of gear and give it a once over. If it needs replacing, do it now – so it won’t ruin an epic powder day.
3. Organize your gear.
I like to lay out all the essential pieces of ski gear (once I have made sure they are good to go) and pack up my pack like I’m going to head out the door.
I always make sure I have an extra Smith IO7 lens in case the light changes due to uncertain mountain weather. I check that I have a second pair of gloves, along with a balaclava or two, and I double and triple check that I have my multi-tool. You may not need a multi-tool that often, but when you need it, you really need it. Even when skiing at the resort, a multi-tool can be a life saver, for binding adjustments, cutting that stubborn lift wicket off, and of course, opening our first beer of the night. And last, but not least, I also attach my Smith Vantage helmet to the pack.
4. Pack your gear
Once I’ve made sure I have everything I need, I pack it all into a backpack that I can just grab and go when it’s time to hit the slopes. That way you have everything in one spot and don’t have to search for it all across the house.
I even go so far as to organize my skis and poles, strapped with a Voile strap, ready to go in my garage. I have my boots and my pack inside the house, next to the back door. That way, as I am walking out, I simply grab two things from the inside and one from the garage and I know I have everything I need.
5. Get Educated
While this is fifth on my list, because of where it falls in the timeline, getting educated is number one in terms of importance. If you are a backcountry or even a sidecountry skier, NOTHING is more important than learning how to use your beacon, probe, and shovel, and how to safely move in the backcountry. It doesn’t matter how much of a seasoned veteran you are. Take an avalanche refresher course, practice your drills, and don’t get complacent.
6. Dry it out.
Gear is expensive, and it behooves you to take care of your purchases. I always dry my gear in one location (again, close to the garage.) I have an organized drawer system that I can quickly replenish or change out dry gear from. Warm day calling for thinner gloves? Done, third drawer. Need a different set of skins for a smaller ski? Done, second drawer. Low on batteries because I just did a bunch of beacon drills? Done, second drawer. You get the idea.
Now that you’re all organized, and assuming your legs are like tree trunks from all the pre-season training you did, it’s time to go skiing. Be safe out there, be prepared, and have fun.