What To Look For
Your ski equipment should suit your level of proficiency, the terrain you ski, the dimensions of your feet, your height, your weight and your body's dimensions. Women's skis, for example, have a forward binding mount, which accommodates a woman's lower center of gravity. Boot fit is even more complex, because foot width, as well as foot volume needs to be considered. If you have high arches, you have a high-volume foot. A low-volume boot will hurt the tops of your toes. Beginners should choose more flexible equipment. As proficiency increases, look for stiffer boots and skis. Terrain should also be considered. Skis with narrow waists are suitable for carving, whereas wider waists are better for powder.
Avoid choosing equipment for its colors and graphics or equipment that does not reflect your level of proficiency. Boot fit is also an issue. Boots are not bedroom slippers. They need to be snug but comfortable. Not wearing ski socks when trying on ski boots will result in an incorrect fit. Avoid ski and boot mismatches. A flexible beginner boot paired with a stiff racing ski is like a marriage between a laid-back hippie and an aggressive corporate executive. Brand loyalty is admirable, but be open to other possibilities. Your favorite brand's competitor may have equipment that is more suitable for your needs.
Where To Buy
You can buy online or at local ski shops. Online may be cheaper, but be sure to factor in shipping and handling. When you demo a ski at your local shop, the store will usually subtract the cost of the demo from the cost of the ski. Serious skiers should always get foot beds and have their boots aligned by a professional boot fitter. Most shops will give you a discount for buying boots and having them fitted at the shop.
Boots range from $200 to $600. Skis cost between $300 and $1200, depending where you buy them. If you ski at Aspen, for example, expect to pay premium prices at their ski shops.
Take advantage of manufacturers' free demo days offered at various resorts. Consider taking a ski lesson when doing equipment demos. Use one pair in the morning, and the other pair in the afternoon. Ask your instructor to evaluate your performance on the two different types of skis.
Article Written By Lisa Mercer
In 1999, Lisa Mercer’s fitness, travel and skiing expertise inspired a writing career. Her books include "Open Your Heart with Winter Fitness" and "101 Women's Fitness Tips." Her articles have appeared in "Aspen Magazine," "HerSports," "32 Degrees," "Pregnancy Magazine" and "Wired." Mercer has a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the City College of New York.