All the gear and no idea? Top tips for looking after your ski kit
Let’s be honest – you probably don’t look after your ski kit properly. A couple of days before your next ski holiday you will dig it all out from the shed, garage or loft – where you unceremoniously dumped it straight after last year’s trip – and wonder why it all smells a bit funny. Sound familiar? Well, let us give you a few tips on what to do before, and after, your ski holiday to care for your all your gear
Pity your poor skis. They get wet, they get trodden on in the ski lift queues, they get bashed about in the racks outside aprés bars, they rattle around in the back of vans and then they are left in a boot room overnight. Then, after a week of this torture, they get neglected for another year. Your skis have a rough time of it. So, what can you do to care for what is probably your most expensive bit of kit? At the end of your ski trip: Give your skis a bit of attention before you stash them away until next year. Most importantly, make sure they’re dry. Your skis have metal edges and your bindings have metal components and you don’t need to be a scientist to know that metal + water = rust. So, if you’ve put them in your ski bag wet, get them out when you get home and dry them out. If possible, give them a wax to prevent the base drying out and sharpen the edges – this will also mean they’re good to go next time. Don’t store them bound by tight ski straps – if you must strap them up, put the straps at the ends to leave any camber free and flexed. Loosen your bindings to the lowest setting to take all the tension out. This will give the springs some time off over the summer and make sure they stay at the same rating for longer – but remember to reset them before you next go skiing! Give the bindings a clean and lube using a specialist binding grease, or a quality grease that works in the cold (like white lithium). Good bike grease will do the trick but don’t overdo it. Before your next trip: If you’ve done all the above, then you won’t need to do anything except re-tighten your bindings. If, however, you are dragging rusty planks out of their summer hidey hole, then try to find time to give them a bit of a makeover before their holiday. Get them waxed, get them sharpened and get any big nicks and scratches fixed.
As with skis, the most important thing is to store your board dry. Snowboard bindings can trap moisture underneath so remove them, towel off the excess and allow them a day or so to properly dry out. As well as preventing rust this will also help preserve the rubber or leather (depending on your style of binding) from perishing. If you’ve picked up any big nicks or scratches (you know how clumsy and inconsiderate some skiers can be in the lift queues!) then get these properly dried out and, if possible, fixed to prevent any delamination. Again, as with skis, try to give your board a wax and a sharpen before hibernation.
Jackets and other clobber
We bet you’ve worn your ski jacket for a few seasons and it’s starting to look a bit grubby and smell like a jumble sale. Ski gear isn’t cheap, so why don’t we look after it better? Washing your ski jacket periodically can help maintain its waterproofness (yes, that’s a word!) and breathability. Ski jackets are made from technical fabrics that should never be washed using ordinary detergent or fabric softener as these can break down the composition of the jackets fibres and strip the fabric of its waterproof coating. Always use a cleaner specifically designed for technical outwear – try Wash n’ Proof from Mountain Warehouse. Machine Washing: Check there is nothing in the pockets then do up all those zips, flaps and tabs. Ensure your washing machine is clear of any other detergents or fabric softener by cleaning out the detergent drawer of your washing machine (you might want to run the washing machine with nothing in it to clear any residue). Pour the correct amount of the cleaner into the detergent drawer. Do not wash more than two garments at the same time and do not wash ski outerwear with other items. Run the washing machine at 30 degrees (always check the label of your jacket for exact care details). Once washed allow your ski jacket to air dry – do not tumble dry or hang it over a heat source as this can damage the waterproof/breathable coating. Hand Washing: As above, check there is nothing in the pockets then do up all zips, flaps and tabs. Fill a sink or bowl with cold water and mix with the appropriate amount of cleaner. Once washed, rinse your ski jacket twice to ensure all cleaner is removed. Gently squeeze the water from your jacket – do not wring or twist it – and allow to air dry. After a few years, you may notice that the fabric of your jacket is absorbing rather than repelling water. This means you probably need to reproof it. There are two types of clothing proofer to choose from – spray on or wash in. Waterproof Spray: If re-proofing using a waterproofing spray, always wash your jacket first. Spray the product evenly on the outside of the jacket from approximately 15-20 cm away. Hanging the jacket on a washing line when spraying with the proofer will help maintain an even coating. Check the jacket carefully to ensure no areas of the fabric have been missed and wipe off any excess with a damp cloth. Allow the jacket to dry naturally. For high abrasion areas such as the elbows and shoulders, it’s recommended that a second coat of proofer is applied. Wash-in Proofer: If using a wash-in waterproofer, pour the appropriate amount of proofer into the detergent compartment (instructions for this will usually be found on your product). Allow the washing machine to run through the complete wash and rinse cycle at 30 degrees. If you’ve reproofed your jacket and it is still absorbing water, it may be time to bite the bullet and replace it.
After a hard week on the slopes, it’s inevitable that your ski gloves will have gotten wet and probably a little sweaty. Giving them a bit of TLC when you are home to freshen them up will ensure they are ready for the next ski trip. Just like your jacket and ski pants, your gloves will need cleaning, and if they are waterproof gloves they might also need re-proofing. Waterproof Ski Gloves: If possible, remove the liners from your gloves. As they are directly next to your skin the liner is likely to be most affected by sweat. Do not remove the liner of your gloves if they are not intended to be removed and do not turn your gloves inside out. Never use laundry detergent to wash waterproof items as it will strip the fabric of its repellent capabilities. If your ski gloves have leather palms, thumbs and fingers you should not wash these in a washing machine or submerge in water (see Leather Ski Gloves below for more details). As for jackets, many cleaning solutions designed for technical items are available. There are spray on and wash-in options, as well as wash and proof detergents which clean and re-waterproof your items all in one wash. If your gloves just need a freshen up and do not need reproofing simply choose a wash in cleaner. If you do need to reproof, re-proofing sprays are a fast and effective method – especially as you do not need to waterproof the inside of your gloves. When washing your gloves, place your them in a mesh bag so they will not rip in the machine. Wash on a warm, gentle cycle (always follow the temperature recommended on the care label). Once washed, squeeze the water from the fingers down towards the wrist; do not wring your gloves as this can damage the lining. Place on a towel to dry or hang on a clothes line. If drying on a clothes line, make sure you hang them from the fingertips so that water does not collect inside the fingers. Silk Glove Liners: Silk glove liners are the most popular type of liner as they are extremely warm and so lightweight that you barely notice them inside of your gloves. To wash the silk liners, place them in luke warm water with a gentle soap – do not wash in water that is too hot or too cold as this will stretch or shrink the gloves. Gently rub the gloves to get all the dirt out of them. Once washed, rinse with cold water and 1/4 of a cup of vinegar to remove all the soap, then rinse with cold water. Leave to dry on a towel and do not tumble dry. Leather Ski Gloves: Like most leather items leather ski gloves need special care. Do not wash leather gloves or gloves with leather palms, thumbs and fingers in a washing machine. Use a damp cloth to wipe away any dirt, never submerge leather gloves in water. If possible look for a specific leather cleaner – Nikwax do a great range of leather care products. Spray the solution onto the outside of the gloves and work into the leather. Wipe away with a clean cloth, do not rinse off. Be careful not to spray the solution on parts of the glove that are not leather. Once dried, apply a leather conditioner or wax to keep your gloves waterproof and prevent the leather cracking. It is easier to do this with your hand inside the glove so you do not miss areas.
After a long day on the slopes, ski boots and snowboard boots can smell. During your holiday, try to make sure you dry your boots at the end of each day – all AliKats chalets have boot warmers installed precisely for this reason. Another very simple way of trying to keep your boots fragrant is to wear a fresh pair of socks every day. Now, some of you will be wondering who has socks for every day and some of you will be wondering who wears just one pair of socks all week – we’re not here to judge! But as most of us go away for a week, seven pairs of socks isn’t a big ask. Rather that, than cheesy boots! You can also give your boots a little love after your trip too. Cleaning and preparing your boots for storage is something many people neglect when packing their gear up for the summer. Moisture settles inside of boots each time they are worn and, if this moisture is ignored, it could develop into mold. It is important to remove the liners of your boots (you wouldn’t dream of leaving a pair of manky old socks in your boots all summer!) and wipe the shell of the boot with a damp cloth. Hand-wash the liners and insoles with water and a mild cleaner. Dry them completely before placing them back into the boots for storage. Ensure that the boots are tied or buckled so that they retain their shape.
Location, location, location
Many of us don’t have much choice (or room) when it comes to storing our ski gear but, if at all possible, stashing your kit in the right environment will extend its life considerably. Ideally you want to keep your gear somewhere inside your house, in an area where both temperature and moisture are regulated. A cool dry place such as a spare room, coat closet, or even under the bed are great choices. If possible, try to avoid leaving your gear in a garage, shed, backyard or cellar. These environments can be too hot, too cold or too damp to adequately protect your gear from rust and other issues. Do not store skis on concrete floors – concrete is porous and can release moisture which rusts ski edges. If a storage location is too hot, it can lead to de-lamination of your skis or snowboard by heating up the glue that binds all the layers of the gear together. And finally, wherever you stash them, try to make sure that your skis/snowboard are not covered up by piles of boxes, other sports equipment or anything else heavy that may bend them out of shape. So, there’s no excuse for crusty old clobber and rusty planks any more. All you need to do now is book a fabulous AliKats holiday for you and your gleaming kit this winter!