When it comes to skiing and snowboarding, we often see the contrast of penniless seasonaires and working locals sharing the mountains with some of the world’s wealthiest holidaymakers. This accumulates to a lot of different spending habits and attitudes when it comes to shopping for snow gear, resulting in a few different stereotypes I’m sure you’ll be familiar with.
I’m not talking ‘style tribes’, I’m talking the person you see decking it on the nursery slope clad head to toe in the most high-tech Arc’Teryx outerwear and latest GS skis; that guy from work who buys a brand new, top-of-the-range snowboard every year and then blames it for his lack of skill; your annoying friend who has four pairs of skis and five pairs of goggles and is always complaining they’ve worn the wrong ones; your other friend who bought a cheap second hand splitboard that’s completely wrong for them in every way apart from the price tag. The big question is, which of these people is having the most fun?
Confession time; I used to be stereotype number four. I would buy cheap second hand stuff if I wanted to ‘give something a try’, like mountain biking and ski touring (they’re expensive, ok?), believing that no matter how ill-suited to my needs and endeavours it was, learning to use it would be character building and make me more skilful. But in fact, it just made everything harder and therefore a bit less fun. And although there’s nothing wrong with buying second hand, quite the opposite in fact, it meant everyone had to wait for me while I was adjusting the seat on my mountain bike with an Ikea Allen key, or slogging up the mountain in the world’s heaviest touring skis. I’m sure the same is true for those who jump to the conclusion that having the most expensive skis is the same thing as having the most expensive car, and that having the perfect set-up for every kind of snow condition will make you a better rider.
After all, good gear isn’t about having the best stuff, it’s about having the stuff that’s best for you. While price and quality are absolutely things that should be factored in to our gear choices, what we should be focusing on is how each piece of equipment we buy will benefit us in our chosen sport, and if it has the right specifications for our ability level. Is it the right size? Is it stiff or flexible enough? Will it help your progression?
Skiing and snowboarding are about having fun, not pushing through until the end of the day when you can finally have a beer. That’s why it’s always worth doing your research, reading reviews and listening to the advice of a trusty professional; having the right kit really does make a difference, whether it’s a jacket that keeps you really warm or a properly fitted pair of boots. When you’ve put time and effort into finding that perfect pair of skis, or that perfect board, and they turn out to be every bit as good as you’d hoped, that’s when you’ll have the most fun.
(And for the record, I did love that old bike and heavy skis. They got my mountain biking and ski touring adventures off to a solid start. Hopefully someone else is enjoying them now as much as I did.)