How to Keep Your Gear in Top Shape
Skis and Snowboards
Skis, snowboards, and fingernails have this in common: If you file the rough spots and regularly apply a coat of "polish," they'll perform a lot better.
If you want your skis to turn three years from now like they do today, you need to keep the bases lubricated and the edges tuned and detuned properly. A ski shop should do major tuning and waxing, but skiers and boarders can do a lot of the basic upkeep themselves.
At the very least, coat your equipment bases regularly for protection and performance, say ski and snowboard manufacturers. Applying the coating is a lot easier than it used to be. Inexpensive coatings can be wiped or sprayed onto bases in just a couple of minutes.
At the end of every season, it's important to coat the bases with a thick blanket of wax, then store skis base to base but with newspaper or a sheet between the bases so they aren't touching. Also, don't store skis or snowboards in a waterproof container because condensation can cause damage. Wrap your skis in a sheet, which wards off dust but absorbs moisture. When winter comes, scrape off the excess wax and you're ready to ski.
Snowboards also need edge and base care during the season. A general guideline is a thorough hot wax about every five riding days, with rub-on wax in between hot waxes.
Immediately fill in gouges caused by rocks, snowboard technicians urge, not only for performance, but also to keep the board from delaminating. If a rock digs in too deeply, water can seep into the board's core and ruin it. Have your shop give your board a thorough tuning before putting it away for the season. Zip it into a snowboard bag to protect it from dust and moisture, or wrap it in a sheet. Many companies make home storage racks that keep your equipment protected and out of the way.
It's important to have a ski shop check your boot/binding/ski system at the beginning of each season to be sure everything is working properly.
Technicians differ on recommendations to reduce the binding settings to their minimum levels in the off-season to prolong the spring and cover bindings to keep out dirt and grime when they're riding on top of your car. Some say with today's bindings, neither is necessary, but it won't hurt to do so, either.
Snowboard bindings also are fairly maintenance-free. Though most manufacturers use stainless-steel hardware to attach bindings to the board, it's a good idea to always dry off your board and bindings after you ride as an extra preventative against rust.
Boarders should carry a #3 Phillips screwdriver to tighten any loose mounting screws. Any other size may strip the screws. Technicians advise boarders to put down the bindings' high backs and secure straps when transporting boards on a roof rack to prevent the bindings from loosening.
Boots must dry out between uses. If overnight air drying doesn't do the trick, a boot dryer can. Some boot dryers fit in a boot-bag pocket; others are perfect for the mud room of a vacation home.
Leather snowboard boots need a touch of special care. Burton, for example, includes a water repellent called Nikwax with its leather boots, which must be applied before the boots are used for the first time. Nikwax or similar rub-in repellents should be used once or twice a season to restore waterproofing. It's also important to dry out boots overnight. Some boots have liners that can be removed, which helps the liner and shell dry faster. For boots with non-removable liners, stuff a ball of newspaper into the toe to help absorb moisture.
In the off-season, ski boots should be stored buckled to retain their shape, while snowboard boots should be stored in a slightly damp environment out of the sunlight, so they don't fade or dry out.