How to Maintain & Store your Ski & Splitboard Gear for the Summer Months

By Emily Hargraves, owner of Backcountry Babes, a guiding service & AIARE avalanche education provider based in Breckenridge, CO and Truckee, CA

It’s important to give your gear a refresh in the spring so that you’re ready for all your spring snow skiing and riding adventures.  It’s especially important to prep your gear if you have a big adventure on the calendar — maybe you’re headed to British Columbia in March,  Iceland in April or a South American ski adventure in August.

Doing ski and board maintenance in the spring means that you’ll be ready for any spring adventure that comes your way.  And in addition, when the skiing and riding season ends, you’ll have your gear in good shape for the upcoming winter.  In the spring I examine my equipment for wear, repair or any replacement that needs to happen. Spring is a good time for closeout sales on winter gear!  Plus by the time November/December comes around, and it’s time to take your gear out of storage, it will be in good condition and ready to go.

I recommend buying any gear at your local shop… and while you’re there gather information, local tips, suggestions, and the ski tech’s special sauce for keeping your gear in top order.

How to Store & Maintain Your Gear for Summer

What to do with your skis and boards: 

  1. Get a Tune Up — this includes the normal stuff, edges, and thick chewy wax for warmer temperatures.
  2. Base Grind — Find an expert at your local shop — they’ll shave a bit off the base of your planks of choice and give you fresh new texture on your bases.  This texture (little grooves, diamonds, channels, etc.) will wick away the watery warm snow from under you and allow a faster glide in warmer conditions. A base grind also smoothes your base and gives wax something to stick to.  It gives you the feeling of skiing on a brand new pair of skis or a brand new board for anything from $50-90.
  3. If you’re using the permanent DPS Phantom wax, a base grind won’t affect the wax on your skis.  Because Phantom permeates through the whole base, a base grind will actually take you down to a new layer of Phantom and freshen its effectiveness. This is highly recommended!
  4. Wax Prior to Summer Storage — Tracy at Alpenglow Sports in Tahoe City AND Leanne at The Underground in Breckenridge both recommend a thick layer of yellow wax for the bases of your skis & splitboard — and don’t scrape it off until the snow flies again! This yellow wax creates a seal on your bases and keeps them from drying out in the heat of summer.  Also keep your skis away from moisture so the edges don’t rust.
  5. Tighten down all your splitboard hardware including your clips.

Maintenance for Ski Boots Spring and Summer:

  1. How are your boot liners?  If they are packed out, it may be time to replace them and enjoy a better fitting boot this spring and next winter. A new liner is a great (and cheaper) way to freshen your boots rather than buying both new shells and liners.  
  2. Always dry your boots.  If you don’t, the smell will quickly grow while at the same time your friends’ complaints will increase.  Also, organize the tongues in your boots and keep your boots loosely buckled so that the plastic memory keeps everything in line.
  3. Store your snowboard boots laced up your so they keep their shape over the summer

Climbing Skins:

  1. Globstopper — Warm spring days can lead to some serious glopping on the bottom of your skins! Consider picking up some “Globstopper,” skin wax, or a silicone spray lube. Dave Nettle, a longtime Tahoe Ski Guide, swears by the silicone spray.
  2. Storage — Store your climbing skins away from heat!!!  When hanging skins to dry after a day in the backcountry, keep them folded to protect the glue from picking up miscellaneous items such as dog fur, carpets, dust, dirt, pebbles, etc.  Usually I put them near the heater for 30 mins, and repack them into my backpack as soon as they are dry.  When storing skins for the summer keep them somewhere cool and dry. It’ll keep your glue sticky longer.
  3. If your skin glue is super gloppy, the glue residue stays on your bases after transitioning from uphill to down, and you won’t have good glide on the descent.  For a quick fix, try putting your skins in the freezer before your first application to your skis.  For a better fix, you can re-glue skin glue with a specialized kit. Here’s a how-to video from G3. I have to admit, I have never tried this process.  Instead, I buy new skins once my old ones become gloppy, this is usually every 1-2 years.

Storing your Beacon for the Summer:

  1. With any modern beacon, it’s important to check for software updates from the manufacturer. You may be able to update your beacon at home, or often you can send it into the manufacturer.
  2. Check the signals… are all the lights and arrows on your display working properly? Any error messages?  If you notice any issues, send your beacon back to the manufacturer for repair or replacement.  Summer is a great time to do this as this process can take a few weeks.
  3. Is your beacon more than 5 years old? If so, it’s time to replace it.  Beacons are delicate electronics… and they get old, glitchy, damaged with age, moisture, time in a frozen car, and overall use. Do you still have a Tracker DTS? This is outdated– time to get a new beacon.
  4. For summer storage, remove all your batteries from the compartment so they don’t corrode and ruin your beacon.

Goggles:

  1. Look over your goggles — are they scratched?  You can replace the whole goggle OR save some money and replace your lenses.  It’s important to see clearly on the slopes!
  2. Goggle covers are worth it.  (https://gogglesoc.com/) A goggle sock keeps your lenses from getting scratched when you leave them banging around on your helmet in the car…. like I do.

Skiing and Riding Outerwear Maintenance:

  1. In the spring, I take my outerwear to a specialized dry cleaners that does technical outerwear cleaning.  My kit comes out fresh and good as new!  Occasionally cleaning waterproof layers is important for maintaining the waterproofing and breathability of gore tex as it’s designed. 
  2. Instead of a professional cleaning service, try DIY by washing your gear with a tech wash and re-waterproofing substance.  Nikwax and Grangers are both great brands for technical washing and are available at your local gear shop or online.
  3. I also wash my down jackets around this time… they do get a little less fluffy when washed, but by this point in the season most of my down is stained and stinky. Be sure to use the tumble dry low setting and throw in a few tennis balls to restore their fluff.
  4. For further guidance, here are Patagonia’s directions for washing your ski clothing and taking care of technical clothing.

Sunglasses:

  1. Wash sunglasses with dish soap to remove that greasy layer that accumulates after a season of sunscreen and sweat. They come out fresh and as good as new!
  2. If I have sunglasses with replaceable lenses, sometimes I order new lenses in the spring. It’s much cheaper than buying new glasses and reduces contribution to the landfill.

Backcountry Babes Trucker Hat:

  1. Is your Backcountry Babes Trucker hat looking less than fresh? Take it into the shower with you and wash it with shampoo.  Gently scrub to remove those hair oils and dirt— and air dry. It’ll be as good as new!

First Aid Kit Restock:

  1. Check out your first aid kit— is it good to go? Warmer spring weather can mean sweaty feet– check to make sure your mole skin and other blister supplies are stocked. I love blister ampoules.  (Aka Blister Gel Guard, Hydroseal. These are thick band aids that look like blisters.  Throw ‘em on your hot spots and blisters for instant relief.  Plus they’ll stay on for a few days in a row.)
  2. Emergency Snack Bars & Caffeine Clif Shots.  It might be time to throw a couple more of these into your backpack for surprise long days.
  3. Extra headlamp and beacon batteries— throw a few freshies into the first aid kit so you’re ready to go if you or a friend has low batteries at the trailhead.

Great! Your gear is ready for next winter!  How are your avalanche awareness and rescue skills?  Now might be a good time to put a Backcountry Babes class on your calendar for next year.  Consider taking an AIARE Avalanche Level 1, Level 2, Rescue Course, or an intermediate backcountry tour to make sure your trip planning, decision making, and rescue skills are as sharp as your gear.

Check out our course offerings here: https://backcountrybabes.com/backcountry-classes/

We hope you can join us on a trip someday!

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