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Women’s Ski Gear: A Complete Beginner’s Guide

By Emily Crofton

It’s that time of year again when the temperatures start dropping, the days start getting shorter, and the excitement of ski season is ramping up. The long wait for winter is over and with snow on everyone’s mind, the countdown to opening day begins. For avid skiers, this time of the year is filled with anticipation and eagerness. But for beginners, it can be a time of angst and uncertainty. Questions like, what skis should I buy? How do I pick out the right ski helmet? What type of ski boots should I be trying on?

Don’t worry, you’re not alone. With so many brands and models on the market, it can be incredibly intimidating shopping for gear for your first ski trip. No need to stress! We understand that the process can be daunting. This is why the Halfdays Team decided to encourage all of you ladies out there looking to hit the slopes with confidence by putting together a comprehensive list of recommended gear. Through mindful research and industry knowledge, we have created this beginner’s buyer’s guide for women’s gear in hopes of giving you the confidence you need to shred like a pro!

Boots

Let’s start off by talking about the most important piece of gear-boots. I know, you’re probably thinking to yourself, “I thought skis were by far the most important!” Don’t get us wrong, buying the right pair of skis is certainly a priority. But the driving force behind your technique and performance comes from your boots. As you press into the front of your boots, you propel your body forward and power your skis. In order to do so, you need the appropriate level of stiffness, or flex, for your ability level in order to get the right amount of feedback. The flex indicates the level of resistance the boot will provide as you bend your ankle forward. The majority of boots are given a flex number between 60 and 130, indicating how much give or flexibility the boot has. The lower the flex number, the softer the boot is and ultimately, the easier it is to control your skis. The higher the flex number, the stiffer the boot, resulting in more work and energy required to ski aggressively.

Another feature to take notice to is the last, or forefoot width. Comfort is key when choosing your boots so measuring the width of your foot is a good idea. If your feet are more narrow, choosing anything below 100 mm last is advised. For wider feet, 104 mm or higher is the route to take. Lastly, ski boots use a measurement system called Mondopoint. The mondopoint sizing system, or mondo, refers to the length of your foot in centimeters. In order to find yours, simply measure the length of your foot to find the most accurate size in ski boots.

Now that we have the basics down, here are a few highly recommended women’s boots for beginner skiers: Salomon X Access 60, Dalbello DS MX 70, Nordica Cruise 65, Rossignol Kelia 50.

Skis

Now that we have a good understanding of how to choose the right boot for your skill level, let’s move on to the fun part: picking out your skis! With so many graphics and styles to choose from, it can feel impossible to pick the right skis. It may be tempting to choose the coolest looking, most expensive skis on the market, but it’s not always the best choice for someone that is new to the sport. The first few questions you want to ask yourself are, “what ability level am I?” and “what type of skiing do I like to do?” Once you determine these factors, it's important to look at the specifics. When picking out skis, you want to look at the length, width, sidecut, and profile.

As a beginner, it’s best to start off on a shorter length so that you have less ski to control. Based on your height and skiing ability, it is recommended that you choose a length that is 10 to 15 cm less than your own height. For width, you want to choose a narrower shape, anywhere between 70 mm- 90 mm. When considering the sidecut (this refers to the inner curve of the ski and is often expressed as the radius) the deeper the sidecut, the tighter you will be able to turn your skis. Lastly, the profile accounts for rocker/camber shape. Camber refers to the curvature of a ski. When looking at a ski, it is the built-in arc, or curve, of a ski when looking at it from the side view. When weight is applied to the ski, the camber becomes flat against the ski. It is the more traditional shape and offers great precision on groomed terrain with harder snow. Rocker refers to a curved rise of the tail, or end, of the ski. This shape helps to provide better flotation and lifts the ski out of powder.

With all of this in mind, here are a few women-specific skis for beginners: Coalition Rebel All Mountain, Blizzard Black Pearl, Rossignol Experience 76 CI, Rossignol Black Ops Smasher, Atomic Vantage!

Bindings

Moving right along, let’s talk about bindings. Now we all know that bindings aren’t particularly exciting, but they are what hold you in place, keep you safe, and deliver performance-enhancing power. So, depending on the width of your skis, you’ll want to choose a brake width that is at least as wide as the width of your ski underfoot. Next, you want to choose the binding that best fits the style of skiing you are looking to do. For example, if you’re going to a ski resort, you want to choose a downhill binding over a touring binding. The DIN range dictates what weight/ability range your bindings are designed for. In general, the recommended beginner DIN setting is between 2-7.5. It is important to set your DIN level accordingly for safety purposes, which is why we recommend having a ski shop check upon mounting your skis or before you head out on the hill.

Here are a few recommended bindings to choose from: Marker Squire 11 ID, Armada L 10, Salomon L 10 GW, Look NX 12 GW.

@halfdays

Poles, Helmet, Goggles

To wrap things up, we’ll quickly go over the final few items that should be added to your gear list. Ski poles are an essential piece of equipment as they provide balance, help you turn, and assist you with skating. To choose the right size, simply flip the pole upside down and grab underneath the basket. The angle from your shoulder to your elbow, to your hand, should be about 90 degrees when the handle of the pole is on the ground.

A helmet is a non-negotiable piece of gear, as it protects your brain and keeps you safe. When picking out a helmet, you want it to properly fit and of course, be comfortable. In order to find the appropriate size, we suggest measuring your head with a flexible tape measure.

Once you find the right helmet, you should find a pair of ski goggles that fit snuggly with your helmet. Goggles that have a wider periphery, as well as multiple lenses for different types of lighting, will allow for optimal visibility.

We all were beginners at some point- even one of Halfday’s co-founders who competed in the Olympics had to start somewhere. It can be a little overwhelming, but don’t forget it’s all about having fun! So, take this new info, grab your Halfdays base layers, ski pants, and ski jacket and go tear it up on the slopes! (Or hit the bunny hill a few times and head to apres, we’re here for that too!)

EMILY CROFTON

Hi! I'm Emily Crofton. I am a Freelance writer and photographer based out of Burlington, VT, specializing in telling outdoor stories for brands interested in creating engaging content. I am also a Freestyle Ski Coach, Certified Health Coach, and passionate outdoor enthusiast. When I'm not writing or capturing moments, you can find me skiing, hiking, biking, camping, or adventuring with my dog

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