From Head to Toe: The Hard Goods Gear Guide

Posted on January 08, 2022
Tips and Tricks from Stowe's True North staffers to guide you to the gear that will keep you on the slopes through all the moody weather swings the Northeast serves us.

Buying hard goods for skiing is not just a purchase, it’s an investment in enhancing your on-snow experience and maximizing your performance, safety and fun on the mountain. The amount of product on the market and varying technologies available in every category can be as daunting as taking a run down Stowe’s double black diamond trail Goat. That’s why we listen to the experts, whether it be a trusted ski shop employee, ski instructor or another type of subject matter expert.

We spent some time with the staff at True North, Stowe Mountain Resort’s premium retail store, to get their advice on getting outfitted with new ski gear.

Here are their top recommendations for making these choices easier.

Let’s start where the P-Tex meets the snow and talk ski sizing. For northeast skiing, pros recommend 80-90 centimeters under foot. That’s the width of your ski. This width is versatile enough to go from the trail to the glades to the bumps. Steve Burnett the store’s manager says the top pick this season for carving eastern groomers are the Stockli AR and AX. One of the attributes of the Slockli ski construction is that two sheets of metal are used on either side of the wood core with a bonding rubberized material added in between every layer of material from base to top sheet. For those who like skiing uphill as well as downhill, Steve recommends the Vokle Blaze. The Blaze is an outstanding dual-purpose ski, for both resort and touring applications, you'll get both the downhill performance and the light weight that is necessary for efficient uphill travel.

While every ski manufacturing company has its own corresponding binding brand, Burnett’s go-to for overall compatibility is Marker. This is because Marker was the first and still one of very few who make bindings wide enough to go out to the edges of the skis, allowing you to transmit more power to your edges. With skis getting wider and wider over the past twenty years, having a binding that accommodates the ski width is key. The primary specification for choosing a binding is the DIN setting. DIN is a German an acronym for ‘Release Force Setting,’ the setting on your biding that determines how much force is required for the boot to release on its own. Choosing the DIN range of your binding is based on your based on your boot sole length, age, weight, height, and ability level. Most bindings have a DIN range from 3-10, while bindings for larger more aggressive will range up to 15, with stronger overall construction. 

Boots are the most personalized piece of equipment you’ll buy, because the most important quality should be the overall comfort and there are different comfort attributes for every brand. Steve’s top tip for selecting a boot this year is to buy one that has the new GripWalk sole. GripWalk is the ski boot sole, partly made of softer material with a rockered profile. This makes walking in the boot a more natural action and safer with enhanced grip through the high profiled sole. So you’ve chosen your boot with a GripWalk sole, the next big crucial upgrade is a custom footbed. Historically an expensive and time consuming process, custom foot beds today are affordable and a complimentary service shops like True North provide on the spot in minutes. The in store technology measures each foot’s arch, instep and pronation to create perfectly molded foot support. Sidas is the brand True North sells, providing leading technology and value. Every Sidas foot bed is derived from medical quality sliver technology providing anti-microbial and premium quality construction.

P.S. If you want a heating element in your boots, Hot Tronics is the best bet with kits that heat your whole foot bed with rechargeable batteries. Like the foot beds, the fitting and installation at the shop is free with purchase.

According to Miranda Moore, assistant store manager at True North, helmets range from under $100 to over $300, with attributes that range from fit, venting, impact technology and goggle compatibility. Passive venting is the lower end of the lines where you don’t control the airflow inside the helmet. Active venting, allows you to control two different vents. The front vents, controlling the temp by exhausting heat from the helmet and the rear vents, allowing for an air conditioning effect inside the helmet. Always look for the yellow MIPS (Multi Directional Impact System) sticker on the helmet for top quality certification. The top technology in fit referred to as the helmets exoskeleton, where instead of adjusting the fit with an internal halo, a two-piece helmet shell construction is used to change shape as the sizing adjustment molds to your head size.

Helmet compatibility, shape and lens color are key considerations for selecting the right goggle for you, says Miranda. For the best goggle to helmet connection, leaving no gap between the top of your frame and the front of the helmet, match the goggle brand with your helmet brand. For example if you love Oakley goggles, an Oakley helmet will provide the best match. This will also allow for maximum goggle venting and prevent fogging. If you have your eyes on a different brand (no pun intended), have your helmet with you when you shop to ensure the two pieces fit well together. Lens color determines how much light transmission is allowed through, preventing glare on sunny days or enhancing your vision on cloudy days. Miranda recommends goggles that have easily interchangeable lenses, in many cases the frame will actually come with two lenses for different light conditions. For eastern weather conditions, having a second lens option is key, as light conditions are always changing.

Of course, you don’t need fancy new gear to hit the slopes. The most important factors are that you are comfortable, confident and safe. Experts at any of our rental shops across the Northeast resorts and there to help!

"That’s why we listen to the experts, whether it be a trusted ski shop employee, ski instructor or another type of subject matter expert."