Skiing powder can be an eye opening experience for skiers who are used to hard packed, icy, or groomed trails. If you're planning a big ski trip, or looking to get a better idea of how to ski powder, this guide is for you.
How to Ski Powder
How to Ski Powder Step 1: Stay Relaxed
The immediate reaction of most skiers and snowboarding upon watching their tips dive under the snow is to tense up. Without relaxed legs, it's going to be a very jarring ride down as you'll encounter unseen bumps and varied terrain buried under the snow.
How to Ski Powder Step 2: Keep your weight centered over both skis
Avoid leaning back (if you find yourself consistently in the back seat on powder days it's probably time for a wider set of skis) and try to distribute weight more evenly between your downhill and uphill skis. In powder, you can initiate turns by simply 'tipping' the ski - anything more and you'll be sent tumbling over your downhill ski.
How to Ski Powder Step 3: Start small
Start slow, and with small turns. It's going to feel awkward at first, so better to try tackling low consequence terrain before heading up the bootpack.
How to Ski Powder Step 4: Keep everything pointing (and looking) in the direction you want to go
Start out by aiming for exaggerated, round turns all the way down. It will feel unnatural, but these wider turns enable you to maintain control through the powder.
How to Ski Powder Step 5: Plan ahead
You'll notice pretty quickly that skiing powder is an unforgiving endeavor. You'll need to start planning two or three turns ahead, as last minute adjustments are often out of the question. Map our your route before you drop, and try to stick to it as closely as possible.
How to Ski Powder Step 6: Pedal to metal
Speed is your friend in the powder. Your skis will naturally rise to the surface as you gain speed, and as a result you'll have more control at faster speeds. It can take some getting used to, but don't be afraid to open up the throttle.
Here's a great video to reinforce some of these principles:
Our ski goggle lens color guide below should help to guide you towards the lens set up that works for you. Goggles are one of the most important pieces of gear you can buy for skiing and snowboarding, so it's important that you do adequate research and figure out the best ski goggles or best snowboard goggles for you. Any seasoned skier or snowboarder will tell you that your ability to see through your skiing or snowboarding goggles in adverse conditions can make or break your day on the mountain. To get you heading in the right direction, we've created this ski goggle lens color guide to help you settle on the best snow goggles for you.
Ski Goggle Lens Color Guide
Please see the below lens color guide for an explanation of each of our lenses, and how much light they let in (VLT in goggle terminology).
Low light orange
Ski Goggle Lens Color Guide: Explained
The lenses of your goggles are the most important part, and the aspect of the set that you should spend the most time thinking about. There are different lenses for different conditions, some that perform well in low light, others that perform better on bluebird days, and some that do a little bit of both.
Variable light transmission (VLT)
The amount of light a goggle allows to pass through the lens is called Visible Light Transmission (VLT). VLT is expressed as percentage of light allowed through the lens falling somewhere between 0% and 100%.Low light lensestypically have a VLT above 45%,everyday lenseshave a VLT between 15-30%, andpolarized lensesare usually below 10% VLT.
Cylindrical vs. Spherical
Cylindrical lenses curve horizontally while remaining flat vertically while spherical lenses curve both horizontally and vertically in a more "bubbled" style. While you won't notice a huge difference between the two, spherical lenses tend to have a slightly bigger peripheral field of view, while cylindrical lenses tend to distort light a bit less. Neither of these differences are significant, and you are likely better off just choosing whichever style you like best. Any commentary on significant benefits of either style is just marketing speak.
When light is reflected off certain surfaces, it tends to be reflected at higher intensity through angles perpendicular to the surface. By acting as a filter of vertical light,polarized lensesare able to cut glare much more effectively than a standard mirrored lens while improving overall visual clarity and providing increased contrast and definition.Polarized lensesare great for snow sports and reduce eye fatigue and strain.
These lenses automatically adjust to changing light conditions by darkening when exposed to stronger ultraviolet (UV) light and lightening when there is less UV light. The primary advantage of photochromatic goggles is that the lens will adjust to changing conditions, making it an extremely versatile option on days when the conditions are changing minute by minute.
Double lenses create a thermal barrier that reduces fogging significantly compared to its single lens counterpart – a single lens goggle just won’t cut it for skiing or snowboarding. All of ourgogglescome equipped with this double lens technology.
Anti-scratch treatments can help keep your lenses clean and free of blemishes, while a hydrophilic anti-fog chemical treatment to the inside of the lenses greatly reduces the goggle’s tendency to fog. All of ourgogglescome with both treatments. Check out our in depth write up onanti fog gogglesfor more info.
Ski Goggle Care
There are a few basic things you can do to greatly increase the lifespan of your goggles:
Get a case to protect them when you are traveling to and from the mountain.
Allow your goggles to dry completely before storing them. Never store wet goggles in a case or bag, and avoid storing them in a damp ski bag altogether.
Avoid setting the goggles down on any kind of hard surface in the lodge or at home after your ski day is over.
Use a microfiber cloth to dab at the lens - both inside and out - after each session. Be gentle, you can wipe off the coatings if you are too rough.
Don't hang them from your rearview mirror, that's lame.
The question we get most often:
Q: How many different lenses do I need?
Some people can get away with only one lens option. For example if you only ski or ride in Colorado or Utah a few times a year on bright, sunny days, you will probably be fine with only an everyday lens. However, if you ski in a range of conditions, it is probably best to have multiple lenses to swap out.
The more time you spend in the mountains, the more weather conditions you’ll encounter. Having multiple lens colors on hand can help to maximize visibility and performance throughout the day, as the reality is that no one goggle lens can provide optimal visibility across the full spectrum of lighting and weather conditions.
Ski touring a logical progression for many who find their in-bounds resort experience leaves them wanting a bit more from their ski days. Ski touring is skiing or splitboarding in the backcountry on unmarked or unpatrolled areas. As with any off-piste expedition, you will need the appropriate education, fitness level, and gear before embarking on your first ski tour.
Before heading out on any out-of-bounds expedition, you absolutely need to take an AIARE Level 1 course to familiarize yourself with how to travel in avalanche terrain. There are a number of courses that combine avalanche education with basic ski touring skill eduction, we recommend taking a course like this for beginners looking to get into ski touring. There is simply no substitute for learning from trained professionals, it may save your life.
Fitness can be one of the biggest perceived barriers to entry to ski touring. Thankfully, ski touring can take the form of anything from a short 1-mile jaunt to multi-day peak bagger. Ski touring is typically done at high altitude, so cardio strength and fitness is the most important factor. We've found that Leg Blasters are the most effective way to get in shape, and stay in shape, for ski touring.
Touring boots have a 'walk mode' which gives the skier a wider range of motion for the uphill portion of the tour. This makes for a far more pleasant touring experience and reduces the awkward motion and fatigue caused by walking in downhill boots.
Touring bindings are lighter than downhill bindings and are built to enable the heel to move freely away from the ski. While there a few different options here, it's important to know that weight and stability play a critical role here. If choose a lighter binding to ease your ascent, chances are that you may pay for it with a less stable downhill experience. However, new binding technology (the Salomon Shift binding, for example) is changing this perception.
Skins attach the bottom of skis and splitboards to create a surface on which the ski can grip as you move uphill. Skins keep the skis in place when placing weight on the uphill, and slide as weight is taken off of them.
Touring poles are adjustable, as you will often need to adjust the height of the pole while traversing over steeps or other instances when one side of the hill is significantly higher than the other.
You'll need a functional backpack with a size that is appropriate to the length of your tour. Check out our in depth look at ski backpacks to figure out which style of backpack is the best fit for you.
Shovel, Probe, and Beacon
You'll need all the proper avalanche gear and training for any off piste adventure. This is your most critical group of equipment.
We recommend a transition / photochromatic lens for most ski tour expeditions. It limits the amount of gear you have to carry (one lens does it all) and covers you through any conditions you might encounter.
Nothing quite beats the feeling of a newly waxed snowboard under your feet, that is unless there is a few feet of powder under there as well. Our guide on how to wax a snowboard begins below:
How to Wax A Snowboard Step 1: Gather Tools
Iron: While any iron will get the job done, getting a ski and snowboard specific iron will make the whole process a lot easier for you. These irons get hot enough to melt the wax, but not so hot that it will burn the base of your board. If you do choose to use a conventional iron, make sure to take the iron off the board anytime you see smoke.
Scraper: Start with a plastic scraper for your first few waxes, you're less likely to damage the board than with a steel scraper.
Brush: We recommended getting a few brushes with varying levels of stiffness. Most wax kits come with 2-3 brushes.
Towel and rubbing alcohol: You'll need these to clean the snowboard before waxing.
How to Wax A Snowboard Step 2: Choose the Right Wax
Ski and snowboard wax can be broken into two categories: all temperature and temperature specific. If the temperature and weather varies at your home mountain, we recommend going with an all temperature wax. Otherwise, go with a. temperature specific wax as these waxes will almost always perform better than all temperature waxes (assuming you are using them in their defined temperature range).
How to Wax A Snowboard Step 3: Board prep
Your board absolutely needs to be clean before you start the wax process. Ideally the board is also tuned, but this isn't 100% necessary. Use the rubbing alcohol to wipe the board down, and then wait for the board to completely dry before you continue. If your bases seem clean, err on the side of not cleaning them, as rubbing and wiping can remove any and all residual wax on the snowboard.
How to Wax A Snowboard Step 4: Get after it
You are ready to go! We recommend watching this video from REI for an in depth explanation and visualization of how to wax a snowboard:
We've had a few questions about the DPS Phantom Glide product that hit the market recently. For those that are unfamiliar, the basic value proposition for the Phantom Glide is a one time application of wax that lasts all season. We have not personally used it, but plan to this season and come back with an update. Stay tuned!
Ski goggles and snowboard goggles are one of the most important pieces of gear you can buy for skiing and snowboarding, so it's important that you do adequate research and figure out the best ski goggles or best snowboard goggles for you. This could be anti fog goggles, polarized ski goggles, or anti-scratch goggles.