Maximize Your Ski and Snowboard Purchases

Here’s how to get the most from the big-ticket hard goods that keep you going all winter.

There’s nothing better than a finely tuned snowboard or pair of skis as you carve your first turn of the day, whether you’re hitting a groomed slope, a terrain park or going off-piste. But not everyone has the time, the know-how, or the proper equipment to repair bases, iron wax or sharpen edges at home. Sometimes, it’s best to leave this work to the professionals. Head to your local specialty shop. Otherwise, if you’re near a Public Lands store location, consider it your go-to spot for snowsport equipment fitting, tuning and repair—all with reasonable pricing and a turnaround of two to five days. Here’s what to look for and when before taking your technical equipment to the pros in order to get the best (and most) use from your skis, boards, boots and bindings as possible. 

Make sure your boot fit is perfect

Step one in choosing a new ski or snowboard actually begins with the boot. “The only thing that never changes is your foot,” says Gary Mazur, manager of operational planning for Public Lands, “In both skiing and snowboarding, almost all of the control, power as well as the performance is in how the boot fits.”

To that end, Public Lands staff will make sure your boot has the right fit, flex and shape. It shouldn’t be too tight (you’ll be uncomfortable) or too loose (you can get injured). Purchasing a boot on-site includes a full-service boot fitting where you’ll get the benefit of a BootDoc 3D foot scanner to customize the boot insole to your foot, in accordance with your preferred riding or skiing style.  

“It’s an investment when you buy a boot, so we want to make sure you get the best return on investment,” Gary says. “It is our goal to make that boot perfect for you.” You can also bring in a boot you already own for a fitting or upgrade for a fee. For any boot fitting, an appointment isn’t required but recommended so staff can allot enough time with you.

Get the right binding

After getting the right boot and proper fit, next up is binding. Public Lands stores feature Wintersteiger machines on-site to test the tension (and to set the release) for your bindings. Whether you’re a beginner skier hitting the bunny slopes or an advanced snowboarder hitting the terrain park, you’ll get the tension needed for your style. And if you’re a beginner, you can always come back to reset as your skills develop.

“We get your boot right, first, the binding right, second, and then the ski or snowboard,” says Mazur. Knowledgeable staff and state-of-the-art equipment help make sure you leave with the perfect gear for a day on the slopes.

Public Lands staff adjusts ski boots and binding

Bring in your gear for tune-ups and repair

At some point, you’ll need to bring in your skis or your board for a tune-up. The most basic (and common) upkeep item is waxing. If the bottom of your skis or board is white or off-white, it likely needs to be waxed. Mazur notes this regular maintenance is usually necessary after about three to seven days of riding or skiing. Edges may need to be tuned (sharpened) every three to five outings, especially with snow conditions in the East.

One thing that differentiates the Public Lands ski shop is the use of a Wintersteiger grinding machine that can create patterns on the base of your skis or board, used along with a variety of waxes, for specific conditions. Bring in your gear several times a season so that it can be tailored to current conditions. For instance, early season slopes are typically covered in machine-made snow while later in the season they have an icy base.

Beyond your board or ski bases, the next most-common equipment repairs that could sideline your outing efforts—broken bindings or straps—can be fixed on-site. If your skis or board have more significant damage than a waxing and tuning can fix, a stone grinding may be in order to reset the base and pattern of your board or skis. Even if there’s no serious damage, an annual stone grind and pattern reset is a good idea. 

Consider a season tuning pass

If you’re hitting the slopes every weekend, and especially if you or your kids are competing, a season tuning pass is a great deal. “If you’re going out 15 or more times every year, it’s going to be worth it,” Mazur says, “it pays itself off very quickly.” Getting a tune-up right before a competition or a big ski trip you’ve had planned is a great way to make sure your equipment matches snow conditions ahead.

Establish a relationship

Get to know your local specialty shop and the folks who make it hum. At Public Lands, the in-store services are outfitting-based, not simply monetary transactions. “Regardless of what level you ride or ski,” says Mazur, “you’re going to get the same quality expertise and the same quality tune and the right tune that matches you.” And that level of customization doesn’t mean you need to be an expert either, deeply entrenched in the larger culture of skiing or snowboarding. “We’re not elitist,” Mazur adds, noting that the staff’s expertise also doesn’t mean they are hard to approach with questions. “We are truly a for-all outdoor retailer. We are here for everybody.”

All articles are for general informational purposes.  Each individual’s needs, preferences, goals and abilities may vary.  Be sure to obtain all appropriate training, expert supervision and/or medical advice before engaging in strenuous or potentially hazardous activity.