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Category: Ski Gear Reviews

Holiday Gifts for the Skier and Snowboarders on your List

It’s Christmas time, and you’d rather be skiing than shopping, right?! White snow versus Black Friday – yes?! So here are some easy holiday gift ideas, you can get online, in no time, and be skiing before you can say “there’s no place like snow for the holidays.”

Our top ski and snowboard gifts, from cheap to steep, for friends, family, kids, and après ski fans who never plan to hit the slopes but want look the part for the party!

For the Kids
How cool – literally – is the Lego Ski Resort Kit? I love Legos, my son did too – and he went on to study engineering. Let your kids be creative this Christmas – and all season long, use their imagination and build their own snow resort. I can picture kids in their cuddly long undies on the floor by the fireplace playing with these ski themed Lego for hours, après ski! Check out the adorable ski chalet kit with multi-racial skiers, a snowmobile, fireplace, hot tub, and a husky – of course! Ok, I wish I was a kid, let go of my Lego!

For Fun
Check out Till I Die  for hilarious après ski inspired shirts, from Killington Vermont. You will want some of this humorous ski swag for your #selfie as well. We love the Black Diamond “I’m Difficult” shirt (it also comes in Green Circle “I’m easy”) and the Pizza Pie French Fry Ski Till I die shirt. For the older folks on your list, they even have rear-entry ski boot graphics on a retro t-shirt. We respect the culture of Till I Die and creator/ founder Ryan Orabone’s comment, “To us skiing is more than just a recreational activity. It is a brand that reflects our attitude and a way to live.” Get your tillidie, while they last, before you die. Morbid maybe, but you get the mantra…

For the Feet from cheap to steep
Heat Factory hand and toe warmers are a cheap but cozy thoughtful gift. These pocket-size hand warmer packets are my personal life saver. Heat Factory or Grabbers chemical heat packets provide about seven hours of warmth, and extend your time on the slopes between lodge breaks for frozen fingers and toes. I have a pack a day habit – so I am always happy to give and receive (hint hint) hand warmers by the case. Give them to your ski buddy so they don’t bum yours all season.

Ski socks… Ski instructors, pro skiers, and racers all agree – if your feet aren’t happy, you aren’t on top of your ski game. Ski socks are your base and the basics to comfort and performance. Quality merino wool ski socks provide foot warmth, and wicking of funky foot sweat and odor. Ski socks cost $10-30, worth it for the technical fabric and fit. SmartWool  and Vermont’s Darn Tough come in fun colors, shapes and sizes for skiers and snowboarders.

The Best Ski Boot Bag is by Kulkea. For $120 you can pack for a day, weekend or week out west with the versatile Powder Trekker backpack. They also have a heated Thermal Trekker boot pack ($229)! How sweet is that – you can warm your ski boots, and your breakfast croissant on the way to the ski slopes. Kulkea boot bags are compartmentalized to hold your ski boots in separate waterproof sleeves, helmet, goggles, and gloves, with lots of smart pockets for your pass, sunglasses, and a surprisingly roomy center compartment for base layers. Kulkea’s boot bag is super lightweight, made of performance fabric, looks moderately stylish (for a backpack), and keeps you organized on a powder morning. Kulkea means “to go” in Finnish, and this will be your go to ski boot bag. We also love that the Kulkea brain children are East Coast skiers.

Skis, Beautiful Skis
Blizzard’s Coming! Get your loved one some cool new skis. We are big Blizzard fans (snow pun intended) so we gifted each other Black Pearls (for her) and Bonafides (for him), all mountain skis at 98mm underfoot we are ready to conquer any conditions together. Merry Christmas my dear… bring on the blizzards this year. See our Top Skis Review

For the Graphic Obsessed Skier
J Skis are the ski to be on. Designed by Jason Levinthal, creator of Line and Full Tilt, these J Skis are his latest baby, 6 unique designs with a variety of custom graphics J’s. We love the construction and creativity behind the Vacation Skis – complete with cute babes on the top sheet. The Hot Dogger comes topped with condiments – smear of mustard please. For gals who rip, the unicorn inspired pink Whippit looks wicked fun. These high quality, head-turning skis are hand made with carbon fiber and maple core (made in Quebec Canada eh?!). J Skis are sold direct with 100 % guarantee from Jason himself – so you save on “retail markup” and your skis are autographed by the man, the legend since 1995.

A Liftopia gift card. Liftopia sells discounted lift tickets at over 250 alpine resorts across North America, so giving the gift of this versatile vertical card is easy, for a downhill deal like $49 tickets to Sugarbush. You decide the amount, $25 to $1,000 denominations, and your friend can ski when and where they want – at serious savings.

Ski Keepsakes For great retro ski posters, pillows, mugs, ski t-shirts, games, and snowflake jewelry, The New England Ski Museum has a great location, at the base of Cannon Mountain, and an online store, with unique ski gifts for as little as $12. Best of all, your purchase benefits this non-profit ski association that is preserving ski history in New England.

For your best ski bunny
Alp N Rock  makes gorgeous après ski shirts. I splurged for my #selfie – Merry Christmas to me, and I LOVE it. If you want your gal to embrace skiing, buy her a beautiful wool henley with alpine motifs and cool graphics from Stowe to Aspen to Zermatt – this stylish shirt goes from the slopes to the après ski bars, anywhere you want to make a ski statement ($160). Did I mention its warm, with soft merino wool, no itch?! Alp N Rock makes crew necks for dudes too, it’s like Affliction goes alpine.

For the Downhill Dude on your list
We love All About Après ski swag, from caps, to T-shirts, hoodies and hats, this wearable-art ski gift will be the talk of après ski – especially the lovable St Bernard Ski Shirt. Also we love the First Tracks Bloody Mary T, perfect for those pretty gals that dress Sunday morning to ride the lift to the on mountain bar for their booze infused lycopene cocktail!

Or give them snow, take your family to a New England ski resort – they have been blowing snow whenever it’s below, and it’s surprisingly white on the slopes due to the extensive, expensive snowmaking the ski areas have been putting out.

Copyright 2017, by Heather Burke of FamilySkiTrips.com

 

Winter Is Here Ski Friends

We love snow, and Jon Snow, so pardon our Game of Thrones puns about “Winter is coming”, “Winter is here”. It just seems an approprite way to tweet out our alpine enthusiasm for ski season !  Its cold, its snowing, ski resorts are opening!

Good news, avid skiers are already on the slopes in Colorado, Canada and Vermont, and the long wait for winter is over for summer loathers!  Arapahoe Basin opened for skiing October 13, 2017, with Loveland opening a week later Oct 20, in Colorado.

In the East, The Beast of the East – Killington –  opened Nov 8, 2017 for passholders only, a tradition the Big K started a few years agao to reward loyalty. The public is welcome to ski Killington the following day Nov 9.  Also in Vermont, Okemo Mountain Resort opens for skiing Saturday Nov 11, as does Maine’s Sunday River – a perennial early season fave for first tracks.

Killington has some serious snow making to do in order to host their second consecutive World Cup ski race Thanksgiving weekend, they are busy burying the Superstar trail in deep man-made snow for the Women’s World Cup competition that drew big crowds last November, despite balmy temps.

In Canada, Banff Norquay was the first ski are to open, with Lake Louise soon following suit.

In Europe, The Alps have had early season snow, with Solden, Obergurgl Hochgurgl, and Hintertux  Glacier in Austria all open for skiing. In Switzerland, Zermatt and Saas Fee are open for limited early season skiing. Tignes France is also open for glacier skiing.

So get ready, get fit, get your ski gear out of storage  – ski season is here.  We will be at the Boston.com Ski and Snwobarod Expo Nov 9-10 to see the latest ski line up, ski resort ticket deals and ski travel plans, and to check out ski fashions at the Vertical Runway Ski Fashion Spectacular  featuring DARE2B, ELAN, ATHALON, SPYDER, SCOTT, SKEA and KARBON. Ok, we’re biased because ski fashion is our passion, this show is sponsored by Sunday River and produced by our ski fried and fashion stylist Kathy Benharris.

See you on snow soon!

See our Top Western Ski Resorts for Early Season Skiing
and
Top Eastern Ski Resort for Early Season Skiing and Snowmaking

About Our Editor Heather Burke

2avalancheHeather Burke has been the editor of Family Ski Trips since 1995. In 1999 she launched Luxury Ski Trips.com, and in 2017 www.theluxuryvacationguide.com

Here are 10 Ski Questions for the Ski Travel Journalist & Editor between ski trips to Canada and Colorado:

What’s your ski goal each season? Ski my age in days – so that’s 50 this season… and an exponentially more challenging goal to achieve each year! Also I want to add several new ski resorts every winter, I’ve skied 147 on Liftopia’s Where I’ve Ski app!

What’s your Favorite Ski Resort? The one I haven’t skied yet!
6kitzbuhel-hrb-markus-pow2#lol Seriously I love Kitzbuhel and St Anton in Austria, and Big Sky in Montana, and there are very few ski areas I don’t love (not naming names).

Where do you most want to ski? As a travel journalist, I am fortunate enough to to ski all over the globe… I’m living the dream. I’m very excited to ski and aprés ski the French Alps this season! just skied Big White in BC Canada – it made my Canadian Top 10 Ski Resorts!

4heatherFavorite Gear? Right now its my Rossignol Temptation 100’s! It’s the first time I have found a women’s ski to be a real strong performer and an all quiver ski.  These Rossi’s are wide and stable, carve well on groomed and hard pack but float beautifully in powder – and they’re pretty!

Go To Ski Outfit? I love my SKEA Silver Cargo Pants, my Skea Blue Effie jacket with the gorgeous fur trim hood,  and my aprés ski skirt!

Proudest skiing accomplishments? Raising two beautiful big-sky-family2016children who love to ski as much as me, skiing 147 ski resorts (so far, so good!) and being a respected ski travel journalist!


What famous skier would you most like to meet?
Lindsey Vonn – Strong is the New Beautiful! And Klaus Obermeyer – he’s amazingly passionate, talented and time-tested.

Visit Heather Burke’s websites Family Ski Trips.com and  for luxury resort reviews: www.theluxuryvacationguide.com

Copyright & photos 2017, property of Family Ski Trips.com

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Get Your Kids Ready to Ski

2-ski-timberline2The PSIA and I agree on how to get your kids ready to ski. Here is sage ski advice from the Professional Ski and Snowboard Instructors of America with our own Family Ski Tips. Confession: I was a member of PSIA when I taught skiing at Smugglers Notch Resort in Vermont in the 90s. Flash forward, as Editor of Luxury Ski Trips and FamilySkiTrips.com, I have similar ski tips for parents on how to make skiing fun with less stress for everyone.

PSIA Ski Tips
1. Be active as a family before your ski trip

Skiing and snowboarding require physical fitness, so start an exercise program for you and your family. Whether it’s enrolling kids in soccer or another sport, to taking walks together as a family, it’s important to get moving. See my similar tips on quad strengthening wall sits with the kids pre ski season.
2. Do your weather homework 
blizzard-heatherSki resorts have mountain cams,  temperature updates, even meteorologists on retainer. Know before you go –  what the weather and temperature is like on the mountain and where you are staying, so you can dress your child appropriately for conditions. At some resorts temps vary greatly from the town versus the mountain, mind the elevation too!
3. Try on ski/snowboard  gear before you go
For younger children getting used to putting on ski or snowboard equipment and clothing helps them adjust to the mountain environment more easily. You can make it a game, we call it the pre ski season fashion runway show,  and help them see their ski/snowboard clothes and equipment as something fun to play in versus something strange or bulky to wear. For older kids, it also helps to check to make sure everything still fits and is working properly before you arrive on the slopes.
3family-lookout-pass4. Invest in lessons for your kids
Having your kids learn from an expert can make their ski/snowboard experience more fun, see our Top Tips for teaching kids to ski,  and also gives you time to enjoy the slopes. Set the expectation that the lesson is more like a sports practice than going to school and that they’ll have fun while getting to learn new skills.
5. Watch ski/snowboard movies or videos to get everyone excited
We couldn’t agree more – nothing like a Warren Miller family ski movie night to amp up the alpine enthusiasm among the fam! Use media to motivate your kids and set expectations of what their experience on the mountain and lessons will be like. Check out ski and snowboard clips on YouTube and PSIA-AASI’s  YouTube Channel.
6. Pack the right gear
family-ski-trip-packingYou don’t have to spend a fortune on kids’ ski and snowboard gear. Just make sure they have a good snowsuit that’s wind/snow resistant along with goggles, long socks pulled up below the knee, snow gloves and insulated layers. If they become more involved in the sport then you can invest in wicking base layers and more expensive jackets when they will be out on the mountain for longer periods of time. There’s a science to packing properly – see our guide to packing for a family ski trip.

Get your kids ski bags and gear and get ready! See our reviews of the Best Family Ski resorts in the World and we’ll see you on the  ski slopes!

By Heather Burke, photography by Greg Burke www.luxuryskitrips.com

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2016 Copyright & Photography property of Family Ski Trips

Still skiing? The 2% – Skiers!

Its Memorial Day weekend, sign of summer, after one of the most mercurial winters Family Ski Tripson record – El Niño, or as we called it “El Weirdo.”

The East was warm with astonishingly low snow, less than 5 feet of natural snow at Sunday River… meanwhile the West got nuked, 33 feet at Grand Targhee, 38′ at Snowbird in Utah!

blizzard-heatherOverall, skier visits were up 8% in the Rockies. The Pacific Northwest recorded a 142% increase, easily doubling from 2 mill in 2014-15 to 4.8 mill visits in 2015-16 according to NSAA – the National Ski Areas Association.

sunday-river-chondolaThe Northeast, New England particularly, was down 28% this winter (can we call it a winter?!) reflecting one of the four worst ski seasons in the past four decades. Sunday River, who opened on Oct 19, kept skiing til May 2, but only received 60 inches of natural snow, their usual snowfall total is 167 (can you say snow making magic?).

1telluride-skier-hrbOverall skier visits in the US for 2015-16 were 53.9 million, the West soared  and saved the East meltdown. As for the bottom line, Western resort occupancy was up 4.4 percent,revenues up 5.2 percent compared to last season, with Colorado as the leader of the pack, even though the strong US $ deterred Canadians and foreigners.

In layman’s terms, about 7 million people in the US ski,  they account for our 53 million “skier visits” by going about 7 times a season. Some folks, like me, big-sky-ianski 50 days, ski instructors, patrollers and ski bums eclipse 100, but slobs with real jobs ski only 2 to 5 times a winter, so its an alipne average . With the US population at 322,762,018 (2016 US Census specifics) that means skiers are the 2%!

Enough elitist ski math, alpine analysis and El Niño climatology… let’s talk about who is still open for skiing in May 2016?

In the East, the last beast spinning is Killington Resort which reopens Memorial weekend much like last year! Out west the usual late spring ski resorts are still standing: Arapahoe Basin Ski Area and Aspen’s Ajax  in Colorado,  Mammoth, Mt Bachelor, Timberline & Whistler Blackcomb! Mammoth still has 130’ of base in late May, more snow than heather-aspen-supthe East saw all season. Hintertux Glacier in Austria too!

Me, I’ve stored my skis for next October, sharpened, waxed all set to go come snow…but I’m switching gears to SUP, boating and water skiing. See you out on the h20.

By Heather Burke, photos by Greg Burke

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Heather Burke, 2016 Copyright & Photography property of Family Ski Trips & Luxury Ski Trips

Buying New Ski Boots ~ the Fit, the Sole and the Stink

family-ski-trip-packingI love getting new skis, I’m like a kid in a candy store when I get to demo shiny sharp new boards. But I hate having to buy new ski boots. Achieving a perfect ski boot fit is so key, yet so taxing on my soles. Fellow skiers, you know the pinches and winces associated in breaking in new ski boots, or more likely – new ski boots breaking you in – from your toes to your shins. So when my four-season-old ski boots were feeling cavernous, the lining packed out, the insoles lacking any cushion or bounce, just a bad odor, I dreaded shopping for new ski boots.

vail-heather-simbaNot having time, or an extra $500 kicking around, I opted instead to spend just 15% of that on new custom foot beds with admittedly low expectations. Wow – what a difference. My 160-ski-day-old boots were revitalized. By simply sliding in new Tread Lab foot beds, my feet and my skiing were reinvigorated – not to mention fresher smelling.

I could carve better, and my feet were warmer – even on a -4F degree ski day at Sugarbush, Vermont. I boots-ski2016didn’t even have to schlep to the ski shop since Tread Labs, based in Stoneham, Mass., ships two pair of insoles within your exact shoe size and width, offering varying arch support. You pick the best fit and send the other pair back in the prepaid, labeled package. If neither pair of insoles work, return them both for a full refund.

There are plenty of custom foot beds and orthotics on the market. Tread Labs, made in the U.S., have a 1purgatory4unique deep heel cup and indestructible arch support – with a lifetime guarantee. I’ll get back to you on that after 40 days of skiing.

Apparently you can also move your Tread Labs to other footwear, your sneakers in summer and hiking boots in fall for example. At $75 a pair, Tread Labs are worth trying to enhance your ski boot comfort and therefore your skiing performance, because happy feet are key to a happy skier.

By Heather Burke, photos by Greg Burke

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Heather Burke, 2016 Copyright & Photography property of Family Ski Trips

This year’s best new ski gear…

stratton_village_nightChristmas comes early for skiers, as new gear arrives in ski shops in the Fall. As passionate skiers, we all fall for the annual ski gear guide that arrives in our mailbox in October too. Its like the Christmas Wish Book for downhillers.

While we can’t necessarily buy new gear every year, who can afford that?, it’s fun to read the reviews, see what’s new and if the graphics on your favorite skis from the previous ski season have changed for better or worse.

We also love the opportunity to demo skis on snow, and as ski journalists we get that cool chance each season. So while we don’t get new skis, at least we get to try and report on our top okemo-skiing-scenepicks, and favorite new skis.

So here is our review of the Top Men’s Skis for 2015-16 winter and the Top New Women’s Skis and our Favorite Skis of All Time. Also our guide to Kids Ski Gear, and whether you need new gear every year for your skiing children.

Winter is coming. A snowy El Nino is predicted. So get ready for ski season, grab you gear out of the basement, make sure everything is tuned up and ready to go at first snow, and see what needs upgrading so you aren’t caught not ready on that first snow day.

Top Men’s Skis Review 2016
Top Women’s Skis Review 2016
Top Kids Skis Review
Top Skis Review 2015

That’s today’s ski news. Stay tuned to Family Ski Trips and Luxury Ski Trips  ski friends…winter is coming!

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Heather Burke, 2015 Copyright & Photography property of Family Ski Trips

This year’s ski gear

3family-lookout-passBack to school for the kids is  a precursor to getting back to winter and ski season for those of us passionate about alpine skiing.  The arrival of the yellow base, the first hints of fall foliage and the first Ski Magazine of the season in your mailbox all promise the snow will be here in just a few months. In fact, Sunday River, Killington, Loveland and Arapahoe Basin in Colorado often open for skiing by Halloween – just over a month away.

So it is time to get ready for ski season by going through your family ski gear, seeing if your kids have grown out of their equipment, what fits, what’s old and moldy because your ski gear wasn’t packed properly, and needs to be replaced. Ski swaps and sales and ski shows are all upcoming and offer parents an opportunity to buy skis, boots, boards and poles at a discount.

Here are our ski reviews:

Top Men’s Skis Review 2016
Top Women’s Skis Review 2016
Top Kids Skis Review
Top Skis Review 2015

Enjoy the fall, soon we’ll be in the fall line enjoying the start of what should be an amazing ski season!

See our Family Ski Vacation Guide to plan your ski holiday with the kids, and check out LuxurySkiTrips for that big ski trip to the Alps, Out West or Canada.

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Heather Burke, 2016 Copyright & Photography property of Family Ski Trips

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