How to keep your skis like new,  prevent oxidation of the bases and edges.

Before you put your skis and boots away for the summer, take a few minutes to store them properly. It will be worth it when you pull them back out in the fall.

SKI STORAGE

The big issue is oxidation. We want to prevent rust on the edges and “dry rot” (a powdery-white appearance) of the polyethylene bases. Yes, polyethylene, if left to dry out, does oxidize – if air gets into the microscopic pores, the long molecules that make the bases so tough can break into smaller strands, reducing the strength and even the glide speed of this expensive material. So, here is the plan:

  1. Use a damp rag to wipe down your skis and bindings (little citric-based cleaner won’t hurt). Remove all road salt, dirt and grime that linger from those last sunny days of your ski season.

  2. Use a clean dry rag to dry them off, top and bottom. If sharp “splinters” of topsheet material along the top edges grab the rag, trim those loose ends off with a sharp knife or a bit of sandpaper. A smooth top edge won’t cut your fingers as you handle the skis and may prevent further delamination of the topsheet.

  3. Look for any obvious issues on the edges and bases. Run a finger along the steel edges and a palm along the base. Look for roughness of the edges, discoloration, and any whiteness on the bases.

  4. Using a diamond stone, polish away any burrs on the ski edges. Rust beginning here will go deeper than into a smooth surface and be harder to grind away later. In the long run, rusted burrs will require deeper grinding and shorten the useful life of the ski.

  5. Similarly, repair any gouges in the polyethylene bases.

  6. Using a waxing iron, coat the bases and edges with a thick layer of soft “summer” wax. (If you don’t have warm-weather wax handy, any wax will do to prevent oxidation. Any wax is better than a dry base).

  7. Leave the wax on your skis through the summer months. You can scrape and brush the bases before your first run next winter.

  8. Fasten the skis together with two velcro ski straps, one toward the tips and one toward the tails. The foam section should sit between the ski bases to protect the steel edges from scissoring against each other, and the velcro can be wrapped around your skis tightly. Store skis in a dry, shaded and well-ventilated location.

  9. Before skiing in the fall, scrape off the (soft) storage wax and iron in a coat of harder or all-purpose glide wax suitable for winter snow.

 

SKI BOOT STORAGE

 

Boots need summer love, too. The polyurethane and polyether plastics used to make high-performance ski boots tend to take on a “set” when left alone for long periods, which means it’s best to store them all buckled up. Otherwise, when you stick your foot in the boot in November, you may find the overlap flaps and cuff straps pointing off in odd directions, and the boot may not fit as well as you remembered. Moreover, a boot stored damp can actually mildew inside (yuck!). So when you’re done prepping your skis for storage:

  1. Pull the liner out of each boot and set it aside in a cool dry place to dry thoroughly. Remove the footbed so it can dry, too. Make sure the tongue sits in its normal skiing position, inside the liner. Stuff crumpled newspaper into the liner to absorb moisture and help the liner retain its shape. If the liner has laces, pull them tight.

  2. Clean the plastic shells inside and out using a mild detergent or diluted citric cleaner. Rinse and dry.

  3. Check for damage to the shell and cuff. Look for bent buckles, missing screws and canting hinges. Look for cracks in the plastic, especially if the boots are more than five or six years old (even very durable plastics can grow brittle after years in the sun and wind). Look carefully at wear on the boot soles, especially at the toe and heel where the boot interfaces with bindings. If the soles are badly worn, especially if worn asymmetrically, it can adversely affect binding release function. Where outsoles are replaceable, check the condition of the screwheads holding them to the main shell. You’ll want to replace the outsoles before those screwheads are worn off.

  4. Where damage needs to be repaired, consult your bootfitter or another expert ski shop. Most buckles can be replaced, some cracks can be welded, and many outsoles can be replaced.

  5. Store boots in a dark, cool, dry place.