Bag of Tricks: Key Ski and Snowboard Accessories

Bag of Tricks: Key Ski and Snowboard Accessories

Published by Brion O'Connor

Other Necessities and How to Pack them for the Slopes.

Most skiers and snowboarders will keep the "big" items in mind when packing for a day on the hill. Things like skis, boots, helmet, layers, gloves, goggles, wallet, and mobile phone are all pretty standard.

But oftentimes, it's the "little" things that can make or break your outing. So, for starters, check out our trusty Kulkea ski gear checklist. That fairly comprehensive list includes accessories such as helmet, goggles/sunglasses, balaclava, ski boot bag, ski bag, and miscellaneous items like lip balm, sunscreen, hand warmers, winter hat or cap, and a gear lock.

But, remember, these items are just for starters. We spoke with a number of ski professionals and dedicated winter enthusiasts who recommended a number of other items that they consider essential. With a sturdy bag like the Kulkea Boot Trekker (which has been getting great reviews, including this one in Men's Journal), you've got enough spare room to bring along all the necessities.

Duct tape. The granddaddy of all-purpose emergency repairs. Gloves, jackets, boots, and a variety of other items can all be fixed, at least temporarily, by this tough, sticky silver tape. And you don't need the entire roll. Some skiers will wrap anywhere from 15 to 20 inches of duct tape right on their poles. However, cold weather can affect the adhesive and make the tape a little more difficult to work with. I prefer putting the same amount on a ballpoint pen, and leaving it in my boot bag.

Spare screw set. This is particularly important for snowboarders, as snowboard bindings are more prone to loosening to those on alpine skis. The same holds for telemark bindings, though to a lesser degree. That's one of the reasons many ski areas are installing workbenches near the base lodge and chairlifts. But those benches provide the tools, not the actual screws (usually).

Multi-tool. Murphy's Law dictates that the very moment you need a workbench, you can't find one. In those instances, it's nice to have your own tools. A Leatherman-style tool (or, as one friend calls it, a "McGyver-style tool") should be in your bag. Full-size screwdrivers will give you more torque. The Brooks-Range Backcountry Multi-tool is one of the best of the lot. Though a little pricey (about $70), it is designed specifically for the backcountry, and features several blades, a bit driver combined with five bits (two Phillips, two flat, one Pozi, and one Torx), wire cutters, needle-nose and regular pliers, four sizes of wrenches, and a bottle opener (of course). Money well spent.

Tuning kit. If the conditions are on the icy side, you'll want sharp edges. There are a number of terrific miniature tuning kits that allow you to bring your tuning table with you to the lodge and keep your edges sharp and smooth. One of the best is the Tognar Alpha ski tuning kit, with a 6-inch true bar, brake retainers, base repair candles, a set of three pocket diamond stones, edge file/bevel tool, brass file brush, and steel scraper. Perfect. But the Tognar kit is also one of the most expensive, at about $115 (though it's money well spent). Dakine also makes a great kit, complete with all-temperature wax, P-tex, a wire brush, scuff pad, a scraper, and edge-tuning tools, in a convenient, low-profile zippered case, for under $60. At the very least, bring a pocket stone to work out any nasty burrs.

Lost and found. If you plan on a little backcountry adventure, you should have RECCO technology, which allows resorts and rescue teams to find lost skiers carrying RECCO reflectors. If you're apparel is not RECCO-equipped, the Patagonia Tech Web belt ($45) is a must, and a great price-point for that technology. Massachusetts ski mom Nancy Eileen Williams, who spends a good portion of her winters at Sugarloaf in Maine, always makes sure her teenagers have an emergency whistle and compass if they're going to do some off-piste glade skiing. In the same vein, a reliable headlamp with full-charged batteries is nice to have.

Spare change. Boston Herald travel editor Moira McCarthy suggests stashing a few $20 bills in those hard-to-find pockets of your boot bag and parka. That way, you're never at a loss for cash when you need it. "I don't know why I don't take them out at the end of the season," she said, laughing, "but I always feel like I won that money." Likewise, a spare car key and spare condo key can come in handy.

Spare clothing. Beyond regular layers (including glove and boot liners), a toasty pair of wool socks is a real treat après ski. Race coach Vaughn Harring, who calls Wildcat in northern New Hampshire his home area, says that for those really rainy days, "I have some industrial rubber gloves. They work great in the wet, and you won't trash your leather gloves or mittens." Extra goggles aren't a bad idea, either (consider different tints for different lighting conditions).

Snacks. If you're a parent traveling with young children, snacks are an absolute must. Because when little ones get hungry, they get cranky (the very definition of "hangry"), and that can put the whole day in jeopardy. Truth is, hunger pangs can affect anyone. So a few energy bars (Clif Bar and Luna bars are personal favorites) can help take the edge off. Energy gels, such as GU or Hammer Gel, also work, though not quite as filing. Shot Bloks by Clif Bar are a big hit with kids. Beef jerky is terrific if you're feeling iron deficient. Fresh fruit and dried fruit are also great options. Just don't forget that you have it in your bag after you get back home. "And chocolate," said travel writer Hilary Nangle who lives near Sugarloaf in Maine. "Always chocolate."

Instant warmth. Tea bags are an elegant solution to warming up while saving a few bucks. Skiing isn't cheap. Anytime you can save some money, that's a good thing. If you bring your own tea bags, all you need is a free cup of hot water. For the kids, bring packets of instant hot chocolate.

Vitamin I. Ibuprofen and other NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) are a great way to take the edge off those nagging aches and pains that come with skiing and snowboarding into your 40s, 50s, and beyond. They're especially popular with the telemark set and freestylers. However, you should be aware that the National Institutes of Health has stated that NSAIDs may carry a higher risk of having a heart attack or a stroke, and may cause ulcers, bleeding, or holes in the stomach or intestine. So use with care. If you're concerned, stick with aspirin.

Phone accessories. Our mobile phones have become our connection not only to family and friends, but the world around us (I absolutely LOVE my Urban Spoon app to find nearby restaurants when I'm in a new place, and my Yelp! App to provide reviews). Want proof? Think of how you feel when your phone dies unexpectedly. Plan for that inevitability by packing a back-up phone battery, a phone cable, and a phone AC plug. The Voxer app converts your cell phone into a walkie talkie, and is easier to use compared to texting or even the actual phone mode.

Personal grooming. Let's be honest – one of the best aspects of skiing is après ski. There's nothing wrong with sprucing up after your last run. Women have known this for generations (judging from all the micro-toiletries that she manages to squeeze into her over-sized purse). Toothpaste and toothbrush, maybe floss, comb and/or hairbrush are all compact and convenient. Don't forget the breath mints.

Flask. Really, no explanation needed, right?

Related Articles:

How to Buy Skis: Tips from an Insider

How to Buy Ski Boots: Tips from an Insider

Getting Ready for Ski Season

Ski Gear Checklist

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