Whether you've been skiing all of your life or are just beginning, it doesn't take long to figure out that it's tough getting around in ski gear. Walking in ski boots from the car to the lifts, while lugging a pair of skis often feels like a final ascent on Mount Everest. And, this is supposed to be fun?
Years ago, when ski boots were made of leather, walking was relatively easy. The boots were ankle-high and only slightly more uncomfortable than a pair of Converse basketball shoes. However, since the 1970s, ski boots have evolved into foam-filled plastic behemoths that are only functional when clicked into a pair of bindings. At the same time, skis are getting heavier and almost impossible to hoist onto the roof rack of your car. Fortunately, there is help.
A number of manufacturers have come up with some inexpensive, yet functional accessories for getting around in ski boots. Cat Tracks are simple devices that slip over the bottoms of your ski boots. They help to minimize unwanted wear and tear on your boots that contributes to binding malfunctions while providing a non-skid surface for walking over ice and snow. Weighing only a few ounces, Cat Tracks easily slip into a parka pocket when not in use.
Walk- EZ Revolutions are another recent invention for getting around slope side. Walk EZs are hinged boot attachments that snap onto the sole of your boots like a pair of bindings. Although heavier than Cat Tracks, Walk EZs are designed with a curved sole that makes walking in ski boots as easy as traipsing to the refrigerator in your slippers. At $49.95, they're pricier than other similar products but they come with a steel cable lock so you can secure them to a ski rack at the bottom of the mountain.
With skis now weighing 20 pounds or more, wouldn't it be great if someone made a rolling device so you could transport all of your skis like a carry-on suitcase? They have. Ski-mule makes a rolling ski rack that weighs only 5 lbs. but can carry up to 100 lbs. of gear. Simply attach the tails of your skis to the axle and wheels, then attach the handle to your ski tips. You're ready to roll. If you're looking for something less expensive that you can stow in a pocket, try the Bowtie Ski Carrier or the Hands Free & Ski by Yost.
When it comes to carrying heavy ski boots, there are a number of affordable accessories available on-line or at your local ski shop. Maxim, Ozark, VacationGadgets, and Halcyon have inexpensive boot carriers that attach to your boots' power straps. If you're looking for a quality boot bag that you can use to carry your ski boots onto a plane, take a look at the EMS Outtabounds Ski Boot Bag or the Salomon Ski Boot Bag at Skigearcheap.com. Alpine Sports also makes a boot bag that you can wear like a backpack. Transpack offers a 2 piece boot backpack and ski bag set for only $49.95.
Once you get to your car, there are a number of great ways to get your gear home. Sportrack, Thule, and Yakima all make a variety of affordable ski and snowboard racks. Most come in modular designs so that you can convert your winter ski rack into a summer bike and kayak carrier. If you're not quite tall enough to reach a traditional roof rack, Alpine Accessories carries a ski rack that conveniently attaches to the side windows of your car.
If all of these options still feel like too much trouble, consider sending your skis and boots ahead to your hotel. Most hotel concierges in resort areas can help you arrange to have your gear shipped directly to the hotel through UPS or FedEx where it will be waiting for you when you arrive. Sportube makes a wide variety of durable containers for shipping skis, snowboards and other sports equipment. Many hotels will even arrange to have your skis tuned so they're ready for you first day on the snow. Sending your gear ahead saves you the cost and trouble of keeping track of all of your bags. Now all you have to do is keep track of the kids.