How to Store Your Snowboard Gear in the Off-Season
Snowboard expert Michael Biasuzzi overviews how to care for and store outerwear, base layers, boots, and snowboard equipment.
The sun is bright, the air is warm, and the snow is softening at the local ski mountain. This can only mean one thing: the winter season is coming to a close. As the summer heat, humidity, and other elements become daily occurrences, properly storing your gear is essential to protecting your investment and ensuring it will continue to perform at the highest levels. Improper care and storage can cause gear to wear out more quickly or be unusable when pulled back out months later. In this article, we will cover the proper ways to care for and store outerwear, base layers, boots, and your snowboard equipment.
Caring and Storage of Base Layers
Care for your base layers can vary depending on what materials the garment is made of and its production. Many manufacturers label the care instructions by attaching them right to the item. These instructions include the best way to care for your item. What if the label is faded or missing? Then you can follow these basic wash and care guidelines.
This is also a perfect time to go through your items one by one and determine if they’re suitable for another season or another purpose, or if it’s time to donate or discard. I personally like wool and polyester-blend base layers and socks. Those fabrics wick moisture away from your body and help keep you warm and dry all day on the slopes. These items should always be washed in cold water on a gentle cycle. Use a mild detergent that you prefer and, if you’d like to, use a little fabric softener. The cold water should keep the colors from running together and the gentle wash setting should be vigorous enough to remove any stains without damaging the stitching or materials of the garment.
Once washed and rinsed, the items are ready to dry. Using a low-to-medium heat setting on your dryer is best. If the dryer has a delicate feature, I recommend using this as well. If the item is 100% wool and not preshrunk wool, I often let it air dry (left out on a drying rack or hung to dry in a separate area) or dry it on a no-heat setting for a short period of time. This will prevent the wool fabric from shrinking so it still fits properly. Now that the items are washed and dry, storing is the last step in the process.
There are many options for storage—from a simple drawer or linen closet to basements, plastic storage bins, vacuum-sealed bags, and many more. The best option for you is based on the space you have available and the conditions of the space. I think plastic storage bins or plastic bags are the best options for storage containers. They keep items dry and clean, come in multiple styles and shapes, and can be used in multiple areas. Make sure the items are fully enclosed and the containers are sealed completely. I often toss a dryer sheet or two in the bins before I tuck them away for the summer. This helps keep the clothes smelling fresh and keeps rodents away, but is completely optional.
It’s always a good idea to label the containers, so there is no scavenger hunt when it’s time to get the winter gear out for next season. The main points to remember about storage is not to over-stuff the containers and to keep the items dry. This will ensure the apparel will stay in the pristine condition you left them i
Care and Storage of Jackets / Outerwear
Common sense would believe that many of the instructions above apply to the care and storage of outerwear like jackets and snow pants. Some do and some don’t is the short answer; many jackets and pants are treated to be waterproof and windproof, which requires slightly different care instructions. Waterproof jackets that feature GORE-TEX are easy to care for and offer great instructions on the labels. If the labels are worn or missing, you can follow these simple steps.
First, close all the zippers and pockets after emptying them and fasten any loose straps. Wash alone or with minimal, lightly-soiled items in warm water with a little liquid detergent only. Items like dry detergent, stain removers, and fabric softener can stain the items. Tumble dry on medium heat, or hang and air dry. Once dry, tumble dry on medium heat for another 20 minutes to reactivate the durable, water-repellent treatment. If water does not bead and roll off the jacket or pants, retreatment might be required. Once dried and retreated, if needed, I would say the jacket or pants are ready to rock when needed next season.
Storage for jackets and snow pants is similar to base layers. Plastic containers are best in a dry storage area. Just like before, fold and store the apparel in the plastic containers. Make sure the storage units are completely closed and sealed. Label the receptacles and put away for next winter.
Care and Storage of Hard Goods / Snowboard Equipment
Many elements can damage snowboards—heat, moisture, sunlight, and other factors can all cause issues for your equipment, which can be avoided with proper storage and care. Improper care and storage can cause glues to become brittle, edges to rust, and base materials to dry out and crack. To avoid many of these issues, it’s important that the equipment is stored in a well-ventilated area, away from moisture. If you plan to store your gear in a basement or garage, make sure the snowboards are not in direct contact with the cement. The cement will cause the edges to rust, even if it feels dry and warm. If you plan to hang the equipment, double check the connections and mounts so the gear will stay put all summer.
After securing the storage area, it’s time to prep the equipment to be put away. I start by inspecting the snowboard or skis for damage caused throughout the season. Next, I remove the snowboard bindings and wipe clean with a mild solution of dish soap and water. Wipe the bindings dry and tuck the highbacks down to the baseplate. Connect the ankle and toe straps loosely together—this ensures the plastic keeps its molded shape and prevents the straps from weakening and breaking. Place the binding hardware in a Ziploc bag; I like to tape the bag to one of the bindings. It’s an easy way to keep all the binding parts together. If the area could be damp, seal the bindings in a plastic container or bag. If the area is dry, then feel free to leave the bindings on the snowboard during storage.
To keep snowboards and skis in top shape, it’s important to keep the base material hydrated, which is done by waxing the equipment. I apply my own wax, but if you don’t have the tools or materials available, any ski and snowboard shop in your area will offer a summer wax and care service. To wax your snowboard or skis, you’ll need a work space, iron, and wax. While the iron heats up—a medium temperature works—wipe the equipment clean and place your gear on the work area with its base facing up. Remember to always remove snowboard bindings before applying wax. Drizzle wax over the base of the equipment and evenly iron wax into the base. It is the same process for skis, except you’ll need rubber bands to keep the brakes up while working on the skis. Allow the wax to completely dry and cool, then remove the bands from the brakes on the skis before putting them into storage.
When the warm weather creeps in and the last turns are made, it’s critical that your gear is properly cared for, sorted, and stored. Inventory your soft goods, like base layers, and outerwear, including jackets and snow pants. Wash, dry, recondition if needed, and properly store them for the long summer months. Have the equipment serviced for summer storage at a local shop, or prepare the gear yourself. Clean and prep the storage area, then comes the worst feeling of the season… put the equipment away and close the door until next season.