Does My Ski Gear Need to Match?
It’s not unusual to wonder whether you should try to match your gear. But do your jackets and pants, or skis and bindings, or goggles and helmet need to sport the same logo? Let’s take a look.
Here at Curated, ski experts like myself get a pretty common question, “Does my ski gear all need to match?” And hey, it’s a good question! For anyone who thinks they know the answer, not so fast, because here’s the thing: sometimes it does, and sometimes it doesn’t.
Look, snowsport manufacturers are pretty smart, in case you haven’t noticed. Aside from maintaining an annual cycle of “improvements” to gear, introducing new lines that are definitely not just old lines renamed and redesigned, or adding Gore-Tex to this or Primaloft to that, what does stay the same from year-to-year is almost literally nothing.
And full disclosure: I’m not complaining. After all, it’s a lot harder to convince my wife to let me get new gear if it’s the exact same, but taking that ski width from 93mm to 94mm really helps me make the case for more versatility, I swear.
But each year, it also feels like manufacturers continue to branch out into new areas of the market – some touting the compatibility of a full kit with their logo on it, from skis to helmet and everything in between.
So, when does it pay off for an average resort skier to sync their gear? Let’s take a look.
What gear should I try to match?
There are two most obvious pairings that most skiers would benefit from matching. (And by matching, I mean buying from the same brand to ensure seamless compatibility.) These are helmets and goggles, and jackets and pants.
Helmets + Goggles
It’s 2021 and most people wear helmets when they ski – if you don’t, your choice, you can skip to the next section. Personally, I like helmets for two reasons: they’re warmer than just a hat and they keep your goggles locked in. But with this comes one of the worst things any skier can experience, goggle gap.
This nightmare – goggle gap – is when you have some exposed forehead between your helmet and goggles because they don’t perfectly line up. If you’ve never experienced this, chances are high you have goggles and a helmet from the same brand. (That, or you really put the time in to find a compatible set up from different brands.) For those who have experienced goggle gap, you know how downright miserable it is to be whipping down a run and have your forehead feel like it’s getting frostbitten with every turn.
By getting a goggle that was developed with a helmet in mind, you’ll find that your forehead will stay toasty warm all day because they fit together like yin and yang. And it’s not just avoiding a frozen forehead; nowadays, helmets are designed to help dump heat that would actually end up fogging your goggles, while some goggles have special arms (sometimes called outriggers) to help fit around larger helmet sizes.
But, keep in mind it is very possible to have two different brands work together in perfect harmony. Personally, my Dragon Alliance Goggles pair perfectly with my Giro Ledge Helmet. So if you have questions, ask your Curated Ski Expert for a recommendation.
Jackets + Pants
East coast skiers can probably sit this one out – we’re talking powder here. (Just kidding, of course; as a Boston-based skier, I will bite my tongue here, though).
Jackets and pants really don’t need to work together all that much, save for one critical connection: the powder skirt.
For anyone who is wondering what that is, a powder skirt is that stretchy, tight part of your jacket that, when fastened, helps keep snow out of your jacket and off of your base layers. I’d say a majority of jackets have them these days, but not all of them. But what’s this got to do with matching?
Well, these days, ski apparel manufacturers are integrating snow pants with jackets, meaning your powder skirt doesn’t just hook together inside the jacket but also hooks up to your snow pants to create an (almost) impenetrable barrier to snow. In this space, though, different manufacturers do this differently – some use snaps, others zippers, and more – meaning it can pay off to have pants and jackets from the same makers.
Is it critical? No. For example, a good pair of bib snow pants plus your jacket’s powder skirt will probably do as well as, if not better than, a same-brand kit with a jacket and standard snow pants. It’s all about balance here, as well as comfort, so go with what works for you!
A note on colors
Before we move on from the “softgoods” (i.e. helmet, goggles, jackets, and pants), let’s get one thing straight: That jacket you’ve been looking at will keep you just as warm in blue as it will in black.
Any ski bum knows that you can usually get the best deals on the colors that don’t sell out – it’s just like buying a house with green walls inside – you gotta have some imagination!
My own ski bag, for example, was one-third of the price in a camo print compared to a solid black print. Do I care? Not at all. I’m not a camo guy, but it is nice to easily pick my bags out of the carousel at the airport.
Same goes for color on other things, like goggles. Mine are bright orange – a color that obviously stayed in stock long past the standard black pair. Do I care? Nope! And now the orange acts as a good beacon for people to find me because I don’t like to take breaks.
Summed up: If you like matching your gear like an outfit (hey, I feel you – my wife does the same) then go for it! If you don’t, then that’s ok, too. Just please wear snow pants and not jeans.
What gear doesn’t matter if it matches?
Bindings + Skis
Ok, probably going to catch some flak on this one, but here’s the skinny: Your bindings and skis don’t have to match! There are some brands who own both ski and binding manufacturers (sometimes they go by different names but have the same parent company) and tout the benefits of pairing their bindings with their skis.
I’ll say this, for 99.999% of skiers, that doesn’t matter (and that may be low). As long as your binding is appropriate for your skis – meaning the width, type of ski, etc. – you’re good to go. Your Curated Ski Expert will be able to explain more about this.
Real quick though, here’s a hot take: The Head Kore series and Tyrolia Attack2 bindings look pretty awesome together, style-wise. Fun fact: Head skis owns Tyrolia, and for this series, there’s a matching binding for each sidewall color. Doesn’t affect performance, but the neon effect is pretty cool (see pic for more, plus a fun cameo of my cheap, orange goggles.)
Boots + Bindings
Same as above – though there’s only a few companies who do both boots and bindings. Pay more attention to making sure your bindings are compatible with your boots’ soles – there are so many options on the market today, from standard alpine soles, to GripWalk soles, and more, that this can be a little confusing.
Poles + Anything
No. These do not need to match or be made by the same people.
Have fun with it
For most of us, skiing is supposed to be fun! So, be a little “out there” with your kit if you want to, and if fitting in is your thing, that’s cool, too. At the end of the day, the recipe for a sick ski day means the right gear, and Curated Ski Experts like myself are here to help!