Steamboat Springs After committing to a ski vacation in Steamboat Springs, out of town visitors may find their next challenge is getting outfitted.
With a wealth of rental shops and specialty clothing stores, visitors don't have to look far to find the equipment they need.
Nearly all beginners rent skis or snowboards because it's the most affordable way to be introduced to the slopes. Even some expert-level skiers and boarders may decide to rent because it's more convenient than lugging equipment through airports.
But going through the renting process for the first time can be daunting. Plus, rental shops can be crowded during peak season, making for long waits.
Most rental shops in Steamboat Springs are top quality, with trained employees who can walk renters through the outfitting process quickly and efficiently. Still there are a few things that are good to know before walking in the door.
First, renters typically pay for convenience. Renting gear from a rental shop on the mountain can be a little more expensive than going to a shop closer to town. It's convenient to be able to pick up and drop off skis right at the slopes, but bargain hunters sometimes can find better deals further from the mountain.
Renters should expect to pay between $15 and $20 for a beginner ski or snowboard package, which includes skis, boots and poles. More expensive packages are available, but most beginners are encouraged to stick with the basics. All gear is kept tuned, sharpened and waxed.
When getting fitted for boots, renters should wear only one layer of socks, preferably a good ski sock, said Danny Lessner, who works in the rental and retail departments of Ski Haus.
"A lot of people wear two layers of socks, which is pretty silly because the boots are set up to keep the heat in," Lessner said. "So when you wear two socks, you're actually creating a layer of moisture," which can make your feet colder.
Some new boots actually have battery-charged heaters built in, making for a warm day on the slopes.
Employees at rental shops will ask renters basic questions, such as what they're experience level is and how they like to ski. Beginners looking for a good time should never try to exaggerate their skill levels.
After renters find a good-fitting boot that feels like a solid fit but has a little wriggle room in the toes, it's time to move onto other skiing accessories.
Lessner recommends that every skier or boarder have a waterproof shell to keep wind and wetness out, and that layers of long underwear and fleece be used for warmth.
Gloves and a hat, or preferably a helmet, are also necessities.
Some rental shops even give helmets free of charge with their package rentals. Lessner said he encourages everyone to wear a helmet.
"You don't know who's bombing down the mountain, and it's pretty much other skiers you have to worry about in case someone hits you," he said. "That's a danger people don't worry about."
Steve Keller, rental supervisor at Christy Sports, said there are several items people typically remember at the last minute but that make for a more successful day on the slopes.
Wearing sunblock is crucial, Keller said, and items such as neck gators and face protectors also can be helpful.
Keller said he also recommends that people eat a good breakfast, and be sure to bring water and a trail map with them.
For people who want to stay off the mountain for a day or two, rentals are available for a range of other winter sports, such as snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.