Fit to rip

Simple steps to getting outfitted right

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Before you get outside and onto the ski mountain, you need to get inside to get outfitted. Cotton socks, oversized boots and those denim Wranglers just won't cut it. The right gear is essential for an enjoyable day at Steamboat Ski Area.

With a slew of rental shops and specialty stores on the mountain and in town, Steamboat Springs visitors have plenty of options - whether it's finding the basic setup or taking the latest boards for a demo ride.

Because of their proximity to the ski mountain and the availability of overnight gear storage, many skiers and riders opt for the stores on or near the base of the ski area. But these shops can see thousands of renters on a busy weekend during peak ski season, so Steve Keller, retail manager for SportStalker, urges customers to come in the night before to streamline their ski day.

"Utilize the shop's hours until closing so that you're not getting out on the mountain at 11 (in the morning)," Keller said.

For people who don't want to rise early or wait in lines for their gear, services such as Black Tie Ski Rentals will bring the equipment right to your front door. Without having to carry the cost of occupying commercial retail space, these delivery services often have competitive pricing with the on-mountain shops (about $30 for a one-day beginner setup), but the lowest prices ($15 to $20) can be found at the shops in downtown Steamboat.

Based on experience and performance demand, most shops offer basic packages that include boots, skis and poles, which can be upgraded to include helmets, goggles and higher-end equipment.

Some shops, such as Ski Haus, will even rent outerwear and will work with airlines to compensate for lost luggage.

John Kole, owner of One Stop Ski Shop, reminds renters of the importance of coming in to the shop with the right socks - bring one pair of medium-weight wool socks. It also helps to wear pants you can pull up to your knees.

"There's a lot of easy ways to correct things that will increase your pleasure factor," Kole said. "It's way easier than people think to be comfortable."

Of these simple steps, Kole noted the vital necessities of socks, good gloves or mittens, goggles and a hat or helmet. Proper layering - wearing multiple layers of non-cotton, insulating materials underneath waterproof/breathable outer layers - is essential to a comfortable day on the slopes.

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