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Gear Talk: A Little Goes a Long Way

After skiing for a number of years, the need to purchase additional gear – whether it be ski equipment, waxes or clothing – can ebb and flow from one year to the next. One season may find us trying or adding small things here and there, while others are notable for big purchases such as new skis, boots or poles.  This time around, I made a few additions/substitutions to my skiing toolbox that while relatively small, were key and worthy of passing along.

Bliz ProFlip XT Goggles  

After crossing the finish line at Birkie 2014, I ended up in the medical tent.  Despite relatively mild temperatures around the 15-18 degree mark, it turned out the visual distortion I struggled with in the last 15k of the race was actually corneal frostbite, more lightheartedly termed “frozen eyeballs.”  Anxious not to repeat this occurrence, it was time to get more serious about caring for my eyes while skiing, rather than depending on a simple pair of sunglasses for protection.

These Bliz goggles were just the ticket.  The wide lenses provide great protection against wind from the front and sides, providing comfort and clear vision.  The “ProFlip” element is a great touch, giving the ability to tip the lenses upwards and away from the face when necessary to avoid fogging, i.e., during long uphills and stops at feed zones.  This goggle comes with blue and clear lenses in its own hard case.  A pink-red multi lens is also available to purchase for use in mid-light conditions.

The Bliz ProFlip is available in a regular size, as well as the small face version (the model I purchased).

Start Oslo Racing Green, Purple and Blue Hardwaxes

The dearth of natural snow this past season sent most of us scurrying for the manmade loops for the majority of our local skiing.  I found the Start Oslo waxes were perfect for those coarse-grained, aggressive conditions.  A unique mix of hardwax and klister, plus the elasticity of tar, these Oslo waxes are ones you will want for your wax box.

The Oslo Purple made life a whole lot easier on the manmade gerbil wheels, providing great grip and glide when my regular hardwaxes failed, without having to go all in for the mess of full-on klister.  And for the super cold snow of the Seeley Classic and Birkie Tour, Oslo Green gave absolute bomber kick for the big Birkie hills.  To round out the trio, pick it up in Blue, too.

Nuun Active Hydration

 After sampling Nuun’s active hydration products at the Birkie Tour, I stocked up and have never looked back.  Unlike the heavy, super sweet energy drinks I had used in the past, Nuun is light and slightly effervescent.  It is low in sugar, as well as soy and gluten-free,  No residual sugar stickiness in the mouth, on the hands or in the bottle.

Nuun provides electrolytes only, leaving carbohydrates to be covered by our gels and other energy foods.  It comes in tablet form, so carrying more along to add to your water bottle when you refill it is super convenient.  Nuun is available in many flavors (including some with caffeine), is highly palatable at any temperature and truly thirst-quenching. I love this stuff!

Ex Officio Sport Mesh Briefs

This one may seem a small thing, not worthy of mention, but why spend money on the perfect base layer for the conditions and not consider the layer before the base layers?  I think that is called throwing good money after bad.

Nope, it doesn’t make much sense to be sure to wear a wicking base layer, only to wear cotton or another inefficient fiber layer under it next to your skin.  Ex Officio’s ultralight, ventilating, wicking, microbial undies to the rescue!  Skiing can be sweaty business, and these underwear are one example of making sure your base layer can do its work without being sabotaged by ineffective fibers of normal underwear.

We all know how big a difference a small technique adjustment can make in our skiing.   The same thing can be said for gear.  Your budget doesn’t allow for a new pair of skis this year?  Look to the little things.  It’s not always the big purchase that will pack the most positive punch in your season.  For me, this year the best things truly did come in the smallest packages.  

Ski Happy!

Marjie Carr-Oxley, Finn Sisu Test Team

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