Winter is over, which means it's time to hang up your skis or snowboard for summer storage. After squeezing in one last run on the lone snow patch on your highest local peak, you might be tempted to toss your skis or board into the basement or the corner of your garage until next season. Don't.
"What I see a lot of people do as a mistake with storage is they're skiing in the springtime, they finish their last day, they throw those skis together and there's a bunch of moisture underneath," says Eric Chizum, season locker and tune supervisor at Sun Valley Resort. "That moisture collects and puts a huge coat of rust on the edges."
He should know: in a single winter, he and his team might tune and repair anywhere from 5,000 to 7,500 pairs of skis.
Another common blunder? The opposite: stashing your skis when they're too dry. "If that happens, the wax is going to [leach] out of the base of that ski, and if you go to throw it on the snow on your first day, you're just going to be sticking to everything," Chizum explains.
It may sound like a lose-lose situation, but there is a right way to store your skis or snowboard over the summer, and all it takes is a few simple steps.
Get a Tune, or DIY One
Chizum recommends taking your skis to the shop for one last repair job before you do anything else. The techs who work there will restore and patch any dings you've accumulated over the season and make sure your skis' bases and edges are clean and sharp.
If you have the space, tools and know-how, you can attempt to do this yourself. First, you'll want to clean up the bases and edges. You can use a specialty base cleaner like the one Swix makes, but water and a towel should be enough to make sure they're free of dirt, salt and other grime. It's a good idea to remove any burrs from the edges too, but the process requires more skill (another reason to leave this step to the pros).
Apply a Thick Coat of Wax
If you're going the shop route, simply ask for storage wax when you drop off your skis or board. Storage wax is no different from standard ski wax — the difference is that the coat will be thicker, covering the edges somewhat, and you'll leave it on until you're ready to ski next season. This protects both the base and edges from drying out or rusting.
This step is more straightforward than sharpening edges and is easy to do at home. You'll need a waxing iron, wax (we like MountainFlow's petroleum-free formula) and a workspace. Apply a thick coat, covering the edges, and don't scrape it off. Take note that if you do have scratches or dings, you'll want to repair those first so that you don't fill them with wax.
Store Your Skis or Board in a Dark, Dry Place
Chizum says that you don't have to be too picky in choosing a place to stash your skis or snowboard over the summer but notes two things to avoid. The first is moisture, which can lead to rusty edges. The second is sunlight, which can cause the colors on your top sheet to fade. A garage, attic or closet should work fine.
The Last Details
You might also remove the bindings from your snowboard before you put it away for a few months. If you're a skier, you can loosen the DIN adjustment screws to their lowest setting (but not all the way) and click the heel pieces up the way they are when you're skiing. This isn't nearly as crucial as getting a tune and applying storage wax, but it will take the tension out of the springs, keeping them in better shape over time.
Oh, and don't forget about your boots, Chizum says: "I always recommend buckling your boots up to where you normally have them so, that both the plastic shell and the liner keep their form."