Five Skiing Accessories That Will Enhance Your Snow Zen - A Vail Ski Instructor's Perspective

skiing zen

As a ski instructor, I live on the snow.  Of course, my boots and skis are the cornerstone of my equipment, but a few of my gear accessories have freed my mind, kept me in the zone, and helped me achieved a higher state of skier's nirvana!  

If you're planning a trip, consider investing a few more dollars - there will be a terrific payoff.  Below are five of my favorite pieces of secondary equipment.

Smith IOX Google with photochromic lens

1. Phot0 Chromatic Googles

I don't know how I lived without these.  Having a pair of googles that adjust to varying light conditions has been incredible.  I feel confident and comfortable throughout the day and changing weather - I don't even think about it.  I use the Smith I/O photochromic set, but I've heard great things about Oakley's set from clients and other instructors .  

Hestra 3-finger heli glove

Hestra 3-finger heli glove

2. High Quality 3 Finger Gloves, a.k.a. Lobster Mittens

Look at what ski instructors and ski patrol are wearing these days and you will see high quality gloves and mitts, such as top of the line Swany and Hestra - they are a worthwhile investment.  When I adopted the Hestra 3-Finger Heli Gloves, my life changed.  I have a degree of dexterity with the free index finger and have maintained great thermal performance - the snow gods have smiled upon me, indeed.  If you don't want a lobster mitt, then at least invest in a top of the line glove or mitten.  I'm a Hestra fan, but my family and clients have been very happy with Swany mitts.

smith vantage helmet

smith vantage helmet

3. Helmet with a Brim

I didn't think I would notice much of a difference, but the additional sun protection and the improved helmet-google interface that come with using a brimmed helmet is amazing. When I used a brimless helmet now, I feel like something is wrong!  I'm using a Smith Vantage these days, my son has a Bern.  I also recommend pairing a goggle designed for an integrated fit with your brand of helmet.

Cat track slip-on walking sole

Cat track slip-on walking sole

4. Cat Tracks for my Boots

The major cause of employee injuries at ski resorts is slipping and falls.  If you walk around on your boots through ice and snow, you've no doubt had a close call.  Putting slip-on cat tracks on my ski boots has not only made walking around easier, it's saved wear and tear on my toe and heel plates 

Black diamond adjustable hiking poles

Black diamond adjustable hiking poles

5. Adjustable Poles

I always viewed adjustable poles as completely unnecessary for all except serious backcountry and telemark skiers.  I recent "saw the light" when I needed a quick replacement poles (I lost my regulars).  I grabbed a set of nice trekking poles that I use for hiking and put on a ski basket.  The ability to dial-in a perfect feel has a big impact when I move from blue groomers to beginner terrain to steep powder or moguls.  It's also improved my form.  I haven't invested in high-end alpine-specific poles - I still use my Black Diamond carbon fiber, cork handled hiking poles and I love 'em.

The point here, is like in any sport and hobby, little things can make a big difference, and they are often worth the investment when put within the context off your overall spending for a vacation or passion.  If you rent equipment, then at least consider splurging on goggles, gloves, or a helmet of your own.

As always, feel free to drop me a line at if you have any questions or want advice on how to make the most of a ski vacation in Colorado.


Kevin R Foote

marketing exec | digital evangelist | trend spotter | outdoor enthusiast | x-Google Kevin Foote is an independent advisor and interim executive for private equity & venture capital firms, investors and their portfolio companies. His focus – rapid growth and capital optimization through the transformation of marketing and sales in the face of digital adoption and the changing customer-corporation dynamic. He and his clients expect rapid execution and results. Kevin's career in marketing, advertising, and strategic planning have nurtured his passion for understanding basic human truths and how individuals' beliefs, perceptions, and preferences are formed. He is focused on forging deep relationships and creating partnerships to unlock big ideas and activate brands through the innovative use of digital marketing and technologies. His blog, The Blurred, explores the overlap of our digital and physical lives. In his recent role at Google, Kevin had the privilege of working closely with the leadership of the world's leading creative and media agencies as a digital marketing evangelist. Prior, Kevin served as the Managing Director of Marketing at United Airlines Mileage Plus, the worlds largest frequent flyer program. However, his roots are deep in the digital domain, having worked at several agencies, including Leo Burnett and Digitas, for over a decade. At Digitas, Kevin was the Group Director of Strategy in the Midwest and Global Account Director on major accounts. He has had the privilege of working with great brands including Crate&Barrell, Purina, Energizer, Whirlpool, KitchenAid, P&G, and Microsoft. His career began in strategy consulting, working at both Braxton Associates (Deloitte Consulting) and Parthenon Group. He received his MBA from Kellogg and holds undergraduate degrees from MIT.