Winter Equipment Information

Equipment Guide

The Bogong Chalet Management Group (BCMG) do not consider themselves to be experts in outdoor or cross country ski gear, all though many of us do have preferences. The information on this page should be considered as high level advice intended for those going to the Chalet. It is aimed at the less experienced skiers and new Chalet goers who are looking to hire or purchase gear to use at the Chalet. It is hoped that it will help you in your discussions with a reputable supplier of outdoor and ski gear. It should be noted that gear choices are a personal thing dependent on the ability, budget, and needs of the individual, and it is our recommendation that you discuss your needs with an expert.

Download our Winter Party Information guide.

At present we provide comment on the following gear;

Boots

When it comes to Cross Country skiing the boots are just as important as the skis. The boots you select/hire will then determine the bindings system you use. Go to the bindings section for an explanation.

Above all else you need to ensure that your boots are compatible with the bindings that are provided with your skis.

On top of this you need to ensure that the hire store provides you with sturdy boots that are for back country off track touring, and that the boots are in good condition.

Boots were traditionally made of leather but plastic boots are now more popular and many hire stores are phasing out leather boots. It is entirely possible that in the next couple of years that leather boots will not be available for hire or purchase. However the choice is yours. There are merits for either material – speak to the BCMG for advice.

Summary

When you go to the hire shop, say something along the lines of;

  • I am going Cross Country/off piste/back country/wilderness ski touring for 7 days on the Bogong High Plains.
  • I need some sturdy boots for off track wilderness skiing.
  • They need to give me ankle support.

If you hire leather boots – when you pick up the boots, you need to;

  • Check the condition of the boot.
  • Ensure the sole is not split, cut, or cracked, particularly behind the toe.
  • Ensure the stitching that holds the top of the boot to the sole is intact and not damaged.
  • Ensure that the boot is not cracked across the toes, i.e. where you foot bends when you ski.
  • Check that the 3 holes in the front of the toe of the boot are not badly ripped or torn.
  • Ensure you have a left and right boot
  • Ask if the boot has been waterproofed or snow sealed.
  • If it hasn’t been snow sealed ask the shop if you can apply some snow seal to it.

If you hire plastic boots – when you pick up the boots, you need to

  • Check the condition of the boot
  • Ensure that all the clips are there
  • Ensure you have a left and right boot

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Skis

The skiing at the Bogong Rover Chalet is off track cross country skiing, and is often referred to as; backcountry, ski touring, wilderness, off piste or ungroomed skiing.

Two of the most important factors of Chalet skiing are snow conditions and terrain. Snow conditions can vary from light fluffy powder to ice, crud and anywhere in between, whilst terrain can be smooth flat surfaces, to rolling wind blown snow drifts, all the way up to steep tree runs. In fact the terrain is only limited by your ability. To ski in this area it is recommended that new comers ensure they have a strong ski that will flex and ‘give a little’, and has ‘full metal edges’ to help with turning on ice.

The skis should have a pattern or ‘crown’ base. This base is what allows you to go forward and not slip backwards. Wax bases are not recommended. The snow conditions on the Bogong High Plains are too variable for waxing for all except the very experienced.

X – Country skis also come in single and double camber. For those with little experience the single camber is easier to turn, more difficult to climb hills and ridges with and in some peoples’ experience a bit slower. Double camber is more difficult to turn, but is far easier, and forgiving of poor technique, when you are climbing hills. Whether you go for single or double camber is up to you and what the hire shop has to offer, however, if you are light, not physically strong and have little experience in climbing hills on skis you may find it easier on a double camber ski. Ski length has shortened in recent years so if it is a couple of years since you came on a winter party you may be surprised at the much shorter skis. If you skied on 210 cm skis in the 1990’s your skis will be now be 175-180 cm in length. Ensure the hire shop considers your weight. If you are heavy for your height you should have a slightly longer ski. If you are light for your height you should have a slightly shorter ski.

Summary

When you go to the hire shop, say something along the lines of;

  • I am going Cross Country ski touring for 7 days on the Bogong High Plains.
  • I have No / Some / Lots of experience.
  • I am over/normal/under weight for my height
  • I have to carry a full back pack.
  • I’d like a ski with full metal edges that is suitable for off track / ungroomed skiing.

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Bindings

These are the bits of equipment that hold your boots onto the ski.

There are essentially four types of binding that you may be offered by a hire shop, these are;

  • Cable
  • 75mm 3 pin ‘Rat ‘Trap’
  • NNN BC
  • Salomon or Skating

From past experience the BCMG recommend that you try to obtain skis with as 75mm 3 pin binding or cable bindings. These are simple to use, strong, and should you be unlucky enough to break one the Chalet has plenty of spare parts with which to repair it.

Cable bindings have increased in popularity and many shops will only have skis with these types of bindings, having replaced their supply of skis with 3 pin bindings. It is okay to have skis with cable bindings if you are new to the sport and the Chalet. The reason these are recommended as a 2nd preference is that they are a little more complex than 3 pins, and new skiers seem to have more trouble with them than the 3 pin. However most hire shops now only have cable bindings for hire.

Some cable binding systems have a release mechanism. These are more complicated again than 3 pin bindings and cable systems and many people will purchase them when buying skis and bindings. You are unlikely to encounter them when hiring. If your hire skis are fitted with a release mechanism on the cable bindings ensure your have the shop explain how they work and how to reset them.

Cable bindings are generally adjustable and should make a solid click when you put them on. We suggest that you spend some time with your boots on (and even with your pack on) getting in and out the bindings on a carpeted floor prior to hitting the snow on Saturday morning.

NNN BC, or the ‘New Nordic Norm’ are generally not recommended for the Chalet. Whilst there is nothing wrong with the binding itself, we have found that it seems to be a little less robust than either the 3 pin or cable, and as it is still quite rare to see the bindings in the back country there is a shortage of spare parts for repairs. If you break one of these bindings at the Chalet it can easily result in a long walk through snow and the end of your weeks skiing. We do not have any spare parts for NNN BC bindings at the chalet. They are not recommended.

Salomon or skating bindings is the general term we use to describe the types of binding you see on skating skis. They are light weight, offer little control on ungroomed trails and simply not suitable for the back country. We do not have any spare parts for Saloman system bindings at the chalet. If any hire shop tries to offer you these as an option for the Bogong High Plains, and tries to tell you that they will be suitable for off track skiing then we recommend you do yourself and us a favour – turn around, walk out and find another hire shop.

Bindings may also have a heel plate upon which the back of you boot rests. The heel plate stops your foot sliding off the polished top of the ski and aids your turning and stopping. Do not forget to check it. You need to ensure that it is tight and does not spin around, and you need to ensure that when your boot is placed in the binding then the heel of your boot sits on top of the heel plate.

Retention straps are highly recommended. A simple piece of shock cord will often do just fine. This is to prevent your skis running away if you crash and they come off.

Summary

When you go to the hire shop, say something along the lines of;

  • Cable
  • 75mm 3 pin ‘Rat ‘Trap’
  • NNN BC
  • Go To Another Shop

Don’t forget the Heel Plates;

  • Ensure they are tight
  • Ensure they are on BOTH skis
  • Ensure (for 3pin and cable bindings) that there is a left and right
  • For leather boots ensure that the heel of the boot sits on the heel plate when your boot is in the binding.

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Poles / Stocks

Poles or Stocks are often overlooked when it comes to hiring gear, but they are important and can help you heaps when it comes to learning to ski and conserving energy.

The round bit at the bottom is called the ‘basket’ and this stops your pole from sinking straight down into the snow. On groomed trails or ice a small basket is a good option, however, get onto soft snow where there are no trails i.e. around the Chalet, and you will find a small basket as good as useless. It will sink into the snow and provide you with no support or assistance forcing you to rely far more on the strength in your legs and your ski technique. At the Chalet it is recommended you have large baskets.

The top of the pole or the ‘handle’ is also important. You need to ensure that you can fit your hand through the strap, that both poles have straps and that you can adjust the length of the strap.

Poles shafts are generally made of aluminum or other metals or fibreglass. Metal poles, if previously bent are often prone to breakage. Check that the shaft is reasonably straight and hasn’t been overly bent in the past.

Adjustable poles are used by a lot of skiers at the Bogong Rover Chalet. They are generally not available for hire however you should probably consider adjustable poles if you are buying. The object of adjustable poles is to have them longer when you are touring or going up hill. You shorten them so to the length of downhill pole for going down hill. If you have adjustable poles ensure that both lock in both positions prior to the winter party and that you have worked out how to repair them if they fail. Consider purchasing a spare locking mechanism. It is recommended that they be disassembled after every ski and thoroughly dried out. They should be stored disassembled and definitely not in a locked position.

Downhill poles are provided free of charge at the chalet for use on the ski tow.

Summary

When you go to the hire shop ask for;

  • stocks/poles with large baskets, if need be explain you are back country skiing away from groomed trails.

When you pick up the gear don’t forget to check;

  • that both stocks/poles have straps.
  • that you can fit your hand into the straps.
  • that you know how to adjust the straps.

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Backpacks/Rucksacks

Most winter party participants will take two backpacks on their winter party – a large backpack for the trip in and a smaller one for day touring.

Having a correctly fitted backpack makes the ski in and out a whole lot easier. Backpacks range in size and are usually measured in volume by litres. A large pack will take around 75-90 litres and this more than sufficient for a winter party. Many participants find that a mid size backpack with a volume around 55-60 litres is adequate. Most reputable manufacturers have specific packs designs for women and men. So be careful if borrowing or hiring a backpack that it is not too large and that it designed for your gender. Travellers/tourists backpack’s with zip on day packs and a cover for the straps often cause problems and are not recommended. They are designed for short use around airports and short walks and not to carry a larger weight while wearing skis. Cheaper department store purchased backpacks are often prone to failure and have not been fitted properly. A good backpack should last you for 15-20 years. Walk, or if at all possible, ski with your backpack with a weight around 15 kg for three to four hours prior to the winter party to ensure; that it fits, you know how to adjust it and that it isn’t hurting you anywhere. The weight of the backpack itself should be considered – an empty pack weighing over 4 kg is getting heavy – consider a different brand.

If purchasing or hiring a backpack ensure that it is fitted properly by the shop – particularly the harness. This process should take some time. If they don’t know what you are asking for they clearly do not have the technical expertise – we suggest you make your purchase/hire somewhere else.

Backpack covers tend to blow off in the very weather conditions when they are required. We recommend sturdy garbags inside the pack to keep things dry.

Your backpack should have the following features

  • Adjustable waist belt – despite its name the weight should more on your hips than your waist
  • Adjustable chest strap – the chest strap needs to be adjustable up and down so it is not riding on your nipple line (it should be above your nipple line)
  • Adjustable shoulder straps – you will find it more comfortable to ski if the shoulder straps are tightened at the top and the backpack sits closer to your back than you might wear it when walking.
  • Adjustable harness – the harness length accommodates the length of your back. If you are very tall or very short you will need to ensure that the harness can be adjusted to the length of your back. Some manufacturers have as many as six harness sizes for each model.
  • Limited amounts of bits and pieces hanging off it – it has to go in the bus and you can not see if anything falls off it.
  • Consider a water bladder pouch – most new packs will have one

Daypacks

A daypack is useful on a winter party. Make sure it is large enough to carry all your bad weather clothing and coats, camera and leaving space for your lunch. A water bladder pouch is a good idea. Ensure that you can fold the pack up to put in your large backpack for the ski in and out. It is cumbersome and you face the risk of losing it if it is falls off in bad weather if attached to the outside.

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Coats

Your coat is one piece of equipment you strongly urge you not to skimp on. Coats can be made of a number of different materials. The most popular is laminated materials such as Gore-tex® or Dry-Plus®. Oiled or dry japara also works well. We suggest that the coat be a little longer – mid thigh length as this seems to prevent snow getting inside when you crash. It should some sort of cord or elastic around the waist and wrists to prevent snow entering. A hood is vital and the ability to tie the neck/collar over your chin is helpful in foul weather.

Laminate fabrics are coated with a durable water-resistant (DWR) treatment, and it’s the DWR that actually causes rain to bead up on the surface of your coat. Leaving your coat in the drying room for an extended period or sitting around a campfire is one of the worst things you can do to your coat. The microscopic openings in these fabrics become clogged with tiny molecules of smoke and dirt, reducing their level of performance. A DWR treatment doesn’t last forever. You can easily renew your coat by washing it and reapplying the DWR and running it through the dryer. It’s the heat of the dryer that triggers the DWR, and this process should be repeated on an annual basis as a general rule.

Riding coats lined with cotton are not recommended due to the risk of the lining getting soaked. Also full length coats will impede your skiing.

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Sleeping Bags

A 4 seasons sleeping bag suitable for snow camping is not required for the chalet. The temperature in the chalet is comfortable and many people end up using their bag more as a quilt. Most people will take an inner sheet or fitted sheet to cover the mattresses.

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Other Items

Sitmat – an old piece of closed cell foam mat, about the size of your bottom are used by a lot of people. It can be placed on the snow or a rock when stopping for a snack or lunch when touring.

Water bottles – water bladders are now extremely popular. The tubes do tend to freeze when it is extremely cold but this happens only occasionally. Otherwise most sports drink bottles or aluminum ‘sigg’ type bottles are sufficient. Make sure that the bottle doesn’t leak, particularly the lid and mouthpiece and the bottle will stand up to being fallen on when you crash.

Sunglasses/goggles – sunglasses are vital. Most people will take two pairs in case you lose one in the snow or break a pair. They should sit snug on your face and not be prone to falling off. Some people will use a retention strap. Goggles are not absolutely vital but can be nice to put on in foul weather. Double skinned lenses are standard now and are less prone to fogging. Anti fogging mist can be purchased at most dive or ski shops and is useful for preventing constant fogging of glasses or goggles. It is recommended for those who need to wear spectacles. Goggles marked OG (overglasses!) are suitable to wear over spectacles.

Gloves – layering is important with gloves. We suggest a light pair of merino wool gloves covered with overmitts. Having a couple of pairs in case one gets wet is a good idea. We also suggest that you have a tough pair of old gloves for use on the ski tow. The rope is very hard on gloves. Leather motor cycle gloves are not suitable – they get soaked and then become brittle, when dried and no longer waterproof

Ski clothes – the trick here is layering again. More layers of thinner fabrics are warmer than one layer of thick fabric. It also enables you to manage changing temperatures by shedding or donning more layers. Avoid cotton at all cost. Cotton soaks easily and is hard to dry once wet. Thermal fabrics, nylons, polyesters and ‘fleece’ are the best. A woolen jumper is OK but modern fleeces are lighter and easier to dry.

Gaiters – are a sleeve of fabric worn around the ankle to stop snow getting into your boots and soaking your socks. They are worth the investment. Ensure the gaiters will go over the boots – especially plastic ones.

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The Last Word On Gear

If in doubt – ask us: The BCMG can help you, or put you in touch with someone who can. Contact us bogongchalet@vicscouts.asn.au

Hire early: Don’t go to a ski shop on the Friday night of your trip and expect to have the pick of the gear, book early, be friendly and ask questions. At the peak of the season in August and June school holidays there simply will be no gear left.

When you pick up your hire equipment, check that the boots still fit and that you haven’t been given two left boots (it has happened before). Also check the bindings are tightly attached to the skis. It is much better to check it at the hire shop, than to find out on Saturday morning on the snow.

Feel free to ask us if you have any questions.

Where to Hire: We do not provide recommendations about hire shops. Every one is different and people have had vastly different experiences with different shops. On our links page you will find details of hire shops that you can check out, however, keep in mind that we are not recommending them just providing you with information for you to check out.