[Editor Note: It’s buying season, and we know from our reader surveys that many senior snow enthusiasts are looking for new gear and clothing.  We decided to do an experiment and drop into three different ski shops in three different parts of the country to ask, “What’s hot for seniors?”  That means, what stands out this year for seniors that’s comfortable, safe, and convenient?  Here’s what we found shop owners recommending. Thanks to our participating shops for talking with our correspondents Harriet Wallis, Yvette Cardozo, and Mike Maginn.]

FROM THE ROCKIES: Two Innovative Boots Rock The Scene With Features Seniors Want.

Correspondent Harriet Wallis visited Lift House Ski Shop near Big Cottonwood Canyon in Salt Lake City.

Head's Easy On boot. Credit: Harriet Wallis
Head’s Easy On Boot. Credit: Harriet Wallis

Look ma, no hands!

Head made a slight change in the inner cuff of the Head Vector 110. Skiers can easily slip into the boot—no contortions or yanking needed. You can even push your foot in while standing.

“I skied the boot and had good control even though it’s softer than a race boot,” said Luke Larsen, a ski racer and owner of SLC’s Lift House. Price: about $499.





Salomon Boot With Heat. Credit: Harriet Wallis
Salomon Boot With Heat. Credit: Harriet Wallis

Toast your tootsies.

At last, integrated boot heaters make their debut in Salomon Custom Heat. Until now, boot heaters had to be retrofitted into boots, and the bulky battery packs clipped onto the shell.

“This makes the heated boot less expensive than buying boot and buying heaters separately,” said Larsen.

Price: Boot with integrated heat about $749.




FROM NEW ENGLAND: Bindings, Heaters And Snowshoe Bindings

Correspondent and co-publisher Mike Maginn spoke with shop owner Matt Thibeault and manager Chris Woods at Sports Stop Wenham on Boston’s North Shore.

The Knee binding releases at the heel as well as the toe. Credit: Mike Maginn
The Knee binding releases at the heel as well as the toe. Credit: Mike Maginn

“Seniors Are Searching Out This Binding.”

Matt said the Knee binding is being sought by seniors. “It is designed to release laterally at the toe and the heel,” an important safety feature for many seniors. “The binding doesn’t sacrifice performance either,” said Matt, “but you do have to designate a right and left ski.” The Knee binding retails for about $379.




The world needs a Bluetooth-controlled heated ski sock. No? Credit: Mike Maginn
The world needs a Bluetooth-controlled heated ski sock. No? Credit: Mike Maginn

Heated Socks Are Getting Smart.

We know that heated socks are, mmm, cool, but when Matt and Chris showed us two different approaches to keeping toesies warm, we were impressed.  Lenz has a battery-powered, heated sock that, get this, is Bluetooth-controlled by a Smartphone app.  Turn the temp up or down by flicking the screen. Knee high, these socks are $300.

Therm-Ic Supermax Set has a different approach with an thin insert that slips into your boot sole and a connection to a battery pack with three heat settings.  It’s a real plus for seniors with circulation issues.  Retail price is about $220.





Boa closure system: Turn the dial, tighten up. Credit: Mike Maginn
Boa closure system: Turn the dial, tighten up. Credit: Mike Maginn

Finally, An Easy On-Off Snowshoe Binding.

We are so happy that snowshoe binding designers have come up with this one.  The new Boa system binding is much easier to use than the old tug-the-ties models.  You just put your foot in the toe and turn the Boa binding knob. To get out, you twist it the other way.  This example is on a Tubbs snowshoe model.  At last. Various models, starting at $189.








FROM THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST: Pin Tail Skis For Seniors And More Heat

Correspondent Yvette Cardozo talked to Kevin Dreher, ski shop manager at Gerk’s, a ski chain in western Washington.

Examples of tapered tail skis. Wide shovels, slightly narrow waists but tails that don't flare out as much as classic shaped skis do. Credit: Yvette Cardozo
Examples of tapered tail skis. Wide shovels, slightly narrow waists but tails that don’t flare out as much as classic shaped skis do. Credit: Yvette Cardozo

Compromise Ski Shape

A lot of older skiers grew up skiing on skinny skis with their feet close together (picture Stein Erickson), Dreher said.

For some, learning to break that habit has been hard.  Still, modern tech in the form of shaped skis has made the sport so much easier.

So enter the compromise, the pin tail shape ski.

It still has a wide shovel and a more narrow waist but the tail tapers, so it’s not quite so wide, not so much an hourglass shape.

This, said Dreher, does two things: allows a skier to keep his/her feet closer together and also, if they are tired, to slightly skid the turn. But it also has all the easy skiing benefits of shaped ski tech.

It’s not brand new technology but seems to be getting more popular lately, perhaps as a segment of the ski population has gotten older.

Dreher mentioned two brands in his shop that have tapered tails, Salomon and Atomic. Salomon’s QST 85 and 92 run $400 and $500 respectively. The more expensive ski is aimed at a more aggressive skier.

Atomic’s Vantage also has two models, the 85 and 95, again $400 and $500 retail.

[Editor Note: These skis are on SeniorsSkiing.com /realskiers.com’s list of ski recommended for seniors.]


Better shop now for this. They sell out pretty quickly.
Better shop now for this. They sell out pretty quickly.

And More Heaters

Then, we get to my favorite: the heated (yes, heated) boot bag.

Don’t you just love driving hours to the hill and then trying to wrench stone cold boots on?  Now, there’s a boot bag with a cord that works on either AC (house) current or DC (your car).

One version of this bag is made by “Hot Gear,” but appears to be sold as Zip Fit through Amazon.com for about $200. Another version, Transpack, is sold for about $180 through Amazon and REI.

But honestly, you can also get those disposable foot warmer packs and do as the patrollers do, put them ON TOP of your toes instead of under them. Take it from one with chronically cold toes, that works.


  1. Avatar Sherm White says:

    Just thought I would pass on my experience with the KneeBinding (made right here in Northern Vt.)I am a 68 yr old full time ski instructor who works at Smugglers Notch. As part of a three year lease program through the mountain, I have used the binding at least a couple of hundred days, with no problems. No pre releases, no breakage, no injuries.

  2. Informative and short article!
    1 BOA
    These days you can find BOA technology in ski, snb, and snow boots, helmets, and even gloves. The advantage of it for all snow fans and seniors, especially, is a quick release – you pull the knob up – et voila, you are free. There is no need to “twist it the other way”. BOA is a classic example how a smart U.S. inventor has become a very successful businessman. The construction is simple, durable and “user friendly”.
    2 Heated boot bag
    One seasoned skier once said to me: “This bag is the best thing I have ever bought for skiing for $200!”
    3 Therm-Ic Supermax Set
    Another great invention. It will keep your toes warm without discomfort (a heat pack in a boot – bad idea!). It can be used in ski, snb, and even snow boots. Ideally it should be installed by a competent ski bootfitter (not always free).
    4 LENZ
    Heated socks with a Bluetooth remote – fantastic idea. Why this Austrian company wants a customer to pay extra $5 for an app for this warm and smart $300 socks?https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.lenzproducts.heatapp&hl=en

  3. Black Diamond has been making boots for at least the past 5 years (or more) that have the same easy entry as the Head boots described above. I always simply step into them. The model I have is called “Method”.
    On top of that, these Black Diamond boots have the most effective walking mode I have ever experienced in a ski boot. When you put them into walking mode, with the flip of a switch on the back of the boot, they become amazingly flexible, making it easy to walk.

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