ShipSkis from ShipSticks – No Hassle Ski Shipping. Interview Interview

heliskiing shipping

We discovered the coolest way to get your skis to your heliski (or resort) destinationShipSkis.   Yesterday they emailed me a shipping label which I printed and handed to a FedEx driver along with my ski bag – stuffed with clothes and my powder boards.   I will rendezvous with them at Eagle Pass Heli-Skiing on Sunday…then they will be picked up from Great Canadian Heli-Skiing the following week.  No schlepping, bag fees, roof racks, bellmen…..brilliant!


ship heliskis now logoheliski bag pick up


They pick up and deliver….anywhere.  They handle everything and are around if you need them.  They can do it in a day or slower/cheaper.  I asked if they had thought about golf clubs…..yeah, a long time ago.

ShipSkis: You asked about golf clubs, and that’s how the whole business was based. Our parent company, Ship Sticks, was created two years ago. That took off and did extremely well, so we kind of started to branch out into other sectors, and that’s how it came about, Ship Skis. So Ship Skis is…this is really our first ski season that we’ve been in full operation. So it’s going extremely well and we’re excited about it, so.

TJ: Hey, that’s cool.  So Ship Sticks, how many sticks do you ship in a year? That kind of sounds like a tongue-twister, doesn’t it?

ShipSkis: It does. I mean, and to be quite honest with you, we do, I mean, between skis, luggage and sticks, it’s hundreds of thousands of shipments a year. So it’s extremely successful and it’s taken off in every aspect, and we couldn’t be happier.

TJ: And it seems like bikes is another one that I would be interested in. Do you do bikes?

ShipSkis: It’s funny because I have kind of taken on the Ship Skis project here within the company, and as we started to meet with the resorts and as we started to create relationships with some of these ski areas, that’s the first question that they ask above and beyond skis, was, “Do you guys ship bikes?” And the answer to that is yes, we do absolutely ship bikes.


TJ: So how does it work?

ShipSkis: So basically the way Ship Skis works is it’s a door-to-door shipment service. We’re obviously partnered with UPS and FedEx, so they’re the ones that’ll actually be doing the ski shipping, luggage or boots or whatever ski unit that you decide that you want to ship, including snowboards. But we basically manage the technology aspect of it. So unlike some other sites that are out there, you know, where you call them or you go on their website and you process your shipment, they’re going to send you in the mail a shipment label, whereas with ShipSkis, our technology is integrated with UPS and FedEx where it automatically generates the shipping label for you. So it’s instantaneous. So you could schedule a shipment the morning of the day you needed to have it picked up, and it would schedule the pickup for you as well as generate the label right for you right then and there. So you’re not having to plan this out several days in advance. Obviously, you can do so, but you also have the option to drop it off if you don’t want to be home or you had other errands to run. You could also drop it off at any UPS or FedEx store if that’s easier for you.

TJ: So what countries do you operate in?

ShipSkis: Worldwide.  It’s international for all the luggage, skis and golf. Some countries can be a little cost-prohibitive just because of the taxes, tariffs and that kind of thing.

TJ: And do you run…I know going in and out of Canada sometimes they want to know are these promotional items and there’s all kinds of strange nuances depending on the country, right?

ShipSkis: Right. So, unfortunately, with international shipments we’re unable to do that online at this point just because of the custom paperwork and that kind of stuff that has to be done. But we do do it over the phone. We still email you the shipping labels and the custom paperwork right away. But we handle all customs for you. I mean, so it’s kind of I’d say a convenience/concierge type of service as well where you don’t have to sit there and fill out forms and do all that stuff. It’s all automated and emailed right to you. All you have to do is really just to make sure that it’s attached to the skis or luggage that you’re shipping and the way it goes. And if there are any issues with customs, we handle that inside of UPS and/or FedEx.

TJ: That’s cool.  Canada?

ShipSkis: Yes, absolutely.   Canada, we know you know, Canada is probably one of the easiest countries to ship in and out of from an international standpoint.

TJ: Got it. You know, over 90% of heli-skiing is in Canada.

ShipSkis: Right.


TJ: How far in advance do you pick them up?

ShipSkis: It really just depends on, you know, the time of transit, where the individual is shipping from and to. So, I mean, I would say an international round shipment into Canada is going to take anywhere from four to six business days. Now, we do have a couple of other options, you know, an economy and a priority. I mean, so technically it could get there in one day and it could take as long as six days, you know, just depending on how you plan in advance and how soon that you them at that location.

TJ: One day, that’s awesome!  So if my wife says, “Oh, you can’t have the big car to go to the airport,” I could call you guys and say, “Can you get my skis there?” And you would say….

ShipSkis: “Yeah, absolutely.”

TJ: That is awesome. That’s amazing.

ShipSkis: Yeah, absolutely.

TJ: Oh, can you pack it with other stuff?  I guess it’s pretty obvious if it’s FedEx and UPS.

ShipSkis: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, basically what it comes down to from a pricing standpoint is weight, you know.  We really don’t care what’s inside the bag, so much as much as it weighs. So we have a single ski option, we have a double ski option. Can you throw in some clothes, a helmet and that kind of stuff? Yeah, absolutely, you can. Now, the single ski can’t weigh any more than 25 pounds. That’s what we list on our website. We do have a five-pound cushion, so technically you can go up to 30 pounds.  -So yeah, absolutely. If you need to throw some extra gloves or hats or whatever it may be in there, you’re more than welcome to do so.

TJ: Yeah, because a lot of these…sometimes the second flight you take, they are limited to the weight and the size of the bag. And I’ve seen them leave skis and boards in Vancouver, and you get to where you’re going and they say, “Sorry, we were a little over on that flight, but they’ll show up tomorrow.” [Laughs]

ShipSkis: Right, yeah.

TJ: Yeah, so I’m thinking just bulk stuff, you know? Like various layers and soft goods and that sort of thing. You might as well just stick them in there and save yourself schlepping the bag.

ShipSkis: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, you could stick it all in one bag. Some people have large duffel bags. Some people have just the slimmer ones, and then they’ll pack a separate piece of luggage and ship luggage with it as well as a suitcase, so you could just wrap the tag around it and send it on its way, you’re good to go.

TJ: I flew in to Terrace with one of the owners of Northern Escape Heli-Skiing and he had a carry-on bag. [Laughs] I couldn’t believe it!

ShipSkis: Really?

TJ: He goes heli-skiing with a carry-on, yeah.

ShipSkis: Oh, that’s amazing.

TJ: It was amazing. And you always carry your boots on, of course.

ShipSkis: Sure, sure, absolutely.


TJ: Oh, so let’s say I’m going to go to this place in Revelstoke, it’s really a hotel, where do they keep the bags before I arrive?

ShipSkis: So more than likely they’ve had items shipped in there before, and a majority of the resorts that we’ve worked with from a bulk standpoint and as we began to grow Ship Skis as well, these resorts that we work with on a ski basis, if we’re not partnered with them, we’ll call them on your behalf ahead of time to make them aware that, “Hey, Mr. Jackson is  going to be staying with you on this date and this date. He’s going to be shipping in his skis and any other ski gear that he’s decided to ship with us. One, is that okay? Two, are there any fees involved? Really, we have yet to have an issue with these except for Las Vegas. Some of the hotels in Las Vegas from a golf club standpoint will say, “Okay, it’s going to be 25 dollars a day to hold it.” Some people don’t mind it, some people do. But we like to make them aware of it ahead of time so they’re not saying, “Hey, you got to let me know this.”

TJ: Yeah.

ShipSkis: So at the end of the day, if we’re not partnered with them, we definitely give them a call, we make sure it’s okay and make sure there’s no issues, and just make them aware that, “Hey, Mr. Jackson is going to be shipping in as well as shipping out on these dates, so you’re aware.”  And nine times out of 10 it’s not an issue with the hotel as long as the guest is staying there at the hotel.

TJ: You’ll probably get more business from our clients with the Ship Sticks than the Ship Skis because they fly all over the place and play a lot more golf than they do heli-skiing. Most people take one heli-ski trip a year.

ShipSkis: Sure, sure, I understand.


TJ: I just thought of something else. You know, one of the things that surprises me about heli-skiing is that the operators give you really crappy ski poles. I don’t know why that is but they’re all these old, fat, heavy aluminum things like you would get at a rental shop in the eighties, and I don’t understand it.

ShipSkis: Sure.

TJ: So I would think shipping your own poles would make perfect sense and you’d throw them in with your skis.

ShipSkis: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, at the end of the day, I mean, we’ll never turn business away. No matter what it is, we’re happy to ship it.

TJ: Yeah, I’m thinking you’re shipping your skis, might as well throw your poles in there and get decent poles while you’re at it.

ShipSkis: Exactly. Exactly. So it’s our goal to make it as easy as possible on the client, to make sure that they enjoy their travels to where it is that they’re going and that they don’t have to worry about sitting in a baggage claim and being nickeled and dimed by the airlines these days. So in some instances we do get a phone call that, “Hey, the airline’s charging me 35 bucks. You guys are 49 dollars.” Yeah, we understand that, but at what point are you going to pay the extra 15 dollars and say, “Okay, I don’t need that kind of rental car anymore because my skis are there?” And it becomes a convenience factor especially with skis and golf clubs, especially when you have a family of five that you’re going skiing with or a group of guys who need to rent a van. So just the whole process just makes it easier on everybody.

TJ: Amen to that. I mean, schlepping them is really the hassle. I’ve had to go stand by in a Vancouver airport for like 48 hours straight waiting on each flight coming up, trying to get on it…

ShipSkis: Wow.

TJ: …and had I had skis with me, it would have been a huge pain in the butt.


ShipSkis: And that’s how we really created our first partnership, Bandon Dunes Golf Resort on the Oregon coast.  Because it was so difficult to get in and out of there out of small planes. They partnered with us and recommended to everybody to ship with in and out because our delivery rate of 98% versus people shoving people on the small planes saying, “You can’t take those, we don’t have room,” is much more significant than us getting them there. So they are one of our strongest partners just because of the inconvenience of traveling and getting to those locations, and I imagine that’s the same aspect with the heli-skiing, is that you’re going to some locations where you’re taking smaller planes and things like that to get in and out of there.

TJ: Well, and sometimes a helicopter, but yeah, it strikes me that the golf clubs are even more critical because they’re much more personalized and difficult to replace.

ShipSkis: Exactly. Exactly.


TJ: So what about insurance? What if my sticks don’t show up where I’m going?

ShipSkis: Sure. Basically that’s…and that’s one of the benefits of using Ship Sticks or Ship Skis, and what makes us so different from FedEx and UPS.  You know, obviously besides price—we’re cheaper than both FedEx and UPS—is that all of our shipments come standard with a baseline of insurance. So, for instance, skis come standard with 500 dollars of insurance and golf clubs come standard with 1000 dollars of insurance. And then, for a nominal fee, you have the ability to purchase up to 3500 dollars on each item of additional insurance should you need it. And let’s say that a driver or a ski is damaged – we handle everything on your behalf with UPS Capital Claims. So that’s where our insurance is through. So you’re not sitting there playing phone tag with them and going back and forth. We handle everything for you…


TJ: Yeah, my Delta Airlines story, right? Did you…?

ShipSkis: Yeah, I saw that., did they lose them completely? Are they gone?

TJ: It was funny, when I got there—I was going to Florida. I had business for a few days, and when I went to play golf and my driver was broken. So I rented one or whatever. On the way home, as I was checking in, I said, “Hey, you guys broke my driver on the way down here.” And they gave me a real hard time like, “Well, how do you know we broke it?” And I said, “Well, I didn’t open my bag until I played,” you know, on and on. And so they said, “Alright, well, you can file a claim,” yada yada. When I got home, the clubs never showed up at all!

ShipSkis: Wow.

TJ: [Laughs] So then I had to file a claim for the lost bag, and I bet it was two months before I got anything out of them. And then a long, long time later, they called me. This Oakland baggage claim guy goes, “I wanted to call you personally because I’m a golfer and I really feel bad about this, but we found your bag.” And when it showed up, the travel bag that it was in was completely gone. The bag itself was almost completely destroyed, like the pockets were all torn, all of the stuff was gone out of them. The driver they had broken driver on the outbound flight is now completely gone along with some other clubs, and a couple of irons were bent. So apparently it got run over either by a truck or a plane. They weren’t really sure. But they had like Saran-wrapped everything together and delivered it to me. It was just pitiful. [Laughs] But the big deal was how much of a pain in the ass Delta made it to get anything replaced.

ShipSkis: What a nightmare. What an absolute nightmare.

TJ: It really was. So have you played Bandon Dunes?

ShipSkis: I have not, unfortunately. It’s definitely one that’s on the bucket list. I’ve played a lot of good ones on the West Coast there but I have yet to play Bandon Dunes.

TJ: That’s kind of reminding me of when I had a towel from Cyprus Point on that bag that, you know, obviously went away, and I kind of miss that.

ShipSkis: Right. That’s for sure.  Playing Cyprus s is quite an opportunity.


TJ: How about tracking? Where do you go when you need to track your skis? Do you go to the UPS site or is it on your site?

ShipSkis: Okay. Yeah, so basically our website is integrated with UPS and FedEx, so when you process a shipment you’re emailed a Ship Sticks or Ship Skis tracking number, and you’re able to track the shipment on our website. So we do all the tracking through our website. Each individual has their own individual tracking number that they can either just click that link from the email that they received from us or they can go to our website, type that in and track it that way. So there’s a couple of options as far as tracking is concerned.

And then, once the shipment is delivered, they’ll get email sent to them just confirming that, “Hey, it’s been delivered.  Here’s where you sign for it,” so and so.

TJ: Cool. And why 500? Skis and bindings are probably going to be more than a grand. I guess golf clubs are going to be more than a grand too.

ShipSkis: Yeah. I mean, you know, if you go to UPS or FedEx, they include some insurance. We wanted to separate ourselves and say, “Okay, we’ll throw in the first thousand and we’ll throw in the first 500.” It’s a little different for skis just because of that dimension to the shipments. The rates are a little different from an insurance standpoint. But we do give you the option, like it’s $3.75 for golf clubs for every 500-dollar increment.  For skis, it’s an additional five dollars for every 500 increment that you go all the way up to $3500. So if you wanted to purchase additional insurance, you’re more than welcome to do so.

TJ: Yeah. That’s pretty reasonable too, eh?

ShipSkis: Yeah. I mean, absolutely. I mean, I think that insuring with FedEx or UPS, I think they’re 7 to 10 bucks based on who you’re shipping with, so.


TJ: What if the skis don’t show up on time? Do you do anything…? I guess for heli-ski, heli-skiing it doesn’t matter, but let’s say I go to a resort and, oh, I don’t have my favorite skis.

ShipSkis: Yeah, sure. So obviously, you know, instances are going to happen and shipments are going to get delayed whether it’s adverse weather conditions or whether the shipment was sorted the wrong way. We understand that. So we have a consequential late bag policy where we pay up to 200 dollars per shipment for rentals or whatever incidentals, whatever it is that’s needed until that bag arrives.

TJ: Cool.

ShipSkis: So if that bag is late, we’ll pay up to 200 dollars, again, for rentals or any incidentals that are needed until your bag arrives.


TJ: Awesome. And my next question has to do with clubs, so I’ll probably move that up to the top because I think it’s going to get more interest than the skis.

ShipSkis: Okay.

TJ: So any idea how many golf clubs do you ship every year?

ShipSkis: Hundreds of thousands for sticks.

TJ: How about skis?

ShipSkis: To be honest with you, I don’t have an exact number. Like I said, we’re in our infancy. But I know it’s upwards of a couple of thousand shipments a month. So that included luggage as well.

TJ: Yeah, so people might ship their skis and a bag with all their ski gear in it with you guys, and then they’re on a business trip and they just go to wherever and there’s your stuff.

ShipSkis: Yeah, absolutely.

TJ: That’s cool.

ShipSkis: And that’s where luggage is starting to grow for us as well.  We’ll get individuals that are going on a ski trip with the family or whatnot, and then will say, “Hey, while you’re in Colorado I got to go up to San Francisco for a business meeting, so I’ll just have my stuff shipped.  Because it goes from the East Coast to West Coast, it’s going to take five to six business days. I’ll just ship it out so I have a fresh set of clothes and fresh luggage.”  So it’s kind of one thing after another. We’ve gotten a great draw on the ski side from the golf business and vice-versa customers.  So they complement each other very well.

TJ: One of my brothers is a hedge fund partner and he just leaves all his stuff at the Rustler at Alta. [Laughs]

And no matter what trip he’s on he’ll stop in Utah for the weekend and…kind of a specialized case.

ShipSkis: Yeah.


TJ: And what does it cost you, so 49 bucks each way, depending?

ShipSkis: Yeah, it really just depends where you’re shipping to and from. I mean, a ground shipment from a ski standpoint is going to cost anywhere from 39 dollars up to 69 dollars just again based on where you’re shipping from. Transit times are going to be anywhere from one day to five or six days, again depending on where you’re shipping to and from. But if you were to look at, let’s say, you know, our biggest shipping pattern is obviously from the East Coast out to the West Coast through Denver those areas there – for a single ski bag you’re going to be looking around  59 dollars.

TJ: Cool.  So have you started buying up other domain names like ShipBikes, ShipSailboards, ShipKiteBoard?

ShipSkis: Yeah. Yeah, we have. You know, Ship Suitcases and Ship Surfboards and all that kind of stuff, and that’s something that we’re in the process of now.  Creating a parent company where all these smaller niche companies can be under…

TJ: One umbrella, yeah. Ship Stuff.

ShipSkis: Exactly. Exactly.

TJ: I have a domain name company where you have to buy them on

ShipSkis: Okay, I’ll look at that one. You said

TJ: Yeah.

ShipSkis: Okay.


TJ: Is there anything we haven’t touched on that you would like heli-skiers and avid golfers to know about the company?

ShipSkis: No, I think it’s really just making them aware that it is out there, that it is reasonably priced, and that it is a feasible option that can eliminate a lot of hassles for the individuals, especially going on a trip and saying, “Hey, okay, I don’t have to show up at the airport two hours early to make sure I get my stuff checked in and wait in those lines.” It really comes down to being a convenience factor for these individuals that we’re saying, “Hey, for an extra 50 bucks, you’re spending three, four, five thousand dollars on your trip, why not make your travel experience enjoyable.  Leave it in our hands and let us handle it.” So, I mean, it’s really just educating the consumer and letting them know that this new concept is out there and that it’s becoming more and more popular every day.

TJ: Yeah, for a week it’s more like ten, twelve, 15,000 for a lot of these guys.

ShipSkis: Yeah. No, I can imagine.

TJ: And money’s not the big deal. The other thing that might be helpful is the guys who make very specific powder skis like DPS (read our interview) , is probably the most well-known in this community, or RAMP ( Interview) or whomever. I think if it were easy to get your skis to and from the heli outfit, they might sell more skis.

ShipSkis: Yeah, absolutely, and that’s definitely something that we’ve experienced, or not experienced but, I mean, have looked into as going to some of these ski manufacturers and saying, “Hey, if somebody buys a set of skis, let us throw a little coupon in there or a little blurb about Ship Skis to let them know you can ship your skis.” And it was funny we were just at a ski show up in Vermont at Mount Snow and we had a couple of rental ski companies come to us as well as  who said, “Hey, you’re going to wipe us out of business because at the end of the day it’s 40, 50 bucks to rent a pair of skis for the day when if you have your own and you’re going to be out there for three or four days, you know, at that same price to ship them there for one set of rentals, so…

TJ: Yeah…

ShipSkis: …it’ll be interesting to see how it plays out.

TJ: I would turn them back around and say, “If you could get the skis you really want in advance of your trip and not have to go to the rental shop, to me that’s worth 50 bucks each way.

ShipSkis: Right.

TJ: Because if you…I almost never travel with skis anymore, but if you go to a resort, then you got to go find a shop and then you got to hope that they have the skis that you want in the size that you want, and you’re going to pay a ton of money, like maybe a hundred bucks a day.

ShipSkis: Exactly.

TJ: So why not these guys in Vermont could turn it into a business for themselves and say, “Quality ski rentals where you’re going to be, shipping is included in the price,” and they could turn it into a new business that has broader reach than…

ShipSkis: That’s right. That’s right. I mean, that’s definitely one way to look at it.  And from a golf business side, you know, some of the rental club companies that are out there and said, “Hey, let us handle all the shipping of the rental clubs for individuals that are going to Hawaii and don’t want to take their clubs and that kind of stuff.”  Everybody has their own set of golf clubs at the end of the day where…

TJ: Yeah, and I just think for the most part heli-skiers will take whatever the operator has.  I have these DPS skis, two years ago I shipped them in advance, unfortunately not with you guys. Well, when I got there one of the guides was skiing on them. [Laughs] And it was okay with me, but it struck me that he’d rather have these skis than the ones in their fleet. And so it got me thinking, I bet there’s a lot more heliski clients like that.

ShipSkis: Now, let me ask you this question, being an avid heli-skier there. When you ship your skis up there, if you do, would you ship it to the hotel or resort that you’re staying at or would you ship it right to the operator?

TJ: Well, most of these places are a remote lodge in the middle of nowhere, and so I’d ship it to the lodge.

ShipSkis: Okay.

TJ: I mean, there’s a handful that you have to fly in by helicopter, but they all have an office that’s near a road where you could ship it to. And there are also some operators that are in ski towns like especially Revelstoke and Whistler where you’re staying in a hotel, not a lodge, so you just send them to the hotel.

ShipSkis: Now,, what is your main purpose, just rating these places or…?

TJ: Yeah, our mission really is to attract, educate, engage heli-skiers. So we try to get them on our mailing list, we blog about stuff like this and review the different areas. And when somebody decides they want to go heli-skiing, they get a hold of us and we walk them through their criteria, what’s important to them, how many people are going, how many days, what kind of experience they’re looking for, and then I’ll find out who matches that criteria and has availability and what’s the pricing and send it to them. Then we’ll talk and help narrow it down and eventually they’ll book, and they just say to the operator, “Oh, I’ve talked to TJ and he helped me pick you guys,” and then they’ll send me a commission check after they get paid.

ShipSkis: Okay. Awesome. So you’re acting as really just an expert advisor?

TJ: Yeah, just being an agent. In Europe they call them tour operators, but I  don’t do the airline reservations and that sort of jazz. I just say, “Oh, you’re looking for a group of four from New York that wants unlimited vertical in March? Then you should go to Eagle Pass Heliskiing.”

ShipSkis: Okay.

TJ: Or if they’re coming from California, “You should go to Northern Escape Heli-Skiing.

ShipSkis: That’s neat.

TJ: Yeah. Transfer of knowledge, I hope.

ShipSkis: Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. So now how many times a year do you go heli-skiing?

TJ: Two or three.

ShipSkis: Two or three times?

TJ: Yeah. It’s tough. You might have seen my wife walk by, so it’s hard for me to get ‘tower clearance’ to go more often than that.

ShipSkis: Okay.

TJ: But every year I turn down free trips. It’s just something I swore I would never do, turn down free heli-skiing.

ShipSkis: Now, that’s something that, you know, not being an average skier and not too familiar with heli-skiing, is that something that you’ll do on a daily basis or do you do it one day or…?

TJ: Oh yeah, you’ll do it like…like on this trip in March, I’m going to go six days in a row. I want to say it’s brutal, but that’s what my dad woud call “crying in your beer.”   I am getting to the point where I worry about which body part’s going to give out, you know, my knees, my back, whatever. But I pretty much work out all year long just so I’ll be ready. You don’t want to be the guy who’s holding back your group ever. [Laughs]

ShipSkis: Exactly. Exactly. Now, how many people will fit in a helicopter when you do that?

TJ: It depends on the chopper. A lot of them hold four guests and a guide. There are some that hold five, some that hold six. A lot of operators will take them big choppers that hold 10 or 11 and they’ll serve multiple groups with that. So on the one extreme, four groups of 10 people sharing a helicopter, on the other extreme, you can have your own four-person helicopter. So that’s kind of the range. CMH (Canadian Mountain Holidays) is the market share leader, and they focus almost exclusively on these big choppers and big lodges with 44 guests at a time, because it’s just more cost-effective that way, right?

ShipSkis: Yeah, sure.

TJ: To have 11 people riding in each lift. But you can pay a little bit more and have a little bit more flexibility if you go with a smaller chopper.

ShipSkis: That’s great.

TJ: I appreciate your time, Jeffrey, and I appreciate you sending my skis and stuff.

ShipSkis: No, I appreciate the opportunity and, you know, anytime you need to ship your skis or clubs for that matter, give us a call. We’re happy to be here for you.

TJ: Oh, great.  Nice to meet you.

ShipSkis: Alright, nice meeting you. Have a good one.

TJ: Alright, cheers.

Smith Optics Takes Goggles to the Next Level! Gear Interview Series

Ketchum Idaho is the place to catch up with Tag Kleiner, Director of Marketing at Smith Optics.  The lastest in the Gear Interview explores Smith Googles, Helmets and Sunglasses.

heliskiing canada goggles, heli-skiing helmet and goggles


1.  I know you go heli-skiing in Valdez every Spring.   What goggles do you wear?

I wear our I/O…it forms a perfect seal on my face and I’m yet to have any fogging problems, especially with our new 5X Anti-Fog inner lens.  I’ve used our Phenom Turbo Fan in the past, but like the ease of lens change with our I/O and haven’t found that I need the additional fog-fighting technology of our Turbo Fan.

heliski goggles, heli-skiing bc


2.  The I/O Recon has a built-in heads-up display and real-time tracking of you and your buddies!?!   That’s a game changer!

The new I/O Recon google gives you all the lens interchangeability of our I/O Family of goggles combined with Recon Instruments’ MOD Live heads-up display.

Speed, altitude, GPS mapping, jump analytics, vertical, and more are delivered directly to your eye as well as Bluetooth connectivity to your smartphone for music, text, and call information. Add full helmet compatibility and two included Performance Mirror lenses with Vaportor Lens Technology with Porex Filter and 5X Anti-Fog inner lens, and you’ve got the I/O Recon.

Check out the video

Smith Recon Video


3.  Which is less likely to fog –  high volume or low volume goggles?

High Volume goggles are definitely less likely to fog, but often it comes down to the individual. If you’re prone to heavy sweating and creating a lot of body heat, you’re more likely to have fogging issues. Also, if you’re wearing a helmet, you’ll want to make sure that your goggle and helmet work as an integrated system. If there’s not a system like Smith’s AirEvac (which draws warm air out of the goggle and exhausts it through channels out the back of your helmet), you’re fogging issue might not be your goggle, but rather how your goggle and helmet are working together.


4.  I wear glasses, so I’m a HUGE fan of the Turbo Fan.   Does Smith Optics own patents around those?

Yes, we have a patent on the Turbo Fan technology. We actually introduced a more quiet, more stealth Turbo Fan on our I/OX Elite Turbo Fan this season.  [So the ringing in my ears was not the chopper after all!]

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5.  What’s the difference between the Spherical Series and Regulator Series of Smith snow goggles?

The difference is in the lens. Every goggle in our Spherical Series features our optically correct spherical lens with our patented Vaporator lens technology with Porex™ filter and our 5X Anti-Fog inner lens. The Vaporator technology seals the two lenses together with a silicone bead creating an airtight, bomb-proof seal and eliminating lens delamination (the #1 cause of between-the-lens fogging). The Porex™ filter allows the thermal lens to adjust to air pressure differences at different elevations while preventing water vapor entry.  [That’s key, as heliskiers change altitude more rapidly than lift-bound skeirs and boarder]


Our Regulator Series has a mix of optically correct spherical and cylindrical lenses, each featuring our patented Regulator adjustable lens ventilation, allowing the user to control the airflow through the goggle.


6.  What’s the latest on changeable lenses?

With our I/O Family (I/O Recon, I/O, I/OX, I/OS, and I/OX Elite Turbo), Change is Easy for every face shape and size, as well as Head-Up display technologies in our I/O Recon and Turbo Fan in our I/OX Elite Turbo. We invented the interchangeable goggle category, and the I/O remains the standard to which everyone else is measured.


7.  Can it be done in one chopper ride?

You can change a lens in an I/O in less than 10 seconds…easily done in a heli ride.


8.  I lived in Sun Valley for a winter, and did not meet too many people with real jobs.  How did you get so lucky?

I’m not sure how I got so lucky, but Ketchum is an amazing place to live and raise a family. I’ve traveled to most ski towns in the US, and very few compare to Sun Valley when it comes to community and access to an amazing outdoor lifestyle.


9.  Do you get out for some R&D on the hill?

As much as I can. We have a 7″ rule, and if there’s 7″ of new snow on the ground our office is pretty empty.  [My old girlfriend had a similar rule]


10.  Have you heliskied with Sun Valley Heliski Guides?

Yes. Amazing operation, amazing guides, and great terrain. It’s always amazing to get above the mountains in Ketchum and see how vast the Pioneer, Boulder, White Cloud, Smokey, and Sawtooth ranges are.


11.  You sell lots of products that are not optical.  I ski in one of your helmets, the Variant Brim.   I like it as much as you can like a helmet.  Do you sell a lot of brain buckets?

We were very excited to enter the helmet market in 2006/07 and felt we brought a new technology to the market. We looked at a helmet and goggle as an integrated system, both needing to work together to ensure your goggles didn’t fog and that your gray matter was protected. We’ve been very fortunate to have success in the category, and continue to innovate our helmet product to reduce volume and weight while continuing to provide world class protection.


12.  Your Evolve Technology uses re-ground urethane?

We use re-grond urethane as well as a material called Pearlthane ECO bio-TPU. The Pearlthane ECO is derived from plant-based oils separate from the world’s food supply and performs equally as well as traditional urethane while contributing up to 40% fewer global warming emissions. [Cool]


13.  Do all Smith Optics products have a lifetime warranty?

Yes. We’re proud to stand behind every product we make with the most comprehensive lifetime warranty plan of any goggle, helmet, or sunglass on the market.


14.  Where can I get a pair like this?    [Kidding]

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Thanks, Tag.

Hope to see on you the hill in Sun Valley!


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Whistler Heli-Skiing Operator Interview. 15 Questions with Heli Skiing Whistler Blackcomb, BC

There are three operators offering heliskiing at Whistler-Blackcomb. We recently visited with Whislter Heli-Skiing, the original helicopter skiing operator in Whistler. Enjoy!

1. Whistler Heli-Skiing has been completing bucket lists since 1983. You must lead the world in bucket list fulfillment. How often does a guest say “Best Day Ever?”

Every time we go Heli Skiing Whistler guests are ecstatic and pumped from the day they had. Whether it be their first time or their 20th time we have the terrain and the snow to keep guests having “the best day ever!”

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2. Whistler Heli-Skiing offers 3, 4 and 5 run packages. What do most clients choose?

We actually offer 3, 4 and 6 run packages. We recommend picking a package that suits your ability, pace of skiing and or your goals for the day. Most first timers start with a 3 or 4 run package depending on their ski experience especially in powder.

Heliski whistler, heliboard whistler

3. Can guests buy extra runs? How much?

Yes we typically offer extra runs depending on the day (conditions, weather, timing). 3 and 4 run package extra runs = $85 and 6 run package extra runs = $95

4. What is your average vertical per run?

    • 3 runs (approx. 4,500 – 7,500 vertical feet, or 1,400 – 2,300 vertical meters of skiing)
    • 4 runs (approx. 6,000 – 10,000 vertical feet, or 1,800 – 3,500 vertical meters of skiing)
  • 6 runs (approx. 9,000 – 15,000 vertical feet. or 2,700 – 4,600 vertical meters of skiing).

6216548984_710e30261cBest Run? It’s a Grey Area in Canada

5. Does Whistler Heli-Skiing recommend lodging for your guests?

Most guests are in the resort of Whistler for a couple of days skiing on Whistler Blackcomb or doing other activities as well as heli-skiing. That’s one of the best things about Heli Skiing Whistler is that there numerous options for places to stay in Whistler based on your budget, or other requirements. We typically recommend staying in Whistler the night before to check in and get ready for your Heli-day. We always make the final call on whether we can go Heli-skiing or have to cancel due to weather the morning of.

6. How many guests are in each lift?

It depends on the package you purchase. The 3 and 4 run packages are in the Bell 205 Helicopter which typically holds between 7-10 guests. The 6 run package is in the Bell 407 which holds up to a maximum of 5 guests.

7. How many lifts per helicopter?

Depending on the time of year and volume of guests we have up to 3 groups per helicopter.

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8. What happens if the weather does not cooperate?

If Whistler Heli-Skiing has to cancel due to poor weather we offer guests a FULL Refund and or the ability to move to the next available day or try to get them out on the next they want to go.

9. So you have a photographer / videographer?

Yes it is included in the 3 and 4 run packages. A photographer will work with each group to take some photos and a video of one run of each group.

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10. How many of your guests are heli-boarding?

I’d think 30-40% of our guests are heli-boarders.

11. Do you have powder snowboards for your guests?

Yes Whistler Heli-Skiing (WHS) has many great powder boards to rent. We highly recommend boarders use them as it makes the day so much easier and fun to really float on the fresh snow.

12. When does the Whistler Heli-Skiing season open?

Season dates for 2011-12 are Dec 3rd 2011- April 22nd 2011

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13. Can guests get a deal if they book more multiple days?

Yes we offer $100 off and free rentals for subsequent days within the season.

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14. Do you offer deals to groups?

Depending on the time of year and availability WHS does offer some incentive for groups of 10 or more people to pre-book Heli-skiing.

15. Anything else you would like to add about Whistler Heli-Skiing?

Just beyond the ski lifts of Whistler and Blackcomb, minutes from North America’s #1-ranked Ski Resort, awaits the ultimate high-alpine experience. Imagine carving through untracked powder, endless terrain and breath-taking scenery. With hundreds of ski runs, there is a tremendous variety of slopes to accommodate all levels of skiers and boarders from intermediate to expert. The skiing varies from wide-open glaciers to beautiful gladed tree runs. The heli-ski area is made up of several zones and is approximately 50 miles north/south by 30 miles east/west (80km by 50km). Your guide will select terrain within a zone according to snowfall, the weather, and your group’s ability.

helicopter skiing whistler bc, whistler heliski heliboardWhistler is Luxury, Why Not Get a Facial?

Thanks. See you in Whistler!



Tom Jackson
CPO (Chief Powder Officer)

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heli-skiing canada, helicopter skiing bc canadaExpert Advice – Knowledge is Powder

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Escape from the Lift Lines Operator Interviews has been conducting a series of interviews with heliskiing operators.
The interview heliskiing directory follows:

Skeena Heliskiing
Mica Heli Guides
H2O Guides, Valdez Alaska
Eagle Pass Heli-Skiing and Heli-Boarding
Last Frontier Heli-Skiing Ripley Creek Lodge
Points North Heliskiing, Haines Alaska
Snowwater Heli-Skiing
Great Canadian Heli-Skiing
Last Frontier Heli-Skiing Bell 2 Lodge
Northern Escape Heli-Skiing
TLH Heliskiing
Crescent Spur Heli-Skiing
Helitrax, Telluride Colorado
Bella Coola Helisports Tweedsmuir Lodge
Powder Mountain Heli-Skiing and Catskiing
Selkirk-Tangiers Heli-Skiing Revelstoke
Whistler Heli-Skiing
Mike Wiegele Helicopter Skiing, Blue River, BC, Canada
Coast Range Heliskiing, Whistler Blackcomb
Robson Heli-Magic Canadian Helicopter Skiing
Alaska Rendezvous Guides / Alaska Rendezvous Lodge
CMH Canadian Mountain Holidays Adamants Lodge
Purcell Heli-Skiing Canada

Choices, Choices – A High Class Problem

I was working with some Aussies on a trip to BC next April. Three guys wanted to do a 4-day Private. We talked about the type of skiing and experience they wanted. I ended up recommending four places to consider.

One heli-skiing operator dropped out when the dates did not match up with their trip schedules.

The price tag for a private was too scary – ranging from $40K – $78K Canadian. The price does not vary for 3 vs. 4 heliskiers, making it $13K – $26K per person to heliski for four days. Ouch.

So we dialed back the fun-meter one notch to a semi-private heliski trip for three. All three heliski operators in this mix ski in three small groups per helicopter – so not much waiting. There are many aspects of the decision, including terrain, travel, snow, lodge, the other guests that week, price and more. But as for price, which pricing option looks best?

Heliskiing Operator A: $6667 per person, Unlimited Vertical Feet
Heliskiing Operator B: $6250 per person, including 62,500 feet. Extra vertical is $42/K feet.
Heliskiing Operator C: $4890 per person, including 57,500 feet. Extra vertical is $42/K feet

It’s obvious the A beats B. That time of year, the days are long. You could easily average 20K to 25K vertical feet/day helicopter skiing, and spend $700 to $1500 in extra vertical.

So, it’s unlimited heliskiing for $6667 vs. $4890 + $42 per thousand feet of vertical over 57,500.

Before we go there, you may want to read my post on the nuances of unlimited vertical heliskiing.

Strictly looking at price, the break-even is at about 100K feet, 25K/day. Above that, the Unlimited Vertical heliski outfit is best. 100K is a great 4-day trip, so Heliskiing Operator C. allows the group to control their heliskiing budget and avoid paying for vertical they may not get.

Splitting hairs? Maybe. But even a high class problem is worth solving, eh? – Heliskiing by any other name..

Somehow I forgot I had this great domain name on ice – So I decided to use it.

I’m hoping to pass some other sites in the search engine results like TLH Heli-Skiing, Heli-Skiing Wikipedia, Heli-Skiing Jackson, etc.

It’s not quite as strong as our site,, but it has potential, eh?

Also a chance to post this awesome picture from the good folks at Crescent Spur Heli-Skiing.

Heli-Skiing Canada

Got “The Call” Today for Heliskiing Canada / Heliskiing Kanada

Heliskiing Canada aka Heliskiing Kanada. We talked about it last winter. We talked about it on and off over the summer.  When are we going to heliski Canada / heliski Kanada again?

Where is the best location for heliskiing Canada, given our requirements?

Why is it heliski Kanada instead of heliski Canada?   Read more  below…

Then yesterday, my buddy Steve called and said, “Let’s do it.” Time to commit to Heliskiing! Or to Heliboarding, for you riders.  Heliski Kanada or heliskiing Kanada for some of our European friends.

Heliskiing Canada, Heliskiing Kanada
Heliskiing Canada or Heliskiing Kanada

Fortunately, I am in a position to ask for seats to be held, so our spaces were still available. Some weeks, and even some months are booked up. There are plenty of good heliski trips available, but every day there are fewer.

Working around the Olympics? Sure travel could be harder.  So Bella Coola is offering 5% off from late January through February. You have to book it through us.

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Heliski Kanada for Powder Shots Like this one from CMH.

Early and late season are the best deals to heliski Kanada.  January gets more snow and you ski more trees.   February is the sweet spot for heliskiing Kanada.  March is the month to heliski Kanada if you want sunshine, warmer weather and better stability – which will allow of high alpine and glacier heliskiing Kanada.

What is heliskiing Kanada?   Just another way to say the best heliskiing in the world – Heliskiing Canada!I’m not sure why the Europeans call it Kanada.  Seems German.  I’ll Google It.

Heliskiing Kanada, where heliski Kanada has many meanings, including

Heliski Kanada, can be a religious experience.   So heliskiing can be confused with Kanada (philosopher), the Hindu sage who founded the philosophy of Vaisheshika.  You decide.

Is it time for you to make The Call?

Heli Skiing by any other name….would be as SWEET!

heliski vs heli-ski vs heliskiing vs heli-skiing vs helicopter skiing

heliski, heli ski, or heli-ski. Which is best?

Google can’t decide. The number of searches for heli ski and heli ski are the same, indicating that Google does not differentiate between the two spellings. So heli-ski and heli ski show up as one term in their search stats.

Canadian Mountain Holidays (CMH Heli-Ski) invented helicopter skiing…..and they use Heli-ski and heli-boarding. But most operators eschew the hyphen and the space….go figure.

In terms of search popularity, heliski trumps heli ski and heli-ski combined, 18,000 searches/mo. to 12,000 in all search engines – good news for the recently launched The bad news is that more sites are competing to be listed in search engine results for heliski than for heli ski and heli-ski combined. And the search results show a difference. Search for heli ski in Google returns 663,000 results. For heliski, only 227,000 results.

The same is true for heli skiing, heli-skiing and heliskiing. The space and hyphen return 483,000, heliskiing 418,000. Not much difference, but it looks like the space is more popular than the hyphen.

One thing is certain…….

Untracked powder, all day, with your buddies and a helicopter lift…

by any other name, would be as SWEET!

Heli Ski Combined with Resort Skiing and/or Catskiing

We are getting lots of requests from customers who want to heli ski combined with resort skiing and/or cat skiing.

Many are looking to try helicopter skiing or heliboarding for the first time while on a resort ski trip.  It’s easy to add a day or two at Whistler, Snowbird/Alta, Telluride, Sun Valley or just about any resort in SE British Columbia.  It’s roughly $1000.

Some want to do some heliskiing without spending $6K+.  By combining heliskiing with catskiing or resort skiing, you can cut the price in half.

Others are not in shape to heli ski every day for a week; others want the option to ski the result if the weather turns bad.  For the same reasons, some want cat skiing as a warm up, or as a fall-back the heliskiing suffers a down day.

We now have multiple heli-ski operators with combinations to offer.  They vary in trip duration and the combination of days.  Shoulder seasons are less expensive.   We recommend resort and catskiing first, so that your legs are in shape for the heli-ski days.  Also, it’s hard to sit on a chairlift the day after heliskiing……..

A Heli-Skiing Down Day Will Make You Think

Years ago I was sitting in a remodeled gas station in a remote corner of British Columbia. Fog from the nearby river combined with low clouds to keep our helicopter grounded. Our hosts suggested a road trip to Alaska so that we could say we had been there……I passed.

I said to the person across from me, “I wish I could talk to someone who has been to these places before I book.” That was the genesis of the first helicopter skiing review site, It offers objective reviews and advice, based on both my heli skiing experiences and those of many others.

From that modest beginning, Heliskiing Review has grown to be the biggest directory of heliskiing Canada operators. In later years, we added Alaska heliskiing, North America heliskiing and beyond.

Heliskiing is like other high-end all inclusive holidays – the experience must meet the expectations. That’s where we come in for helicopter skiing information.

This summer my partner Mike and I introduced, the ultimate resource for BC heliskiing and the Canadian heli ski community. It includes details on 95% of the heliskiing and heliboarding operations in the world. is also a community, facilitating communication and networking among those of us who love heliskiing and heliboarding.

We have added a store, newsletter, forum, pictures, videos and a Heli Finder utility to help visitors find the best trip for their group. Also new this season are partnerships with the two biggest operators – Canadian Mountain Holidays and Mike Wiegele Helicopter Skiing. Check it out, join Club and let us know what you think.

See you there,