Skiing can be a lifetime hobby. And it’s no secret that it’s possible to drop a considerable sum on the most high-tech all-mountain skis, boots and bindings. You do need a good equipment setup to make the most of your time on the hill, but there are ways to gear up for skiing at a reasonable cost.
Whether you decide to buy, rent or borrow gear, it’s best to have equipment custom chosen and sized exactly for you. So, when is it time to shell out the cash for a brand-new setup of your own?
First, let’s ask some basic questions:
With those questions in mind, let's take a look at some of the main advantages and drawbacks of each method so you can find out what's best for you.
If you decide you want your very own equipment, be prepared for a certain degree of sticker shock.
A ski setup can cost from $500 up to the thousands. But when considering the price tag (and possibly gravitating toward the lowest-priced skis and boots), remember the importance of fit and function.
At the same time, if you’re a beginner skier, you certainly don’t need a $950 FIS race ski. Most retail shops will offer ski/boot/bindings/poles packages for a variety of skill levels.
The equipment lease is a great option for beginners, children and those not yet committed to purchase. Unlike renting every time you ski—and needing to endure multiple adjustments and paperwork—you get to keep the same pair for the whole season. It’s logistically much simpler.
Leasing also means you can grow accustomed to the setup throughout the season and focus on your progress and having fun.
Another upside to leasing: Often you’ll get issued completely new equipment at the start of the season. Shops may let you do a buy-out of your lease at the end of the season.
The main downside here is that it obviously costs a bit more than renting the gear for a single trip, but if you expect to go on multiple trips throughout a season, this may be the ideal way to go about it.
The lowest commitment level for accessing equipment is to rent by the day or week. This is the way to go for someone who doesn’t ski frequently or for people who are dabbling with the sport of skiing for the first time.
Although it’s the most expensive per-day option, renting still costs less than buying new equipment. There’s no sense buying brand-new skis, then using them once and watching them collect dust the rest of the season. Some shops may apply the rental cost to the cost of a purchase if you decide you’re hooked.
If you only have one skiing trip planned and you most likely won't go on any more trips throughout the season, renting equipment for a short period of time is the way to go.
If you’re borrowing equipment from a friend, that means:
However, it’s a long shot that what you’ll find in your pal’s garage matches your skill level and is the appropriate length of ski or ski type for you.
Even if you are borrowing a setup from a friend, you’d be wise to take it to a ski shop and have a licensed technician adjust the bindings for you before you click in.
As skiing is a high-speed sport, your safety is paramount. Don't wear boots that are too big or skis intended for advanced skiers if you're just starting it. It's free and tempting but you could be compromising safety and you wouldn't want a fun ski trip ending in pain and injury.
To be sure, you can find screaming deals on used equipment at garage sales and online at sites like Craigslist. But the advice “caveat emptor” applies here. While it’s tempting to pick up a pair of skis or a helmet for $30 at a garage sale, this is the riskiest equipment to purchase.
If a helmet has been in a crash—and you won’t know that history—it will likely be unsafe. It can be difficult to gauge the age and technology of skis. If bindings are too old, technicians may not be able (by law) to adjust them.
If you can suss out the history and age of the gear, you can certainly save money going this route. Just be sure to have any second-hand skis tuned and bindings adjusted before you take them out for a spin.
If purchasing from eBay, Craigslist or a second-hand equipment shop, make sure to get as much information as you can before you make a purchase. Be willing to resell or return if the gear doesn’t work for you. Ultimately, you want to feel comfortable, happy and safe on the slopes.
Now you should be better equipped to make a decision. Which way to acquire skiing equipment differs depending on a person's situation.
In conclusion, if you ski a lot and plan on doing so in the future, actually purchasing ski gear that matches your needs is ideal.
If you have a busy ski season ahead of you but don't want to commit to gear yet, leasing gear is optimal.
For people who just go on a single ski trip every year, simply renting the gear at the local ski store may be the best thing to do.