Even though winter is but a distant memory in the Northeast (for those of you in the Rockies and Sierras, I know ski season can go until July), it’s never too early to start thinking about next ski season and all the necessary equipment that you’ll need, which can set you back a lot of money.
Skiing, after all, is an expensive sport. The cost of lodging, lift tickets, food and transportation alone make it hard, but when you factor in the cost of equipment, it can be downright prohibitive.
An adult ski package, including skis, binding, boots and poles will run you at least $400.00 to $600.00, and that’s on the low end. The cost, obviously, gets higher as you factor in each family member, and as every parent knows, kids grow quickly. You’ll be lucky to get two seasons out of their skis before you need to upgrade
One way around the enormous expense is to buy used rental equipment. Most ski shops in our area that rent equipment want to turn-over their stocks and will sell you the stuff at great prices, saving you as much as 70%. While I can’t speak for the entire country, it stands to reason that most other retailers would want to do the same, but contact your local ski shops to find out more.
Now keep in mind, that this is not brand new, right out of the wrapper equipment, but I’ve found that it is usually in good shape, and often times it is in stellar condition since it has usually been used for only one season. You can always check them out first before you commit to anything.
I myself got a complete package for about $150.00. Now I'd like to mention that the boots did not look like rentals, they were in good condition and more comfortable than any pair I’d bought in the past, since I always went for the cheap stuff. The skis were in great condition and the bindings were practically brand new.
My wife got a set for about the same, and our kids packages ran about $100.00. Best of all, they have a policy where they’ll take back the equipment and apply it as a credit towards an upgrade. It just goes back into the rental mix.
One key advantage to buying them at a ski shop is that they have the expertise to properly tune and adjust the equipment according to your specifications. You don’t want to mess around when it comes to your safety on the slopes.
I also replaced my snowboard, which was about fifteen years old (I couldn’t even give the thing away!). I got a used board and boots for under a $100.00, and a brand new pair of bindings for about $50.00. They didn’t have a box, so they unloaded them for a fraction of the cost.
Now as I mentioned, the board was not in mint condition and looked it, same for the boots, and I realize there is a huge image component to snowboarding (and for skiing, as well), but I figured that at some point in my life I’ve got to give up on trying to be cool and leave it to the teenagers. Besides, the older guys on the slopes who are trying too hard to be hip are usually the ones that end up just embarrassing themselves.
And when you really get down to it, by the time you do your first run, your skis are covered in snow and muck, and any semblance of newness is gone by that point.
Furthermore, do your kids really care? Maybe they will when they’re teenagers, but when they’re really young, they’ll be stoked just to hit the slopes. Just keep reminding them that they’re lucky to even be out there skiing, and they’ll come around soon enough.
One thing I’d like to mention is that if you live near a ski shop, it behooves you to develop a relationship with them, especially if they are small and local. It’s supporting the local economy and small shops have a lot more leeway in terms of giving good deals, not to mention the occasional comp tune-up. Finally, the people who run ski shops tend to be laid back and cool.
Whatever you do, just get out there and ski. If you can, get your kids on skis as soon as possible. That’s what they do out here. By the time they can walk, they’re skiing, which goes a long way to explaining why so many Olympic skiers and snowboarders (Bode Miller comes to mind) are from this area.
If, in the end, you simply must get brand-spanking new skis, then this option is not for you. Keep in mind, however, that after skiing for over thirty years, I’ve come to understand that it’s the person who makes the skier, not the skis. And your brand new, top of the line equipment may raise a few eyebrows, but it may require that you actually tell people how much you paid for them.