Despite Mother Nature supplying the goods (snow) for free, skiing and snowboarding can rack up a hefty price tag if you're not careful. That makes it tempting to save where you can by borrowing, renting, or using hand-me-down equipment, clothing and accessories to keep warm in the cold temperatures.
I am all for a good deal, having skied on rental skis for many years and even my mom’s skis and boots for a few years. As a childhood skier, turned teenage and early adult snowboarder, back to skiing again, I noticed I wasn’t improving on skis as quickly as I wanted. That’s when I invested in my ski gear and found it made all the difference.
I contacted Drew Stefanic with Lone Pine Gear Exchange to get expert tips on investing in your equipment and when it’s okay to keep rocking borrowed gear. Let’s start with the pros and cons of it all.
Borrowed or rented equipment is much cheaper than buying new. While renting provides a better selection, likely resulting in better fits and sizes to match your skill level, most rentals are geared toward beginner skiers and boarders. Stefanic says skiers and boarders who are more skilled may find that rented equipment doesn’t suit their needs.
How much does skill level play into the owning versus renting equipment decision?
Stefanic says if you reach the upper intermediate levels on the slopes, it’s probably best to have your own gear. What does this mean? If you are comfortable skiing and boarding on blue runs and challenging yourself on black diamonds, you’re ready for your own gear. While this isn’t an exact science or measurement, Stefanic says to trust your gut and how the equipment feels. If your skis and board feel unstable and the boots don’t have enough support, then it’s time to consider an investment.
“You marry your boots but date your skis.”
When thinking about what to buy, it can be overwhelming. Boots, skis or snowboard, helmet, goggles, gloves, clothing, you name it. What items are must-haves, and what can you continue to borrow or rent until you’re ready? Stefanic says the one thing his team says in the shop is, “You marry your boots but date your skis.” With the boots being your main connection with the skis and board, it is the most important piece of gear to own. The other is a properly fitting helmet.
What can you still raid from your best friend or parent's closet? Stafanic says clothes, gloves, and other cold weather accessories are less consequential and areas you can still save by borrowing. Purchasing used gear is also a great option. Shops like Lone Pine Gear Exchange, Stio's Second Turn program and The Gear Room.
Okay, so you decide to invest in your own gear. How long does it last before you need to buy again? As with most things, the answer is it depends. Here are some high-level things to keep in mind and consider to better understand the life of your equipment.
1. Skis and snowboards can last about ten years but be aware of the bindings' wear and damage (and breakdown of materials).
2. Boots can also last a long time. Manufacturers typically build boots to last about 150 days on the snow. For some, that can mean the same boots for 10 years; others may need new boots every other season.
3. Helmets should be replaced after any significant impact or damage to the helmet.
4. Clothing and gloves can last decades with proper care and washing with a re-waterproofing solution from time to time.
Whether you choose to buy your equipment or keep borrowing and renting – what’s most important is getting on the slopes and enjoying The Greatest Snow on Earth®.
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