Many people are looking to get outside this winter. When Googling for things to do, skiing and snowboarding have bombarded the search engine results, causing an influx of newbies out on the mountain. If this was you this past December, we are super excited to welcome you to the world of winter sports and we want to make sure you are fully knowledgeable about skiing before diving in head first.
We know winter sports can be expensive, so understanding your options will give you a great foundation for the decision making process.
Even if you are not a complete newbie, making that first ski purchase can be daunting, especially for Eastern PA folks who live amongst smaller mountains that now experience temperate winters. There’s always a fine line between renting and buying, so we have compiled a list of factors that you should take into consideration before making your decision. Take a look at the pros and cons for each to see if you should keep renting or finally make the leap.
Assuming you are hooked on skiing, start writing down how much it costs you to rent during a season and do some simple math. Skis are not cheap, but continuously renting can add up fast, too.
Cost was first on our list because it’s probably the biggest decision-making factor, although the impact varies from person to person depending on how much, or how little, you ski.
Renting for a few seasons is a good idea to save you money until you find the pair that speaks to your soul. Rental skis are tested and tuned constantly throughout the season, so you will not only be getting safe gear, but maintained gear as well. If you own, you are responsible for keeping up on all the maintenance, whether doing it yourself or scheduling an appointment at your local shop.
For those on the fence, below are some cost-saving tips for your first pair.
If you have a pair in mind that you know you would like to own (ie carving, moguls, park, etc), search for them in your size on third party sites such as skis.com. These sites always have great deals, especially at the end of the season. If you can snag skis at a discounted rate, the feeling of having your own equipment not marked up with rental jargon is oh so nice.
Another cost-saving method for those who are seriously considering purchasing their first pair is to snag used skis. You may want to have assistance when doing this to ensure you don’t get ripped off. Most used skis are doable; aesthetic blemishes are worth having if that means keeping some extra dough in the bank. But you don’t want anything so problematic that will cause an unsafe experience; costing you more money in the long run. Check out Buckmans, a ski and snowboard shop that runs pre-season used equipment sales.
Waiting in any line can add a sprinkle of irritability to your day. Standing aside of an entire mountain full of fresh-cut corduroy while you wait for equipment will unleash an entire dump truck of irritability. If you only ski a few times a year, the wait probably out weights the cost of owning gear.
However, if you do shred a lot, think about how much time you would save not standing in those lines.
If you are a multi-mountain skier, having to navigate a variety of resort rental logistics and policies can be cumbersome. If the only thing you have to navigate is the quickest line from the parking lot to the chair lift, you are starting the day off on the right foot. Having accessibility to your own equipment is super convenient.
But if you aren’t in love with a specific pair just yet, you might not want to shell out a lump sum of money just for convenience. Keep in mind that different resorts use different brands. Renting at different resorts allows you to try out a variety of brands and styles, albeit still beginner, honing in your preferences for when you do decide to own.
If you are a complete beginner, renting is the best option. Renting gives you almost everything you need at a reasonable price including a helmet, skis, boots and poles. All you need is a lift ticket and maybe a lesson.
Beginner skis are also on the shorter side with loads of flex. If you are still in the learning stages, you might want to hold off on your first purchase for a bit because with each season you will progress, and the better skier you become, the longer and stiffer the ski you will want.
A typical ski length would reach between the skier’s nose and eyes when stood upright. As you gain confidence in your turns, the added stiffness and length will help you progress to the next level. If you purchase beginner skis, we would hate to see you outgrow those fresh planks within a season.
Figuring out what type of ski you prefer is very important before purchasing skis. Resort shops rent beginner front-side skis, so most skiers make a comparable purchase for their first pair, albeit at an intermediate level. Purchasing an all-mountain ski will be acceptable on a variety of on-piste conditions, suitable for the majority of skiers.
But depending on the snow conditions or what you want to do with the skis, you might need a different type of ski.
Most rental skis have a significant side-cut to help ease the skier in and out of turns. But if you like skidding your tails and sliding those rails, you might like the feel of a less dramatic side-cut.
If you ski at a mountain that has variable conditions, the resort might have a variety of skis to rent including carving skis, powder skis or mogul skis. Or they might have demo days where you can try all the latest and greatest equipment.
If you want to try a new style of skiing, renting is the best way to do it without investing too much at the beginning. Trying new styles can spark a new love interest, and even steer you in the direction for a future purchase.
Once you are a proficient skier you probably know what type of skier you are and what you want out of a pair of skis. It’s then safe to say you might want to think about owning a go-to pair.
If you have kiddos, the best answer is to rent. Even if you are a season pass family and go on yearly ski trips, kids grow so fast and skis are too expensive to be growing out of on a seasonal basis. But don’t worry, we have another tip for you in the next section.
If you are an adult, your ski size can still vary, albeit not too significantly. The more advanced or aggressive skier you are, the longer the ski. Beginner skis are generally shorter for easier turning, so renting for a few years until you hit your appropriate size is a good way to ensure you won’t grow out of your skis before you get your money’s worth.
Check out ski and board sizes that Bear Creek offers for seasonal rentals.
If you have decided to keep renting, there are still some additional options to consider below:
Seasonal vs. Day Rentals
We couldn’t leave you to the winter sports world without one last tip. There is a third option!
And it’s called Seasonal Rentals.
This option is perfect for kid skiers that have yearly growth spurts or novice adults who will eventually “grow” into a more appropriate ski length. It’s also a money saver for those on the fence. If you don’t know what type of ski you want yet or aren’t ready to make that investment but you still want the convenience and freedom of having your own equipment, seasonal rentals is the sweet spot.
With seasonal rentals, you pick up the gear at the beginning of the season and drop it off at the end of the season. Since you keep the equipment with you for the entire winter season, you can avoid all rental lines; giving you the freedom to head straight from the car to the lift. It also makes for easier impromptu ski trips to various mountains.
But always do a price comparison. Figure out on average how many times per season you ski and do the math. Seasonal Rental prices vary between resorts and shops, so make comparisons using your local mountain/shop pricing model.
Check out Bear Creek’s rentals for both seasonal and daily equipment.
Shop vs. Resort Rentals
There are two options to search out seasonal rentals; at a mountain resort or local ski shop.
If you mostly ski at your home mountain, you might want to rent from them. Plus, they might have discounts if you are a season pass holder. If you do run into any mechanical issues, the resort might not be able to service your equipment if you receive it from a shop. Although resort shops can service a variety of brands and setups, not all mountain shops are full-service, nor do they work on every type of ski or binding.
If you do choose to rent from a resort, the staff is more than capable of adjusting all resort-issued equipment. Plus, maintenance can normally be completed in a timely manner since you never have to leave the premise.
There are some cons to resort renting. Since resorts normally only carry a few specifics brands, local shops might have more variety in brands and style from which you can choose. Having a wider range of equipment is always better when trying out a new sport. Sometimes the smallest adjustment can make all the difference in your experience.
Variety comes in handy especially with kids that progress quickly. It might be worth it to search out a local shop that has an extensive selection which includes intermediate, park, or performance skis. You just might find something you like.
Check out the brands that Bear Creek carries for seasonal rentals.
Those are the major factors everyone should consider when comparing renting vs buying skis. We hope you gained some useful knowledge and feel more prepared when making your decision this winter season.
If you are still trying to decide, spark a conversation on the chair lift or speak to a rental tech about when they made the switch and the pros and cons they had with their experience.