Buying vs Renting Skis and Boots

It’s one of the oldest questions that skiers who travel to their destination often ask: should you rent skis and boots on your trips or buy your own? It is a good question, and one without a clear-cut answer.  The arguments for and against are changing as the market and the way we ski has evolved and what used to be established reasoning is now not so clear-cut.

Established wisdom says that if you live near a ski resort or ski a lot you should buy your equipment, as it makes financial sense. If you ski just once a year for your annual vacation, then rent. But today our work and private lives are evolving. We are much more mobile than ever before and this has changed skiing habits. Today the average skier may not just ski once or twice, but three times a year or more. How should that affect your decision then?

Why rent? Firstly, we’ll look at the benefits of renting skis. The first thing to remember is that when you rent, you can choose skis for the snow conditions of the time. If things change on the slopes, you usually will have the ability to swap them for something more suitable. As ski technology has developed, this specialization for conditions has become more pronounced and has become a more important benefit of renting in recent years.

Renting also solves one of the most significant issues with skiing, and that is the effort of getting skis from your home to the snow. This is a major consideration if you have to travel a significant distance. Skis are unwieldy things. Awkwardly shaped, they take up a lot of room and are a nightmare in airports.  This transport issue has also become more pronounced in recent years, particularly if you have to fly to reach a ski resort.  With airlines slapping fees on extra bags and extra baggage weight, ski boots are certain make a difference when it comes to your baggage cost.  That cost might eat up some or much of the savings you expected to get while using your own boots at the ski resort.

There is one other area where renting offers a real advantage – for those new to skiing. There is no point in pretending, skiing can be an expensive sport, skis themselves can be particularly pricey. If you are brand-new to skiing, renting makes a lot of sense. Why invest a large amount of money if you may not even ski more often than once every few years? As well, until you made it through that initial learning phase, you won’t really know how much you enjoy skiing.

Also, rented equipment is almost always properly maintained and cared for. And caring for your own skis is something you really must do, so it is simply one less thing to consider if you choose to rent.  We have noticed that the quality of available rental skis has gotten better and better during the past decade.

Finally, don’t forget the fact that kids will outgrow their skis, just like they do with all of their other clothing and gear.  If you are buying skis for a child, consider going with a rental if the child is not an avid, every week skier.  Many ski shops also offer lease programs for this exact reason.

Why buy? Buying your own skis can be appealing for a few reasons. Firstly, because you get that satisfaction of ownership. This  may seem a little shallow, but there is something special about stepping into the skis and boots you bought for yourself. When you own the skis, you can get comfortable with them, which can help you become a better skier. And secondly, you also get to choose which ones you have and what they look like.

For those who are a little flexible, buying skis does not have to be as hugely expensive as you may think. Ex-rental skis are usually up to date technology, have been well looked after, and offer a good savings over a brand new pair. You still get to choose, whether that is an ex-rental ski or the very latest model, it’s your choice. You can pick the skis you want, that suit you and your style, the right length, everything. Apart from the very lucky, that is never going to happen with rental. There will  always be a compromise based on what is available at the resort you go to. Finally – and some would say most importantly – if you own your own skis, you will never have to stand in a queue at a ski rental store ever again!

The costs. If you go skiing infrequently, renting will be cheaper. This is the commonly held belief. The more you ski, the better it is to own your own. If you live near a resort, that is certainly still true, but what about people who travel? Transporting skis has becomes significantly costlier in recent years, with charges specifically for skis from airlines being normal these days. In addition, rental car costs can rise significantly if you need a larger vehicle just to transport your skis from the airport. That is significant expense every trip you will not have if you rent. Similarly, after each trip, you will also have the cost of maintenance to think about. Edge tuning and sharpening plus a wax after each trip adds yet more ongoing expenses.

For a rental, you know the price; you have no travel hassle and will avoid airline surcharges.

Conclusion. So, have travel cost increases made a difference? Yes. The point where skiing often enough to make buying financially worthwhile has probably shifted a bit. And for many who manage two or even three trips a year, especially those that are still learning and taking tuition, renting will likely be the more sensible option. However, for people who ski frequently, they are still better off buying, It simply makes more financial sense.

There is one other thing to consider if you are an avid skier. Those who love skiing and want everything perfect, or who have finished spending money on tuition and are looking to improve on their own, can definitely benefit from owning their own skis and boots. Sometimes, it’s just nice to own those skis, regardless of the financial considerations.