Renting vs. Buying

Ahhhhh, the age old debate. To own or not to own? Obviously if you’re a genuine ski-bum, with a season pass no less, you’ll want to get your own gear. But what if you only get up to the high country a few times year? There’s something to be said for customizing your own gear, tailoring it to your particular needs, and for knowing your equipment. That said, with skis and snowboards running anywhere from $400 to $1,000 a pop, renting skis can be a much more practical choice for the occasional weekend snow warrior. To add to that, I do have my own gear, but even so I rent a demo package every once in a while just to get a taste of the newest products out there and to sample different brands and styles (especially when I’m in the market).

And how about kids? Truth be told, we always rent our kids’ skis until they’re done growing. Since proper ski fit is dependent on size, it makes a lot more sense to rent seasonally or for the weekend than it does to buy a new pair of skis and boots every year.

Here’s some more advice on making the ski rental business work for you!

Shop Around – A recent informal survey of ski shops in Summit County show rental prices ranging from $9 to $50 per day for the exact same equipment when it comes to junior rental packages that include skis, boots, poles, and often a helmet! And the difference in prices for adult ski packages are even more pronounced, ranging from $25 per day to well over $100 depending on the package you choose. Setting a little time aside before your vacation to surf the web and compare prices can literally save you hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars over the course of a weekend, week, or season.

The Longer the Better – When it comes to renting equipment, you can usually get price breaks the longer you rent the skis. For example, a three day rental is cheaper per day than a single day rental, and a week-long rental is cheaper yet.

Rent Seasonally – If you have a season pass and are a regular on the slopes, rent your gear seasonally rather than each time you go skiing and save big money on equipment and maintenance. If you and your family skis more than 5 times in a year, you’ll spend far less renting your gear for the entire season than you will renting your gear for 5 individual days. Even better, you won’t have to worry about your kids outgrowing their gear, since they’ll get refit as each new season rolls around, and maintenance and upkeep falls on the shoulders of the rental shop, not on you during the offseason!

Book Online and Ahead of Time – Most ski rental companies offer significant discounts if you make reservations in advance and online, as opposed to walking in. Discounts and eligibility differ shop to shop, so be sure to scout it out ahead of time for the best rates. Nevertheless, discounts of 20% to 30% are pretty standard if you book online and plan ahead!

Rent in Town, NOT at the Resort – ALWAYS rent your skis in town, not at the resort, if you’re interested in saving money. Sounds crazy, but you can literally walk across the street in most resort towns to independent retailers and knock 10%, 20%, 30% off of your daily rate. And if you think ahead and rent on the front range, you can usually save even more! As a side note, we always rent our skis in town because, when it comes to skiing, time is precious. Why drive up in to the mountains to waste time in a ski shop trying on gear and filling out paperwork, when you can bring your gear from home and get right on the mountain instead!

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