By Emily Crofton
It’s time to say our goodbyes to sweet summer and welcome chilly temps and cozy layers! Now we all know what that means and if you’re like me, then you’re probably starting to think about ski season. With excitement and anticipation whirring in the air, thoughts about which pass to get and what gear to buy might be among the many questions you’re asking yourself. It’s no question that preparing for ski season involves many steps, not to mention decisions. However, at the end of the day, the biggest question that many skiers face is “should I rent or buy skis?” Here at Halfdays, we know that this decision can feel overwhelming, which is why we are here to guide you through the process.
Let’s first start off by saying that if you’re feeling unsure about whether you should rent or buy, you are not alone! As skiers, we all face this decision one way or another. You may be asking yourself questions like: How much will it cost? Will it be worth it to buy? Does my skill level matter? Let’s face it, finding the right answer can be daunting! So, let’s cover a few bases before we dive into the decision.
Let’s start off with the cost of renting vs. buying. We all know that the sport of skiing is expensive. Between transportation, accommodations, and equipment, it can cost a pretty penny. When it comes to gear, why break the bank if you can count the number of days you’ll be out on skis on one hand? If you are someone who is planning a single ski trip or simply looking to get out on the hill a few days this winter, then we suggest renting skis as the more cost-effective option. If you are looking to purchase a seasons pass and spend more than a few days on the mountain, we believe it is highly worth investing in your own gear.
With that being said, let’s take it a step further and break down the cost of both options. Starting with renting, we took a look at a handful of resorts around the country to gather information on how much it costs to rent gear. Based on the data we found, on average, the cost of renting skis, with boots, bindings, and poles, for an entire day is $40. If you are going on a week-long ski trip, the total cost for 7 days would be $280. Seeing as the average cost of a pair of skis is $750, you would need to ski 19 days in order to make the cost of buying your own skis worth it.
Another thing to consider is your skill level. Are you a brand new skier? If the answer is yes, then your best bet, in our opinion, is to rent. Without having more than a couple of days under your feet, it can be hard to tell what you like. By renting, you have the opportunity to test the waters and familiarize yourself with different lengths/widths of skis before you invest in a pair! Renting allows for flexibility and easing into the sport, and we love that for beginner skiers. If you’re someone who has a few seasons under your belt, then financially, it makes much more sense to buy your own equipment. Once you have been able to get a sense of the type of skier you are, you can invest in skis that you know you will like. By owning your own skis, you will get to know how they handle and get a good feel for them. Not to mention your confidence will boom and your skills will be climbing off the charts!
Now that we have touched upon a few deciding factors, let’s talk about the benefits of renting vs. owning skis. While we know that renting can be more budget-friendly and better for beginners, it also allows for versatility! Depending on the day, you have the option of choosing a ski that best suits the snow conditions. If the weather changes and you suddenly have a powder day, you can swap out your skis for a wider, floatier style ski. Who doesn’t love having a variety of options?
If you are traveling to your favorite ski destination, renting eliminates the hassle of traveling with ski gear. Not only does it cost more to check skis on a plane, but you also need to purchase a travel bag to transport your gear. Rather than worry about the extra trouble, you can travel light and worry about your skis when you get there.
Lastly, there is no need for any maintenance or upkeep when renting skis. When you’re done with your day, simply bring your rentals back and be on your merry way! When you own skis, you must factor in the necessary maintenance required, such as edge and wax treatment. Not only is that an extra step but adds to the cost.
If you are leaning towards buying your own skis, you are investing in a piece of gear that will help you not only progress but be well worth the buy. At this point, you have skied enough to know what you like or dislike and can feel confident in buying the right skis for you. Though the initial purchase can be expensive, the benefits will outweigh the cost in the long run, especially since you won’t need to worry about it for several seasons! There is also something to be said about showing up to the mountain ready to go. Without having to swing through the rental shop and deal with the lines or wait, you can hop right on the chair and get first tracks!
As with any recreational sport that becomes a true passion, there is an underlying connection to the equipment that allows us to do what we love. Though it might take some people a while to get there, once you reach that level of commitment to the sport, investing in your own gear can make all the difference.
Now that we have touched on what we consider to be the most important gear in a ski package, let’s discuss the other essential pieces. Whether you’re focused on comfort or performance, finding the right ski boots is second on the priority list. In order to have a great day out on the ski hill, you want to make sure your feet are comfortable, warm, and sized correctly. Ski boots can certainly make or break a ski day so before you hop on the ski lift, be sure to sit down with a boot fitter to get your fit and size. As we mentioned with skis, how much time you plan on skiing will determine whether to rent or buy ski boots. Looking at the cost breakdown again, the average cost for renting boots is $40/day. If you are considering buying, the average cost is $240. If you are planning on skiing for more than 6 days this winter, we encourage you to invest in your own ski boots. Even if you still plan on renting skis, investing in your own, custom-fitted boots is well worth it.
The other essential accessories to consider include a helmet, goggles, and gloves. While you can rent a helmet from a rental shop, it is not an option for goggles or gloves. We recommend purchasing a nice pair of gloves, especially if you plan on enjoying other winter activities! As for goggles, there are a variety of models and brands to choose from and it is a worthy investment. Looking at the cost of renting vs. buying a helmet, the average cost to rent for a day is around $10. For the cost of buying a new helmet, it makes more sense to buy one, that way you can ensure it fits properly and has not been worn several times beforehand.
So, what is the right answer? Do I rent or buy skis this season? It truly comes down to this: how often do you see yourself skiing this winter? In our opinion, if you are a beginner skier who plans on skiing less than two weeks out of the season, then you will end up saving money and allow yourself the time to feel out the right pair of skis for your ability level. If you plan on skiing more than 19 days this season, it is worth investing in your own pair of skis. While we know this process can be overwhelming, we hope this information can help to make it that much easier for you. No matter what you decide, Halfdays is here to help you on this journey! See you on the slopes!
Hi! I'm Emily Crofton. I am a Freelance writer and photographer based out of Burlington, VT, specializing in telling outdoor stories for brands interested in creating engaging content. I am also a Freestyle Ski Coach, Certified Health Coach, and passionate outdoor enthusiast. When I'm not writing or capturing moments, you can find me skiing, hiking, biking, camping, or adventuring with my dog
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