It’s that time of year again. The snow is falling, the slopes are opening up, and you’re looking for a way to get your skiing fix without breaking the bank. You could buy skis or rent them each time you go out on the mountain but which one will actually be cheaper in the long run? This post compares buying skis to renting over an entire ski season to help make your decision easier.
Should you Rent or Buy Skis?
It really depends on how often you plan to go skiing over the season. If you only plan to go out a few times then renting would be the cheaper option. If you’re planning on skiing more often then buying skis is your best bet -the cost of renting over the number of days you want to ski will always be higher than purchasing skis.
Costs for renting ski packages typically range from $40-$80/day, depending on several factors. The cost for purchasing your own equipment package can range from $500 (highly used) to over $1500.
With those price points, it saves money to buy skis if you plan to use them at least 15 or more times over the course of the ski’s life.
That being said, unlike rentals, you can always sell your ski gear down the road. And while you’ll definitely see the value of the skis drop over time, it usually retains some value. If you factor in the asset value to the calculation, the break-even payback time is even faster, as low as 5-7 days.
There are other factors to consider besides just pure dollars and cents, though. Below we’ll dive into a few of them.
The Benefits of Renting Skis
Renting skis can be the perfect way to find out if you really like skiing. Depending on where you live, it can be relatively easy and cheap to make a few trips to the slopes. If you don’t like skiing after renting, you won’t feel like you wasted any significant money in equipment purchases (especially when compared to buying skis).
You can also try different types of gear before committing to a purchase. For example, if you want to buy a particular brand or type of ski then renting that exact pair at least once is a great way to make sure it’s going to work for your needs.
Renting allows you to try different lengths, shapes, and profile skis to see how they perform.
With renting, you can also swap out the skis depending on the conditions. For poor snow conditions, you may want super playful short skis to be able to trick around the mountain. On a powder day, you’d want to swap those sticks out for some serious powder floaters. Renting gives you the flexibility to respond to the conditions.
There’s a special kind of renting called Demo’ing. Often times you can demo the latest gear and equipment for a low price. This can keep you on the latest, best equipment without spending too much to buy.
The Drawbacks to Renting Skis
There are a few notable drawbacks to renting skis.
The first is the limited selection. Most rental shops simply don’t have as large of a selection as buying your own equipment. You may not be able to get the exact size, shape, or type that you’re looking for which can make skiing frustrating and limiting in some regards.
Another drawback can come in the form of maintenance. If you’re using rental skis then they’ve obviously been used by someone else (and who knows how many people). You may not be able to get them tuned or sharpened within a short time frame and therefore, won’t be able to hit the slopes that weekend -or at all if the slopes are closed.
Cheaper skis, boots, and bindings can also lead to problems with your safety equipment. If you’re not careful then you may end up renting some super cheap stuff which could end up causing injuries due to poor quality gear.
Another major drawback is that rental equipment does not usually have the perfect fit. It’s more about volume in that business than a tailored fit. Ski boot fit, for example, really matters and can affect your comfort for the day.
The Benefits of Buying Skis
In addition to the better quality for your money, buying skis can provide a lot of benefits.
First and foremost, you’ll save money over the long run by owning equipment that fits your size and weight perfectly. Ski boots are one of the most important pieces of ski gear as they have a direct effect on how well you can maneuver, ski, and control yourself around the slopes. A proper fit means a more enjoyable experience out on the slopes which makes for a better time -which leads to more trips back!
Another benefit is that skis will last longer if properly cared for. If you purchase new or higher quality skis then you won’t need to replace them as often as some skis might need replacement.
Ski bindings really matter and the fact is that rental skis may not use the same quality or type of binding as your new, expensive equipment. Another major drawback to renting is that you won’t get a chance to see how different types of bindings (and ski boots) feel when skiing.
Quality skis will also allow for more performance while on the slopes. They’ll be easier to turn at lower speeds and they’ll give you more information about what’s going on around you in terms of snow conditions and terrain changes.
Skis are also assets. Even though they depreciate, their value often doesn’t drop to zero. If you take into account the value of the assets, that means your break-even point is even shorter than 15 days of skiing.
The Drawbacks to Purchasing Your Own Skis
Although there is a lot of benefits in owning your own skis, you’ll also have to put some money down in order to buy them. This can be a major drawback for some people who simply don’t want or can’t afford the upfront costs.
Another big consideration for buying skis is that you need to know how to properly care for them. Not doing so will lead to decreased performance and can even cause damage over time -which means expensive repairs! It’s really important that you understand how the equipment works before just buying it off the shelf simply because you think it looks cool.
Skis are nice equipment that needs to be tuned up occasionally. You can learn to tune them up in your basement, or you could pay to have them regularly tuned. That can really add up over time if you don’t know how to do it yourself.
Another drawback is that skis will eventually break down -especially the boots and bindings. You’ll need to pay for repairs or replacements, which again, costs money out-of-pocket.
A list of what you need to buy if you decide to buy your own equipment
Skis – $450-$1200
Boots – $150-$450
Bindings – $150-$400
Poles – $30-$100
Ski Helmet – $60-200
Binding Mount (if new) – $30-$100
You can also scour classified sites like craigslist or FB marketplace and find deals. I have purchased a whole setup for my wife for under $500.
See our article on how to find ski deals for more.
Wrapping it Up
Skis are a major investment for those who want to ski. But with the cost of renting skis, it may be worth buying them yourselves.
Looking at the costs over time may help you decide whether or not to buy your own equipment. Buying new equipment is expensive upfront but if you compare how much you would spend on rentals per week versus what it would take to purchase your own gear, then in some cases purchasing your own skiing equipment can actually save you money!
If you’re just starting out, it will be better to rent a few times to see if the sport is for you. Over time, though, especially considering the asset value, it will always be cheaper to buy.