Whether you've been skiing for years or this is your first season, there comes a time when you transition from renting your snowboard, ski's, or boots to becoming a proud owner of your own gear.
But when should you make that transition?
With Westchester Skiers & Riders, we get inquiries from lots of beginners and those who have yet to slip on some ski boots or strap on a board for the first time. Gear is always at the top of everyone's mind.
Newcomers to skiing or riding will typically experience rental equipment that come in a package deal with their first lesson or two. For the next few ski trips throughout the season, renting usually continues.
But there are many skiers and riders out there who wonder whether they should buy their own gear for the first time they go. (And do.) Throwing caution—and money—to the wind, some make the investment early on. Sometimes before their first run down a mountain…ever.
Is this the right way to go?
In case you're expecting an ambiguous answer on this one, the WSR opinion is… (drum roll) “No.”
Ski and snowboard gear, especially boots, are both a physiological and financial investment. A new pair of boots can easily cost $600, with a decent set of modern skis and bindings costing $800. That's a lot to shell out for a sport that some people don't continue after the first few days because they didn't find their boots (or the skiing experience) comfortable. (Rest assured. Skiing only gets more fun and more comfortable the more you learn about your preferred style of skiing, and pay some simple attention to the fit of your gear.)
If you're just starting out in skiing or riding, or “between boots,” the best tact is indeed renting. While your first day on the slopes ever may be subject to the generic rental gear at the mountain, some great options exist in all those smaller ski shops you see on the way to the resort. This is where renting becomes a more viable option than rushing out to buy your own equipment— and potentially getting stuck with an expense that isn't just quite right.
"But rental gear is lame!" you might say.
A word of solace: The rental gear in a ski shop—especially very good ski shops—tends to be better than what you may find on the mountain. The local shop typically has a very good stable of boots and skis, often “demos,” or more expensive, higher-quality equipment that was provided by the manufacturer in hopes that they buy. Some winter sports brands also specific product lines that combine quality and value with a focus on distribution to rental shops. This gear can also have some lower mileage on it as opposed to the assembly-line rental dynamic at the mountain's rental shops.
So when should you cross the line from renter to owner?