Is It Better To Rent Skis or Buy Them?

the ultimate winter sports question

Whether you’ve invested in a season pass for your favorite mountain or resort group, or just know in your bones that it’s time to try out skiing or snowboarding on any range that’s got some snow, you have probably considered whether to rent your ski equipment or go all-in and make a purchase.  Here we unpack the age old question, is it better to rent or buy skis? It’s not an easy equipment choice, we know; there are pros vs. cons to both sides of argument. Ultimately, it is a personal decision, but it’s important to have a clear understanding of the factors that go into making it. Follow these tips on how to make the right choice.


Get to Know the Ski Gear


If you live in a region with easy access to ski areas, there is probably a sports shop (or several) in your city or town, and chances are that they have an equipment rental department. These shops are your best resource, and don’t mind you asking: is it better to rent skis, or to buy them?

How to decide if I should rent or buy my skis


The folks who work at ski shops have seasons of experience on mountains large and small, along with a true passion for winter sports. That translates into knowledge – the kind that doesn’t come from poring over countless articles in ski and snowboarding magazines and websites. They truly want you to enjoy the pleasure of skiing and riding across all kinds of conditions and will go the extra mile to make your ski experience the best it can possibly be. This is gold. Go and talk to them. Familiarize yourself with the equipment – the brands and the styles, as well as the flexible, warm clothing you’ll want to layer on for winter fun. These industry insiders are your key to smart investing in your newfound outdoor passion.


Rent or Buy Skis: Dream vs. Reality


Skiing and snowboarding are romantic. We dream of gliding through white rooms in winter wonderlands. The more you learn about a resort, the more you want to explore it. This can mean studying the choices for spring break ski excursions, European ski tours, Japanese “butter” adventures, or epic family ski getaways. The options are limitless. Take into consideration what you can realistically pull-off. Will it mainly be drives to a nearby ski hill? Or will your time on-snow involve some serious travel? This should be in the back of your mind as you explore the differences between rental costs and purchasing your equipment. Travel with skis means more luggage – and the right equipment luggage, or your gear will get damaged. It ups your investment by several hundred dollars. So think about it: just how easy is owning?

Should you buy vs rent ski equipment


Rent or Buy Skis: The Convenience Factor


Buying Skis:

Ah, the beauty of buying skis…never again having to wait in a rental line at the resort, or return to the shop after a few runs to swap out the rental boots that don’t fit quite right…. forever streamlining one’s life, directly to the chairlift. Your gear can be yours! yours! yours! – across the seasons – custom fit to your size, ability, and style on the slopes. You get to learn what those all-mountain skis, edge skis or a pair that’s made for powder can really do for you as the conditions change and your skills progress. You get to take them with you wherever you may wander, to resorts all over the globe. You get to carry them, clean them, wax them and figure out where and how to properly store them – wait, what…? And how about maintaining those pricey ski boots? Now, are you sure you want to take all of this on? Maybe not so fast. Yes, it is quite convenient to own all of your own gear. And it is a fine ultimate goal. But the ease that comes with renting is pretty sweet too. Why is renting a convenience in its own right? Read on…


Renting Skis:

  • For a getaway up in the mountains, at a resort of almost any size, you can reserve your ski equipment rentals in advance, online – often at a discount to the walk-in rate. But how do you find quality equipment rental shops at or near the mountain you’re planning to ski or ride? It’s easy, really. This website may be your very best resource. Start by clicking on the region or state where you plan to go, then the ski area, followed by a menu category, such as ski rentals. You’ll find everything you need in one place, including rental equipment delivery options. “Equipment delivery,” you ask? Read on…
  • Not only can you reserve your ski rentals online, in many locations you can have it delivered directly to your hotel room, suite, condo, chalet or cabin. It’s a ski trip luxury, without a luxury price tag. There are a number of companies offering this service, available at ski resorts across North America. Call ahead or set it up online – and be sure to use the negotiated discount or promo code. Then the whole family can be comfortably outfitted right by the fire. No driving, parking, rental lines or awkward moments trying to guess sizing. It’s all brought to you at a pre-appointed time of your choosing. Let’s say you fly in at 2 in the afternoon the day before you plan to ski. Reserve your ski rental delivery for 4 o’clock, and be all fitted and set in time for a nice dinner in town. The next morning you’ll hop into your rental equipment, then ski right to the lifts. At the end of the day, many ski shops will store your rental equipment for you overnight for free, so there’s no hassle of lugging skis home over your shoulder. At a larger resort, such as Aspen Snowmass, which has four mountains to explore, you can even take advantage of having your gear transferred from one mountain to another, provided you rent with a company offering that service.
  • Rent it all: packages often include skis, boots and poles, and sometimes even helmets. If the helmet, and perhaps also boots, are considered add-ons, they’re at nominal prices per day. It all comes together, whether delivered directly to you or picked up in-store, and is whisked away or dropped off together at the end of your stay. It’s tidy like that.
  • Another nice thing about renting: if the business you rent from has a shop at the base of the mountain, you can swap out gear you’re not satisfied with during the course of your ski day. This can include the type or brand of skis or snowboard. That can be a huge plus for your degree of stoke. Just knowing that the rental company has your back adds a level of comfort. It’s like they’re personally escorting you into your overall ski or snowboard experience.
  • Rent or Buy Skis – Find the best deals on both by visiting our current specials page.

Rent or Buy Skis Financial Benefits


Buying Skis:

  • Once you’ve purchased your gear, you own it. And it will last you for many seasons. There’s a lot to be said about that. Even if you favor trips to Hawaii for a few winters in a row and that Burton board is relegated to the back of the garage, give it a tune-up, wax, and perhaps a fresh edging, and you’re ready to ride again. Sure you’ll be tempted by sleek new models as they roll out each fall, but purchasing isn’t likely to be essential for a while. You’ve made the investment; you own.
  • Re-sale value: all good gear truly is an investment. When you’ve loved those skis for long enough, you can unload them and recoup cash. And there are lots of ways to do this. Whether it’s through posting on websites, a ski club swap, rec center bulletin board, or trade-in at your local ski shop, the equipment you purchase will deliver monetary value right to the end.


Renting Skis:

  • Whether you’re renting gear for the whole season, or just on an as-needed basis, it’s likely that the ski shop will give you credit toward a purchase once your rental is complete. This can be sizable, like $100. Apply that to an end-of-season sale price and you’re talking a real deal.
  • An overlooked savings that renting equipment brings: it keeps you from spending money on skis, a board or boots that you soon realize weren’t right for you. There are so many brands and styles to choose from that of course it’s easy to purchase the wrong equipment for your level and on-snow approach. If you rent, and especially if you demo specific types of equipment, you’ll find out fast what feels right and what doesn’t. This can save hundreds in wasted purchases, and the time and effort to unload them and figure out what you should have bought. Demoing across the season is one of the best ways to go – and there’s that credit toward whatever you decide to purchase too…it’s a win-win.


Rent or Buy Skis: Final Thoughts


There is a robust conversation heating up over at Reddit on The Economics of Buying vs. Renting Skis and its worth a peek. The ski industry is loaded with stoke, and you probably are too if you’re giving real thought on whether to rent skis or buy them. Winter sports equipment is an investment that you won’t want to take lightly. If you go cheap, you risk not only hurting your wallet, but potentially hurting yourself. But spend too much and you may not be able to afford gas to get to the mountain, let alone the après brews that top off any day you’ve spent sending-it.

Ease into skiing and riding with knowledge gained by getting to know what’s out there. Put simply: renting ski boots, at least for a while, makes sense. Once you have found a boot brand that fits you comfortably consider buying boots as your first purchase of ski or snowboard equipment. Rent skis from trusted equipment dealers who have a commitment to the industry and you’ll be in good hands. Now go and enjoy your time on the mountain, where every day offers new awareness and loads of fun!