Ski gear can be quite expensive, and many of us want to go skiing but can’t afford the gear. Here are some ways you can hit the slopes without worrying about the costly equipment.
For many of us, cost is often the biggest hurdle when it comes to hitting the slopes. Getting a set of bibs, quality base layers, a down jacket and a pair of skis or a snowboard can be excessively costly—and that’s before factoring in the cost of getting to the ski hill and the lift tickets. Here are five ways you can find quality outdoor gear at a fraction of the cost, plus what to consider when buying second-hand gear to ensure a safe and positive time on the slopes.
Try Your Luck Thrifting
Though it often requires patience, sifting through the racks at your local thrift or consignment shop can be a rewarding way to find gently used and affordable gear, especially if you live in a destination known for outdoor activities. As you’re shopping, check online reviews for items you're considering, which can give you an insight into the performance and durability of the items you pick. Also, consider seasonal timing as thrift stores often have a larger selection of outdoor gear during certain seasons, making it more likely to find ski equipment leading up to winter.Vivian Chung
Turn to Online Communities
Take advantage of online platforms like Facebook Marketplace and other local buy, sell and trade groups for new and gently used gear being sold in your city. For example, the Facebook group Vancouver Outdoor Gear Buy & Sell serves as a platform for outdoor adventurers in the city to sell, swap, loan or even gift new and gently used items—like snowshoes, gloves and down jackets—so you never have to pay full price for gear. Plus, try trade-in programs offered by brands, a sustainability initiative that encourages customers to buy, sell and trade used gear. Patagonia's Worn Wear program invites you to purchase items that have been traded in or sold at a considerable discount. Because these items must meet certain criteria to be accepted, you’re guaranteed gear that’s still functional with plenty of usable life.Vivian Chung
Tap Into Your Network
Ask your neighbours, friends and family about borrowing or inheriting any gear that’s gathering dust in their closets or garages. Despite the seemingly constant release of new gear, owning the latest styles isn’t essential—as long as your gear is still functional and safe to use. Additionally, ask whether they have friends working in outdoor gear shops who might be able to share a friends and family discount so you can acquire gear at reduced costs.
Buy Old Rental Gear
Many ski and snowboard rental shops sell their used equipment at the end of each season, making it a cost-effective way to purchase well-maintained gear. But if you’re just learning to ski or snowboard, consider renting your equipment instead, which not only saves you more cash but also offers the flexibility to experiment with different types of boots, boards, skis and poles before committing to a big purchase. Rental outlets also often offer deals for extended rental periods of a week, a month or even for the entire winter season.Vivian Chung
Consider This When Purchasing Used Gear
When buying used ski and snowboard equipment, it's important to consider several factors to ensure you're getting gear that’s safe, practical and suitable for your needs.
Inspect the equipment for any signs of damage, including cracks, dents or deep scratches that could impede the performance and maneuverability of the equipment. On the bindings and edges of skis and snowboards, check for rust, dents, chips and burrs to ensure optimal performance of the equipment. Safety equipment like helmets, however, are typically designed to provide protection for a single impact. Even if it appears undamaged, the internal structure may be compromised, so they should be bought new or from a reputable source.
While age alone doesn't determine the quality, purchasing older gear could impact your overall experience on the slopes. Older skis and snowboards may lack design features and newer technology that enhance performance, or they may be more prone to wear and tear, potentially affecting the gear's safety. Older skis and snowboards may also have bindings that are no longer compatible with current standards, limiting your ability to find suitable replacement bindings.Vivian Chung
If you’re purchasing your boots, bindings and skis or snowboard separately, ensure that all the components of your setup are compatible for optimal performance. When deciding on the length of your snowboard, consider factors like your skill level, height, body weight and the construction of the board. Bindings should fit your skis or snowboard properly, with enough room to allow the boot to flex. Plus, on a snowboard, the heel of the boot should sit securely in the binding with minimal toe overhang. If possible, test the equipment before purchasing to ensure that everything fits comfortably and functions as expected.
Gathering information about the history of the equipment allows you to assess its condition and suitability for your needs, ensuring a positive experience on the slopes. Ask about the equipment's history, including any involvement in accidents, major repairs, maintenance routines and frequency of use, all of which are details that provide insights into the overall condition of the gear.