What Equipment To Rent (And What To Buy) For Your Next Ski Trip

renting vs buying ski equipment

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Skiing is no doubt an expensive sport, but one that many of us look forward to doing every winter. Whether you’re an avid skier or a beginner, you’ll likely be called upon to attend a ski trip in the near future — if you haven’t attended one already. A common debate among recreational skiers is whether it’s cheaper to buy or to rent ski equipment. For a typical day of downhill skiing, you’ll need a multitude of equipment, including a ski suit, gloves, a helmet, ski boots, poles and (of course) skis.

Whether you chose to rent or buy, the cost of your ski equipment will heavily depend on which model and brand you choose and where you decide to buy the equipment. But we’re here to help you figure out what option makes the most sense for you by offering up a list of pros and cons for renting versus buying various ski equipment. For the purpose of this article, we’re focusing on downhill ski equipment only.

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renting vs buying ski equipment

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Many resorts now require skiers and snowboarders of all levels to wear a helmet. Although helmets don’t necessarily prevent head injuries completely during a bad ski accident, they definitely reduce their risk and severity.

Pros Of Renting

The cost of buying a good ski helmet can range from $40 to $300, depending on the model and maker that you choose. Many ski shops at popular ski resorts let you rent a helmet for as little as $8 a day. If this is your first time going skiing and you’re not sure whether or not you’re going to continue the sport in the future, we’d advise renting a helmet to start. What’s more, if you’re flying to your ski trip destination and you foresee limited space for your helmet on board, renting may also be more convenient and could help you avoid those dreaded overweight baggage fees.

Pros Of Buying

Keep in mind that if you’re skiing for five or more days at a time, renting a helmet could end up costing you $40, just as much as you would have paid to buy one in the first place. What’s more, if you’re planning on skiing again in the future, it’s better to invest in a helmet now and pay a little more up front then to continue to rent one every time you go skiing — which will end up costing you more in the long run.

If you decide to rent a ski helmet instead of buying one, in most cases it will have been worn many times before. You have no way of knowing for sure how the helmet was treated in the past. If the helmet was knocked or damaged by a previous owner during a ski accident, it won’t be as effective at protecting your head if you fall.

If you do decide to rent a helmet…

Don’t forget to buy a skull cap or helmet liner so that you won’t run the risk of catching lice or other nasty things from previous owners. You can buy a helmet liner on Amazon for $10.95 that you can also use to keep your head warm while running. You’ll also want to make sure beforehand that ski goggles are included in your helmet rental package. If they’re not, you’ll have to buy them in advance. You can find a good pair of ski goggles on Amazon for $16.99.

Ski Boots, Skis And Poles

renting vs buying ski equipment

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Pros For Renting 

Many popular ski resorts offer standard ski packages that let you rent ski boots, poles and skis of your choosing for $60 a day. Buying a good pair of ski boots can cost you anywhere between $150 and $800 or more. The price of skis can range from $150 to $1,500, depending on whether you’re buying last year’s skis or a newer model. But buying a good pair of skis plus bindings will likely cost you around $500. You’ll also have to shell out at least $50 for a good set of poles. In the end, purchasing good quality skis, ski boots and poles will cost you at least $700 total. Therefore, you’d have to ski 12 or more days with your purchased ski equipment to make up for the extra cost compared to renting.

If you’re traveling via airplane to get to your ski destination, you’ll also have to keep in mind that many airlines will charge you a baggage fee for the extra weight of checking your ski equipment. If you’re not planning on skiing more than 12 days a year, it doesn’t really make sense from a financial perspective to buy your own equipment if you’re going to get charged a $50 overweight fee for checking your skis, poles and boots. Another advantage of renting skis and poles? You can select the best ones for the current snow conditions each time you go skiing. Some ski models work better for certain weather conditions than others.

Pros For Buying 

For the experienced skier who skis more than 12 days a year, there are some benefits to buying your own ski boots, skis and poles. Buying your own boots means that you’ll always have a pair that fits well, whereas you can’t always count on finding ideal size ski boots at rental shops. Having your own skis will also come in handy if you ski frequently because it’ll allow you to get really comfortable with them over time, making you a better skier.

A good pair of skis will typically last you four years or more. If you’re planning on skiing more than 12 days a year for at least four years, the $700 that you’ll spend on buying your own ski equipment will end up being cheaper than the $720 that you’d spend on a $60-a-day rental ski package. Even when taking into account any ski baggage surcharge when traveling and the cost of basic yearly maintenance, if you’re planning on taking multiple week-long ski trips a year it’ll be cheaper for you to buy versus rent equipment in the long run.


renting vs buying ski equipment


Many ski resorts and ski shops won’t allow you to rent ski necessities such as ski suits, thermal underwear and gloves. Investing in a good ski suit and gloves is a necessity for any season and you’ll want to buy thermal underwear if you’re planning on skiing in cold weather. You can find adult ski suit sets on Amazon starting at $86.12. A good pair of ski gloves will likely cost you $15 or more and you can buy a thermal underwear set on Amazon for $19.99.


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