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Buying a new pair of skis is a considerable investment. New skis cost anywhere from $400 to $1000 and upwards. Buying skis is also a difficult process since, unlike shopping for food or clothing, you can’t taste a sample or try it on in the dressing room. So knowing precisely what you want from a pair of skis is essential before making such a big purchase.
Fortunately, if you shop toward the end of the ski season (February to March), you will find skis for much cheaper than if you buy gear at the beginning of the season. It is also a good idea to look for skis on sale early in the fall months long before the rest of the ski community is thinking about winter sports.
How Can You Find the Best Ski Deals?
Skiing is a great way to get outside and exercise during the cold winter months, and the joy and rush of adrenaline is addictive. However, skiing is not a cheap sport. Between the prices for lift tickets and ski gear, you could be out thousands of dollars. So it is no surprise that if you’re a skier, you’re looking for ways to save a few bucks here and there.
Choosing the right time of year to shop could save you a considerable amount of money.
1. Shop Out of Season
Shopping toward the end of the ski season is a great time to find exceptional deals on skis primarily during the months of February and March. During this time, retailers are already starting to shop for next season’s skis. Unfortunately for them, they only have so much warehouse space. So, to make room for the new, it’s out with the old.
In the U.S. many retailers use Presidents’ Day as a way to advertise the big sales they have to hold in order to make room for next season’s skis. You can often find skis and other ski gear for up to 60% off during Presidents’ Day weekend and the days following the holiday (mid-February).
Skis can be found for even less during the off season. During the late summer and early fall, retailers are continuing to make room for the new gear, and you can often find great deals those months. Labor Day is especially a good time to look for deals on skis as many retailers hold sales on the holiday.
The later in the offseason you are, the better deals you will find because retailers will grow more and more desperate to clear out old inventory.
Unfortunately, the later you wait, the less of a variety of options you will find while the prices might be lower if you will be taking a big chance of not being able to find the right pair of skis or boots in your size.
2. Know What You Want but Be Flexible
If you already know the length and style of skis you’re looking for, that is a big plus and will make shopping for new skis somewhat simpler. If you are unsure of what skis to buy, it might be a good idea to rent a pair or two to try out different styles, so you know you’ll be comfortable skiing on them once you buy them.
As time passes and prices drop, remember that it will become more and more difficult to find your ideal pair of skis. Therefore, if getting the best deal is what is most important to you, you have to be flexible. The selections you have to choose from, such as colors, sizes, and models will suffer.
If there is a specific pair of skis you are hoping to buy, don’t wait too long for the price to keep dropping. Once they are on sale, they will go fast.
3. Be OK With Last Season’s Styles
The older skis are, the cheaper they will be. The good news is that even though they are a year or two old if they are still unused, you’re getting a great deal on new skis.
While there is a considerable difference in this year’s skis with skis from 1995, the year to year changes made in ski styles is usually minimal for the average recreational skier.
Once you buy a pair of skis, you won’t buy a new pair for several years. The skiing industry wants you to believe that you need the latest models to get the most out of your skiing experience.
The truth is, however, that you’re not going to miss out on anything too grand if you buy 2019 skis versus 2020 skis. The changes from year to year are so small that you won’t notice the difference.
That being said, it is always a good idea to research the market thoroughly, so you don’t miss out on any major improvements or changes – which can make skiing more enjoyable.
4. Skip Used Skis
As we’ve already established, you don’t need the latest model of skis to have a good time on the slopes. In fact, you can find great deals for last season’s skis. However, there is a big difference between buying skis that are a season or two old but still in new condition versus purchasing someone else’s used, last season skis.
While you will save a big chunk of money by buying used skis, it is generally not a good idea to do so. Unless the skis were only used once or twice, you risk buying skis that are scratched up and could have structural damage to the bindings if they were not appropriately maintained.
It is only worth your money to buy used skis if they are in “like new” condition. Make sure you get a good look at them before you buy them. Dark pictures on Craigslist don’t show you the wear and tear you need to take into consideration before you buy. If you can’t see them in person before you pay, it might be a good idea to keep shopping.
5. Buy Skis From Your Rental Shop
Retailers aren’t the only once trying to make room for next season’s models. Rental shops also have to keep up with the latest designs. If you do decide to buy used skis, buying your skis from a ski rental shop at the end of the season can be a great option.
Buying skis from the rental shop is one of the few times you will have the chance to try before you buy. Rent them for the day, and if you like them, buy them. It also gives you the option to see firsthand the condition of the ski and also try out different lengths and styles if you’re ready to take on something a little more advanced.
The rental shop can also tune and adjust your skis and bindings properly to your boots, skill level, and weight, so the next time you head to the resort, you can skip a trip to the repair shop and get straight on the lift.
6. Understand Ski Prices
Before you start shopping, you need to do your research. Certain brands will cost more than others. If a price seems high even after a substantial discount, make sure you understand why. If it has a feature or is a brand that you particularly admire, then it might be a good deal. Otherwise, you need to decide if it is really worth your money.
The level of experience you have on the slopes will also influence the final price of your ski setup. For example, beginner level skis are often much more affordable than skis developed for advanced skiers. The main reason for this is that beginner skis are built with softer, more flexible materials that allow smoother, easier turns.
On the other hand, skis intended for advanced skiers are designed with stiffer materials enabling skiers to go faster and make more forceful turns. Theses skis are more stable overall, and they will cost you more.
7. Ask For Help
One advantage of shopping in the store versus online is that you can ask a professional for help. Most people in ski shops are skiers themselves and want to make sure that you get set up with the best equipment within your budget. Ask specifically what makes a specific set of skis better than another for you or why the prices vary from ski to ski.
It also helps if you do your research on specific ski brands and models ahead of time. Everyone has different preferences, but reading reviews can help you get a more rounded out idea of what skis will work best for you. Don’t be discouraged if a pair of skis has a few bad reviews. As long as the majority of the reviews have a high rating, you are on the right track. The secret is to look for reviewers who have the same skiing ability as you and ski as often as you do. These will be the most reliable reviews.
The Worst Time to Buy Skis
While the end of the season and the offseason of skiing are great times to find deals on new skis, there are definitely certain times of the year that you will want to avoid shopping for skis.
Unfortunately, it is the times of year that you will be thinking about skiing the most that you shouldn’t buy skis. Specifically, right before the season starts in late fall and early winter. Retailers are in no hurry to sell out their stock before the season has begun. They have all season to sell the new models of skis and plenty of customers willing to pay so they can be set up in time for opening day.
Prices will be the highest during the winter months because that is when the biggest demand for ski gear hits. With no competition to undersell, retailers will charge much more than when business slows down in the spring.
The worst time of all to buy skis is during the Christmas season. Not only is skiing the most popular during these months but prices, in general, will be raised because of the demand for gifts during the season of giving.
You especially don’t want to get caught up in the idea that Black Friday will afford you with great deals on skis. While you might find other ski gear such as coats and waterproof pants on sale, the skis themselves will have little to no discount because they are new on the market still. On the other hand, some ski resorts have great discounts on lift tickets on Black Friday and your money is better spent on those deals that day rather than new skis.
How Often Should You Buy New Skis?
You don’t need to upgrade your skis every year or even every two years. Knowing this will save you a significant amount of money and will also make buying new skis less painful since you won’t have to replace them for some time.
On average, skiers invest in new equipment every eight to ten years. However, if you’re skiing every day of the season, your skis will go through much more wear and tear faster and will need to be replaced sooner.
While the adjustments made to new models each year aren’t incredibly significant, after ten years or so, skis do change quite a bit. Designers have worked to make your performance better as well as increase safety. So even if your skis are rarely used, they will reach a point at which they will become outdated, and it will be time to invest in new skis.
What’s the Bottom Line?
If you’re in the market for a new pair of skis, start by doing your research. Then shop either the end of the ski season in February and March or during the offseason in late summer and early fall. Avoid shopping during the peak ski season to save money. When you are patient to find the right pair of skis at the right price, you’ll be confident in your decision.