Buying VS Renting Skis: Unbiased Pros & Cons
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There comes a time in every skier’s life where they need help deciding whether they should hire or buy skis. Which is cheaper, what makes more sense and what should you do – rent or buy?
If you’ve never skied before, hire first so you can see if you like it. If you’ve skied a couple of times and you want to have your own equipment that’s fitted perfectly and is consistent every time – buy your own stuff. If you always want the latest skis, but like the idea of having your boot liners fitted to you – then buy boots and hire skis.
Read on if you want a detailed breakdown of all the pros and cons of both options. Unlike others guides, this is my unbiased opinion – I’m neither a ski rental shop or a ski merchant! Recently update with my new Ski Cost Calculator.
The True Cost of hiring skis
Cost is a factor for many people when it comes to making their decision. Knowing how much it’s going to cost you may help you decide on the best solution.
This is a rough breakdown of the costs that you can expect when hiring skis, boots & poles.
|Rental Items||USA Per Day||USA Per Week||Europe Per Day||Europe Per Week|
Note: Renting this year’s top-of-the-range model ski and boot will obviously cost the most. Renting last year’s intermediate or beginner boot will be cheaper. Most ski shops off a three tiers of gear, from beginner to intermediate to expert. As you’d expect, The higher the original cost of the product and newer the more you’ll pay.
Price Change Depending on Resort Popularity
Prices can be influenced by many factors such as the location, the specific rental shop, the quality of the equipment, the time of year, and more. Expect to pay much more in higher tier resorts like Aspen or Vail compared to smaller, local ski areas. Or in Europe resorts like Chamonix or Verbier.
Their is also a country-specific pricing, so Switzerland and Norway tend to have higher rental prices compared to Austria or France. That said expect to pay much more in higher tier resorts like like Chamonix or Verbier. In the states, resorts like Aspen or Vail – everything costs more including ski rental compared to smaller, local ski areas.
Due to inflation and the rising cost of all goods across the world, expect prices to rise each season.
Insider Knowledge: The further you rent from the main gondola, the cheaper it typically gets but the longer you have to carry them. It’s almost always cheaper to rent everything from the same shop and for a longer number of days. It’s not rude to ask for a discount for group bookings. If you want to reserve ahead of time – pre-booking can save valuable time and hassle waiting around when all you want to do is ski.
Cost of buying
Skis are a long-term purchase and for beginner & intermediate-level skis you can expect to pay the following as a minimum. You’ll want to factor in buying the winter gear clothing that keeps you warm and dry on the slopes. There is a large range from budget to high-end and if you shop around you can get deals.
|Equipment||Average Cost (€)||Average Cost ($)|
|Skis||€300 – €700||$400 – $800|
|Ski Boots||€100 – €450||$150 – $500|
|Ski Poles||€20 – €90||$25 – $100|
|Helmet||€50 – €180||$60 – $200|
|Goggles||€20 – €180||$25 – $200|
|Ski Jacket||€80 – €500||$100 – $600|
|Ski Pants||€50 – €180||$60 – $200|
|Gloves||€15 – €90||$20 – $100|
|Ski Socks||€8 – €25||$10 – $30|
|Ski Bag||€40 – €180||$50 – $200|
|Total||€683 – €2575||$900 – $2660|
If you’re in the market for more advanced gear, such as Gore-tex materials for clothing and you want this years high-end models – you can expect to pay towards the upper range.
How to save money buying skis?
You can save money by buying ski gear at the end of season sales that run through the summer months as retailers shift stock to buy the latest years version. The best time to buy ski equipment for discounts is during the summer months. If your in the winter season and need skis now – look out for special deals such as Black Friday.
Traveling with skis? Travel smart.
The cost of paying to take skis on the airplane is another consideration to make when buying new skis. If you own your skis, the price for transporting your skis can range from €72-€95 in Europe, This can easily be the same cost or more than paying for a full week of rental gear!
In the US, Southwest allows two free checked bags. Each pair of skis or boots counts as one item, so you can bring your ski equipment as well as your suitcase for free.
Readers Suggestion: UPS and FedEx can often mail your ski equipment to your destination for less than the airline fees and without the hassle of carrying them to the airport. Apparently – I’ve not actually tested this.
If you travel by car then this won’t be an issue for you, just make sure your car boot will fit multiple skis and passengers at once.
Benefits of just buying boots
Many skiers and boarders own their own boots because of the hassles of transportation and then rent skis at their destination. By owning your own high-quality boots, you can then hire the latest skis each year without paying for the cost of transport.
The inner lining of the boot then molds to your feet as you’ll be the only one wearing them, unlike the boots of rental shops that are compressed at every angle.
Most boots will fit most skis but check with your rental shop first and they can advise what skis they have on offer for you. You can pre-book skis at some shops, to avoid them being out of stock when you arrive.
Reasons to rent skis
There are plenty of good reasons to rent skis and plenty of reasons not too.
If you’ve never skied before then it’s wise to rent your skis, so you know what you’re signing up for.
Rental shops will also be able to advise on the perfect fitting boot and the right ski for you. It’s a great way to get your foot accurately measured and get to grips with all the new equipment.
That said – in peak season some choices of ski or boot simply won’t be available.
Compare the pros and cons of renting here:
|Pros ✅||Cons ❌|
|Pick the latest ski.||Different feel each time.|
|Change skis whenever.||Other strangers smells.|
|No transport costs.||Boot liner compressed to everyone else.|
|Professionally maintained.||OR scratched and damaged.|
|Don’t have to get the skis to the resort.||You have to wait in line at the shop.|
|Only pay if you ski.||You have to pay each time.|
|You have to test different size each time to get the right fit.||You have to drop the skis off at the end of the rental before it closes.|
Once you’ve rented skis a few times and you’ve fallen in love with skiing it’s time to think about buying your first pair of skis.
See: If you’re renting skis, read my article on choosing the right skis for you.
Reasons to buy skis
Once you’ve learned the basics of skiing and you want to progress, you can start thinking about buying your first pair of skis. Depending on your budget you’ll be spending upwards of $800-2,000 for all the kit.
It’s a great feeling when you buy your first pair of skis. You’re not committed to become a skier and make it a regular part of your life. Seeing the skis at home will motivate you to book that next skiing trip and make the time and space in your calendar to get some fresh mountain air.
Not only does it feel great to own skis, but your skiing is also consistent as you have the same trusty skis to use each time.
If you’re a good skier and you didn’t pay too much for your skis, and often go more than once a year, then it can be a real bonus to have familiar skis as soon as you get to resort. They will feel familiar like an old pair of shoes and there’s no learning curve – no matter how good a skier you are it always takes a while to get used to a different pair of skis.
Your boot liners will mold from new perfectly to fill the negative space around your feet. Each time you ski, you compress the liners a little bit and their shape around your foot.
You’ll not exactly how to get the perfect fitting boot each time, and you’ll be unlikely to suffer blisters or cramp from uncomfortable rental boots.
Your skis need to be waxed each season but that is something every ski shop can do and isn’t usually more than a $10-20 / €10-20 expense.
|Pros ✅||Cons ❌|
|You own them!||High upfront investment.|
|Commits you to regular skiing.||You have to physically take them home.|
|Boot liners mold to your feet.||You have to pay baggage charges for transporting on airplanes.|
|Same ski ‘feel’ every time.||Take skis to be waxed every year ($10)|
|You only pay once!||..until you want to upgrade.|
|Your boots always fit perfectly.||..unless you’re a growing kid.|
Note: It’s worth spending a bit more to get a ski and boot carry case – so you can easily move your skis from your home to the car without breaking too much of a sweat.
Carry cases protect your equipment from knocks and keep it together as one bundle. Zippers and fabric handles allow you to swing it over the shoulder and into your back seat without leaving a watery mess.
Remember the more you plan to ski, the more it makes sense to invest in some kit.
If you own a pair of skis that you use most the time, it still doesn’t mean you can’t rent a pair if that’s more convenient for that trip or you want to give a new model of ski designed for a powdery day a run for its money.
Owners Bonus: A great bonus for owning your gear is that you can get out of the car, get into your gear and be sat in the lift on the way up in under 20 minutes.
Will buying skis pay for themselves?
You can calculate the cost-effectiveness of purchasing your own ski equipment against renting them using the following formula:
Cost of buying ski equipment / (cost of renting ski equipment per day * number of ski days per year).
Let’s say you pay $1000 for your skis, boots, and poles. It would otherwise cost $60 to hire them per day, and you ski an average of 10 days per year. The equipment lasts for 6 years.
Using the formula, the calculation would be: $1000 / ($60 * 10) = 1.67 years.
This means your ski equipment purchase will break even compared with the cost of renting within 1.67 years. However, keep in mind that this calculation is based on the assumption that your equipment will last for 6 years. If your equipment lasts less than this, the time it takes for your purchase to pay off may be longer.
To make this easier for you, I’ve created a simple calculator where you can input your own numbers to determine when your purchase will pay for itself.
Ski Cost Calculator
This calculator is copyright protected © NewToSki
In reality, some equipment will last longer and others will need to be replaced more frequently, but this serves as a useful exercise to estimate renting vs buying.
Renting Ski Clothing vs Buying your own
Let’s not forget that the skis, boots, and poles are just one aspect of skiing. You also need to be kitted out in waterproof, windproof and mountain-proof gear!
Staying warm on the mountain is a priority and without the right kit, it can make for a miserable experience.
Renting ski clothing
You can rent pretty much everything at ski shops (usually not the thermals), it’s the best option for first-timer skiers who don’t want to invest in ski gear before ever trying it out.
|Jacket & Trousers||$30+||€15+|
Renting all your gear including your clothing means there’s much less stuff to take your ski resort. That said, it can be a pain to wait in line at shops to find out they don’t have your size in stock, let alone the colors you’re after.
Whilst the gear is air-dried clean – you’re wearing clothes that others have worn all season, for a few seasons.Clothing will not be brand new and is going to have scuffs and marks from repeated use.
The upside is that you only pay as you ski and you can pack light. Here’s a rundown of all the pros and cons of renting:
|Renting Ski Clothing|
|Pros ✅||Cons ❌|
|Pick new clothes each time.||You have to pick new clothes each time.|
|Pick the size to match your new body shape.||All sizes not always available.|
|Don’t have to transport your gear.||You have to wait in line at the shop.|
|Only pay if you ski.||You have to pay each time.|
|You have to test different size each time.||Other strangers smell.|
Buy your own ski clothing
Buying ski clothing makes sense if you plan to ski more than once or twice a decade.
Not only does owning your own stuff means that fits perfectly (unless you eat too much at Christmas), you’ll have your kit for many years of use.
Expect to drop this amount of money on owning your own stuff (at a minimum):
|Buy Clothing||Average Cost ($)||Average Cost (€)|
|Ski Jacket||$100 – $600||€80 – €500|
|Ski Pants||$60 – $200||€50 – €180|
|Gloves||$20 – $100||€15 – €90|
|Ski Socks||$10 – $30||€8 – €25|
|Total||$190 – $930||€153 – €795|
Owning your own gear means you have to pay up front, but the costs of renting can quickly add up and make the larger purchase worthwhile (see our calculator above to work it out).
Here are the main pros and cons for buying your ski clothing instead of renting it each time:
|Buying Ski Clothing|
|Pros ✅||Cons ❌|
|You own them!||Upfront investment.|
|Commits you to regular skiing.||You have to take them home.|
|Your gear always fit perfectly.||Unless you’re a growing kid.|
|Same feel every time.|
|You only pay once!||Until you want a new style.|
This guide isn’t to persuade you one way or the other but to lay out all the pros and cons that come with renting or owning your own gear.
In my opinion it’s clear that brand-new skiers should rent for the first few times and that regular skiers should look to invest in equipment for the long-term.
Be sure to calculate the cost of renting vs buying and see for yourself in how many years it will take to pay off. It may be sooner or longer than you expect, depending if excess baggage calculations come into it.
Here’s to you and your skiing adventures.