New To Ski

Key Difference Between Demo and Regular Skis? (Not What You Think)

by Travis McCullough | Updated: October 27th, 2022
skiers walking

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When renting skis from a shop it can be pretty confusing when trying to decide between the different types of skis offered.  Is there a difference between demo and regular skis other than the price?

As someone who has worked in a rental shop for years, I can say that, yes there most certainly is.  Although demo ski packages tend to be more expensive, they generally consist of higher quality skis that can be better tailored to a skier’s specific style of riding based on the current snow conditions that day.

Regular/Rental Skis

Regular skis, also known as sport skis, consist of basic equipment that is meant to serve beginner skiers that lack significant experience or knowledge of the sport.  If you have never been skiing before, it wouldn’t do much good for an attendant to ask you about your preference between rocker, camber, or stiffness, right?

choosing-skis

Rental shops usually will stock one or two models of ski that are available in many different lengths to satisfy most customers.  These skis will do just fine for those who are new to the sport, but they don’t really excel outside of groomers where snow conditions become variable.

A common mistake that beginner skiers make is assuming that more expensive gear will make them better skiers. Knowledge of more advanced setups including the differences between ski shapes, profiles, and stiffness, is needed in order for a piece of equipment to benefit your abilities.

skiing blue pants

If you are a beginner skier don’t get bogged down in the minutia of equipment specifics, just stick with the basic skis until you find yourself skiing intermediate and advanced terrain.  This will save you money and the headache of trying to choose a more technical ski, which will most likely hinder your abilities in the beginning. 

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Demo Skis

Demo packages, also known as performance packages, consist of a broader variety of skis that can adapt to a wider range of terrain and snow conditions.  These skis are meant for riders that can differentiate between the pros and cons of shape, profile, length, width, and stiffness.

ski weight

Demo packages will consist of skis for powder days, terrain parks, slalom courses, moguls, and much more.  Basically, demo skis are tailored for those who have a specific type of riding that they prefer.

Renting demo skis is ideal for:

  • Those who’ve grown out of their beginner skis and are ready for a nicer ski that will suit their riding style more appropriately.
  • Skiers who have advanced beyond exclusively riding beginner and groomed terrain.
  • Skiers who need a specific type of ski for the day because of snow conditions (e.g. if you are visiting a mountain for the weekend and your current skis are much too skinny for an unexpected powder day).
  • Those who are in the market to purchase a new pair of skis, but want to try out different options before spending a large sum of money.

If you find yourself in any of these four categories, then you should definitely consider spending the extra money to try out more specialized equipment.  These skis are usually equipped with nicer bindings as well, which is another advantage if you are in the market for a nicer setup.

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Pros & Cons

Here are some of the key factors that should determine whether you choose regular or demo skis from a rental shop.

Regular/Sport

  • If you are a beginner.
  • You want to save money.
  • You don’t plan on skiing more than a few times per year.

Demo/Performance

  • If you ride intermediate/advanced terrain.
  • Don’t mind spending more money.
  • If there are unusual snow conditions (powder, ice, etc.).

Conclusion

Even though performance skis tend to look nicer, with their shiny top sheets and artistic graphics, they aren’t necessarily the best option for a new skier.  The basic gear will be more than capable of getting you down the mountain and will save you some money until your skills progress.

Skiing with Friends

If you are a more advanced rider or someone who is in the market to purchase new skis, try out a demo package at your next rental shop to get a good idea of what type of ski will serve you the best while on the mountain.

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