How Long Will My Skis Last?

by Simon Naylor | Updated: October 27th, 2022 |  Skiing Articles
Do you own a pair of skis that are starting to look a bit rough around the edges, and now you're wondering: when is it time to replace my old skis and upgrade to a new pair? Great question and here's the answer. The average skier replaces their skis every 8 years but your skis peak performance diminishes after 100-125 full days of use - that's five years if you ski 20 days a year. Skis that are not structurally damaged can last many years, even decades, but those on older skis won't be benefiting from the latest advancements in ski technology (lighter and improved shapes) that make skiing more fun and less tiring across a greater range of snow conditions.

What makes skis age? ⌛

Skis age differently depending on the quality of their construction and the amount of use they've had. Scratches and worn graphics are normal, but dents, rust, and bends can make the ski structurally unstable and difficult, or in extreme cases dangerous, to ski on. The main things that cause wear and tear on skis are:
  • The style of skiing.
  • You're weight and skiing ability.
  • The quality of the ski.
  • How the ski has been stored.
  • How often the ski has been used.
  • How much the ski has ridden over rocks or grit.
  • The weather exposure (more UV, more damage).
  • How much care they've had (waxing and tuning).
  • And not surpassingly the skis age!
The heavier you are or the more aggressive your style of skiing, the faster the edges and bases will be worn. If you ski more on hardpacked snow or crud then the skis are going to have more pressure and forces to deal with than on light fluffy powder. If you ride a few times over some rocks or grit and it causes large scrapes or knicks in the edges, then the ski is more likely to develop rust or structural issues that will give it a shorter lifespan. Regular care like waxing at the start and the end of the season (and ideally every 5-10 ski days), sharpening the edges and keeping the ski dry while you store it all play into increasing the skis endurance. ski performance over time

What is a worn ski?

Faded scratched graphics are only cosmetic, but a well-worn ski can show in a few different areas, here are the most common ways in which skis are worn out by skiers: ❌Ski bases are scratched, torn or gouged: This can be repaired with P-tex several times to level out the surface, but too deep and the surface may be irreparable. ❌Skis have cracks: when a ski is placed under too much stress, cracks in the material can develop and make a ski structurally unsound. ❌Metal ski edges are nearly gone: After strong and repeated edge sharpening by the ski shop or at home,  a skis edge may eventually come to its natural end. ❌Your skis become warped: If the bases aren't level or contour in the way their were designed, you notice depressions or bulging in parts of the ski, then try stone grinding at ski shop first, but it may be too severe to be repaired. [caption id="attachment_1122" align="alignnone" width="345"]worn ski More than worn, this is a wrecked ski.[/caption] Helpful contribution from Emilio: source. If you think your skis just need a bit of love and care, take them to a ski shop for a maintenance to get some more life out of them.The more you care for them the longer they will last. That said, skis do have a natural lifespan (more on that below). Now that you know what goes into turning a brand new ski into a battered ski, let's find out when is it time to replace them with a new pair.

When is it time to replace my skis? 🎿

Even with regular maintenance skis will deteriorate. You can technically ski on an old pair of skis for as long as they are intact and can attach to your ski boots - but if you want to get the best from your expensive lift pass - you probably should upgrade to a new pair at least every 6-12 years. More major improvements in design tend to happen every 5 years. The average skier replaces their skis every 8 years (source). For the best performance, you can get 100-125 ski days before the ski starts to deteriorate - but this does depend on your weight, ski style and how well-maintained the ski is (source). After 100 days of skiing, your ski won't have the same feeling or snap it did on day 1. Over time and use the materials lose their rigidity, edge and even flex. It will still be fine to ski on, it just won't feel as good or help your skiing performance wie. More aggressive skiers should replace their skis more often than recreational skiers who just cruise groomers a week a year. The more you ski and the better skier you are, the more performance you'll get out of a new pair of skis. Similarly, if your a new skier learning the ropes, buying a brand new pair of skis will help (if the ski has the right flex and shape for your ability) but you won't suddenly become an expert skier overnight. If your skis are damaged, bent, rusty or have knicked edges that the ski shop can't repair then it's time to upgrade.

Why replace my skis? 🤔

The main reason to replace your old skis with a new pair is that you'll benefit from the latest advancements that have occurred over the last few years. Another reason is if you're more interested in a specific type of skiing.

You want a more modern ski

The latest skis are more lightweight which reduces your fatigue and technology that reduces vibration at speed to give you a smoother ride over bumps or crud snow. Your skiing style may have changed since you bought your last pair and so you can but a ski shape that will work better for you in the type of conditions you tend to ski in. For example, if you ski more powder, you can float better in deeper snow. These start at 111m and go up in width to 123mm and more (source). Newer skis can be wider while also retaining their edge to edge stiffness. That means wider skis are now better on powder as well as hardpacked snow. Modern skis are getting lighter and lighter while still maintaining their flex and strength which means you can exert less energy to get them to react to your movements. If you feel that your current skis are not giving you performance boost but hindering your progression then it may be time to consider a new pair. Salomon black skis

You want a new type of ski

In the last 5 years, the All-Mountain Wide Skis have been a massive hit because they perform really well on fresh powder and hardpacked snow. New shapes have a tightened turning radius and improved rocker profiles which allow you to carve much easier whilst also being able to take on mounds of powder. If you're planning to diversify your skiing or take on more powder runs, then this is a good reason to replace your skis. Some skiers may take an interest in Slalom, ski touring or park skiing and so may want a new ski or a second specialist ski to take them off groomed slopes. [caption id="attachment_1543" align="alignnone" width="840"] Photo by Ruth Hartnup[/caption]

How to maintain skis in good condition?

While skis have a natural lifespan, there are a few things you can do to not only prolong it but also to get more performance out of them.
  • ✅Regularly wax your skis (every 5-10 ski days or at the start and end of a short season).
  • ✅Regularly get your skis edges sharpened (too blunt and edge control will become increasingly difficult).
  • ✅Shake off the snow and dry your skis after use.
  • ✅Store your skis upright and inside in a dry, shaded and ventilated room.
Some tips from Wagner Skis

How to save money buying skis?

IF you want new skis but don't want to pay full price, you can get discounts by buying skis at the end of the skiing season (spring or summer). You can get brand new last years skis but with a 20-40% discount. Be warned if there's a particular model you have your eye on, it may be sold out by then - ski manufacturers are getting better at forecasting their sales and inventory levels.

Final thoughts

Ski's can last a long time, but their performance progressively gets worse after about 100 days of use. After so many flexes the materials don't pop like they once did. You can still have some great skiing, but if you want better performance to make more out of your days then it might be worth renting or demoing a new pair for the day to see if you need an upgrade. That said, buying a brand new pair of skis is not going to magically make you an expert skier. That takes time, patience and more skiing :)