You don’t need to own skis to have a good time in the snow. There are alternatives. Renting has come a long way in the last decade. What may have once been a last-minute solution for the unprepared has transformed into an often-preferable means of outfitting oneself for alpine adventures. Renting enjoys several distinct advantages that outdoor enthusiasts may want to consider when preparing for their ski trips.
More Than Just a Ski
You can’t throw on any old pair and call it a day. Choosing the right ski is both an art and a science. A frontside ski is not a powder ski is not an all-mountain ski. Each ski has a purpose, and the truly prepared skier needs more than one. Which ski (or skis) should you take along on a trip? What will the conditions be like when you arrive at your destination? Who knows? You can never really be sure. You might find yourself deep in fresh powder without appropriate equipment, forcing you to make do with what you have.
The technology of skiing is constantly on the move. A pair of 10-year-old toothpicks isn’t in the same league as this year’s newest rockered powder skis. Skis become outdated very quickly, and anyone who isn’t among the most dedicated skiers is going to find themselves replacing their equipment more frequently than they might like in a quest to stay current.
Outdated equipment aside, there’s also the irritation of traveling with skis. Airline are only too happy to charge you for your gear. If possible, they would probably charge you for air by the lungful. Most airlines will charge at least $25 per flight to carry a standard ski bag. If you are traveling with your family or friends, those fees could quickly add up to hundreds of dollars. Airline patrons might consider skipping a checked bag to make up the fee, but this comes with its own cost in convenience. Even after the fees, there is still the headache of hauling your stuff around the airport, standing in lines, and waiting around at baggage carousels. Those tasks are hardly enjoyable ordeals under the best of circumstances, and the addition of skis only exacerbates the frustration.
Once you actually arrive at your destination, there is more to worry about. Most skis can’t just be tossed into the trunk of a taxi in any comfortable way, and may require special ground transport arrangements. Because Park City is a ski destination, most shuttles have the ability to carry skis; but be wary of a standard taxi. Check out our How to Transport page for safe shuttle options.
Rise of the High-End Rental
Renting gives skiers access to the newest gear, equipment to which they might not otherwise have access. Similarly, it allows visitors a chance to rent according to the conditions they encounter on location. You never need to worry about bringing the wrong ski for the job when you can rent them on the spot. In addition, some rental services make house calls. These services will drop by your lodgings, fit you for gear, and leave you the skis you need for all the adventure you can handle. All you have to do is hand them back at the end of your stay. These services are growing in popularity. Few skiers want to take the time out of their day to wait around in a rental shop, wasting precious slope time. This goes double once kids enter the picture. Children and ski shops can be a disaster waiting to happen. Delivery is a much safer option.
Local Tip: Our favorite to-your-door rental delivery service is Skis on the Run. Check them out.
If you’re going to own anything, you should own ski boots. For an activity that relies on fancy footwork and hours of upright motion, skimping on footwear is ill advised. Your comfort is incredibly important. Nothing ruins a ski day like boots with a terrible fit. If you can, spend your money on nice boots. Unlike skis themselves, you can keep boots for years. A one-time investment in the perfect boot will get you a lot further than buying new skis every couple of years. In addition, boots are a great candidate for a carry-on (depending on your airline), while skis have to be checked.
Renting isn’t always the best value proposition. If you live in a ski town, like Park City, you don’t have to worry about shipping and carrying your equipment. The slopes are just up the road, instead of several hundred miles away. Likewise, the most dedicated of skiers— those who ski 20 or more days a year—might end up spending quite a bit more by renting that often. Ownership is probably a better course in these cases. Likewise, collectors who just like to own lots of awesome stuff derive just as much satisfaction from owning their own gear as they do from using that gear.
In the end, every skier, and every ski trip, are different. Use your judgment. But don’t dismiss the idea of renting skis. It could save you a mountain of trouble and a pile of cash in the long run.