Everything You Should Know About Renting Skis

Newsroom Featured Gear Everything You Should Know About Renting Skis

There’s no denying that skiing and snowboarding are expensive sports. Between the snowboard and ski rental cost, lift tickets, lodging, and food and drinks, a weekend of skiing or riding can add up. It can be all that more expensive and overwhelming for new skiers and riders. However, if you’re new to skiing or don’t want to commit to your own set of skis, then a ski or snowboard rental (and accompanying gear) is a great option. Most ski resorts have rentals available on-site, allowing you to be fitted for gear just steps from the lifts.

So whether you’re a first-time renter or just want to know more about the process, we’ve broken down everything you need to know to make your experience the best it can be. Before you hit the slopes, read our guide to renting skis.

What Equipment Should You Rent?

If it’s your very first time skiing or snowboarding, then you’ll want to rent everything. This includes ski boots, skis or a snowboard, poles if you’re skiing, and a helmet. When you step foot into a rental shop, an employee will gather some information like your height, weight, age, and skiing/riding ability to help determine what gear is right for you. Most mountains have packages for a full set-up or partial ones like boots or skis only. Skiing is a high-impact sport so you should always rent a helmet if you don’t have one already.

If you’re new to winter sports, then you’ll likely need some additional gear, like snow pants, a waterproof jacket, gloves, goggles, and a neck warmer. Ski resorts occasionally have some of this gear available to rent, though most of them have their own retail shops where they sell ski apparel. However, you may want to check out local ski shops or browse online, where the prices can be more affordable. Some outdoor brands, like REI, even sell used gear.

Ski sizing chart, gear shop.

Renting vs Buying 

A big part of snowsports is deciding whether or not you should rent or buy your gear. You’ll want to factor in a number of things, like how often you plan on skiing, your budget, and personal preferences. Nonetheless, renting gear is generally cheaper upfront. However, it can add up in the long term if you’re skiing consistently and renting gear. The cost of renting will vary depending on the resort and the quality of gear you’re trying. Rental packages generally start around $50-70 a day. Renting or demoing higher-quality gear will usually start closer to $100 a day. 

Renting also cuts out the cost of equipment maintenance and the hassle of storage or traveling with heavy gear bags. That being said, rental shops can often get busy, especially during weekends and holidays. Stopping at the rental shop before you get on the hill can eat up the precious time you have to ski.

Buying equipment will be a greater cost upfront, but will hopefully pay for itself in the long run if you ski often. Owning your own gear also means that it’s more personal to you. The boots will fit better and the skis will be more tailored to your size and ability. This in turn will help you become a better skier. On the slopes, having your own gear takes the guesswork out of figuring out what is right for you and having to make adjustments throughout the day. Once you understand how your gear works, you can put less focus on that and focus more on your form, exploring new trails, and gaining confidence on the mountain.

Nonetheless, a basic set of skis, boots, bindings (which are often a separate purchase), and poles can be anywhere from $700-$1,500 or more for new gear. If you’re on a budget, consider buying your gear at the end of the season, or well before the season begins when ski equipment is often on sale. 

Two skiers holding skies on back bowls of Vail Resorts.
©VL Cohen/Vail Resorts

Long-Term Rentals 

Certain mountains or ski shops also offer long-term rentals or leases on ski and snowboard gear. This allows you to rent ski gear for more than just a day, and is a great option for those who think they’ll ski throughout the season but who aren’t ready to fully commit to their own set-up. Christy Sports, for example, offers full-season rentals across their locations in Colorado, Utah, Montana, New Mexico, and Washington. Their gear experts will help you decide what best suits your abilities, and then offer convenient times for you to pick up and drop off your gear. With every full-season rental, you also get complimentary tuning and size exchanges. This is a great way to help build your skills using ski gear that stays consistent throughout the season. 

How to Save Money on Renting Ski Equipment 

First and foremost, do your homework on ski package options. The same of course can be said for snowboard rental packages. For example, many ski resorts offer discounts for pre-selecting your package online and renting gear for multiple days. If you’re not after the latest and greatest gear, then consider gear from previous seasons, which are typically your best value. It’s also worth comparing rental costs between the resort and the local ski shop in town. For example, at Sunday River, at the time of publishing this article, recreational rental packages were $62 a day and performance packages $80 per day. At the local ski shop, Bob and Terry’s, just down the road, beginner packages were priced at $39, intermediate at $45, and demo or full performance packages from $50-60.

The downside of using a local ski shop, versus a resort’s rental shop, is that you aren’t within walking distance of the slopes. However, it can often save you time in the long run. For example, if you’re arriving to a ski resort later in the day on Friday, then you can stop by a local ski shop first, so that you can go straight to the lifts the next morning. Alternatively, if you’re driving from a major city, like Denver, Salt Lake City, or Seattle, for example, then you can get your rentals at a ski shop before driving to the mountains.

Sunday River, Maine, powder day.
©Sunday River Resort

Ski Rental Cost FAQs

How much does it cost to rent skis?

Rental rates depend on where you’re renting, what you’re renting, and how long you’re renting the equipment for. A full rental package at a smaller resort like Waterville Valley, for example, costs around $60 per day. A full rental package of similar gear around the same time of the season runs closer to $100 per day at Aspen Snowmass. Additionally, prices will change based on if you want the whole package vs. just boots or just skis. Prices often vary depending on the day. Like lift tickets, ski rentals are typically at their lowest price midweek, while weekends and holidays typically cost more for rentals.

Can you rent ski gear in addition to skis?

Many ski resorts also rent out helmets and goggles in addition to skis, boots, snowboards, and poles. Typically, however, they don’t rent out apparel like gloves, jackets, snow pants, base layers, socks, and face and neck warmers. Ski resorts typically have these items available for purchase instead. 

If I can only invest in one piece of ski gear what should it be? 

If you can only invest in one piece of equipment, then we recommend starting with the boots. A well-fitting pair of ski or snowboard boots will be the best item to help grow your riding abilities. Plus, having your own boots can open doors to demoing skis and boards of all types to help narrow down which ones you’d like to purchase.

Do I need to rent bindings as well? 

No. Ski and snowboard bindings will be pre-mounted on the gear you’re renting. Rental shop technicians will then adjust them to your rental or personal boots. 

Are demos the same as rentals? 

Demo skis/snowboards and rental skis/snowboards are similar but not the same. Rentals usually have a lightweight construction that appeal to more beginner and intermediate riders. Demo skis and snowboards tend to be higher quality and geared towards more advanced skiers. Demo skis and snowboards often act as a ‘try before you buy’ tool to help shoppers decide what model they would like to invest in. Many ski resorts offer both options for guests.

Final word about renting vs. buying skis

Ultimately, renting vs. buying skis comes down to personal needs, preferences, and budget. If you’re just taking lessons or only planning on skiing a couple times, then renting skis is a good option as you ease into it. But once you start skiing a few times per season, or buy a ski pass, then it may be time to invest in your own ski gear. Head over to our buying guides to see our recommendations for skis, snowboards, boots, and more.

We’ll end by talking about traveling with ski gear. While it can be a pain, and expensive to fly with ski or snowboard gear, many airlines are making it easier and more affordable. Southwest, for example, offers two checked bags for free. What’s more, as Southwest’s website states, “When substituting ski equipment for a free bag, we allow up to two bags (containing one set of snow skis, ski poles, and ski boots) to count as one item.” While Alaska has a checked baggage fee, they have a special promotion in which Alaska travelers can ski free at their partner resorts by showing their boarding pass. Alternatively, shipskis.com is a good option for those who want to avoid flying with their ski or snowboard gear altogether.

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