The Customer Service Dept. here at DSJ WHQ (actually we farm it out to India now to help cover bonuses for upper management) has received numerous inquiries regarding the age old quandary of “buy or rent?”. So in an attempt to break down this most vexing issue and make a decision based upon the sagest advice, we asked our esteemed panel of experts from the DSJ Fine Art of the Road Trip (F.A.R.T.) Dept. and here’s what they had to say...
Boots – buy ‘em! Long lasting, easy to pack, and relatively inexpensive. Unlike skis or boards, boot technology does not advance as rapidly and you can expect boot shells to last up to about 2-300 ski days and the boot liners half that. Take care of them, and you could get from 5 to 10 years on a @$400 investment. That’s a no-brainer. The liners will begin to break down and compact after about 100 days and can be modified or replaced. Invest in some upgraded or custom foot beds (which can last a lifetime and also be used off season) and you’re money ahead in the long run.
So avoid the aches and pains. One case of blisters or shin bang can ruin your whole trip. Pack’em in with your clothes or get a boot bag and throw in the helmet, etc. But if going by air, seasoned vets prefer to “carry on”. Skis can be replaced, but losing a pair of custom fitted boots – a cause to push the panic button!
Skis (or Boards) – do the math. It simply boils down to the numbers. Rolling your own is great and the only way to go for many. It’s cheaper if you ride a lot and once you develop an intimate relationship, they’re harder to leave home than the family dog. Gear whores like me like to pack two pair (only cause I can’t pack three). A double ski bag, two pairs with poles, and a full flask of schnapps should easily come in under 50 pounds. (As a side note; most airlines will consider a ski and boot bag as a one bag “sports package”, but you may have to remind them when you check them.)
On the other hand, if you’re riding around ten days a season or less, there are compelling reasons to rent. At about $40-45 per day for performance demo skis & poles or boards, it’s likely money saved. If traveling by air you don’t have to schlep them around and saved bag fees may pay for a day or two’s rent. Good shops will have them waxed and tuned daily (insist on this) and although you’re responsible for any major damage, you don’t have to sweat the routine daily base damage. Another benefit is having an instant “quiver” at your disposal. Most demo programs offer the option to switch skis during the day as much as you like. You can chose your “ride” based on conditions or just change flavors cause you can!
Again, compared to riding your own, you’re gonna stand in line, fill out paperwork, they may not have what you want, or in the right length, or the schmuck in front of you got it, or they just plain suck once you get them on the snow. On the other hand, you may just go completely gaga over a pair and find that the shop will credit all your previous demo fees toward the purchase of a new pair.
So there you have it. Whether you want to buy, rent, or just check out the latest technology and cool gear, get some expert advice at your local retail ski shop or right here on the EpicSki Gear Review forum.
John "fritzski" Fritz
EpicSki Special Correspondent