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Best place to buy skis for family?

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 

I want to get boots & skis for my wife and 3 sons. They have been renting for the past couple of seasons. I'm planning to buy basic equipment given their intermediate skill level. With the kids the issue is of course that they outgrow their equipment. I am looking for suggestions regarding where to buy. Options:


* Online -- bad for boots; might be okay for basic skis.

* Used gear/ski swap -- not against the idea, but hit-or-miss regarding being able to outfit 4 people.

* Dick's Sporting Goods -- I have been told there is the possibility to trade up kids skis in future years with a 50% credit, but have not been able to confirm this yet. However, this would be a point in that store's favor. Do not know what kind of selection they have for skis & boots, though they seem to have a good selection for summer gear.

* REI -- like the store a lot, including their lifetime guarantee, but have not heard they have a trade-up policy.

* Local ski store -- 2 in the area; nice to support local business; probably no trade-up policy. Maybe better support, boot-fitting, etc.

* Sports Authority -- nearby store, but for some reason it seems like a bad place to buy skis.


Any thoughts?




post #2 of 16

My 2 cents.


Not sure where your at or what's available to you.  I do know I've gotten killer deals off of craigslist.  You have to know what you're looking for and the warning signs (no edge left, old bindings etc).  The local shops around here do a trade up program and a freind from work bought new last year for his kids and was surprised at how good of a deal he got this year upgrading.


I've also found that developing a relationship with a local shop pays for itself.  They give me great deals all the time and I send them as much business as I can.  The first couple years I didn't get the best deals but I get great deals and great service.  The even humor me when I'm escaping from work to clear my head and just walk around to smell the p-tex.


Another option is a seasonal rental.  I'm not sure of the value of it but I know it's usually available at many shops.



post #3 of 16

Do you live in the PNW?

post #4 of 16

Dicks, Sports Authority, REI--No.

Local shops could have a season "lease" deal for growing


post #5 of 16
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by jmaie View Post

Do you live in the PNW?

I wish! No, I live in Flatland (near Washington DC).


post #6 of 16
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by John J View Post

Dicks, Sports Authority, REI--No.

Local shops could have a season "lease" deal for growing


Can you elaborate on the "No" for those stores?


My local shop does have a season lease deal, but the available selection is small and the buy-out price for the equipment they offer is greater than the cost of buying it outright in the first place. Still, that may be the best approach, at least until they're good enough to notice what kind of skis they are on.


post #7 of 16



My wife and I did the season lease deal last year.  It was about $150 each to rent the skis and boots for the season.  The skis were at least 7 or 8 years old (I couldn't find the Elans I was renting on the Internet at all).    We very likely could have bought the skis we rented for much less than we paid for the portion of the rental fees related to the skis.  That said, I didnt know much about skis at this time last year  (brands, models, carver vs all mountain, etc.) so it worked out for us, we had a great season skiing and it was much better than renting on the mountain (huge time saver).


This year we are buying 2011 demos that we hope to use for the next 4 or 5 years.  Economically it didnt make sense to do the season rental again.  You can get really good deals online for 2011 (or 2010) demo skis...The trick is you have to know exactly what you want (brand, size, model), confirm the condition of the skis (to the extent possible), and determine which bindings are included.


Also, we bought boots at the end of last season so it was a no brainer to buy skis for this season.


We are still not ready to pull the trigger on skis for the kids yet (9 and 5) as our local mountain has a program that includes ski school and rentals.


Good luck!

post #8 of 16

Where you buy skis doesn't really matter, but where you get them mounted (if they don't come with bindings) does.


Based on personal experience, do not buy boots at REI.  You'll get serviced by a shoe salesman and probably end up with boots too large.  On the other hand, they did take them back (used) and gave me a full refund.  ;-)

post #9 of 16
Thread Starter 

Thanks for all the replies. I don't have time to find used gear online for four people. I stopped by my local shop yesterday (without the family), and have decided to get the equipment there. Boots first, hopefully from the season lease pool for the kids, and then skis either through the lease, their upcoming ski swap, or new purchase (e.g., for my wife).

post #10 of 16

Where's your local shop? I've heard good things about the Ski Center from friends in/around DC. Considering how far they are from any real skiing, that's impressive.


Just know that you'll probably make some decisions early on that you'll back on later and realize you could have made better choices or saved money. Doing some research here can help a lot, but experience will teach you more. Plus, if you listen to every bit of advice here, you'll be totally over-thinking things and probably make even worse decisions.


Craigslist is awesome if you know what you're looking for / looking at. Otherwise it's a crapshoot.


My most basic advice would be to buy decent boots for the family and then rent/demo gear for another season or two. You'll be able to pass boots down from one kid to the next - skis too.


I have two kids. I've ski leased for them, bought gear from CL, REI, ski shops, manufacturers, etc. It almost all gets passed down (although I do have a lot of stuff in the garage). Then it goes to The Dad or other friends for their kids. Everyone wins.

post #11 of 16
Thread Starter 
Ski Center is the local shop.
post #12 of 16
Thread Starter 
Just to clarify: Ski Center has a good selection overall, but the choices for season leases are limited.
post #13 of 16

I went with a season lease for a couple years when my daughter was 6-7 and we were skiing 10-20 days, mainly in the southeast.  Break even was 7 days compared to rentals.  I liked the idea of not worrying about her growing out of something mid-season.  Definitely nice to avoid the hassle every time since I wasn't renting by then.


After that, found a good deal at a fall swap near Annapolis by arriving early.  Got two years of use since she was a strong intermediate and could handle skis that were a little on the long side (at her forehead) for a month or two.  Bought her new boots from a local shop last season.  We started taking a trip out to Alta during late season a few years ago and she is already skiing easy blacks.  Also, has tried snowboarding and doesn't like it.  So I'm more willing to buy better ski equipment.  The boot fitter put her in a boot that she is likely to use for two seasons.  He had a pair of used skis with matching poles that were the next size up.  He also gave me something reasonable for her old boots and skis since they were in good shape.


Have heard that folks with more than one kid skiing usually hand down skis and poles, but not necessarily boots.

post #14 of 16
Originally Posted by marznc View Post


Have heard that folks with more than one kid skiing usually hand down skis and poles, but not necessarily boots.

Boots too. But if child #1 is male and child #2 is female, you may need a bedazzler and/or some pink paint pens.

post #15 of 16

I would suggest buying boots at a local shop with a qualified bootfitter.  For skis, try LevelnineSports.com.  Some of the best prices on the web and very knowledgeable staff.  If you know your boot sole sizes they usually mount for free and shipping is reasonable.  I've bought many items there and have always been happy with the purchases and service.

post #16 of 16
Thread Starter 

Update: Today I picked up gear for the kids using the season lease option. I got used boots because they had some in stock and, frankly, at their age and ability level it seemed most appropriate and half the cost. I got used skis for 2 of the boys, and new for one (Volkl RTM Jr) because there was nothing used in his size and he is clearly the best of the three. Still need to get my wife outfitted.

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