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Inexpensive gear for an infrequent skier?

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 

Hey all,

 

I've just come across this forum and am thoroughly impressed!  I am basically a recreational skier (blues and an occasional black) only going 3-4 days every couple of years.  I'm not a "gaper" but I definitely don't have anywhere near the time on slope or skill that you guys have :) 

 

The short version of the question is: what is some inexpensive gear (pants / jacket / base layer) for an infrequent skier hitting the Austrian Alps that still wants to stay warm and dry.

 

Longer version of the question is:  My family and I have found ourselves in Germany for the next 3 years and we plan to take advantage of the opportunity to ski in the Alps while we're here (which means maybe 10 days each year).  The quandary I'm facing is that we have basically no ski gear and I have to buy gear for me, my wife, and my 2 kids (8 and 5).  We'll rent ski's and boots, and we do have some micro-fleece pullovers for a mid-layer and Heli's Army lobster claws for gloves, but we'll need to buy base-layer, pants, jacket (most likely insulated so we can use it outside of skiing), helmet, goggles, etc. 

 

I have been reading a TON of threads here for the last few weeks and there is great info, but largely (and understandably) recommendations are for very high end gear.  I just can't justify dropping close to $3,000 on ski gear for the family when we'll only use it 10 days a year for the next 3 years.  Is there any decent stuff out there that won't break the bank?  Thinking $100-$150 for a jacket, $80-$100 for pants, $20-$30 for a base layer, something like that?

 

Thanks in advance for helping a fella out!

 

Oh, and if anyone knows good brands available in Germany.....Otherwise REI ships to Germany but it's not cheap :)

post #2 of 18

If you are on a budget then the first thing to do is forget about REI;)

 

Easiest answer in the US is Columbia jackets and stuff from a place like Sports Authority or ebay who is selling last years stuff.  Not the faciest stuff but if you get their 3 way jackets they are nice, warm and waterproof. 

 

Not sure if you can get in Germany or what shipping from a vendor might be - do you have the option of shipping to a friend or relative and having them reship it all in one box?

 


Edited by oldjeep - 1/19/12 at 4:44am
post #3 of 18

I ski a lot more than you do and usually spend about what you are talking (or less) by taking advantage of sales toward (usually towards the end of season or after).  I might not have the most high tech gear, but have been out in some really nasty conditions.

 

I was in Germany over the Holidays and some of the post-x-Mas sales prices seemed pretty good (but I wasn't really looking at ski gear).  Have you looked in any of the local shops or tried to search for German online sites? 

 

I am not going to recommend specific brands, but go for something functional, especially with your jackets- I prefer on the long side and make sure they comfortably zip up to cover a good portion of your face.  The lower elevations of the Alps can get rain, so something with waterproofing is a good idea.

 

My "Double Whammy" jacket (by Columbia?) was one of my more expensive purchases and doubt it was over $150-200- it is actually 3 jackets in one as the lining zips out and can both be used separately.  As you allude to, most of these purchases (except maybe adult pants) will be used for everyday clothing as well.

 

For the kids, I would try to make friends with some neighbors with slightly older/bigger kids- good for both advice and possibly hand-me-downs (although kids can be hard on gear if they are wearing it everyday during winter).   

 

 

post #4 of 18
Thread Starter 

I have hit up all of the local shops here in Hannover looking for decent stuff.  I expected to find a whole bunch of options considering the weather and the fact that just about everyone goes skiing here, but that is not the case.  The big sports stores (sportscheck, karstadt) have only a few brands that are very expensive (jack wolfskin, Schoffel, marmot).  I did find a couple of columbia omni-tech jackets at sub-100 euro prices though, so I'll have to check them out.

 

I'm also having a very hard time finding base layers.  They seem to want 50 to 90 euro for a polyester base layer.  Even the "budget" store "C&A" wants 40 Euro for a polyester base layer.  I think I paid $15 for a base layer from REI a couple years ago on sale.

 

It's tough searching for this stuff online because I'm not familiar with the language.

 

The big problem is I seem to have is that the lower end brands only seem to be available on Amazon.de.  Unfortunately I don't want to buy something like jackets and pants without trying them on first.

 

I could buy stuff online in the US and have it shipped to relatives, then re-boxed and shipped over, but we're talking about ski gear, so it's pretty bulky stuff and would cost a fortune to ship that way.  I'm much better off buying from a place that will ship overseas if possible.

post #5 of 18

if you are already living in Germany cheaper stateside options that are brick and mortar are obviously OBE. 

 

When we last lived in Germany, and were just learning to ski, we hit small shops for sales down in Garmisch or just over on the Austrian side.  There may be web sites with lots of shopping locations in Southern Germany / Austria if you google creatively.  May want to consider going with European brands and not being as locked to a big US brand too.  Final option is to hit places like SierraTradingPost.com -- usually a good selection of heavily discounted base/pants/jackets.  Don't know if you have an APO option for shipping, but believe STP ships to APOs. 

post #6 of 18

Might want to try these guys:

 

http://www.sport-bittl.de/

 

And as for the language issue, just run the sites through google translate

 

 

 

http://translate.google.com/translate?sl=auto&tl=en&js=n&prev=_t&hl=en&ie=UTF-8&layout=2&eotf=1&u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.sport-bittl.de%2F&act=url

post #7 of 18
Thread Starter 

I'm definitely open to the European brands, it's just tough to find anything that doesn't cost a fortune.  The *cheapest* ski pant I've found was at C&A and it was "waterproof" to the tune of 3000mm, felt cheap as hell and was still 90 Euro :)  I think the US must just have a bigger selection of lower end gear.  I would be fine with a Columbia ski pant that would cost $60 in the US but can't really seem to find an equivalent here.

 

I'd be up for looking in the smaller shops in Southern Germany, but I don't want to wait until we show up to shop for gear :)  We are headed out in Mid-Feb.  I don't know anyone with an APO which would solve a TON of problems :)

 

Oldjeep, thanks for that link!  They seem to have a bit of selection and good info on the gear.  There are some "Killtec" products that look to be good price with decent performance which is exactly the combo I'm looking for :)

 

 

post #8 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by trpltongue View Post

Longer version of the question is:  My family and I have found ourselves in Germany for the next 3 years and we plan to take advantage of the opportunity to ski in the Alps while we're here (which means maybe 10 days each year).  The quandary I'm facing is that we have basically no ski gear and I have to buy gear for me, my wife, and my 2 kids (8 and 5).  We'll rent ski's and boots, and we do have some micro-fleece pullovers for a mid-layer and Heli's Army lobster claws for gloves, but we'll need to buy base-layer, pants, jacket (most likely insulated so we can use it outside of skiing), helmet, goggles, etc.

 

Your timing is good... EMS has their gear at 50% off in the stores.  Stock's running low in the stores though...  Their techwick base + mid layer isn't too bad for the price.  The material is decent, the curt is OK and at 50% off it's a steal.  You can use their 1/4 zip techwick pullovers for jogging and other athletic activity.

 

I would seriously reconsider the insulated jacket approach.  It's a single, heavy item of clothing with limited use.  Just get a couple of different weights of midlayer and a shell.  Then you can put together a combination depending on the weather conditions.  Also avoid the 3 in 1 Jackets as they tend to be very ill fitting.

post #9 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by eelhc View Post

 Also avoid the 3 in 1 Jackets as they tend to be very ill fitting.


Don't know about that, my kids have them and they fit fine.  I've got an older one that I use mainly for cutting wood but it fits me as well as my Karbon and Spyder jackets.

post #10 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by oldjeep View Post


Don't know about that, my kids have them and they fit fine.  I've got an older one that I use mainly for cutting wood but it fits me as well as my Karbon and Spyder jackets.


 

What I've found with the 3 in 1 Jackets (I've had a TNF Hyvent and the kids have had Columbias) is that the insulated liner jacket is cut to fit the outer shell and not the person wearing it.  So when worn as a separate jacket, they fit like a garbage sack.

post #11 of 18

 

Quote:
I'm also having a very hard time finding base layers.  They seem to want 50 to 90 euro for a polyester base layer.  Even the "budget" store "C&A" wants 40 Euro for a polyester base layer.  I think I paid $15 for a base layer from REI a couple years ago on sale.

 

I've generally only been around resorts in Europe, but the prices do seem crazy there for a lot of things.  Some of it is higher VAT/import taxes.

 

You can get pretty fancy with base layers these days -- if you're looking at Under Armor, etc. then that's the high-end (and, of course, high-margin) stuff.  You want the stuff that's more like the $15 store brand things from REI (which are cheap and great -- and come in tall sizes, so I use them) or Old Navy fleeces, etc.

 

No idea what the equivalent store over there is for that sort of thing.  If there are cheaper options on Amazon.de, you might be best off trying those and shipping stuff back locally if it doesn't fit.

 

I like soft-shell jackets myself these days, or an unlined hard shell you can layer under.  But if a lined or 3-in-1 jacket is more cost-effective, hey, you take what you can get.  The problem with insulated stuff is then it's totally worthless when it's too warm... I also overheat really fast while I'm skiing.

 

Edit: you might want to see if anyone has some local contacts you can talk to about where to shop.  Clearly German parents are not buying $90 long underwear for their kids to walk to school in.

post #12 of 18

Sierra Trading Post.  I believe they ship international.  There are a multitude of coupons as well that make their prices cheaper then their standard website.  

 

For Base Layers, I don't really get fancy true technical expedition clothes.   ~$10 or less gets you  wicking non-cotton shirts/long underwear and are usually what I go with.  

Middle layer, you don't necessarily need actual ski clothes, heck you can wear a polo shirt or a regular thermal layer.

 

Returns are a flatrate 5.95 for return in the US anyway.  If I am uncertain about what to get, typically i order a lot of items and take advantage of the return policy and just return what is not needed.


Do keep in mind this is bargain shopping for closeout/2nds gear, so you will get some imperfect items here and there that you should return if you are not happy with them.  

post #13 of 18


Quote:

Originally Posted by trpltongue View Post

Hey all,

 

I've just come across this forum and am thoroughly impressed!  I am basically a recreational skier (blues and an occasional black) only going 3-4 days every couple of years.  I'm not a "gaper" but I definitely don't have anywhere near the time on slope or skill that you guys have :) 

 

The short version of the question is: what is some inexpensive gear (pants / jacket / base layer) for an infrequent skier hitting the Austrian Alps that still wants to stay warm and dry.

 

Longer version of the question is:  My family and I have found ourselves in Germany for the next 3 years and we plan to take advantage of the opportunity to ski in the Alps while we're here (which means maybe 10 days each year).  The quandary I'm facing is that we have basically no ski gear and I have to buy gear for me, my wife, and my 2 kids (8 and 5).  We'll rent ski's and boots, and we do have some micro-fleece pullovers for a mid-layer and Heli's Army lobster claws for gloves, but we'll need to buy base-layer, pants, jacket (most likely insulated so we can use it outside of skiing), helmet, goggles, etc. ...



start shoppin around!

 

Germany has a ton of stores from high end to the general 'Target' type store - and many of them sell very good winter wear.

I would go with a good basic softshell jacket and 'layer', as opposed to heavy insulated outerwear.

A lot of stuff which work in cycling and running and general active sportwear works well for any varied ski conditions.

cycling or running base layer

wicking shirt L/S layer

synthetic fleece insulating layer - either pullover (I avoid full zips cause they are colder) for cold conditions, or a fleece vest for core warmth. if I have a vest then I bring along cycling arm warmers to add a sleeve layer, if it's colder than I expected.

cycling or running vest over the fleece for real warmth retention

then the final softshell waterproof breathable outer layer - many of these are hip length, have good pocket stowage and a hood (if you like that).

 

it's been a few years since I;ve spent time on the Continent - so I don;t have off-brand names to recommend.

but some estute shopping should get you outfitted for reasonable cost - and then have stuff you can use in a variety of other uses, especially the daily damp cold general spring weather you'll find in most all of Germany.

 

If I lived again anywhere in Northern Europe - a modern softshell would be a must have daily item.

post #14 of 18
Thread Starter 

Wow,

 

Some really great replied, thanks everyone!

 

I picked up a 2010 Columbia Omni-tech hard shell.  I guess technically it has a very thing insulating layer, but it's not a heavy jacket. Similar to this:

http://www.columbia.com/Men%27s-Fast-Three%E2%84%A2-Shell/WM2102,default,pd.html

 

I would have liked the collar to be a bit taller (only comes to mid-chin), but it was the only jacket I could find that was truly waterproof (20,000mm) for under 200 Euro.  The only other jacket that was even close was a "Shredz" jacket that claimed 8,000mm but the quality was absolute crap.  There was some "killtec" stuff that looked decent but it was only 3,000mm waterproof.  I've been told that the Austrian Alps can be quite slushy in Feb and don't want to take a chance on being wet and miserable.

 

eelhc,

 

I'm not sure what EMS is?  Regarding the insulated jacket, I did reconsider after reading more. 

 

Mathias,

 

The local store brand stuff is exactly what I'm looking for and having a hard time finding :(  I've spoken with my co-workers who ski quite often and they have recommended some good "budget" options.  However, even the store brand stuff is seriously 50 Euro for a set of underwear and long sleeve shirt!  "Cheap" ski socks that are polyester, not wool, are 25 Euro a pair.

 

raytseng,

 

I definitely need to check out STP.  Even if the fit is slightly off, on base and mid layers it's not that critical.  Where should I look for coupons?

 

moreoutdoor,

 

I've been shopping like crazy :)  I've been to 12 different stores in the last 3 days looking for gear.  I really thought hard about getting a soft shell, but I've never owned one and didn't know if the ones I saw would actually be waterproof or not so I ended up with a hardshell.  On a daily basis here in Germany I have been wearing my 10yr old insulated hard-shell that is not fit for skiing, but waterproof enough to walk around town in.

 

I did find a couple of nice deals on the closeout rack at TK Maxx.  I couldn't pass on a 12 Euro medium weight microfleece with thumb holes and a drawstring hood :)  I also grabbed a 19 Euro down vest of unknown brand.  It's a bit bulky but was cheap and should work well over the fleece if it gets really cold.

 

So I think I'm good on outer, mid-weight mid, and heavy weight mid.  Now I just need to find a decent deal on a base layer, pants and some socks.

 

I did find these pants for 120 Euro.  Not cheap, but I'm having a hard time finding cheap pants that are at least 8,000mm waterproof with suspenders (I like suspenders).  I'd prefer to have 1/2 bibs but there's none available except from Alteryx (sp?) and they are awesome but $$$$$$$.

 

http://www.amazon.de/gp/product/B004ZWHUBQ/ref=ox_sc_act_title_2?ie=UTF8&m=A3JWKAKR8XB7XF

 

Again all, thanks for all the help you guys (and gals?) are great.

post #15 of 18


 

I definitely need to check out STP.  Even if the fit is slightly off, on base and mid layers it's not that critical.  Where should I look for coupons?

 

retailmenot.com is a pretty decent source to get coupons, but if you sign up for their mailing list, then they start sending you coupons pretty regularly, some which will end up slightly better then the generally available ones (like same%off +freeshipping, or maybe at most an extra 5-10% more off) 

 

btw, they do have cheap snow-specific socks there too...do take a look for everything you need.

post #16 of 18

A previous poster suggested Sierra Trading.  Good suggestion.  I would also add Campmor.  Not sure about foreign shipping from each, but both carry a decent selection of ski and outdoor gear at good prices.

post #17 of 18

I agree with campmor and also try overstock.com you can usually get last seasons gloves for about 60-70% off.

post #18 of 18
Thread Starter 

Thanks so much all!  After MUCH searching locally and online I just finished up with a nice big purchase from STP with a sweet 30% coupon :)  Outfitted me, my wife, my 8yr old daughter, and 5 year old son each with everything from 3 pairs base layer tops and bottoms, 2 fleece mid layer, 2 jackets (insulated for the kids, shells for us), 2 bibs / pants, 2 gloves, 1 glove liner, 6 pair socks, helmets, goggles, snow boots, and some other random stuff.

 

Grand total including shipping and import duties to Germany:  $1500

 

I am definitely please with that!  I literally saved almost $500 and got good brand name stuff too (columbia, mtn hardware, Giro, smartwool, etc).  The only "cheap" stuff was the Wickers base layers.  I just couldn't justify spending $50 for merino wool pants :)

 

Now I just need to find a decent set of radios, Nikwax TX-direct spray (and TechWash), and a winter-proof case for my pocket camera.....

 

Thanks again everyone for the help, I can't tell you how much I appreciate it!

 

Russell

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