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wise to buy skis for 3- or 4-year old in spring?

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 

Hi. Everyone,

 

I'm fortunate to have a 3-year-old who loved his first time skiing so much that he had to be "physically removed" from the slopes, all the while kicking and screaming and suggesting we move to the ski area so that he could ski "every day".

 

I'll take him a fair bit more next year, including a big trip for his 4th birthday in January.

 

It seems like kids' season rentals run about $200 in my parts, so getting new stuff on sale isn't crazily more expensive, even if they both just last him a season. 

 

Anyway, I'm tempted to:

 

a) Buy his skis now, on sale (and just guesstimate his year-ahead size)

b) Buy his boots next winter, to dial in his exact size.

 

I've heard about ski swaps here in the Washington DC area, but I have a tight schedule and don't fancy burning half a day driving around to potentially get skunked.

 

What would you advise me to do? I'm open to all manner of input, from strategy to products. Mainly, I just want him to enjoy it.
 

Thanks for any help,

 

James

 

One idea: http://www.skis.com/kids-skis-with-bindings/c1000002879/k2-indy-fastrak-45-kids-skis-with-marker-fastrak-45-bindings-2012-p226773.html

 

 

post #2 of 23

Do shops near you (or your mountain) not have used junior skis for sale with importantly a trade-up policy?  Call first then you won't have to worry about getting burned.

post #3 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by skierjames View Post

Hi. Everyone,

 

I'm fortunate to have a 3-year-old who loved his first time skiing so much that he had to be "physically removed" from the slopes, all the while kicking and screaming and suggesting we move to the ski area so that he could ski "every day".

 

I'll take him a fair bit more next year, including a big trip for his 4th birthday in January.

 

It seems like kids' season rentals run about $200 in my parts, so getting new stuff on sale isn't crazily more expensive, even if they both just last him a season. 

 

Anyway, I'm tempted to:

 

a) Buy his skis now, on sale (and just guesstimate his year-ahead size)

b) Buy his boots next winter, to dial in his exact size.

 

 

 

 

That's always what we did, and it worked out great. The only year I didn't get 2 years out of the skis for each kid was this past season, when my son was 16-17 and grew 5 inches. (He was always tall, but he never grew in big spurts before that, go figure. He had to wait until we were buying the more expensive adult sizes, lol.)

 

We have always been able to hand down the gear to family or neighbors, so all in all I have preferred this way over dealing with rentals.

post #4 of 23

Do any of your local shops have a junior trade in program?  Here is how it usually works.

 

You buy kid's gear at the current prices.  Next year when they outgrow them, you trade them in for half of what you paid for (less labor and taxes).  If you decide to keep the gear an extra year, the credit is prorated.

 

Some shops sell used kids rentals and traded in gear.  You can get them at significantly lower prices.  They might even let you trade the gear in the following year when the kid outgrows that rig.

 

Good luck with your search.

 

Dennis

post #5 of 23

I'll add a bit of advice:

 

1. At that age, skis that are too long can be a problem, but too short is less of an issue.

 

2. While that isn't a bad deal, those system bindings may not work with the next pair of skis.  If you buy flat skis and traditional bindings, you can keep moving the bindings to new skis.

post #6 of 23

I did what you describe for a number of years. I have two kids, so the second would get the hand-me-downs a couple years later. I'd buy skis and bindings from a local shop (not very discriminatory since it is kids' gear) like REI or a good ski shop. Keep the receipt so that in the fall when you buy boots, the shop will mount the bindings for free (almost always included if you buys skis and bindings from the same place).

 

If I were you, I'd go check out what deals they have going on at Ski Center. Also ask about their kids gear return / trade policy. If you don't find anything great there, check the REI store and/or the REI outlet and online stores. REI will always ship to a local store for no shipping charge and starting in March there are frequently great deals online from them. In the fall, when you buy boots, get the whole thing mounted up and you're good to go.

post #7 of 23

The ski shop here (Philadelphia area) let us trade the skis that had never been used in the fall when my child grew more than expected.  Problem solved for everyone. 

post #8 of 23

Another option is a season lease.  Did that for a couple years.  Break even was skiing 7+ days.  Only one kid in our household.

 

Since you are in DC, have to mention that Massanutten has a great ski school.  My daughter started there at age 4.  Even with only a few days each season, she was skiing southeast blacks by age 7 . . . and had no problems with blues at Alta that April.

 

Once I was ready to buy stuff for her, I found all the equipment she needed at a ski swap near Annapolis.  We were visiting a friend near there any way.  By then, she could handle skis that were a little long (just over her forehead), so they lasted for two years.

post #9 of 23

Around here (Tahoe) we never had any trouble finding tons of kids stuff at the fall swaps--very cheap and for small kids any gear that fits will work.  Another thing to consider--at that age by next year he could have no interest in skiing and since you don't live in ski country you might wind up with gear you don't use. Kids change what they like and dislike overnight.  And I wouldn't get too carried away with the big ski trip next year--if he does like skiing as much as you say next year he'll probably be just as happy skiing for a week locally. (If you're planning a big trip so you can ski someplace big and have him in ski school that's a great idea, but don't expect him to appreciate a major resort the way you will.)  Sorry for the unsolicited advice.  

post #10 of 23

For what it's worth, I didn't bother to take my DD anywhere but Massanutten until she could ski the two black runs at the top of the mountain without hesitation.  I told her that was the requirement before we would go elsewhere.  Note that at age 4, the two of us went on a long overseas trip and plenty of other driving trips with and without my husband, so travel was not the issue.  The reality was that before Kindergarten, she was good for either ski school or a few hours of free skiing, with plenty of breaks.  Since my hubby is a non-skier and not the type to hang about a ski lodge with a preschooler, didn't see the point of going anywhere else.

 

Then again, if the OP already promised a big trip for a 4th birthday, probably need to keep the promise.  Of course, "big" could mean Wisp or someplace in PA, not somewhere that requires an airplane.  Or a trip to Massanutten, complete with time at the indoor waterpark. wink.gif  (Any guesses as to which place I'm the Ambassador for?)

post #11 of 23

My son is 11 now and I have purchased skis every other Spring since he was 3.  I've managed to guess right on sizing and get 2 seasons out of each pair.  Between Ebay, Levelnine, and other online shops I have never paid more than $130 for skis with bindings. Have managed to sell each pair for around $75, two years later (sell early Winter).  Boots have been replaced every season, the same way.  If you check Ebay regularly, you can always find barely used boots and sell them a year later for what you paid.

 

This will be the first year my costs will increase as he wants twin tips and he now needs a higher Din binding.

 

post #12 of 23

I was looking into the same thing a couple months ago (lodge lost my daughters skis).  I am now really looking hard a buying the skis, almost pulled the trigger last weekend on some Gem's, but had one last question that was nagging me and the answer might help the OP also...

 

How much does twin tip shorten skiable length?  My guess would be simply subtracting the distance from where the rear tip curves away from the ground to the back tip of the ski from the total length.

 

/other thing that kept me from pulling trigger was a binding thing, not likely to help OP, thought I would be able to avoid the whole junior normed thing, but she jumped two whole shoe sizes since october and therefore planning to buy the skis flat and worry about the bindings next fall

 

 

post #13 of 23

As a former coach of 5-7 year olds, with a 3 year old niece, I always recommend the seasonal lease. Why, kids grow and/or improve. This gives you the opportunity to make a change mid-season. Yes, the cost of new vs. seasonal lease may be comparable, it is still worth the lease. The best part is no storage issues and no need to figure out how to get rid of it once you are done.

post #14 of 23

I will echo RPTW almost exactly. I always buy at the end of the season for both of my kids. I have a self imposed soft limit of $150 when looking at new skis/bindings. Just got my son a pair of 130 cm's for $140 end of the year sale at a local MC Sports. I have also gotten deals off of E-bay & Craigslist when buying used. You should be able to get a 50%-70% return rate on new skis if your kids don't beat them up too badly. On used skis, I have gotten in the 80%-100% range when I bought them at a good price. Not sure how the lease options work, but this has worked out well for me.

post #15 of 23

If you can get something used for next to nothing go for it.  Let them play with them in the grass, even when there is no snow.  half of the first few days on skis for toddlers and little kids is just about learning to get around on them, put them on and take them off, fall and get back up. 

post #16 of 23

A seasonal lease is very simple.  Go to local ski shop with the kid just before local slopes start opening up, find boots that fit, pick skis based on height, get poles (even if not using them yet), pay for the lease.  If need to change anything during the season, go in and swap.  At the end of the season, return everything.

 

For little ones, they don't need poles for several years.  But even a 5yo in their second or third season can figure out how to use poles on the flats, assuming the poles are a reasonable length.  By then, the poles don't get in their way when skiing.

post #17 of 23

See this link that I started a couple of years ago in the family section regarding families saving money when skiing:  http://www.epicski.com/t/92869/money-time-saving-tips-for-parents-with-small-children-who-ski

 

 

You can buy good used skis with great bottoms and then sell them after the season for almost what you paid for them.  You can also buy new skis for at least 50% off (from a previous season).  This year there will be great deals since the snow was poor in many areas and the ski shops don't want to hold onto inventory.   Usually only the top sheet graphics on kid skis change from year to year.  Boots are another matter.  Growth spurts make purchasing boots months before the ski season risky for young children.

 

post #18 of 23
Thread Starter 

Guys, a big thanks to all who shared on this thread. Your thoughts have been helpful and I appreciate them. I'm noolding on all the options now (thanks for the links, too... the Roces boots look interesting, btw) -- this site is great :)

 

Thanks again, and I'll get him set up one way or another,

 

James

post #19 of 23

 

Just came across a relatively new book (Nov 2011) for preschoolers and early readers.  "Safely Ski from A to Z" uses rhymes and the typical alphabet approach that little kids love to teach children how to practice caution and etiquette on the slopes.  Maybe a present in Dec?

Starts with

A is for AWAKE. Today’s ADVENTURE is on skis!
B is for BOOTS and BINDINGS. Close the BUCKLES please.


Here's a bit more detail by a mom who blogs about family skiing.

http://braveskimom.com/ski-safety-know-the-code-from-a-to-z-book-giveaway
 

 

post #20 of 23
Thread Starter 
Thanks! He'll like that book -- I might buy it for him sooner. And I like Massanutten, too smile.gif It's where I first skied as well. The southern PA resorts are a bit closer, but Massanutten has a surprisingly good vertical for resorts w/in day-trip distance. And now I know it has a good ski school, too! Thanks again,

James
post #21 of 23
Unless I missed something, the min size on the skis you linked to were 100 cm. too long imo
post #22 of 23

If you haven't been to Massanutten for a while, well worth checking it out.  In the last few years, they upgraded both of the remaining double chairs, expanded the ski school area, plus have conveyor loading for both of the base lifts.  Lift 6 to the top is where I stay on weekends because there is never a line, even on holiday weekends.  My daughter could ski the two black runs at age 7, so our ratio of ski time to waiting time is a lot better at Mnut than Wintergreen.  Also helps that all the runs are lit, so easy to take a long lunch and then ski into the lights.

 

I didn't realize until recently that the 1100 vert at Mnut is the most in VA, PA, MD.

 

Those in charge of ski school have been around for at least 10 years, if not longer.  The Director of Slope Sliders (full day for kids) is part of a clan that has quite a few members who are or have been instructors.  My daughter did a 90-min clinic in Dec that ended up a private with one of the second generation, one of the Director's nephews.  He has 16 first cousins who all learned to ski at a young age at Mnut.  She had a great time with him.  It was funny because he's about 6'2" and was skiing on 150's.  His 15yo little brother was using his regular skis that day.

post #23 of 23

Maybe your kid is different, but when mine (4 & 6 both started at 3) try on ski boots, they expect them to fit like snow boots.  They don't exactly listen to the when I suggest they get something just a little snug.  Ski size is also a big issue.  Many skis start at 100cm which is too long for little kids.  My somewhat small for a 6 y/o was still on 90s this year and did great.  All this has led me to lease and not buy.  Even with a great deal, if you buy the wrong size - boot or ski - you'll try to convince yourself that they're fine when they're not.  If you lease the wrong size, just go back to the shop and ask them to exchange.

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