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True Cost of Ownership: Break-even point for buying vs demo'ing skis?

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 

I finally made the jump and am the proud owner of a good fitting pair of ski boots.  The difference is unbelievable!  I'm now debating whether it makes sense financially to buy a pair of skis as well (versus demo'ing at the slopes).  

 

Some background:

Living in NC, I 2-4 day trips to local mountains (icy groomers) and ski 10-15 days out west.  I'm an advanced skier and loved the 2012 S3's on my last trip for a good all-mountain ski (not sure if these would work well on SE groomers).  I travel a good bit for work, so I have status and won't have to pay any luggage fees.  I have no knowledge of ski maintenance, but I do all the work on my fleet of bikes and have a solid mechanical base.

 

Given this background, would you recommend buying something like the S3, or continuing to demo ski's?  What is the break-even point for making the jump to buying skis, if the majority of the skiing will be airline-based?

 

Thanks!

post #2 of 23

How do you assign a value to the time it takes to rent those demo skis?

How do you value the cost of schlepping skis through airports?  Car Rental lobbies?

 

The point will probably be moot once you demo some skis that you can't live without.  It will happen.....no question.

post #3 of 23

Depending on where you get the demo skis, it might cost upwards of $50/day to demo skis which are not the usual rental junk.  If you do a 10 day trip that cold be $500.  Right now you can buy many 85-90mm skis for around $800 with bindings.  So you can work that out.  There is a lot to be said from skiing the same ski on a consistent basis because you learn how that ski wants to be driven.  As far as the S3 is concerned, it would be fine out west but not good on southeast ice.  There are other skis that will work in both places but there will be tradeoffs and what you could end up with is a ski that's not very good either place.  The best thing is to buy a used pair of skis for use in the east and a pair to use out west.

post #4 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by dshack89 View Post

I finally made the jump and am the proud owner of a good fitting pair of ski boots.  The difference is unbelievable!  I'm now debating whether it makes sense financially to buy a pair of skis as well (versus demo'ing at the slopes).  

 

Some background:

Living in NC, I 2-4 day trips to local mountains (icy groomers) and ski 10-15 days out west.  I'm an advanced skier and loved the 2012 S3's on my last trip for a good all-mountain ski (not sure if these would work well on SE groomers).  I travel a good bit for work, so I have status and won't have to pay any luggage fees.  I have no knowledge of ski maintenance, but I do all the work on my fleet of bikes and have a solid mechanical base.

 

Given this background, would you recommend buying something like the S3, or continuing to demo ski's?  What is the break-even point for making the jump to buying skis, if the majority of the skiing will be airline-based?

 

Thanks!

I'd buy but for different reasons.

 

I'm firmly convinced that when people demo skis they are really demoing a tune job and a generically set up ski.  If you take the time to have your cant (side to side knock kneed or bowleggedness) and your ramp angle (heel to toe height relationship) adjusted properly and for you, then you will have a ski that you can ski and that will be best for you.   Ramp angle/height is really important and it varies dramatically between ski/binding pairs.  If you don't know what it is for you, you can have a ski that is just not right for you and you will rate it as a bad ski - when it's not.  When you demo skis, they are properly tuned and typically (but not always) set to a ramp zone two or three.  You may require something different.

 

Additionally, we've often taken skis that someone says are horrible, properly tune them and set them up for the skier who then finds out that they just love the ski.  We've seen this be a problem time and time again to the point where when someone tells us they "hate" their skis, we almost want to roll our eyes.  We've also seen this produce dramatically better results in racers when set properly.  It benefits all skiers but it's noticeable and quantifiable in racers.

 

Just like you took the time to get boots fit properly, so should you take the time to go to a good ski shop and get your cant and ramp set properly.  Once you know that, you can buy a pair of skis and have them set up properly.  It makes a huge difference and is just about as important as getting your boots fit properly.

 

Once you've had the skis set up properly, you're skiing will improve, lessons make sense and learning is easier.  Keep the skis for as long as you like them and they fit your performance level. Spend some time  and learn how they perform.  You're skiing enjoyment will go straight up and that incremental difference in money will make all the difference in the world in your enjoyment of sport.  

 

Finally, for as much as you ski, you should definitely own your own skis.

 

 

J.

post #5 of 23
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the quick replies...I hadn't thought of many of the things you guys suggested.  It sounds like the consensus is to buy a ski for each coast.

 

Having never bought skis before, I don't know where to get the best bang for my buck.  Where should I look for some good deals?  Is it risky to buy used skis?

post #6 of 23
Time: assuming you have the ability to transport your skis and not flying in, saving time is useful.

Next is consistency. Skiing the same equipment for several days will allow you to find the limits of the ski and trust it more than unknown equipment.

Buying used skis:
Either from individuals or from ski shops.
If from individuals, look in ski forums for buy/sell/trade, or ebay. there is less of a return policy with individuals.

If from shops ebay or shop local. Typically though, they clear out stock at the end of the season, or beginning...

You can also consider buying new old stock and save money that way. Support your local shop and ask them for a good value deal. You can post back here and people will give you advice on which option you should buy
post #7 of 23

I'd say you are on the border of buy/rent choice. But,  first, pat yourself on the back for buying your own boots- one item you should never rent.  Skis are a more complicated story.

 

Here is an argument not to buy

You get to ski a ski that is matched to the conditions of the day.  Its like having a quiver w/o paying for it.

You get to try new skis and you may still discover a ski that truly wows you. 

Core shots, dull edges and routine maintenance is not your problem (damage insurance). 

You get to ski the latest ski technology every year, with the number of days you are getting, by the time you wear out your own ski it will be way outdated and won't be worth much.  

Keep in mind that there may be days that you will wan tto rent despite having your own skis (e.g. when a massive powder day calls for fat boards, or when its so rocky that you won't want to take your own skis out).  

So...at 10 days or less you better off renting...

 

Here is an argument to buy:

Not all rental shops will have the ski you want in your size available all the time.

You will have to check their binding adjustment every time you rent.

Nobody can guarantee you from a crappy tune job (although it's way less likely with performance demos).  Granted, no one tunes and waxes their own skis as often as they should, even if they have tools at home.

If you can ski with one ski for a long time, you will save some money at the end.   

So... At 15 days or more, you are better off buying...

ski.gif

post #8 of 23

I'm in a similar situation and always bought. My dad actually pulled me into the sport after I almost destroyed my knee snowboarding. I'd still but if he didn't get the skis for me since with almost everything I prefer to buy rather than rent/demo. I live in Chicago and barely go skiing here in the midwest, maybe a few times a year, and mainly go to Colorado for a week or two every year. Demoing is nice if you're planning to buy something and aren't sure but changing skis each time doesn't always let you fine tune your skills on one set of skis which can help you fine tune it in general.

 

Price wise, look at the equipment that's out now or was last year and get it off season or at the end of season clearance. get yourself a good pair of all mountain skis first and then something for back mountain or powder if you want. I picked up a pair of Rossi Sickle (last seasons model) with Marker Squire bindings for 600 this year. Took them out on groomed runs in Wisconsin and was surprised how well they handled for how wide they are. General all-around skis are Rossi Axium STX for me but that may change next year (great skis to learn on though several years old now).

 

Make sure to read about the skis before you buy them. My cousin started out on Volkl AC2's and after a few years he's still having a hard time catching the edge. I lent him my Axium's and he was doing much better by the end of the day. If you feel comfortable in the S3's, definitely look into them and see what they go for. Another option would be to get a few skis lined up and demo them to see which you feel the most comfortable with.

post #9 of 23
Quote:

How do you assign a value to the time it takes to rent those demo skis?

How do you value the cost of schlepping skis through airports?  Car Rental lobbies?

 

This becomes a huge factor.

 

I own skis but have occasionally rented on trips to Europe because hauling the skis through several airports plus on a train, bus, etc. is a huge PITA.  If you have to pay for luggage it's often not much more expensive to rent/demo.  Flying direct to somewhere like Denver and throwing the skis right into rental car isn't so bad.

 

If you are looking to minimize financial cost and don't mind hauling skis through airports and dealing with oversize luggage, buying should even out fairly quickly.  Especially if you hunt around and get a bargain on the skis.

 

On the flip side (as pointed out in post #7) if you demo you're always on brand-new(ish) gear and can get a different pair every day if you want.

 

For me, at least, I often want totally different skis out West than I do skiing smaller and often icier mountains in New England.  That's also a factor.  It's almost certainly worth buying something for use at home, unless you can get really cheap seasonal rentals that you're happy with.

 

If you don't know what you want it may be worth doing the demo thing for a year just so you can try a bunch of different skis, then pick whichever one you liked best and hunt mercilessly for a cheap pair in the late/offseason.

 

Quote:
...If you take the time to have your cant (side to side knock kneed or bowleggedness) and your ramp angle (heel to toe height relationship) adjusted properly and for you, then you will have a ski that you can ski and that will be best for you.   Ramp angle/height is really important and it varies dramatically between ski/binding pairs.

 

Somewhat off topic, but in theory skis/bindings should be set 'flat' and you should have ramp/canting adjustments done by modifying your boot soles.  Then you don't need to tweak every pair of skis to fit you.


Edited by Matthias99 - 1/28/13 at 1:50pm
post #10 of 23
The stuff with cant and ramp angle I think only will play a role if you are the skier who needs them. I don't know the statistics, but I think the majority of people are ok with default/flat setting (as well as centerline mounting position)
post #11 of 23

For your days/year (say 15-20), answer is a no-brainer; yes it's worth it. A decent rental (eg, Demo) will cost you the price of a new ski in a bit over one season. After that, all saved money. Plus you can wax them yourself, maybe learn to do edges. And it'll be the ski and the length you want, nicely tuned, not what's available.

 

The airport fee thing to me is hilarious; we pony up 1.5 to 2.5K for a trip out west for a week or 10 days, and we moan about having to pay the cost of a lunch on the slopes, for baggage. Huh? OK, if you absolutely detest lugging skis from the baggage slide to the rental car or the shuttle, then for sure, rent. OTOH, if you detest lugging gear around, this may be the wrong sport, period. We damn near invented lugging. 

post #12 of 23
Quote:
OK, if you absolutely detest lugging skis from the baggage slide to the rental car or the shuttle, then for sure, rent.

 

Depending on where you go, if you have to change planes (or airlines) you may have to pick up and recheck your bags in a distant airport.  Flying SWA direct to Denver and grabbing a rental car is easy even with heavy bags.  Flying through Montreal to Geneva and then taking two trains followed by a bus -- decidedly less so.

 

If you're paying to check bags, demoing can start to look attractive on a short trip.

 

Purchasing and lugging will definitely be cheaper in the long haul if you ski 10+ days/season and get free checked bags.

post #13 of 23

I'm from the old school where you bought one pair of skis and made do for a dozen years until they broke in pieces.  In that case the math was simple, you were ahead of the rental game half way through the first season, BTW, a season where most of the skiing was just a short daytrip away.  Even these days where people so often hop in a plane to ski I dislike the idea of an uncertain set-up, being stuck with skis/bindings that you found inadequate, inconsistent or unfamiliar.  Now you are three chairlifts away from the rental shop and it's snowing like a banshee and rather than encountering Nirvanna, you're going back to swap equipment and messing up one of your precious ski days you've paid big bucks and crossed the country to enjoy. 

Give me the devil I know over the devil I don'tdevil.gif

post #14 of 23

I always buy at the end of the season and rarely pay more than $4-500 with bindings out the door.  I may not be on the ski dujour,  but it's always solid gear.

I usually get a hundred days or more on a pair.

post #15 of 23
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by SHREDHEAD View Post

I always buy at the end of the season and rarely pay more than $4-500 with bindings out the door.  I may not be on the ski dujour,  but it's always solid gear.

I usually get a hundred days or more on a pair.

 

What buying channel do you usually use to find end of season deals?

post #16 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by SHREDHEAD View Post

I always buy at the end of the season and rarely pay more than $4-500 with bindings out the door.  I may not be on the ski dujour,  but it's always solid gear.

I usually get a hundred days or more on a pair.

 

Yep.  That's a very good way to acquire new or almost new skis for much less than retail.

 

And the thing is, after 100 days or so, you have a pair of 3 year old skis that are still worth $400 or so. 

My method is to buy skis on ebay in the summer, ski on them for 3 seasons or so,  and then sell them at a ski swap at the beginning of the season for about what I paid for them.

 

The key is to  unload them while they're still worth something.  Bottom line is that you can ski on nearly new skis for a net cost of $50/season or less.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by dshack89 View Post

 

What buying channel do you usually use to find end of season deals?

Check ebay. 

Wait for the season to be over. 

Know what you want. 

Be patient and wait for the right deal. 

Use a snipe service like gixen.com.

post #17 of 23

I've always bought used skis for between 200-300 with bindings.  I actually bought some ex-demo S3s for my brother at the end of last season for ~225 (without bindings). If you're only skiing 2-4 days a year in the East I'd start with something like the S3, take it out West and most likely use it in the East too. If you're not really into carving, they might work out just fine for limited EC use. They are a very versatile ski.

 

If you find yourself wishing for some ice skates, you can either wait on a good deal or rent when needed.

 

Side note: I did these calculations a few years ago and found that if I (having just entered grad school in the NE) went once or twice a year over the course of the time I was there, then it would be better to buy my own gear than to rent. But...I forgot about the endogeneity problem of once you have your own skis, you don't calculate their cost into the marginal cost of going for the day so you go more. And once you start going more, you might get really addicted. And if you get addicted and are going all the time, you'll likely get better and outgrow your skis.  And as you get better and outgrow your skis, you'll find yourself skiing a lot more types of conditions. The more days you ski on different conditions, the more you'll be able to justify to yourself getting skis for those different conditions... and four years later you'll have four pairs of skis in the house (plus a pair you just bust out for retro days so don't count).  It's a slippery slope. But as we all know, slippery slopes can be glorious. Provided you have the right skis. wink.gif

post #18 of 23

Good on the boots!

 

No reason to buy a powder ski IMHO.  It's not just a matter of money.

 

A few years ago I knew I would ski at least 10-15 days in the southeast, plus 14-20 days out west.  I own an all-mountain ski that I bought AFTER doing a multi-day demo in north Tahoe under variable conditions, including a day with 2 feet of powder (got lucky).  My size (petite) combined with my skis means I can float enough in up to 10 inches of powder.  Waited until the right late season deal on the previous model year (same construction, different graphics) came up.  I use my skis at Massanutten and take them with me on trips out west.  However, I'm also quite ready to pay to rent powder skis when there is more than about 8 inches of fresh powder to play in.  I usually do a personal demo day as well so I know what I might want to rent or buy in the future.

 

I invested in a 2-pair Sportube not only for flights but also to have the option of shipping.  If I go solo, then I have room for other stuff plus the all-mountain skis.  For trips with my daughter, I take her skis too.  Plus there is room for a second pair for me when I have built a quiver.  Not quite yet, but I can see it coming. wink.gif

 

Have a friend who travels a lot for business, with the option of spending weekends wherever sometimes.  He's young and single.  Has a friend in SLC willing to store his skis.  Guess where he wants to fly on Friday every so often? biggrin.gif

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by dshack89 View Post

I finally made the jump and am the proud owner of a good fitting pair of ski boots.  The difference is unbelievable!  I'm now debating whether it makes sense financially to buy a pair of skis as well (versus demo'ing at the slopes).  

 

Some background:

Living in NC, I 2-4 day trips to local mountains (icy groomers) and ski 10-15 days out west.  I'm an advanced skier and loved the 2012 S3's on my last trip for a good all-mountain ski (not sure if these would work well on SE groomers).  I travel a good bit for work, so I have status and won't have to pay any luggage fees.  I have no knowledge of ski maintenance, but I do all the work on my fleet of bikes and have a solid mechanical base.

 

Given this background, would you recommend buying something like the S3, or continuing to demo ski's?  What is the break-even point for making the jump to buying skis, if the majority of the skiing will be airline-based?

 

Thanks!

post #19 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by dshack89 View Post

 

What buying channel do you usually use to find end of season deals?

 

I buy most of my gear from ski shops in Aspen in April.  Most turn into bike shops and dump their inventory.  But I've also purchased quite a bit online.  I've been very happy with Starthaus and other etailers.

post #20 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Matthias99 View Post
Depending on where you go, if you have to change planes (or airlines) you may have to pick up and recheck your bags in a distant airport.  Flying SWA direct to Denver and grabbing a rental car is easy even with heavy bags.  Flying through Montreal to Geneva and then taking two trains followed by a bus -- decidedly less so.

Yeah, I had to do something like that in Yrp once, agree that if trains are involved, equation changes. These days, my trips are in N.A., worst is a shuttle bus from Vancouver to Whistler. Not fun but doable. 

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Jamesj View Post

Now you are three chairlifts away from the rental shop and it's snowing like a banshee and rather than encountering Nirvanna, you're going back to swap equipment and messing up one of your precious ski days you've paid big bucks and crossed the country to enjoy. 

Give me the devil I know over the devil I don'tdevil.gif

     Near sticky quality. Been there, done that. If the shop magically has that ski you've been wanting to try, researched, in your length, and with solid bindings, it's an excuse to plan for next season's purchases. But waaay more often, it's that ski, but sorry, the length you want is gone, and in fact all our fat skis are out, so how about this nice Rossi carver? Or no, we don't have any of those, but you'll love this K2...

Quote:
Originally Posted by SHREDHEAD View Post

I always buy at the end of the season and rarely pay more than $4-500 with bindings out the door.  I may not be on the ski dujour,  but it's always solid gear.

I usually get a hundred days or more on a pair.

^^^^ I was being expansive about costs. Yeah, if you play the game decently, due diligence to when different places start their sales, don't ignore slopeside shops in April, you can get very nice new or lightly demoed gear from the previous season for 1/2K ready to ski.

 

And keep in mind that 2012's gold medal have-to-have-these-or-I'll-evaporate whoosh-snot rockers are old news, eg, heavily discounted, now that 2014's wherple-snort rocker with triple convex segments has been sighted. eek.gif Or if you can't find any of the whoosh-snots, those 2rd place do-alls with 2012's sexy waist width, now so-over narrow, are being used as doorstops.

 

Second keep in mind: Park and freestyle skis are often overproduced (someone should fire the guys who forecast this stuff. Unless it's the business plan to end up in online warehouses.) and thus being sold cheap (meaning a little above wholesale) in the spring and summer. Most are suitable for, ah, parks. But there are some solid all-mountains in there that will kill soft snow but also handle hardpack, although obviously not as gracefully as a 70 mm carver. Keep an eye out for skis like the Volkl Bridge, Nordica Dead Money, Stockli Rotor 84, Nordica Soul Rider, Armada El Rey, or Moment Tahoe. The S3's you liked are decent but not great on hardpack, obviously very nice elsewhere. 


Edited by beyond - 1/30/13 at 6:47am
post #21 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by SHREDHEAD View Post

I always buy at the end of the season and rarely pay more than $4-500 with bindings out the door.  I may not be on the ski dujour,  but it's always solid gear.

 

What he said!

post #22 of 23
Sorry to piss on the parade of proud ski owners/bargain hunters here. Most people on this board ski 20-30+ days a year and own multiple skis for different conditions. Myself included. I can easily justify owning two or three pairs, given his much I ski and where I ski. It does not mean your situation is the same. I'd second what marznc(?) said- buy an all-around ski that you can use on normal days and take on a trip, but be prepared to rent when conditions warrant that. These days cheap great skis are harder to find than it used to. The industry and retailers got smarter.
post #23 of 23

Well, if you keep up with the "for sale" sections on the various ski forums on the interwebz including here, you can actually get some amazing deals. Last year, I picked up a pair of absolutely perfect shape Gotamas (2nd pair!) that were my favorite version of them (pre-rocker) drilled once, PLUS beautiful brand new Salomon STH12 bindings. and the guy did an even trade with me for some of my gear. We both got a great deal, and all it cost us both was shipping. You can get some great deals at ski swaps too.

 

Thanks to the power of the internet, buying a great pair of skis does not have to be an expensive venture anymore. FWIW, I've also gotten some killer deals at retailers at the end of season. Like as in 60-75% off for brand new skis (that takes some more bargain hunting tho).

 

So in short, the answer is that it's probably worth it to go ahead and buy your own skis. At least you bought boots! That's priority number one, as having my own skis didn't matter nearly as much, but it has been awesome bringing a small quiver to the mountain with me for varying conditions. Nice to save that time not dealing with the rental shops anymore.

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