As a learner myself (this is my first season skiing), I can relate to her. My husband was reluctant at first to buy equipment for me, but I was having a lot of problems with rental boots and I realized I wouldn't progress very quickly if I continued to use boots that were either too loose or too tight (which are my options with rentals seeing as I have somewhat wider feet). While shopping for boots, he decided it might be a good idea to get skis at the same time as they would probably be cheaper as a package deal. Total for boots, skis, bindings, and poles was about $400, which isn't bad. Best decision we ever made... In the times I've been out since purchasing my own equipment, there has been a vast improvement in my skiing experience and I'm progressing quickly. I feel much more in control than I did in rental equipment.
I"m sharing my experience because I was originally given the same advice you were--to rent at first and buy in a year or two. Granted, it all depends on how many days a year she intends to ski. We've been going out at least once a week since January and intend to continue at that pace for the rest of the season, with a mini-ski vacation thrown in during early March. That greatly influenced the decision to buy. Had I intended only to ski a few times more this year, I wouldn't have forked over the money.
There are definite pros and cons whichever way you go. If you do decide to buy, as you already know, make sure to get boots first. It makes a HUGE difference if you have properly fitted boots. She will thank you for it. Other than that, discuss what her goals are. Again, if she's going to be a casual skier only going out a few times a season, it might not be worth it to invest in the skis too...at least, not right away.
Oh yeah, in case you're wondering, we went with Salomon Performa 4.0 boots and Rossignol Saphir Snow 2 skis with Salomon bindings... I'm very happy with both.
[ February 05, 2004, 04:23 PM: Message edited by: severine ]