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Ski gear buying strategies, whats yours???

post #1 of 26
Thread Starter 


The more you spend skiing, the more important it becomes to select, buy and sell ski gear efficiently.

What is your strategy? Do you demo many skis, or buy exclusively based on research or suggestions? Do you buy at retail or online? Do you buy and hold, or do you refresh your selection often?

Do you stick with a few brands that you like or to try something new and different when you buy?

Cheers,

Michael
post #2 of 26
After skiing for many years I know what kinds of characteristics I want in a ski. Because of my size and preference for long skis I never get to demo. I love to watch people ski from the chair and when I see someone who looks really smooth I always try to see what kind of skis they are on, and if possible check the length in the lift line. Based on personal observations and talking to people about their equipment, both in person, here, and on TGR I narrow down my choices and check end of the year sales and internet sources. I never buy brand new model skis before the end of the year, so by then there is lots of feedback from people who have used them. If you buy new models early season you are not only paying twice as much but you’re also dependant mostly on marketing hype for your information.
post #3 of 26
I research, scouring the internet for reviews. Ski Canada and Skiing magazine have had very good reviews. It can be hard to find serious reviews in the barking bear forums, a lot of useful anecdotal stuff though.

Then from March through August, I start looking for discounts. Ski stores and Demo shops start shedding gear in March. Sometimes with progressive sales, lowering the price every couple days. During the Summer months I scan the internet. Then in late summer or fall - SNIAGRAB season, some store bring out the clearance stuff again. Frankly, I have bought three pair of skis over the internet with about $35 shipping.

The sniagrabs are good for kid's gear.

Don't forget bindings... get them after you get your skis. Buy them at summer prices at the ski shop and get a little discount for mounting (about $30 to mount).

Now, I am in the mood to demo. I have had friends go through a half season demoing and it has been a hoot. Some of them have purchased demo skis at good prices (includes bindings). Next time I get the urge to switch, I am definitely demoing.
post #4 of 26
I enjoy the sport of skiing, ski collecting and trading hold very little interest to me.

I buy what I know I really want and don't buy what I don't need, deals on gear are only 'deals' if I actually use the gear. My time is worth a lot to me, spending multiple hours (days) of my time to save a few bucks is a poor use of time/money IMO, discounts are great but having time to use gear is better than saving a few dollars.

So I guess my strategy is:

I buy what I know I want/need and will use, avoid buying stuff I don't need and spend most of my ski money (and time) on skiing.
post #5 of 26
Early and often.
post #6 of 26
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tyson Rockwood View Post

I buy what I know I want/need and will use, avoid buying stuff I don't need and spend most of my ski money (and time) on skiing.
Nothing wrong with this philosophy.

What is you strategy for this approach? Do you demo? Stick to one brand or type of ski?...

Michael
post #7 of 26
I've been skiing for 32 years, I do demo skis but I'm pretty good at looking at how a ski is made (dimensions, materials used, construction method) and inferring how it will perform. I also find that after a couple of runs I've adapted to the ski, and heck, they all ski pretty darn good these days.
post #8 of 26
Here's a strategy that seems pretty common and works pretty well.

(1)Research research research......magazines forums etc.
(2)DEMO, DEMO, DEMO,
(3)Hopefully come to some conclusion.
(4)Wait for sales wait for sales wait for sales wait for sales
(5)Discover the cool ski you decided upon sold out in December

(6)Buy something else because it's on sale.......OR......Repeat steps 1-5

SJ
post #9 of 26
SJ's strategy is what I used at the advent of the 2005 season.

I hadn't planned on purchasing new equipment, but then my wonderful (or so i thought at the time) "vintage" San Marco boots cracked in half at the end of the day in the Boulder Parking lot at Heavenly. If I'm not mistaken when I went to demo/rent boots the shop was hesitant to do so given that my skis were 15+ year old Rossi's with Solly S997's.

I believe I ended up on some Solly Cross skis. They were okay and got me through the weekend.

that's when i started doing the reading and research (ended up here because every time i googled for certain skis i kept getting Barking Bear Reviews).

Now while I whole-heartedly agree with steps 1-4:

(1)Research research research......magazines forums etc.
(2)DEMO, DEMO, DEMO,
(3)Hopefully come to some conclusion.
(4)Wait for sales wait for sales wait for sales wait for sales

I would like to add my own Steps 5 and 6:

(5) Ski what you bought for a season and realize that it's not what you wanted (after impulsively demoing more even though you just bought equipment, realizing that your skiing style and preferences have changed drastically since the Rossi 7S was in vogue, and after reading reviews of newer skis that sound more up your alley)

(6) Buy new skis that seem more in tune with how you ski and what terrain you ride. Sell (or attempt to sell) the old skis.

(7) of course this is the REPEAT step, whereupon you may decide that what you've bought isn't exactly right this time either.

Then there's my buddy's essential Step:

Just ski what you bought! You'll figure it out soon enough.
post #10 of 26
Buy low, sell... maybe.
post #11 of 26
Thread Starter 
I feel that skiing is the one area where I can spoil myself a little, so with the determination of a jones-driven gear-geek, I immerse myself in multiple on-line tools and buy & sell a little compulsively. As a family man I also buy for my three teenage kids who tolerate it-all with healthy amusement.

Is there a method to my madness? Realskiers has converted ski buying from an expensive gamble to a interesting hobby and reduced my costs significantly. I buy all my skis online at eBay or for-sale at the forums. I generally spend $100 to $275 for skis and another $100 for bindings. 90% of the skis I buy are new-old stock, but I will gamble on a "almost-new" model that has been used.

I normally will buy boots at retail, but again I buy new-old stock. I do feel that a good bootfitter is critical and will pay for this service willingly. Buying boots at a ski show is a viable option and better than buying on-line, IMO.

I am reluctant to trust a new model and I prefer to buy a ski that has been on the market for one or more seasons. Most skis I own are recent classics. The advantage of an established model are the multiple opinions based on substantial usage that can be developed at this forum. I don't trust the magazines at all.

I do own a quiver. As a former racer I've had multiple skis for 30 years. I do like every Fischer RX & WC hardsnow skis and a few of their super-wide skis. I also like Dynastar. I'm willing to gamble on an unfamiliar make and model after ample research.

I tend to buy < 73mm wide skis or > 94mm wide skis. I think that the AC4 and other midfats ski well, but I'd rather be on a skinny carver or fat bomber.

Cheers,

Michael
post #12 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by barrettscv View Post




What is your strategy?
I overspend for a couple years and then pout when reality sets in and I realize I'll have to stop. Then I watch ebay to see if I can make a killer score despite the ruin it will lead me to.


Quote:
Originally Posted by barrettscv
Do you stick with a few brands that you like or to try something new and different when you buy?
I will not dignify this with further response.
post #13 of 26
I've found that by being a repeat customer at my local ski shop has been the best strategy. Last year I bought 6 pairs of skis, two pairs of boots, a pile of ski tuning supplies and assorted items. They are willing to help me out on prices (especially latter on in the ski season) and spend the extra time with me when it comes to the important stuff like boot fitting.
post #14 of 26
Strategy?
post #15 of 26
[quote=SkiNut;765684]I've found that by being a repeat customer at my local ski shop has been the best strategy. quote]

I completely agree. Having a good relationship with the local ski shop(s) has been beneficial for me (as well as them). Of course, if they don't have what I want, I look elsewhere, but I have found that the few $ I could have saved somewhere else are more than saved by the discounts and exceptional treatment I have received from repeat business.
post #16 of 26
I don't demo, I read, read, read, buy and stick to my choice. Once I use a brand I try to stick with it. Reason being that the various components often work together as a system (this applies to many things whether it be ski gear or a home theater).

For example, Head skis, that I ski on exclusively, work best (everything bolts right in) when using the Head/Tyrolia bindings (sometimes you have no choice). The Burton jacket I use has provisions to connect its powder skirt to the pants, same goes for the pants and jacket I use by Body-Glove, if I were to mix and match I loose some of the built in features. So even when there might be a better option by another manufacturer I try to keep the system intact so that it all works the way it was designed to. This directly influences the purchase, since I have to look at the peripheral items that I will need to use said item. Do I want that ski if I am forced to use that binding? Do I want that jacket if the pants by brand X are better? You get the idea.
post #17 of 26
I will buy first and demo later. The one ski that I demoed then went out and bought was the Metron. It was so different than what I was skiing that I had to buy it. But I tend to find a deal on something and buy it, even if I like it, it is gone w/in a season.
post #18 of 26
Demoing is the best advice when possible but to be honest, The best deals over the summer and up to september. Then the good deals start to dissapear. I prefer to buy used, there are plenty of great skis with 5-10 days on them. I keep my skis in great condition and sell after a seson or two, this has worked out well. I am able to stay even or maybe down a $100 or so at the end of a season. this is worth it to try different skis. I have to say that I have found the best deals right here.
post #19 of 26

Demo?

The problem is that most skis I'm interested in are not very likely to be demoable.

I would have never gotten LP's if i waited for a demo, there are none, at least in New England.

Phil has the right idea, buy first, then ski it various times in various conditions to get a real feel for its personality.

If you find you don't like it after some quality time on it (not just a day), then you probably will be able to sell it for some decent $$ and move on.
post #20 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by SierraJim View Post
Here's a strategy that seems pretty common and works pretty well.

(1)Research research research......magazines forums etc.
(2)DEMO, DEMO, DEMO,
(3)Hopefully come to some conclusion.
(4)Wait for sales wait for sales wait for sales wait for sales
(5)Discover the cool ski you decided upon sold out in December

(6)Buy something else because it's on sale.......OR......Repeat steps 1-5

SJ
Anyone who says they can figure out from the reviews is fooling themselves. Reviews for the same skis two years running are often at odds with one another, and many of the ski / skiing reviews end up being reflective of ad space and not reality.

Regarding the quote, I agree on 1 and 2 as demoing is the only way to know what works for you.

Regarding 3, if you can't figure this out, then go back to playing golf.

For 4 and 5, no matter how popular the ski, there's usually some way to find it, either through the shops, the web, ebay or something. If I want it bad enough (Dynastar Skicross 10, 3 years ago), I'll pay (close to) retail, or if not, you can often get a year old one with a different topsheet. In that case I mentioned, if I had done a bit more reserach, I would have found the previous year's model much cheaper.

By demoing I found a few skis that I really liked, and coud ealiy live with for a season. - Dynastar 8k, 8.8k, Nordica Top Fuel Hot Rod, Volkl AC3, AC4. They're all available, although the hype on the Volkl's made them harder to find. That was OK, The Dynastar's were my favorite anyway.

If I hadn't demoed, maybe I'd have believed the Metron hype.
post #21 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by SierraJim View Post
Here's a strategy that seems pretty common and works pretty well.

(1)Research research research......magazines forums etc.
(2)DEMO, DEMO, DEMO,
(3)Hopefully come to some conclusion.
(4)Wait for sales wait for sales wait for sales wait for sales
(5)Discover the cool ski you decided upon sold out in December

(6)Buy something else because it's on sale.......OR......Repeat steps 1-5

SJ
This sounds feasible for the average bear. I, however, don't demo for the sake of finding a new ski for my quiver. I demo because the demo is available!

Occasional strategy
Once in a while, I'll catch some inside info or a buzz about something new coming around the bend, and THAT is when I start to :
On those occasions, I tend to buy a specific ski for the sake of getting the ski. One such occasion is the Nordica Olympia Firefox. I demo'd several Nordicas last winter, when the rep hinted that the Olympia FireFox that is coming out for the 08 season is THE ski . Sierra Jim then reported on his time on the ski, and to top it off Deb Armstrong had great things to say about it.
THAT is a ski that needs to be a part of my ski buying strategy.

Normal Strategy
Stumble on a deal on a ski that appears to have the Fun Built in!
Snatch up the bargain!
Ski on it for a season +/-!!
Sell the Ski, and move on to the next gear purchase adventure!

With the advancement in Ski Gear Technology, its awesome to experience the next thing coming around the bend!
post #22 of 26
I feel that attending a demo is the only sure fire method of making a good buying decision. However in my area these are few and far between, we typically have only one demo. Its held in late November when the ski area only has only blown enough snow to cover a couple of the smaller blue runs. The conditions are poor, temperatures are high and the hill is over crowded, not ideal for testing ski's. I rely heavily on feedback from others on forums such as this and from magazine tests. A lot of my buying is trial and error, I end up with more ski's than I want or need. I'm lucky to have a good dealer that stocks what I'm looking for and gives me the end of the season deals now! With work taking up more and more of my time, I'm skiing less. This year I'm going to become a little less specialized and more all conditions minded. In the past I've had so many ski's in the quiver to choose from it was a pain just to figure out which ones to bring to the hill from day to day (then second guess yourself). I want to simplify things and get back to more of an every day ski. I'm looking to purchase a narrower (front side) all conditions ski to compliment the many specialty ski's I already have. I've even sold several pair's of my current quiver the past couple of weeks through local swaps! My goal is to cap the quiver at five, a GS Carving ski, SL Carving ski, Nastar Race ski, All Conditions (carving oriented) ski and a Mid-Fat ski for trips west. Thats my plan and I'm sticking to it!!!
post #23 of 26
The industry is completely missing the boat with the lack of demo skis out there. Without a doubt, more skis would be sold to the avg Joe who is curious but won't take a risk or doesn't percieve that new skis will be better. I am sure it comes down to cost (everything does) but I think that here on the east coast, it's especially difficult. Not to mention, many shops out in the NY metro area, just don't carry a wide range of skis. Many of the resorts are full of east coast skiers who would love to own a pair of west-coast, soft snow oriented skis but can't even buy them at the local shops
post #24 of 26
I buy promiscuously.

Truth is, for a number of years now, there have been a lot of interesting skis that either I can't demo without traveling silly distances, or hitting the "demo day" just right (screw work), or you have to settle for a banged up, crappy edged wrong-length shop rental with a sloppy high rise adjustable mount and extrapolate what the ski and binding you want might feel like. This is even true for ubiquitous rentals like K2's and Rossis, let alone for Stocklis or Nordicas, and it's increasingly true for the "demo tents" since eveyone on the mountain discovered them.

Then there's the smaller makers. Anyone interested in trying out an Armada or 4Front or Fatty-pus or Indigo or Prior or Ogasaka? Good luck and hope you have the time and money to travel to the one regional store - maybe in another country - that (may) have the ski you want to try.

Anyway let's say you ski a 177 version of the AC40 because the 170 you want is unavailable. Do you get an accurate readout? Well, you get a decent sense of what Volkls generically feel like compared to say Sollies. But $35 or $40 later, in NO WAY do you get an accurate sense for the specific ski you're interested in. The difference between those two lengths is vast and nonlinear. Some folks I respect around here argue that differences in length are more significant than differences in brand, and I think it's a reasonable argument for some skis.

So yep, I still demo when I can, and I have fun posting my impressions here, but I don't fool myself that I learn that much, and I make more and more of my purchases based on reviews and word of mouth.
post #25 of 26
One other note on demo's is try the same ski in different lengths, a 170cm ski may ski completely different from the same ski in 177cm. Its been my experience and an industry trend that the manufactures and shops want to keep pushing shorter and shorter ski's. I'm heavy for my height and prefer longer ski's than they recommend. In many cases the longer lengths aren't available for testing or even for sale by the dealers. My hats off to Ski Canada and Ski Press for noting which length they tested and providing the stats of the individual testers making the recommendations. If a fellow 220lb tester tells me a particular ski rocks in a given length I'll believe him more so than someone who wieghs 150lbs. Please keep this in mind when you have to rely on a magazine test.
post #26 of 26
I find what I can get a deal on and then demo it. If it seems good, I'll get it. I don't go through a lot of skis, just keep my eyes open for deals when I'm in a shop.

I was trying to buy a snorkle when I got my boots.
Bike parts got me to my Pocket Rockets.
The Elan 666's showed up when I was looking for camping gear.
I'd heard about the Fischer Atua in Whistler and was interested, but not in the shop's $1088 price for a used pair with bindings. After driving home I returned a pair of rented poles (the others broke just as we were leaving town) and saw them discounted at the local shop. Got the whole she-bang new for $420 (with bindings, tax, and a check-out demo).

I find that most skis seem great to me. Love the one you're with.
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