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When To Buy Kids Skis vs. Renting?

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 
I'm looking for a little direction on when to buy skis for my son who will be 8 years old next season. Purchasing his own skis seems to make sense from a $$ stand point based on the amount of days we ski, even though we do not live in ski country. However he's a beginner but progressing rapidly. His ski season is done for the year, but next year the ski school will introduce his to poles for the first time. His last few days he began to parallel consistantly. He wants his own skis but at the same time I know the ski school will be able to better tailor the ski to his ability as he progress's.

Just looking for a little direction.
thanks
post #2 of 25
Most manufacturers make the same kids skis from year-to-year, only changing the tops allowing the retailers to sell them as "new" for higher margins.  There is nothing wrong with buying new, but you can save a bundle by purchasing a "new" ski a year or two old for 50%-75% below retail.  This makes the "rent vs. buy" decision a no-brainer.  Better still, if you simply learn how to wax the skis and perform basic tuning, they will always be in better condition than what you will rent. Best of all you can recoup much of the cost when you sell your used skis.  Most kid skis are good for beginners to intermediates. 

Buying lightly used skis is even a more economical option, but you should know a bit about skis and skiing before you do that.

Boots are another story.  You have no clue when a 7-year old will change shoe sizes, so I'd wait until November until you buy.  Sure you can save a lot of money by buying "cheap" boots on-line, but happy feet make happy skiers and you may want to give your local ski shop a visit to get the right fit.  Again, buying last years model can save a bunch of money.

Some retailers have a a program where you can buy the skis and they guarantee to buy them back in a year for 50% of the cost (or something like that).   

Quote:
Originally Posted by missin44 View Post

I'm looking for a little direction on when to buy skis for my son who will be 8 years old next season. Purchasing his own skis seems to make sense from a $$ stand point based on the amount of days we ski, even though we do not live in ski country. However he's a beginner but progressing rapidly. His ski season is done for the year, but next year the ski school will introduce his to poles for the first time. His last few days he began to parallel consistently. He wants his own skis but at the same time I know the ski school will be able to better tailor the ski to his ability as he progress's.

Just looking for a little direction.
thanks
 
post #3 of 25
Seasonal rentals are also an option where you can get the whole package and swap gear during the season if your kid grows. You can pretend that the gear is your kid's. We did that for a few years which was fine, but my son really liked the idea of getting his own skis and boots. Plus I could keep them tuned and waxed to our preferences. (Using him as a guinea pig with different edge geometry was also interesting for me. ) Definitely don't over think kid's gear, which can be had for relatively low cost, and get gear that will fit and perform.
post #4 of 25
Ditto quant2325.  We buy in the spring for next year and anticipate that we can get most of the money back that we paid when we resell them.  In fact, we sold my daughters skis for more than we paid (but they were for a 4-5 year old in very good condition.)
post #5 of 25
I have two boys, two years apart.  I purchased skis in the spring and put demo bindings on them and would generally get 3-4 seasons on each pair.  Boot's are much more difficult.  Their feet grow so fast and you must resist the temptation to put them in boots that don't fit. 
post #6 of 25

How often do you ski?  Do you live near a ski store?  I live in northern VA and outfitted my kids with a lot of used gear bought at preseason "swaps" held at or near local ski stores (these are consignment sales/yardsale/parking lot type thing, usually with a cut going to a charity).  If your child is just going to do one ski vacation/week per year I'd say continue renting, especially if the vacation involves flying.  But if he's skiing ~5 or more days split among several different locations including local resorts and distant ones, then buying starts to make sense for cost reasons and also to elimniate waiting in equipment rental lines before each outing. Some ski shops have children's ski equipment sales programs where you purchase new gear from year to year and get good discounts when you trade in the old stuff to resize your child (this is apart from the swap concept).
I've been guilty of buying my four kids (now mostly grown-up) crummy or ill fitting used gear.  It worked, but probably slowed their development a bit.  But when purchased at swaps used skis and boots can be at prices that you recoup in about three days of rental fees.  For me it was the way to go for budgetary reasons, but also because for many years I never knew if they'd ski 2 or 12 days per season - depending on school schedules and local snow conditions. I also had the economies of the hand-me-down process.

post #7 of 25
For me it was immediately with my 4 year old since he has a sister 2 1/2 years younger and I knew we would get plenty of use out of a pair of skis and boots between the two of them.  His first pair of skis and boots were purchased from a fellow bear for less than the cost of a seasonal rental (~50-75). 

Now age 6, he has a new pair of skis purchased from SierraSkis for $50.  I mounted them with Railflex Lite bindings so changing the BSL is quick and easy.  This year he also got a pair of Roces adjustable size ski boots which he will be able to use for at least 3 years since they adjust to 5 or 6 different sizes.  He'll likely need new skis before boots, but by then his 3 1/2 year old sister will be able to use his skis.  She'll be getting out onto the snow next season using his first set of skis and boots.

Lots of used kids stuff on eBay and other online retailers.  If you ski more than a few days a year, I'd say buy and then resell after the kids have outgrown the equipment.

Mike
post #8 of 25
I'd buy or lease for season just to avoid waiting in the rental line.  The extra few bucks is worth the time.
post #9 of 25
I coached 5-7 year olds in a seasonal program for many years and recommended seasonal rentals to parents. If you use a good shop, you will get new or equipment in really good shape. Kids grow and progress during the season and this give you the ability to upgrade during the winter. Buying on sale the year before is always a risk.
post #10 of 25
Missin: Depending on your budget, but seasonal rentals are mostly north of $100 in most places I am guessing, and right now it may still be possible to get skis in 110cm to 130cm lengths between 120 and 200 bucks at Al's ski barn or Ski-Depot online, check them out, folks are pretty helpful if you call them
post #11 of 25
Time to buy him his own skis.   Check out summer tent sales and fall ski swaps to get great deals on gear from a season or two ago that hasn't been used.  Even brand new gear for an 8 year old isn't that expensive. 

You should be able to get a bit of guidance on sizing from his instructor.  If you can't get in touch with the instructor at this point, make a note for next year to get some equipment feedback as part of the end of program summary.  Start tracking his growth now -- measure height, weight and foot length every few months.  This will help you when the growth spurt comes.

And he already has his own boots, right?
post #12 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by mogulmuncher View Post

Time to buy him his own skis.   Check out summer tent sales and fall ski swaps to get great deals on gear from a season or two ago that hasn't been used.  Even brand new gear for an 8 year old isn't that expensive. 
 

Ditto 
post #13 of 25
With only one kid, it may be a close call.  With multiple kids, buying is a no-brainer.

I think the skis/bindings are the easiest part.  If they end up a bit short, it's OK and maybe helpful unless the kid's racing.  If the kid grows fast, I'd worry a bit about poles and a lot about boots.  Probably at 8 it's not a big deal, but when they hit the big growth spurt, no one pair of boots will last a whole season.

I'm a big fan of used gear for kids.  I got some good stuff from eBay and from local ski shops.  In the off-season I've also seen brand new stuff for the same price as used; so be careful.  It'll probably be a while until my kids need top-notch brand-new gear.  As it is, I outfitted each of my kids for the whole season for the price of five rentals.
post #14 of 25
Check out Levelninesports.com.  I've purchased new ski & bindings for less than $130, several times and resold them on Ebay a season or 2 later for $75ish.  I used to just do a seasonal rental for the boots, but as those prices went up, I've switched to buying on Ebay. When they are too small, they go back on Ebay (sometimes for a profit).

The most I ever spent for my son's skiing in one year was when I rented skis for 5 days at a resort. He's had his own ever since.
post #15 of 25
In general, if you are going to rent for more than a few days (say a full week), then there are only two practical solutions -- Lease/rent for the year (like someone else had suggested) or get him his own gear.

Renting for the year will fit you for the entire season, assuming that your kid does not have a growth spurt while you're away from the shop you rent from. And, unless you pay a lot of $$$ for the rental, the equipment is usually entry level. As he gets older and better, you definitely want to go the purchase route.
Boots in general are more critical when it comes to fitting than with the actual skis. Definitely do not overlook boots.

The best time to buy for a child is in the fall. Like many have already pointed out, purchases made in the spring can easily be outgrown by the next season. You can get skis cheap either at a local swap, a retail store during clearance or online. Make sure you know what you're buying (especially boots) if you are doing it online.

Having your own gear will not guaranty anything except you no longer have to wait in line nor ski/ride in  ill-fitted boots. Of course, you get to pick and choose the equipment fitted for your level and interest. If you pay more attention to what you're paying when you shop around (and things don't break on you), you should be able to recover most of your cost when the equipment is out-grown.
post #16 of 25
Also, most of the seasonal rental programs will let you exchange boots if your child has a growth spurt in the middle of the ski season.

Quote:
Originally Posted by chanwmr View Post

Renting for the year will fit you for the entire season, assuming that your kid does not have a growth spurt while you're away from the shop you rent from. And, unless you pay a lot of $$$ for the rental, the equipment is usually entry level. As he gets older and better, you definitely want to go the purchase route.

Boots in general are more critical when it comes to fitting than with the actual skis. Definitely do not overlook boots.
 
post #17 of 25
Went the seasonal rental route for both my kids until they were 15/16, mainly due to what proved to be well founded concerns over boots being outgrown mid-season.

At that point, three factors pushed me to buy equipment:

1) Although the shop from which we rented had very good equipment, their skill level dictated something better. We had reached the limit of my boot fitting and ski tuning magic.
2) According to a podiatrist friend, their feet were unlikely to grow much, if any more.
3) Once they turned 16 the shop considered them adults and the cost nearly doubled. At that point, provided I shopped reasonably well, I figured to break even as long as they got 2 years out of their skis and they didn't outgrow their boots.

My kids are now 17 and 21; so far it's worked out as planned.
post #18 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeC View Post

Also, most of the seasonal rental programs will let you exchange boots if your child has a growth spurt in the middle of the ski season.


Not if you're away from home on a trip; unless you want to drive all the way to the shop to change boots.
I guess what I was trying to say is that if that happens you will end up renting or buying again on top of the seasonal rental.
post #19 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by chanwmr View Post




Not if you're away from home on a trip; unless you want to drive all the way to the shop to change boots.
I guess what I was trying to say is that if that happens you will end up renting or buying again on top of the seasonal rental.

 



I always rented as early as possible (in August if I could) to ensure the best selection of equipment. With two kids over a 15 year span, neither ever outgrew their boots by the time the season began in December (though one year we did end up replacing my son's boots in February). It's a lot more likely to happen if you buy stuff at the end of the previous season.

I would strongly suggest that whether one rents or buys for their kids, they take a day trip as kind of a "shakedown cruise" for the equipment before going on any kind of trip. We always did this. Whether you need to go back to the shop or it's something you can fix yourself, it's a lot better than dealing with it "on the road".
post #20 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by garylk View Post

I would strongly suggest that whether one rents or buys for their kids, they take a day trip as kind of a "shakedown cruise" for the equipment before going on any kind of trip. We always did this. Whether you need to go back to the shop or it's something you can fix yourself, it's a lot better than dealing with it "on the road".
Well, your suggestion is valid and I always do the same myself. That situation is rare but it did happen years ago. This kid skis regularly and she was skiing the week in the boots that fitted her right before we went on a trip. When kids go through a spurt, they can literally grow a size or two overnight.
post #21 of 25
I have two kids, 4 years apart and we get double use of every pair of skis/boots we buy.  I try to buy their gear at the end of the season, at ~50% off retail, and after both of them go through it, I can sell them and recoup some of the costs.  I would easily consider buying used skis and poles, kids don't usually abuse them.  

Boots tend to be a different story- IMO, you just have to eat up the costs.  If my kid's boots hurt, she won't be enjoying skiing and then all that money has been wasted, so better make sure her feet are happy (same logic also applies to my wife's boots). Think about it- how often do you buy used ski boots for yourself?  
post #22 of 25
This one is easy. If you are fussy enough about your own gear to avoid rentals because: A) it tends to be low-performance, B) [this is the really big one] the tunes tend to range from poor to abominable, and C) it's a hassle, then you should have your kids on good quality skis that are always well tuned too. As others have pointed out, this doesn't mean you need to buy NEW skis; you just need to keep them working like new.  Similarly, only more important, boots need to fit properly (i.e., snugly). For this reason, I lease my kid's boots, so that if he outgrows them mid-season I can swap out at no extra cost. This typically costs me fifty to eighty bucks, and I consider it money well spent. (How much do you spend for a lift ticket?)
post #23 of 25
You should probably buy skis for next year right now. You can easily find this seasons skis on sale at 50% off and you could find older ones for even better prices. Yesterday I found a pair of 2008 skis (not kids) at almost $1000 off!
post #24 of 25
Question: When is it time to buy your kids ski equipment?
Answer: When you get tired of wasting prime skiing time in rental line ups.

I would stick to used skis until the kids reach adult size, but some places have a 50% buy back policy that may be attractive if you don't need to save every dime.  I would go with new boots, unless you can get a good fitting used boot.  Yeah it's expensive, but a good fit is important.

Seasonal rentals may be less hassle than buying and reselling; it depends on how your local ski shops are set up for for seasonal rentals and consignment sales and how your area is set up for swaps.
post #25 of 25
Here's one example with real #s.  BTW, REI has a sale on kid's skis right now:

skis work for 2 years:
2008 - $65 skis + $30 bindings + free mount from REI.  Wlll sell for $40 to friend.
2010 - $65 skis + transfer bindings. 

boots:
spring 2008- 2009 -  used boots, $55; sold for $20 at swap;
2009/2010 - boots, $35, will trade in with Any Mountain and get next boots for $20

Skis/bindings end up being ~$25/year over 4 years; boots ~$35/year.  $60/year isn't bad.
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