Ski holidays and ski seasons are some of the greatest times you could ever have on this earth. Days spent shredding the mountain and nights spent partying until 6am. It really doesn’t get much better.
My only issue with a life lived in the snow is how expensive it can be to get set up with all the gear you need. Buying ski gear when you are a beginner is not cheap, as you usually have to buy EVERYTHING. From jackets, pants and socks, to boards, skis and boots, you can quickly run into thousands of dollars when picking up your gear.
Fortunately for you, I find this my area of expertise. As someone who is constantly living on a budget and loves a bargain, I feel well equipped to guide you through the process, so you can get cheap gear and become the ski bum you always wanted to be.
The good news is you really don’t have to spend thousands to get all your gear together. Don’t get me wrong, you will still have to fork out a little bit, but there are lots of ways to buy your ski gear on the cheap.
Look for freebies
It seems crazy that people give such valuable gear away, but it definitely happens. At the end of last winter, I gave away an almost brand-new ski jacket, old snowboard boots and two pairs of snow pants. After several ski holidays and three full seasons, I had acquired so much gear that I was willing to just give it away. Granted, some of it was in better condition than others, but it was all still very useable gear.
It’s crazy what people will just give away. Look on your local mountain’s Facebook page to see if you can score any free gear. Use your network of friends to see if they have any unwanted ski gear. Many of your friends will have decided the snow may not be for them but will have all the gear. Ask around and see what people are willing to give away.
Top tip: The end of the season is always the best time to look for free gear. People are flying home and looking to unload all their unwanted gear. Keep a close eye out and even take a drive around your local ski resort, as people often leave boxes of snow gear out for free collection.
Buy second hand
If you want to buy everything for as cheap as you can, this is the way to go. There are endless amounts of second hand ski gear for sale. One of the best ways I have found to get second hand ski gear is to join Facebook groups for the mountain nearest you, or the mountain you are going to be riding at. The locals and second seasoners at these places are always updating their gear and you can often find really good quality second-hand gear through these sites.
Another great way to pick up second hand gear is through thrift or consignment stores. Most towns located near a decent sized mountain will have either a dedicated second-hand store for ski gear, or they will have charity shops where this gear has been donated. Any semi-decent store that resells snow gear should do a basic quality control, so you know what you are buying isn’t complete rubbish. These places often operate based on reputation, so you should be able to find some decent quality snow gear and equipment.
Also check classified websites such as gumtree and craigslist etc. for great deals. Just before a season starts, and as the winter comes to an end, are great times to buy second hand gear. These are the times people are looking to offload all their gear.
Shop in the off-season
If you don’t want to go the second hand route, it can still be easy to find cheap gear. If you are well prepared and know you will be going on a ski season or holiday, make sure you plan ahead and shop for all your ski gear in the height of summer.
Your local adventure sports store will be moving towards mountain biking or surfing for the summer, but first, they will be looking to sell last season’s winter gear. They often have a sale section in the shop during the summer months, full of top quality, brand new ski gear. Never be afraid to make an offer or put multiple products together and try and get a package deal. If you have a good relationship with the owner, they will usually be willing to make you a good deal.
I really love to shop local, so support your local board shop if you can. However, the giant online retailers are pretty hard to beat for price. They will also place all last season’s winter gear on sale during the summer months to make room for all their new stock. This is how I acquired most of my gear and I paid less than 50% of the retail price on everything I bought.
If it is winter where you are, remember that it is summer in the opposite hemisphere. When I was buying a new snowboard for my New Zealand ski season, I shopped online with UK stores, as it was summer there. Many of the larger retailers will also ship free or cheap anywhere in the world if you spend enough money, making it a win-win deal. I got the board I wanted for about 40% of the original retail value.
It may take a lot of time scouring the web to find all the great deals, but it is absolutely worth it, and you can really save yourself a small fortune.
Ski and board swaps
Look out for ski and board swaps in your local community. In the run up to winter, there are usually a couple of these swaps to be found. They consist of a mixture of brand new gear from local stores and items being sold on commission by private sellers, often held at a local community hall. The brand-new gear is usually last season, and as a result, it is at a highly reduced price, but is box-fresh. You also have the option of buying the commissioned items which will usually be second hand, but are often of decent quality to be accepted into the swap.
One of the reasons this is a great option is that you tend to have everything under the one roof. There are typically multiple vendors, so you will have a wide range to choose from. It also gives you the chance to mix and match new and second hand snow gear.
If you are going to work on a mountain that has its own retail store – and most mountains do – you will most likely get the chance to attend the staff sale. A couple of weeks before the mountain opens, the retail stores will often open for one day for the staff to shop at a discounted rate.
The best deals are usually on last season’s gear, but they often offer discounts of around 15% – 35% for this season’s snow gear. While not the cheapest option, it is a great way of saving money if you would like to purchase the most up-to-date items.
I would personally recommend trying to buy most of your gear brand new. That way you can guarantee the quality of what you are buying. Snow pants and jackets can often look great second hand, but they can sometimes have had the waterproof coating removed through being machine washed.
Snowboard boots and ski boots are one of the main items I would advise you to buy new. Boots will mould to the shape of the rider’s feet over time, so if you buy second hand boots, you will be buying boots already moulded to somebody else’s feet. The main complaint you will ever hear from skiers and snowboarders is about having sore feet. A great way to avoid this is by buying new boots that feel comfortable and will mould to your feet.
Don’t be afraid to buy previous seasons’ model of snow gear. Companies release new editions every year and the changes are often cosmetic, meaning you get the same quality by buying last season’s products. Don’t feel the need to buy all the latest gear and blow all your hard-earned cash. Spend some time doing your research and you will be able to get yourself set up for winter for much less than you may have first thought.