For a lot of skiers and snowboarders, one of the key considerations when planning any trip is whether it’s better to rent equipment at their chosen resort or to bring their own. For those who might be classed as novices to the sports or who maybe ski/snowboard less frequently, more often or not the preference will be to rent. For those who perhaps take the sport more seriously the perceived notion is that you should look to own your own kit as soon as possible. Is this the best advice? The answer in short is it depends! There are pros and cons for both and it of course depends on where you ski/snowboard and how often.

We’ve partnered with Skiset who have fantastic coverage in most major resorts. Don’t forget that as a premium member of snow-forecast.com, you qualify for an additional discount on your ski and snowboard rental as well. More details becoming a member can be found here.

Buying or rent ski/snowboard boots?

The decision of whether to hire or buy boots is often easier to decide. This is largely down to the role comfort plays when practising either skiing or snowboarding! The majority of us will probably have at some point tried skiing or snowboarding in a pair of badly fitted boots which was incredibly uncomfortable and possibly led to cold, painful feet and a ruined trip! Many beginners might be put off skiing/snowboarding by uncomfortable hire boots on their first trip, without realising that it is possible to be perfectly comfortable in a well-fitted pair. Secondly, a well-fitting pair of boots is essential as the relationship between your legs and your skis – without the right boots, there is no point in spending time deliberating over what skis will be best for your needs, as you won’t have the proper ability to control or benefit from the skis’ features.

You should bear in mind that the boots you can rent at a ski hire shop have been designed for the mass market and as such will generally cater for one-foot shape. The boots will also have been repeatedly worn which may mean their padding has been compressed with wear. You may therefore need to really ‘yank’ down on the buckles to ensure a good fit, which can create painful tight spots when you do get on the slopes. However, we have noticed an increased effort made by boot manufacturers to ensure comfort to the wearer. It is therefore expected that boots will soon be rented as much as skis/snowboards.

In contrast, when you buy boots you will have the luxury of spending time choosing the best boot for you. With expert help, you will be able to try on many different options and brands. Each manufacturer has a slightly different approach to foot sizing, so you may find that some makes and models won’t work for you. Take heed of the boot fitter’s advice who will be knowledgeable in what boot will be right for your foot shape, weight and ability level.

So, buying boots is almost always a good move. Happily, boots are cheaper than skis and can be packed more easily into your regular luggage allowance. However, if it’s your first trip to the slopes then you are better off renting until you know that you will be planning your next trip!

Buying vs renting skis and snowboard equipment

The arguments for and against buying skis/snowboards can be assessed diplomatically. Obviously, if you live in or near a ski resort and ski a lot it makes more sense financially to buy; equally, if you only plan on skiing every so often then renting makes more sense.

When you buy, you have the opportunity to get to know your skis/snowboard. You will get a feel for how they handle, perform in different conditions and how best to use them. You will have also chosen skis that are best matched for the type of skier you are and can have them tailored with mounted bindings to fit your boots. You can avoid the lines at ski rental shops and possibly save money if you plan on skiing regularly over the cost of renting each time. However, you will need to consider the costs and hassles associated with travelling with skis. Most airlines charge additional fees to carry skis or snowboards and you will have to wield them to and from the airport!

Since the arrival of the Parabolic ski 15 years ago, there has been an increased trend in Europe to rent ski equipment. On average 2 out of 3 skiers will now rent their equipment. Renting offers additional benefits over purchasing. Firstly, you should be able to choose and try out the very latest equipment which will have been maintained, cleaned, prepared and adapted to you personally. Added that the end of each day you can pass them back to be maintained and serviced. So, no need to worry about budgeting for that edge and wax treatment every few weeks!

It is often a lot more cost effective to rent that purchase if you only plan to ski for a few days each season. Ski rental prices have been considerably reduced in recent years and now offers very good value for money where previously they had been a lot higher.

Renting skis is much more convenient. You won’t have the added stress and impracticality of getting your skis to the slopes! As mentioned previously airlines typically charge for carriage of any snow equipment which can sometimes be as expensive as hiring at a resort!

Renting equipment in advance
For those who are considering renting equipment, we would advise, where possible, trying to organise this before you set off as you could make some considerable savings.

Chains, such as Skiset, have branches across Europe and North America and can offer large online discounts of up to 50% off when compared to the local ski hire companies.

Booking in equipment in advance will also help to save you time on arrival at the resort. Skiset can ensure your equipment will be ready and prepared for you ahead of your arrival. You will need to of course provide them with your details beforehand to do so, so have your height, shoe size and weight to hand.

Skiset also offer ‘Skiset Express’ which allows you to collect the booked equipment without even needing to queue.

Booking in advance will also ensure you have access to the equipment you want during busy periods such as school holidays when there is more demand for gear.