Family ski vacations are a fun experience for all, whether a first-timer or a frequent skier. But outside of the cost of the tickets, lessons, and trip itself, the price of all the must-have equipment can very quickly add up for a family, especially if you live in a warmer climate where winter clothes aren’t already handy. So should you borrow, rent or buy ski equipment for your next family ski vacation? Get ready to find out the pros and cons of each.
When it comes to outfitting your family for your next ski trip, you can choose to buy fabulous new gear for the whole family. But you don’t have to. From borrowing ski boots and pants from friends to renting goggles and gloves that will be delivered to your hotel, you have plenty of options that can help you save.
Rent Winter Gear from Tip to Toe
I live in Texas, so the first time I took my kids skiing at Monarch Mountain, we owned no winter clothes. Rather than purchase six sets of everything for me and my five still-growing children, I only bought everyone long johns and wool socks. Everything else, I rented from Mountain Threads ski wear rentals. It was an incredible experience. I ordered pieces in advance and when we arrived at our hotel in Colorado, a huge box of like-new gear was waiting for us.
With our rented ski bibs, coats, boots, goggles, gloves, and neck warmers, we were never cold on the slopes. Having waterproof pants proved to be especially important because the kids were first-time skiers and spent a lot of time falling down in the snow.
Another company that will send winter apparel right to your destination is Kit Lender. To give you an idea of pricing, a Junior Boy’s Patagonia Kit from Kit Lender costs $84 for a three-day rental. That’s much more affordable than buying everything on the family ski trip packing list.
Is it Better to Rent or Buy Ski Equipment?
If your family spends enough time on the slopes to justify the cost of buying your own equipment, it may be worth the investment of purchasing new skis or snowboards, boots, poles, and helmets. But, for families new to ski trips, it makes more sense to try out different gear options before laying down cash for expensive items that might not be the best quality or fit. Rental equipment gives you the opportunity to try different options on your ski vacation. Plus, if you are flying to your ski destination, renting will be much less hassle. You won’t have to haul all of the equipment to the airport, or pay extra baggage fees.
My family has found renting our equipment from either the ski resort or from a local rental shop works well. At Monarch Mountain, we chose to rent skis onsite, at the base of the mountain, and left them there overnight. At Keystone Resort last year, we rented our skis, helmets, boots, and poles from Keystone Sports, a ski shop in River Run Village.
Beg, Borrow, Buy Used
To really save on a ski adventure, look at your existing wardrobe to see how much you already own. You may have most of what you need—just make sure it is warm and waterproof. On my last ski trip, I managed to borrow almost everything we needed from friends. This was great because I didn’t spent any money, but a little stressful because I worried the kids might lose a borrowed glove or wool sock. It was a lot to keep track of. Since that trip, I have started keeping an eye out for used winter gear at Goodwill and garage sales.
If you’d rather not rent or buy ski gear new, check Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace and join Facebook groups like Gear Swap. Swing by thrift stores for basic layers and local consignment shops for ski bibs and boots. Before your ski trip, ask in groups like NextDoor to see if any neighbors have gear they’re willing to let you pick up for free or cheap.
Should You Rent or Buy Ski Gear?
Ultimately, the answer is up to you! If you’d love to have your own boots, the latest models of skis, and all your own gear for the slopes, go for it. If you’d rather have the convenience of renting, know that you have some great options. Or, if you’d like to borrow or ask for hand-me-downs from friends, you might get the best deal yet. Whatever you decide, dress in layers and have a great time!
When not running around on adventures with her five children, Heidi Gollub volunteers for the Austin Convention and Visitors Bureau and creates content for the local news. She frequently appears on television and was recently a speaker at Mom 2.0 and the Texas Conference for Women.