Snow sports, like any sport, require specialised equipment. The unique nature of the sport and the environment mean some equipment is not only essential for any comfort, but necessary to protect against injury.
The good news is most hire and resort companies realise the significant cost and complexity involved, and dedicate much of their effort toward making things easier for people that are new to the snow, as it is in their interest to win a repeat customer.
Hiring or Purchasing Equipment
You can elect to hire or buy on snow or offsnow. Each has their advantages and disadvantages and you will find advocates of each. Hiring at the resort means that you can take damaged gear back easily, and if the boots are uncomfortable swapping is easy. Off mountain hire is usually cheaper. The same considerations apply to buying boots - adjustments are easy. If you buy skis in resort you have the opportunity to test ride (usually called demo) several brands and models before you buy.
Recommendations here probably relate directly to those that own those shops!
First a first time snow experience, it probably doesn't matter too much where you hire your gear. Close to the mountain may be a good idea - if you have a multi day trip you can get your equipment changed if it is not fitting correctly. In subsequent trips you will have a better idea of what you need to get.
The price of the hire generally scales with how good the gear is, and how close to the mountain it is. Multi day hires are cheaper per day as time goes on. It is also worth seeing if on mountain hire places will allow you to exchange skis of boards if you change your mind half way though the holiday.
Most hire places have a couple of standards of ski to hire. A premium package will cost a bit more, but will give better quality gear. Beginners will not need the premium gear, but as you advance it might be worth trying. If you can tell the difference in performance between the standards you should probably be on premium gear. Another level up is trying demo gear from a ski shop. This will depend on whether the shop will cooperate, but you can try top level gear for a price. The system allows (requires) you to swap frequently. If you expect to be in the market to buy in the next year or so this is a really good way to work out what you want in a ski.
If you are a frequent skier and have children who are growing at a rate of knots, have a look into hiring for a season.
What Do I Buy First?
- Buying a full set of skis and boots can be an expensive exercise (poles are cheap - the only good news). You do not have to buy the whole kit at once.
- There is no doubt that boots are the first things you should buy. The difference in comfort and performance from hire boots to your own, properly fitted, footbedded boots is beyond description. It will be a revelation.
- Having your own skis is a cost/benefit equation (with a bit of snobbish irrationality thrown in). Some people never buy their own skis. The cost of hiring over the life of a pair of skis may be less than the cost of buying. This is particularly so if you are a one week a year skier. On the other hand, having your own skis means that you will be skiing on skis that you bought and which suit you. You will also avoid the hassle of hiring each time you go skiing. What is available for hire may not be suitable, even if you hire premium gear. If a shop will cooperate, hiring demo skis can work. If you do hire from the right place you may be skiing on the latest gear every year. Seasonal hire is becoming popular, this is where you rent equipment for the full season and return it at the end of the season, a guide to price is usually equivalent to 10 days hire, seasonal rental equipment is usually brand new equipment.
- Look for a well priced package, these will cost you somewhere between $550 and $800 and should include boots, board and bindings.
Like everything else, you can buy ski & board gear online. In this contributor's opinion you would be nuts to buy boots online as they cannot be fitted properly. Everything else is possible.
One thing to consider is the greater good - if everyone from Australia buys online from overseas the Australian ski shops will wither and die, and the service available for snow sports folk will be diminished. Other cons are no warranty, or limited warranty, the prospect of dodgy gear and the possibility of non-delivery. Another trap can be excessive delivery charges. Depending on the type of gear and the value you may also be hit for customs duty and be liable for GST on the price. Imports under AU$1,000 are duty and tax free into Australia. Customs Information. With skis and bindings, if you are not confident about fitting the bindings yourself, you will have to have them fitted at a ski shop. You will be charged, and don't expect the owner to be happy about the sale he or she has lost to the Net.
If your skis or board get damaged most ski or board shops will be able to do repairs, or at least tell you if the gear can be repaired. It is surprising what is reparable.
For clothes, in Sydney try Venus Repair Workshop, 36a/104 Bathurst St, Sydney NSW 2000 (02) 9267 0706. They do a professional job and understand the requirements of outdoor clothing.
Pages in category "Equipment"
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