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How To Save Money On Winter Rentals

Unless you live in a resort town, define yourself as a serial skier and get in 30 days a season, or just have a limitless budget for outdoor gear, chances are you rent your ski gear. And you also probably know that this is just another, unavoidable expense in the already-costly love of skiing and snowboarding.

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But you don’t have to always pay top dollar to get a good pair of rentals.

Here are a few insider tips:

Rent Before You Go

If you’re flying to the Rockies or the Wasatch, consider looking to rent your equipment before you leave. Most major cities these days have ski shops, and rentals should be considerably less expensive than you’ll find at the resort. You can also try on your boots and equipment at a more leisurely pace than you’ll find at the assembly-line rental offices at most mountains. If you go this route, be sure to factor in the cost of checking the skis with the airlines, which could incur a $50 charge ($25 each way) and may offset any savings. If that’s the case, you could look into shipping the skis or the board to your hotel, or just rent ski or snowboarding boots and add ‘em to your carry-on luggage.

Rent Away From the Mountain

Unless you can avoid it, never rent from the big box on-mountain shops. First, they’re going to be a crowded nightmare every morning. Second, the equipment will have seen a lot of serious use. You won’t get equipment that’ll fail, but it’ll definitely not be the fastest, warmest, or most comfortable. Instead look to local rental outfits near the mountain, or at the gateway city to your resort (like Denver or Salt Lake City). The selections will be better, the retail pace more relaxed, and the price points cheaper than you’ll find on the mountain. And some local ski shops also offer good discount rates on single- and multi-day ski lift tickets.

Package Deals Are Your Friends

When it comes to skiing, only novices pay full price. Even if you’re visiting at a peak holiday time, chances are you can find some online package deals that group together lodging, lift tickets, and rentals—a savings that can add up to more than $100. Some places let you reserve your equipment online (including choosing your demo model and size), and others even deliver your stuff to your accommodation for in-room sizing. To find good deals, check the resort websites as well as the state tourism offices, which often offer discount airfare packages as well.

Reserve Early

If package deals don’t fit your vacation plans, find a rental shop near your mountain and reserve early—pre-booking can save you up to 20%. And check out online resources like SkiCoupons.com, which specializes in print-friendly coupons for local outfitters.

And If You Buy…

Buy smart. Get a good pair of boots first. They are easily the one thing that can make or break a day on the mountain. And pick up a helmet; they’re inexpensive, warm, and nice to be able to call it your own (and it’ll also pay for itself pretty quickly). Better still, both investments should last you for several seasons. And then, if you’re looking for skis or a new board, consider gear swaps, shopping previous years’ models, and used equipment. Some mountains also let you rent demos and then put that fee toward the purchase of that same product.

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