How Often Should You Replace Your Skis?

Ski Expert Tom Bartholomew walks you through all the factors in replacing your skis and explains how to keep them in good shape in the meantime!

A woman skis on groomers on Atomic skis.

The Atomic Clouds. Photo courtesy of Atomic

Published on

Here I sit, wondering if this is the year I should get some shiny new skis. Or do I get another base grind from my local ski shop and extend my skis for another season?

I can remember when I first started teaching skiing back in the early '90s, and the choices for skis were how long and how stiff you wanted the ski to be. They used to say, "hold your hand as high as you can, and that is about the length of ski you want ." Flash forward to today, and there are many more options in ski gear and ways to tell if you need new skis or if you can get by with your old sticks. I mean, skis are not cheap, so you want to be able to get as many turns out of them as possible.

How long do alpine skis last?

You can get about 100 days of skiing out of a pair of skis. One hundred ski days is one season for some skiers, and it's a lifetime for others. I would add that it’s more than just that—how aggressive are you skiing? If you go out and cruise the greens and blues, your skis can handle a few seasons. On the other hand, if you are stomping street rails and dropping cliffs, you might need to upgrade your skis more often.

Other factors that can shorten the lifespan of your skis are:

• Delamination of the ski tips or tails • Core-shots or gouges damaging the ski base • Ski edge breakage/blowout • Not waxing/tuning skis • Not correctly caring for skis • Skiing over rocks or other foreign objects

How do I care for my skis?

Three pairs of skis, two ski boots, ski poles, and a shovel are laid out on the wooden ground.

Photo courtesy of pixabay

Basic care and maintenance will go a long way to extend the lifespan of your skis. Simple things like drying your skis off after you use them to prevent corrosion can extend their life. Caring for your skis becomes almost a ritual, from waxing the skis to removing burs, all to keep the sliding fun and the smiles big when skiing.

For mid-season care, check out How to Take Care of Your Equipment During Ski Season, and for post-season care, read How to Store Your Ski Gear in the Off-Season.

How often should I wax my skis?

Waxing skis has a significant effect on how long a pair will last and how well they will perform when you go out. I will wax my skis every time or every other time I go out to keep my bases in good shape, and so I have the least amount of friction as possible (to go fast). Friction causes wear and tear to your ski bases. Think of fine-grit sandpaper—a.k.a. snow crystals—rubbing on your bases. If you continue rubbing sandpaper, you will dry out the base and start causing damage. A simple application of hot wax (preferably) on the regular can protect your skis and extend their lifespan.

Signs your skis need to be waxed:

• You can't remember the last time they were waxed • Your bases look a strange, furry white color • Your skis are sticky on the trails • All of your friends/family are lapping you

When should I sharpen the edges of my skis?

Like waxing, sharpening your skis’ edges can significantly affect their performance. Ski edges are made of metal, and when they hit something under the snow, it can cause damage, including dulling, burs, cracking, and breaking. If your ski edges are damaged or dull, they might not grip as well and cause you to lose your balance and crash.

Sharpening your skis can be done at home with the proper tools. If you are skiing more than 20 days a season, I highly recommend investing in your own tuning equipment. Less than 20 days on the slopes, you can save time and have your local shop tune your skis one or two times a season.

If you have broken or cracked edges, you should consider replacing your skis for safety.

Do my skis need a base grind?

The base of the skis will wear out and become concave, convex, or edge high. Once this happens, the ski's performance diminishes, and the once playful, responsive skis are not so much anymore. To tell if your ski bases are flat from edge to edge, you need to use a true bar to detect it, as it is usually invisible by the naked eye. Other signs that the base isn’t flat are the edges not holding on ice even when sharp and boot canting issues that suddenly pop up.

A pair of skis can get a base grind 4-6 times before you’ll need to purchase new skis. A base grind is essentially a large belt sander that grinds down to flatten and restructure the base of your skis. It would be best if you only got a base grind when waxing & hand-tuning won’t fix the issue you are having with your ski performance. While base grinds can extend the life of your skis, at the same time, they shorten that same life span by removing layer after layer of ski material.

What is my skiing style?

Someone slides down a hill on the back ends of their skis.

Photo courtesy of pixabay

If you ski open-to-close every time you are at the resort, replacing your skis should happen every couple of years. Now, say you are an easy-cruising, groomed-run skier; you might be able to get 5+ years out of a pair of skis. Bashing the mogul lines or sliding rails? You will be replacing your ski equipment every year or two.

How hard you ski is a significant factor in how long a pair of skis will last. Skiing with the kiddos is not as hard on the ski gear as skiing Mary Jane at Winter Park daily!

How often does skiing get new technologies?

With technology changing so rapidly, we see significant changes in skis about once every five years. This might be an advancement in lighter or stiffer materials or a different camber profile that provides more versatility from park to all-mountain skiing. Current technology has made skiing more accessible, affordable, and, most importantly, more fun. With turn radiuses from 11 meters to 20+, you can easily pick a ski to make small, medium, or large turns.

New tech is being released every year in ski gear, so an update might be in your best interest. Maybe you are a solid blue square resort skier that is challenged by black diamonds; a new pair of skis with different technology might be the ticket to propel you into your next phase of skiing ability. Better materials, along with a new side-cut profile, can go a long way to make turning easier and build your confidence on more challenging terrain.

How long do ski bindings last?

Alpine ski bindings are the part of the skis that keep you safe. Bindings are designed to release your boot when the pressure goes above a set amount; this is called the DIN setting. DIN is named after the German Institute for Standardization called Deutsches Institut für Normung (DIN). There is also an identical set of published standards by the International Standards Organization (ISO). Still, the ski industry as a whole refers to it as the binding DIN setting. You can read more about DIN settings here.

Alpine bindings should be tested yearly with the proper tools to ensure they are functioning as they should. It’s recommended to get your bindings tested by a certified shop tech. Also, bindings are indemnified by the manufacturers, which means they will support the binding when tested by a certified technician. As a general rule, ski bindings are indemnified for ten years. You can check to see if your bindings are serviceable here. It is time to replace your bindings if the manufacturer no longer supports them.

So, as a general rule, you can get around 100 days of performance out of a pair of skis, unless that 100 days takes more than ten years! You might even want to get a second pair of skis for changing snow conditions! If you have any questions about the information above or if you want to replace your old skis, reach out to a Ski Expert here on Curated.

Like this article?
Share it with your network

Written By
Tom Bartholomew
Tom Bartholomew
Ski Expert
It all started for me in 1993/94 winter when I started teaching skiing and snowboarding. Since then, I have been a General Manager of a small ski area, Snowsports Director at two different resorts, and a Mountain Manager. I hold the highest level of certification through both the Professional Ski In...
View profile

Curated experts can help

Have a question about the article you just read or want personal recommendations? Connect with a Curated expert and get free recommendations for whatever you’re looking for!

Read Next

New and Noteworthy