What to Expect When Renting Ski and Snowboard Gear

Almost all ski areas have ski and snowboard gear rentals, but what does that look like and is it the right choice for you? Snowboard Expert Gaelen Mast answers these questions!

Skis stand against a ski rack. There is snow on some of them and snow in the background.
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If you’re reading this, chances are you’re considering renting equipment the next time you hit the mountain and you want to know what to expect. As someone with extensive experience working in a ski resort rental shop, I can demystify the process, and tell you how to have the best possible rental gear experience. But first, why rent in the first place?

Reasons to Rent

There are several scenarios in which renting ski or snowboard equipment makes sense. You could be a beginner, someone who travels a lot, or looking to demo new gear before you buy. Let's look at each.

If You’re A Beginner

One of the most common reasons to rent ski/snowboard gear is you don’t have your own equipment. Both are expensive hobbies. It’s understandable to be reluctant to spend a large sum of money on new equipment if you’re not sure you’ll stick with it. Renting is a great idea before investing in your own gear.

You Travel A Lot

Skiers on a chairlift. There is a tall mountain in the clouds in the background.

Photo by Hasmik Ghazaryan Olson

Even if you already own gear, sometimes it makes more sense to rent when traveling. Maybe you’re driving and your vehicle can’t hold your equipment. Or you’re traveling by air and don’t want to pay excess baggage or oversized fees to bring your gear with you. In times like these, it makes more sense to rent at your destination.

You Want to Demo

Another reason to rent is to try out a certain ski or snowboard. Larger rental shops usually have multiple gear options and brands to choose from. If there’s a specific style or brand of ski/snowboard you have your eye on, renting it for a day serves as a great pre-purchase test.

The Rental Experience

While every rental shop operates a little differently, there are common themes you’ll encounter. Read on for the best practices to make your rental experience smooth and enjoyable.

Rental Options

Depending on the size of the rental shop, they may offer different brands or specialized riding styles such as powder or freestyle-oriented ski/snowboards.

Ski resorts have plenty of different-sized skis/snowboards and boots, but it’s best to call ahead if you’re especially tall or have a hard-to-find shoe size to verify yours is in stock. Some, not all, rental shops also carry gloves, goggles, and basic snow accessories. If you are counting on it before you go, it's best to call ahead!

Rental Pricing

Every ski resort prices its rental equipment differently. The bigger the resort, the more expensive the rental gear. Whatever rental shop you choose should have a standard package rental price for everything you need (boots and ski/board) with upgrade options at an additional cost.

Sometimes rental shops offer special deals which save you money. For example, at my local rental shop, Friday nights were half-priced. Another easy way to save some money is to check and compare online and purchase your rentals at that location. If you purchase a rental package ahead of time, you usually still get a discount.

Quality of Equipment

Skis sitting against a ski rack. There are trees in the background and it is snowy.

Photo by Jeremy Bezanger

Don’t expect top-of-the-line equipment when renting from a ski resort. Resorts have to buy gear in bulk to stock their inventory, so most rental shops carry entry-level ski or snowboard models. All-mountain is the model of choice as they appeal to a wide customer base and are suitable for any type of skiing or riding.

If you’re looking for a specific type of board/ski or higher quality equipment, remember most shops have demos or upgrades available; check before you go. Although most rental equipment is fairly basic, it will be in good condition. It gets used heavily, so most shops regularly wax and sharpen their skis and snowboards (or at least they should!).

Give your rental equipment a quick checking over before heading to the lift. While it may not be “like-new”, make sure there are no chips, core shots, large base scratches, or other obvious issues. The edges should be at least decently sharp and the base not completely dry, meaning it has some wax on it.

If you encounter any issues with your gear, let a rental shop employee know. They usually swap it out with no issues. Speaking from experience, the ski resort isn’t trying to pull the wool over your eyes. It’s just hard to catch imperfections when handling hundreds of skis a day!

Alternatives to Renting

If you don’t want to rent daily equipment from a ski resort, there are a few alternatives to consider.

Seasonal Rentals

Many ski/snowboard shops offer seasonal equipment rentals. This is a great option if you want to stick with the same ski or snowboard for the entire season to get a true feeling for it. You’ll also likely have more options to choose from, including brand, sizing, and style. While renting this way is more pricey up front, it’s an excellent cost-effective option if you plan to go to the mountain regularly. Another enormous advantage is not having to wait in a rental shop line every time you go to the resort.

Buy Used Gear

Another alternative is to buy used gear. This option is great because it isn’t nearly as expensive as buying new and is comparable to seasonal rental costs. By buying used, you don’t have to worry about damaging your gear or returning it at the end of the season.

The major drawback is this can be risky if you don’t know what you’re looking for or know much about the gear. You could end up with the wrong stuff for your needs or damaged equipment.

Buy New Gear

Sometimes it just makes sense to take the leap and investment in new gear now. This is by far the most straightforward option because you get the gear that suits you best for years to come. Buying new gear can be an intimidating process, but it doesn’t have to be.

Want to get started? Check out How to Buy a Beginner Snowboard or How to Buy Skis.

Here on Curated, you can connect with a Snowboard or Ski Expert, answer a few simple questions, and receive personalized recommendations in minutes, all for free! It’s an outstanding way to start the research process. Your expert will help you find the perfect option for you!

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Written By
Heya! my name is Gaelen and I've been snowboarding for longer than I haven't! I was practically raised by the mountain resort industry, my mother and father were both full-time "snowboard bums" when I was young and so I've been around ski resorts since I was a kid! As soon as I was legally able to w...

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