I spent last weekend cross-country skiing with some buddies of mine in northern Maine. We were talking about how fun skiing is that how it can be cost prohibitive for a lot of people. And then I got to thinking if that was really true.
I’ve been skiing for a little over 10 years and my equipment is at least that old. I decided to break down my initial investments and continued costs and see how much skiing really has cost me. (Note: Two pairs of skis: one for classical and one for skating)
Boots (Alpina combination): $150
Skating skis (bought at a ski sale bindings included): $40
Classic skis (top-of-the-line 10 years ago): $350
Bindings for classic skis: $50
Polls for classic skiing: $80
Polls for skate skiing: $80
Wax to maintain skis (kick and glide wax, cork, scraper, cheap iron): $150
Cross-country ski gloves (I’m quite particular on the gloves): $50
Silk long underwear: $80
(All other winter gear is stuff I already own and use in other parts of my life.)
Total Initial Cost= $1030
Memberships at small local places are cheap. 10th Mountain, a world class ski facility in my hometown, charges $25 a year for membership.
So far, my equiptment has cost about $100 to own and maintain a year and it’s showing no signs of wearing out in the next ten years. Not so bad when you look at it as an investment you can take care of. Of course there are some ways to cut on costs.
1) Consider how you’ll use your skis before you buy them. Doing a lot of backcountry? Fishscales are fine. Groomed trails? Get a pair of racing skis.
2) Hit up ski sales. I scored a newish pair of skating skis eight years ago when my high school team was getting rid of some “old” equiptment. Call around and ask if/when your local teams hold their sales. The skis are often not even that old (a few seasons), and the money goes to a good cause. Plus if you’re nice they may even change the bindings for you for free to make sure they work with your boots.
A complete side note, I get “nice skis” comments as much about my cheap-o skis as my expensive ones. Seriously, only the hardcore people can even tell the difference.
3) When in doubt go shorter. Longer skis are tougher to handle. If you need to make a choice between two not so ideal pairs, get the slightly too short ones.
4) Get a pair of combination boots. Think you may get into skate skiing? Have weak ankles? That extra detachable cuff on the combination boot is so helpful. I got my boots almost 14 years ago and they’re still working for me. Oh and invest so they fit like a glove. Like any good pair of footwear, they’ll pay you back.
5) Maintain your skis. It’s cheaper then getting new ones. If you don’t want to wax them, pay a local sports store or some kid to do it for you. Last I checked it costs around $50. They even make wax for fishscale skis. Oh and do things like store them nicely and wipe the ice off them. You know, common sense stuff!
6) Ski little. If you don’t want to pay for big resort passes, look for little places that groom their own trails. Ask around. Maybe a farmer likes to maintain the perimeter of this fields or the big resort has a cheap ski day. A little research and asking around (try outdoorsy groups on Facebook if you’re desperate!) will yeild much.
7) If you really love something, it’s not expensive. I love to ski and I love having the option to do so whenever I want. For me, the investment in my entertainment and health is worth it.
(It’s so funny because I noticed that Give Me Back My Five Bucks had a post about this same subject while I was working on this one!)