Planning a ski vacation can be tough, especially for first-timers who may think a black diamond is a card suit.
Although ski-related items come in every shape and price range, the basics are still all a beginner needs, says Jonah Sperando, a skier and sales associate at the RacquetMaster Bike and Ski shop in Iowa City, Iowa. The difference lies in how often you are planning to hit the slopes. If you go only once a year, then it’s probably cheapest to rent. If you’re trying to get on the expert "black diamond" runs, then buying your own equipment is a wise investment.
Most shops carry between three to five brands of skis and snowboards, all of which range in price from $300 to upwards of $2000. For a beginning skier, Sperando recommends the Atomic ProCarv 6.22, a stable ski that blends race technology with the needed support to hold up shaky first-timers at a reasonable price of $275. If you want a more advanced model, the K2 Axis X line promises you’ll leave a bigger powder cloud behind you, for around $750.
Ski boots can save your life, according to alpine skier Rick Truax, who’s skied most of Colorado and the Midwest. A loose-fitting boot can snap your ankle, and a too-tight boot will give you less control over the ski, increasing your chances for an embarrassing spill. A solid fit will guarantee a better slope experience, he said. Boots can be pricey, anywhere from $200 to $500, but they are vital to your safety.
For liability reasons (like if your leg comes off with your ski) most skis don’t come with bindings- the latches that attach your boots to the skis. Although some models like the Salomon Pilot Scream are sold with matching bindings already mounted, most beginners will have to match and fit their own bindings, which run between $200 and $260.
Unless you are a daredevil or a snowboarder, you’ll need a set of poles to help you balance, pick up speed downhill, and to hold in the air as a marker until the search party finds you. Poles are usually the cheapest part of the ski outfit, costing between $25 and $50.
Regardless of whether you choose to rent or buy your ski equipment, some accessories are a necessity and should be purchased, says Sperando. The blinding sun on the slopes makes ski goggles indispensable, not only for shielding your eyes from the rays, but from debris and snow that may blur your vision during your ride. Goggles cost around $50 at most retailers.
The final, and most important, step is choosing an outfit that will let you move comfortably and avoid hypothermia at the same time. The best choices are light coats with a nylon outer shell and an insulating inside layer, which run from $150 to $300. The same rule applies for gloves- you want something that insulates your hands, but light enough so you can still feel the poles through it.
Besides clothing and goggles, all other items can be rented at the ski resort itself, usually at very reasonable prices. Resorts usually rent ski packages- the skis, the boots, and the poles- at anywhere from $30 to $60 per day. Lift tickets, or day passes vary in price by age group and resort, but one can expect to pay around $40 to $80 for a day’s worth of powder.
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