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Skiing: Hiring Equipment vs. Buying Equipment

It is a fairly well known winter holiday dilemma: should you buy skiing equipment or simply rent it? The pleasures of owning your personal set of skis needs to be offset against whether you will use them enough to make the purchase worthwhile. Rented equipment is usually completely satisfactory for the part-time user, but it is possible that poor equipment choice or fitting can deter a novice from what might otherwise be a pleasurable pastime.   Cons of hiring The traditional negatives of hiring: the thought that you may be subject to the whim of the hirer and will end up with poor quality, inferior equipment are long gone. Hirers these days have to insure themselves against being found liable for injury or damage and you can rest assured that their equipment is up-to-date, beautifully and expertly maintained, and if not current top-of-the-range products they will most likely be last season’s cutting edge tech. The worst thing about hire equipment is the notion that it has been used by someone else; and that only matters if you are squeamish about such things. Another minor negative might be if you have excellent equipment one week, then come back and get different equipment; becoming accustomed to the different feel of unfamiliar kit can be slightly off-putting for some.   Cons of owning A perceived benefit of owning your own equipment, apart from being your choice, and possibly better quality than could be found at the hire shop; was the fact that owners could check-in at the hotel or chalet and immediately head off the slopes to maximise skiing days. Hire equipment required form filling, endless trying to find the best of several bad fits and large deposits being paid before the weary traveller was pronounced ready to ski. This is no longer the case, hire shops can also arrange equipment to be ready and waiting on arrival, so renters too, can hasten to the slopes to try out the piste. In addition, hire equipment is likely to be more up-to-date – not many people can afford to update their ski equipment every year. An important drawback to owning your equipment is the cost of carrying bulky and awkwardly shaped ski equipment on flights. Some airlines charge almost as much for carriage of ski equipment as it does to rent it for a week and you will still have the inconvenience of manoeuvring and carrying your equipment to your destination. Another consideration is the fact that while broken hire equipment can be returned and exchanged for undamaged equipment, if you own it, it is you that must pay to replace it – not always easy or cheap in the middle of a holiday.   Pros of Owning One definite benefit of owning your own equipment is comfort. Boots that are chosen specifically for you, that are shaped only by your feet and are sized with the attached buckles and straps to exactly your proportions are infinitely better for your feet than those tried on by many others, with the straps altered and tweaked every few days. Quite apart from the hygiene side – always wear thick socks with hired shoes or boots of any kind – a superior personalised fit will assure greater comfort on the slopes. Your personal preferences can come into play as regards length, colour and the decoration of your own equipment and it is true that a board with signs of expert use do set the user above the obvious novices in the ski-slope hierarchy! It is interesting that snowboarders swear by their own boards, mistrusting the feel and glide of an unknown quantity, whereas skiers are more likely to take a chance on a new pair of skis. Perhaps the difference lies in the more dangerous stunts performed by extreme snowboarders where a board sliding out from under them could result in a painful injury should it occur in the middle of a big jump or trick.   Pros of hiring One of the biggest advantages, especially these days is the very high quality of equipment provided by the hire shops. Nearly always only one or two years old, the equipment is thoroughly checked and expertly serviced after each use, to ensure it is ready for the next user. Hire shops will also be completely up-to-date with new rules and regulations and when it becomes law for helmets to be worn on the slopes, as is expected in the near future, they will be immediately prepared to keep customers compliant. Should any equipment be damaged, it can relatively easily be exchanged for new supplies without using up too much holiday time. Some hotels even have agreements with hire shops, having in-house offices and a trained fitting technician on hand to ensure the guests have everything they need to begin their skiing holiday promptly and fully equipped.   With the exception of specialist ski clothing being purchased prior to your trip, almost any other equipment can be hired, easily, cheaply and conveniently, in resort.   Sources:;;;   This post was written on behalf of VIP SKI, the luxury ski chalet holiday providers who specialise in family ski holidays throughout the Alps.