After a long summer of not posting or skiing, I’m back and writing up an article that goes against the insurmountable wave of advice that gear guides are about to offer. You know what I’m talking about, all that shiny new gear that will supposedly make you a better skier, all laid out beautifully in a slick magazine alongside the advertisements showing the very same product. Isn’t it shocking that the “best gear” award went to the same product with a full-page spread ad? Anyway, I digress; let’s move on to the real reason I started writing this article: to focus on how you can save money on gear this year.
If you’re looking to buy new gear, mid-Sept to mid-Oct is the best time to save money. Store shelves are generally empty or at least emptier than any other time of year. New stock is arriving, and ski shops will want to sell off the last of those old top sheets and last year’s jacket patterns. Before getting free skis to test/review, I exclusively bought my skis during this time of year. Boots and bindings can see some savings too, but usually less than skis. Clothing is almost always moving but could be slim pickings because this dept seems to get marked down earlier in the summer, and sizes can have gaps.
“But it’s last year’s gear…”
Of course, I’ve heard plenty of arguments about buying “last year’s gear”, but I’ll tell you a little secret: this year’s gear is basically the same as last year’s. Those K2 Waybacks? Ya, they just changed the top sheet. Those Dynafit boots? Mostly just a color change. Bindings? They are the same binding. There have been times when significant steps have been made in gear year to year, especially within the backcountry space, but at this point, we’re not seeing huge advancements, at least nothing that screams “must buy” to me. New, “cutting edge designs” can also have issues in their release year. Sure, pro skiers getting the stuff for free have tested it, but that doesn’t always mean the product will live up to widespread, real-world use. I’ve seen plenty of first-year products fail in the past, don’t get caught up in the hype.
Buy used if you really want to save your hard-earned summer dishwashing money. Watch Facebook Buy and Sell groups and see if someone is looking to offload a sweet deal to afford this year’s gear. At first, people will try to get top dollar; instead, I like to wait until mid-December and buy from the “ski touring isn’t what I thought it was” seller. They bought high-end stuff, did their AST 1, and went out with some friends but have now decided they much prefer chairlifts. The problem is they just blew $5000 on new gear and want to offload it fast and without hassle.
Soon, if not already, you’ll start seeing posters for the famous “gear swap”, which isn’t a swap but a collectively used marketplace. People bring their old gear in, set a price, and the organizer takes a cut if it sells. Sometimes you can find really sweet deals, but you’ll probably also find a bunch of stuff that is a bit overpriced for being used. Several factors cause the price inconsistency, but I won’t bother getting into that. If you find a deal, that’s great; if not, no worries. Don’t rely on gear swaps to get the gear you need; instead, attend them to find that diamond in the rough.
Prices Are Going Up
Backcountry skiing has grown every year, and with COVID, it seemed to explode. Prices headed into the 22/23 season are increasing with increased product demand, supply chain issues and inflation. If you are smart and time it correctly, you can usually find a deal that will work out. This year that time is probably right now.
If you’re in the Bow Valley, most shops have sale items, and the discounts look sweet this year. Here’s a short local list, so you don’t have to waste your time: