Smart Ways to Save Money on Gear
Summary: Save money on new gear by buying mid-range skis, combi boots and cheaper poles. Buying used gear from a racer is another great way to save.
We recommend you buy the best gear you can afford because there are performance advantages to quality gear and you definitely get what you pay for.
But you shouldn’t spend money you don’t have and we know everyone has to work within a budget. What follows are the best ways we know for saving money but still enjoying quality equipment.
Often a ski company will offer a mid-range model that’s terrific value. It won’t have all the features of the top model, but it’ll have the most important ones. Ask your ski retailer about this.
Other than getting a nice ski for a great price, there’s another benefit to buying a high value mid-range ski. You save money when you’re getting started and your overall costs are high. After a few years, you’ll know whether you really love the sport. Then you can buy better skis if you want.
You’ll still be happy with your first pair because now you’ll be so keen you’ll ski even when conditions aren’t ideal. You’ll be heading out early in the season when the snow is thin and roots and rocks aren’t completely covered. Now your first pair of skis will be your “rock skis” and you won’t feel too worried about them getting a few scratches.
Boots and Bindings
If you want to skate and classic ski and are looking for ways to save money, go ahead and buy combi boots. It’s not as ideal as owning classic and skate boots, but it’s not a bad compromise. Just remember, never compromise on comfort. Nothing about your boots matters more than comfort.
We’ve said it several times, but it’s worth repeating. Do not buy automatic bindings. Buy manual bindings. It’s more difficult to attach and remove your boots from automatic bindings. Plus, automatic bindings are more likely to ice up.
Imagine you’re trying to quickly remove your skis so you can go to the bathroom, but your bindings won’t release. What if you had to undo your boot and walk through the snow in your socks to get there?
When you buy your ski package, the upgrade from automatic to manual bindings will cost you about as much as 3 cups of coffee. You will not regret spending the extra money!
You can find excellent quality mid-range poles. Even at the low end of the mid-range you can find poles that will serve you well and won’t break your bank account.
We always recommend that you buy poles that have a sling or harness handle grip, rather than a simple loop strap. Also, make sure you get poles that are long enough. Check How to Buy Cross Country Ski Poles, if you are unsure about correct pole length.
You can buy a cheap iron. In fact, you can even use an old clothes iron. You’ll lose a bit of wax in the steam holes, but it’s not a huge problem.
As for brushes, you only need one brush (a bronze one) and it doesn’t have to be the large size. The smaller sized one is fine.
If your local ski area has a public wax room, you can save a lot of money by using their wax bench. They might even have public irons, which is even better.
Stagger Your Investments
You don’t have to start classic and skate skiing at the same time. Start with one style and do it for a year or two before buying equipment for the other. Just learning one technique will be challenging enough.
As for which technique is best to start with, we discuss that in Skate, Classic or Both.
Buy Used Gear From a Racer
This is our best tip and it’s how we bought a lot of our gear. If you live near a large competitive club or training centre, you may be able to buy used gear from racers or ex-racers. You’ll get great gear at a fraction of the price and you’ll have the added satisfaction of supporting a young athlete.
When we recommend you buy the best gear you can afford, it doesn’t mean it has to be new gear. It means it has to be high quality race gear and it means it has to fit you. But it definitely can be older, used race gear.
Don’t be shy about contacting local racers. Very few of them can make a living racing. They’ll probably be happy for the chance to convert some of their gear into cash.
Don’t Be That Guy
We love cross-country skiing, but we don’t always love cross-country skiers. How can we put this politely?
Too many cross-country skiers are cheap.
We like to “get a deal” as much as the next guy, but we also like that our local Nordic ski shop is in business. We appreciate their expertise in helping us find gear that fits and works for us. We like that we have somewhere to go when we lose our gloves, run out of wax supplies, or just want to hang out with other cross-country skiers.
No one in the business of cross-country ski retail is making a killer living. They’re in the business for the love of the sport. Nordic ski stores are small, but they’re always big supporters of local skiers and local ski areas. They’re the good guys.
We’re not suggesting that you spend money you don’t have. We’re just saying, remember that you get what you pay for and everyone should come out a winner: you and your local retailer.
- Buy yourself the nicest gear you can afford
- Don’t ask for “deals”
- Once you’ve spent the money, just relax and enjoy your purchase