Buying the Right Skis & Snowboards
If you decide that buying your own kit is the way forward then buying in resort is probably your best bet; you will find a wider choice of models and most shops give you the opportunity to test before you buy.
Darren Kennedy, who has been involved in ski & snowboard shops in Meribel for many years, has the following recommendations:
Skis / Snowboard
- Buy in resort rather than back at home; this provides a wider choice and allows you to test different models. Do some research and try to establish which models interest you. Most snow sport magazines run regular articles on purchasing skis / snowboards and provide an unbiased, professional opinion. There are also trade shows like the London Ski Show and demo centres at events like The Rock on Snowboard Tour where you can ask professional advice and test equipment for yourself.
- Some hire shops will offer a ‘testing day’ for the particular ski/snowboard that you are interested in. The price of your test day will normally be taken off the final price of your ski/snowboard purchase.
Boots are the first thing to buy as technically they have the most influence on your ability and can be very painful if badly fitting. If you have unusual sized or shaped feet then it may be worth buying them early on in your 'career' as well as customised insoles.
Try and buy new boots as second hand boots used for hire can lack a bit of padding and therefore warmth and comfort.
- Again, buy in the resort. A ski boot needs to be skied before any problems arise, leading to difficulties for those who purchase boots at home. In resort, any problems can be ironed out during your stay at no extra cost. If a ski boot feels good in the shop, there is a good chance that it will be too big for you! A professional boot fitter should single out the correct shape and style of boot to suit your skiing level and foot shape. Good advice about the socks you wear is extremely important for both the fit and warmth of your feet. Do invest in a professionally made foot bed, which stabilises the foot within the boot and enhances transmission of your energy onto the ski’s edge for optimum carving. The result is comfortable feet and an improved skiing technique.
- Remember you should wear thin socks in your well-fitting boots as it is blood flow round your body which keeps you warm not thick socks- tight boots and thick socks reduce the flow. World-cup skiers even wear stockings or nothing to give them closer contact to the boot.
- Towards the end of March, beginning of April, a number of local resort ski and snowboard shops will have good end of season sales offering up to 20 - 30% off the price of the season’s skis and boards. There are definitely some good all encompassing bargains to be had at this time.
To read more about the different types of equipment that are available please read our articles on Skis, & Snowboards. You can find details of all shops offering equipment to hire or buy on our Ski Rental/Sports Shops listings page.
- Once in resort set aside a whole day to test kit, preferably at the beginning of your holiday
- Choose a day with good visibility, and always try out models back-to-back, one hour at a time, and on the same slopes.
- Find a shop that is reputable and has a dedicated Test Centre rather than just the usual rental models that may be old and worn.
- Make sure to be honest about your skiing level, fitness and budget
- Be prepared to test other models that may not have been on your original list, however, try to narrow your choice to three models for testing as more than this will become confusing.
- Bindings are now generally sold as packages with skis: make sure that they are similar to the model that you tested.