Nov 10 2015

6 Tips for Renting Ski Equipment

Enhance your experience with these expert tips.

Travelling with ski or snowboard equipment can be an encumbering experience, and experienced skiers and snowboarders know that renting equipment can be a great way to lighten your load and make your ski-trip a little easier. Comfortable boots and familiar skis are nice, but it’s no fun to carry bulky bags that flop in all the wrong spots. Take into account airline baggage fees for oversize and overweight bags and you may decide that renting equipment is a good financial decision as well. You might even end up liking your rented gear more than your own!

  1. Paperwork.
  • If you have a large group, call ahead to give the rental technicians time to prepare. If you know foot sizes and ski preferences for your party the shop may pre-package your gear for quicker setup. Don’t bring a large group in to get set up right before closing time—best to start early the next day.
  • Typically when you arrive you’ll be asked to complete some basic information. Most shops will have computers set up to make the process easy. Complete and print forms for every person who will be renting equipment.
  • The technicians are going to need to know what level of skier you consider yourself. No need to be overconfident in your abilities—this (along with your height and weight) determines the release settings for your bindings. So, safety first! You’ll be a type I (beginner), II (intermediate), or III (advanced) skier. If you’ll be hiking Palmyra peak or other hike-to terrain, or are just a super-aggressive shredder, you’ll be a type III+.
  • You’ll also select your package at this stage. Most shops will offer several levels of equipment. Click here for help selecting the best package.

2.  Boots.

  • Wear just one pair of ski-socks. I prefer a good knee-high snowboard specific wool blend sock. Avoid cotton socks, ankle socks, and multiple pairs of socks. I promise—three socks will not keep your feet warmer, it will only decrease circulation and lead to cold feet.
  • Don’t use toe warmers in your ski boots. They’ll really mess with your fit. Think about the poor technician who will be pulling your stinky toe warmer out at the end of the day!
  • If you use arch support or custom insoles, bring them. Let the technician who is fitting your boot know right away that you’d like to use your own insoles.     

3. Skis and Snowboards.

  • Usually it’s best to let your friendly ski tech choose a size for you. If you’re very familiar with a specific size go ahead and request it. Big foot snowboarders- request a wide board.
  • Take a look at your bases right away. Are they dry, white, or fuzzy? No good. Ask your tech for a freshly waxed ride, or you’ll be stuck in the flats all day while your friends whiz by.
  • While you’re inspecting your shred sticks, make sure that the edges are completely intact and free of major burrs. Most shops charge for blown edges, and you don’t want to be responsible for someone else’s error.
  • Razor sharp edges are not necessary, or even helpful. Your edges should be relatively sharp in the mid-section of the ski or snowboard, but deburred (more rounded) at the tip and tail. This keeps you on your feet and off of your face.
  • Excluding waxing issues, there is no such thing as a “fast” ski. If you want a performance ski, pay a little more for the upgrade package.

4. Helmets, Poles, and Accessories.

  • Don’t settle for the first helmet you try. Make sure your helmet fits well (it’s your brain in there!) and is compatible with your goggles before you leave the shop.
  • Don’t have goggles? Buy some. Even cheap goggles are pretty dang good these days, and most shops will sell to you as you check out.
  • Don’t forget your poles. To get the right length flip one upside down and grab the pole just above the basket. Your arm should be bent at a 90 degree angle.
  • Checkout is a good time to grab hand warmers, snacks, and sunscreen. After all, it’s Telluride, and there’s going to be blazing sunshine at some point.

5. Choose the best equipment for your level.

Most shops will offer a junior package, a standard package, an upgrade package, and a demo package.

Junior Packages include smaller gear, but the main difference is that these are typically for kids under 12. If your 12 year old has huge feet, the techs will put him in standard boots. If your little girl is a shredder, ask to see if the shop has junior sized demo gear.

Standard Packages usually include boots with three buckles instead of four and skis with a softer flex. If you are a beginner, these skis are usually a little more forgiving, and tend to wash-out through turns rather than hold an edge. The boots will be comfortable but offer a little less support. Remember, as a beginner or intermediate skier you might prefer comfort over performance.

Upgrade Packages will typically include four buckle boots and stiffer, more aggressive skis. If you are an intermediate skier, this is the package that will give you the best results. The skis will typically be more responsive, and the boots offer greater support and adjustability.

Demo Packages should be top-of-the-line equipment. Intermediate and expert skiers will benefit most from demos. Demo skis are a good way to sample the newest technology. Maximize your field testing by switching to a different setup after lunch.

6. The most important tip of all: tip your technicians.

The guys and gals of Telluride rental shops might seem to be living it up, but chasing the dream doesn’t always buy lunch. A ten dollar investment here will earn you the best fitting boots, fastest skis, and friendliest service in the west.

Telluride has more than a few rental options. Check with your lodging—they may provide rental discounts. Some companies will deliver equipment right to your room, and others offer specialty equipment. The best bet is to call ahead to confirm availability and other details.

Black Tie Ski Rentals

Boot Doctors

Christy Sports

Gravity Works

Ski Butlers

Telluride Sports

Special thanks to the crew at Boot Doctors for the good advice!

About the author: Brad Wilson is a super-snow-geek and ex-rental shop manager. Keep an eye out for him at Telluride—he’ll be tele-skiing backwards or hiking his snowboard up Bald Mountain.

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