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A flurry of skiing articles from the Journal this week! All deserve comment, but the moderators don’t agree, so when the discussion section is turned off I’m stuck writing blog posts.
The subtitle of Why You Should Never Buy Ski Gear Again bolsters what you’re already thinking:
“Flying with ski gear is a pain, and even the best equipment depreciates quicker than fast-fashion. Here, why you should rent—never buy—nearly all your slope needs from now on”
I’m a skier–a pretty serious one–and I take issue with ever point sofar raised.
This year, I’ve noticed a proliferation of services that “solve” the “problem” of transporting gear. Some of them ship your ski gear to your hotel. Others, like Ski Butlers mentioned in the article, bring the entire boutique to your hotel room for you to select your setup.
First off, there is one perpetuated falsehood that must be corrected: It’s not hard to travel with ski gear!
“I’ve muscled a mountain of equipment into several duffels for the plane and torched my Amex with baggage fees only to stuff everything into the always-smaller-than-advertised rental car when I land. The only real alternative was renting scuffed-up gear at the resort.”
There’s this thing called the ski roller bag. It fits two pairs of skis, a pair of boots, and everything else you can pack in while keeping things under fifty pounds. People don’t seem to realize this, but on every non-budget airline, these bags qualify as sports equipment. They fly for the same price as a checked bag. On airlines such as United, you can check a smaller ski bag under the sporting label and then check a boot bag for free.
No single person has any business bringing “several,” which implies “more than a couple (2)” duffle bags on a ski trip. This is a gross exaggeration.
It’s weird to bring up the rental car. If you actually have so much money that you’d rather rent things in order to ski in a fresh outfit every day, you’ll be taking a private shuttle to the resort from the airport–especially at most of the resorts mentioned in the article. If you are going to rent a car to drive to a ski resort, you’re going to get something that should have four-wheel drive. Trunk space shouldn’t be a problem here.
“What does it feel like to leave for a ski trip with nothing but street clothes, a swimsuit for the hot tub, and custom-fitted ski boots? Exactly what it should feel like: a vacation.”
The author finally admits that renting boots isn’t fun. Yet, it’s kind of implied that showing up to a ski resort without anything is somehow relaxing. Even if there’s a pre-approved price arrangement, you still don’t have clothes you can ski in! So you need to take time away from the hot tub or the bar or even the slopes in order to pick out your gear. Surprise–none of the ski butlers are going to be around when you get to the resort at 9 PM on a Thursday.
Once you finally meet up with your butler or enter a full-service rental shop, you’ll reach the point of decision exhaustion very quickly. The fact of the matter is that ski gear, more so than any other clothing that people would rent, needs to be constantly tested under extreme conditions before you know if it’s right for you. How do you know that a jacket is warm enough or actually waterproof enough until you’re in a blizzard? How do you know that a goggle’s tint is correct for the phases of the sun? What are the standards for assessing helmets for crumple following each rental?
Skis and poles, fine, rent them. You don’t need a fancy service to do this. Every resort worth going to has a wonderful… typical… ski shop that can meet your needs.
Ski gear depreciates quicker than fast-fashion?
It’s taken me a long time to optimize my equipment. I have no intention of replacing it anytime soon and I doubt it’s going out of style. Most of it looks and performs as good as the day I bought it. For example, my Flylow Lab Coat is not only 30k waterproof but also bulletproof. So are the Flylow Chemical pants. We’ve reached “peak goggle” where goggles are lightweight, aesthetically-pleasing, and provide perfect peripheral vision. There is no fashion to change here. Snowsports enthusiasts want to see as much as possible and we’re never going back. It’s at a point where the best gear, in general, is so useful and so durable that people rarely think of swapping.
While you are trying to decide which mediocre rented pants match your mediocre rented jacket at 10 AM on a powder day, I’ll be ripping my fifth run. Just make sure you buy a shirt at Jackson or the locals will still hate you.