A few buddies have asked me recently about getting into backcountry skiing/touring and wondering how to gear up. Since the the price for new gear is a little steep:
- $700+ for skis
- $500+ for boots
- $400+ for bindings
- $350+ for beacon
- $120+ for skins
- $80+ for poles
- $75+ for backpack
- $40+ for probe
- $40+ for shovel
Here are my tips for trying to save some money…
Online – Used
- Turns All Year – Personal Yard Sale – Pacific North West forum for backcountry skiers. Less for sale than TGR, but fewer buyers than TGR so stuff doesn’t sell as fast.
- TGR Gear Swap – Probably the most popular forums for skiers. Lots of stuff gets listed for sale but gets grabbed fast. You’ll need to check it multiple times per day and be ready to pounce.
- eBay – Occasionally you’ll find some good deals here. Be wary of the bad deals though!
- Craigslist – Sporting Goods – Craigslist is your friend. Get the cPro+ iPhone app so you can search multiple ski towns at once. You’d be surprised how many people are willing to ship. My list is: Vancouver, Salt Lake City, Butte, Seattle-Tacoma, Wyoming, Los Angeles, San Francisco Bay Area, Bellingham, Wenatchee, Denver, Bend, Portland, Reno/Tahoe, Kalispell, Billings, Bozeman, Missoula
Cascade Climbers Yard Sale – More of a forums for PNW mountaineers, you will find some ski stuff here occasionally
Online – New
- Amazon: usually can’t be beat on prices, gotta pay tax though
- Backcountry: not the cheapest, but has a no questions asked unlimited return policy like REI. No tax. Free shipping.
- REI: get the REI Visa so that with your Visa and dividend you’ll save 15% on full price items. Of course, the twice yearly 20% coupon is a life saver. Note that while it says you can usually it only once, you can in fact use it many many times as long as you do separate orders. I also really like REI because backcountry gear takes a beating and it is easy to return something if it fails.
- Smaller shops with online presences like Pro Guiding, Tahoe Mountain Sports, Bent Gate Mountaineering, etc.
Seattle Area Stores
- Pro Ski North Bend – My favorite! Tip: sign up for the mailing list. A few times a year they have 20% off sales.
- Pro Ski Service (Aurora) – When I’m too lazy to drive to North Bend
- Second Ascent – Has used gear too
- Feathered Friends
- Friends with pro deals. Enough said.
- Don’t cheap out on boots or beacon. Get shitty skis to start and then upgrade them once you’re going on longer outings and know what you want. As for beacons, get a triple antenna digital. Say no to analog.
- Don’t try on boots at a store then buy them somewhere else online
- Get Dynafit bindings not Marker
- If the used item you’re looking at hasn’t sold yet negotiate or ask for free shipping
- For used skis, buy the skis you want, but if they don’t have the bindings you want, take them off and re-sell them. I got a pair of $1,300 skis for $800 by buying skis+bindings used for 5 days for $1,000 then selling the bindings for $200
- Good skis to consider for a one ski quiver: Dynafit Manaslu, K2 Coomback, K2 Coomba, K2 Hardside, Black Diamond Revert, G3 Tonic
- If you don’t see what you want for sale try posting a “WTB” that is a “want to buy”. You might be surprised what you can shake loose.
- If you liked this post you’ll probably also be interested in my ski mountaineering gear recommendations