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Ski and snowboard buying guide

“When you’re on top of the hill, you can go in any direction. You’re relying on minimal equipment; everything else is just about following gravity,” says Patrick Deneen, 20, the top-ranked freestyle skier in the United States. “It’s the feeling of just being free to do whatever you want and skiing on the edge.”

The feeling of freedom is what attracts lots of guys to skiing and snowboarding in the first place. Once they try it, they’re hooked.

Having the right equipment can make the difference between spending your days shredding the slopes or scraping yourself up off the snow. There are a few things you should know before you go ski and snowboard shopping, and Deneen and 17-year-old pro snowboarder Johnny Lazzareschi will fill you in.

THE LOW DOWN

Whether you’re a skier or snowboarder, the first thing you need to do is decide which type of riding you think you’ll be doing the most. There are two main types of skis: freestyle and all-mountain. Same goes for snowboards.

“Freestyle boards are best for sliding rails and doing jumps,” Lazzareschi says. Slightly longer, all-mountain boards (also called freeride) are designed to be ridden all over the mountain and in all sort os snow conditions.

Next, be smart about where you shop. Snow-specific specialty shops will give you the best service in selecting your gear, though better deals can be had online or in big sporting goods stores.

“But don’t just go to one shop and buy all your stuff there without shopping around first,” Lazzareschi warns. Also, if you can wait until the off-season you can usually find really good deals, especially at the big stores with lots of inventory.

“The best time to buy skis is in the off-season, like March. That’s when stuff starts going on sale,” Deneen says.

Finally, if you’re not sure what sort of skis or board you want, renting can be a good way to go. Some shops have a fleet of demos so you can try the latest and greatest models, while some even offer full-season lease options that rent you an entire kit (boots, bindings, and skis or snowboard) for around $150.

SKIS

Price: $400-$800

Length: Skis should be your height or barely taller.

Width: Pick a ski with a waist of 70 to 80 mm for all-mountain skiing.

Flex: Soft to medium flex is best for beginner/intermediates. Stiff for more aggressive skiers.

Bindings: Will cost $150 to $300.

Boots: Fits from a half-size to a full-size smaller than street shoes. Try injected foam liners for a better fit. $300 to $600.

SNOWBOARDS

Price: $250-$500

Length: Board should come up to between your chin and forehead.

Width: Your feet should be just about flush with the edge of the board, not hanging over the side.

Flex: Choose more flex if you’ll be doing freestyle moves in the park/pipe; more stiffness for all-mountain riding.

Bindings: Pick strap bindings (not step-ins); should cost $125 to $200.

Boots: Fits half-size smaller than street shoes. $150 to $250.

WEAR A HELMET

“It’s kind of the coolest thing on the mountain now — everybody wears a helmet,” freestyle skier Patrick Deneen says. “Even if you’re just going to go slow, you’re definitely going to get hit. I’ve seen them save lives.

86 Comments on Ski and snowboard buying guide

  1. why are skis more exspeneve then a snowboard? :l

  2. I always wanted to snowboard but it often snows and I dont know how.

  3. I have my own pair of skis now. A pair of my dad’s older telemark skis for backcountry skiing, and a pair of newer randonee skis, for very steep terrain and very very deep powder. And I just use a pair of adjustable poles, longer for flat terrain, and shorter for the steep stuff.

  4. bording is so much fun if you keep warm

  5. Dr. hippie // July 28, 2010 at 7:45 pm // Reply

    must… have… board!

  6. get up and go // April 4, 2010 at 5:12 pm // Reply

    Well, IDK much about snowboarding, but how deferent can a $400 snowboard be, from a Wall-Mart
    snowboard? You don’t need to start out on top; its not like we’r all olympic snowboarders!
    Now, if you ARE a olympic snowboarder, then excuse me, your the expert, but I was just making a point.

    • get up and go, the difference is the quality of the board and the materials used in making the board. If you go out and buy a wal-mart board it will ride wayyy different than a nice board such as a Burton, K-2, Rome, or DC

    • wal-mart boards are made cheaply

    • Never buy anything having to do with sports from wal mart

    • Next Shaun White // December 21, 2010 at 3:38 pm // Reply

      Thats really expensive for a board. I bought an awesome Fourm Board this November for $104 and it came with boots and bindings. I also bought a used Airwalk (one of the first snowboarding brands) for $60 with boots and bindings. Whatever you do just don’t get a foam core board like Lamar. If its too good to be true it probably is. By the way if you live in the East go with step in bindings but always get good name brand ones these will stay in, if you live in the East the snow is wetter and the snow sticking to the bindings (doesn’t happen with wet snow) and boots not staying on the board is usually what keeps people away form step ins. Step in bindings are good if you live in the East.

  7. I really wish I could get a snow board but the prices shown here are outragious. Are you sure your not paying for the namebrand rather than the board it’s self? Or is the pricing subject to geographical economics?

    • Hey man getting into snowboarding is expensive. I went to a mountain at the end of the season for the first time and am now hooked. Look for a snow board at the end of the season, I got a $350.00 burton clash for 40% off, same with bindings they were $150.00 for 40% off. All together I spent $312.67!!!
      So just look around at the end of the season

    • I got my pair of skis,boots, and bindings for under $300 just try to get skis at the end of the year when they are cheap and get the boots used until your feet are done growing

    • Next Shaun White // December 21, 2010 at 3:43 pm // Reply

      Electric. read the post I had up above as long as its wood core then theres not much different. Go with brands like Forum, Burton, K2, Airwalk, and Rossingnol. Don’t buy stuff like Lamar and I heard bad things about Kemper too. 5150 is a very popular brand but its pretty expensive. If you want something nice go with a Burton.

  8. I am not a serious skier, so I rent my gear from local winter sports shops. But if are buying skis, get Marker bindings, they are great. And Solomon makes great skis.

  9. If u guys need a board fast & cheap try to get a snowskate

  10. I want some skis.

  11. \billy bob jane // January 1, 2010 at 9:57 am // Reply

    I have k2 twin tips 180s and i got them cheap on off seesin

  12. out of order // December 8, 2009 at 6:08 pm // Reply

    i need a snowbord soon.like in a month or2

  13. do any of you now waer to get a good + cheap?

  14. crazey extreme jump dude on skis // November 25, 2009 at 10:00 pm // Reply

    dear snow bunny 358 you realy do not need to wax them at all only if you want to if you get a lease package you do not have to wax them at all

  15. crazey extreme jump dude on skis // November 25, 2009 at 9:54 pm // Reply

    k2 twin tips are awwwwwwwwwwsome

  16. Second Class Scout 981 // November 24, 2009 at 11:01 am // Reply

    How much does the snow must accumulate for a snow board to work? Does the snow need to be a wet, compactible snow that is at least four inches in depth to work?

  17. I prefer Skis

  18. Snowboard Master // August 11, 2009 at 7:57 am // Reply

    burton is the best company to have.

  19. snow bunny 358 // August 2, 2009 at 4:54 am // Reply

    Are there any snow skis or snow boards that do not require the use of candle wax for proper care and adequate slickness to use while snow skiing and snow boarding.

  20. says says: // July 30, 2009 at 3:26 pm // Reply

    I have Burton Fourm Its Really good

  21. yo i board and this guide is wicked. it helps me all the time. Sims is a good board brand and is about 600 including bindings good luck

  22. i have a k2 and its the best board ive ever had

  23. proboarder // June 10, 2009 at 2:03 pm // Reply

    Burton makes top of the line snowboarding gear for all terrains and ages

  24. go to play it again sports for a board i got a acome lamar board for only 60 bucks

  25. i love to snowboard! My dad and i just started last winter and we just loved it.

  26. Buying used skis can give you almost the same quality as new, at a decimal of the price. Plus, they usually come with bindings

  27. Uber and epic!!!!!!!!!! Should I get the Burton Dom Grom?

  28. ive been trying to get skis fo awhile now

  29. i snow board and thats awsome advice

  30. you should buy ur gear it the costs add up if you keep renting

  31. Buying your own gear isn’t worth it if you go three times a year. i’m an avid snowboarder and i spend 2 to 4 weeks on the mountain. i buy a new board every year with the money i get off being a camp counselor. right now im rocking a Rome MOD if your a big freestyle rider i suggest this board if you have 5 grand. Its sooo light

  32. where can I get a snowboard?

  33. i got a pair of line invaders for christmas

  34. I love to snowboard and this article is very interesting, I even learned a lot I didn’t know!

  35. that is awsome!!!!!!! lol

  36. genral awsome // January 29, 2009 at 7:25 pm // Reply

    I learned how to ski but I gotta get my own gear and not rentals man

  37. i alwase wanted to have a real snow board

  38. snowboarding is better than skiing

  39. I have ridden alot of boards and the height sould be between your nose and yourchin

  40. Monique, a Leaf fan, set up this absolutely persistent to believe. Now, let me goal out that this was in no way an undertake to articulate one pair is raise than the other. It was objective a core to articulate two things.

  41. The guide seems to have the pricing on the expensive side, at least for skiis. I spent $200 for my skiis, and my boots were about $150.

  42. i looked in my boys life magizine and i bought a new snowboard and i did a 360 2 going off a jump

  43. jay way advance // December 16, 2008 at 9:24 pm // Reply

    I really liked the guide. I printed it and took it to REI to buy a pair of skis. It hasn’t really snowed yet, but I cant wait to use ’em!

  44. if u want a really good snowboard for pretty much anything go for a sapient coast it is the best board i have ever ridden

  45. i like the solomon lord skis. very verstile ansd tough

  46. That looks totally radical, man!!! Snows up!!!

  47. i gotta get a board!!

  48. sounds like fun. since i skate i should try snowboarding!

  49. 9 year old men // December 8, 2008 at 8:43 pm // Reply

    dude, im 6’2 and ride 160 and i have a pair of 99cm. they do not need to be that long. no way. no skis anymore should be that long unless you doing powder and hucks, or racing. so if your really going to drop 600-800 for ski and binding, buy the right ones!

  50. I want to try that!

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