What to Look for When Buying Used Ski Gear

A how-to guide on finding gear when money is tight

PHOTO: Mattias Fredriksson

Even on your strict ramen and PBR diet, money is tight. Far too many trips to the bar for “just a couple beers,” last winter means there’s not a lot of cash left over for new skis. We get it. Lucky for you, it’s summer—the perfect time of the year to find used gear. To avoid getting screwed, follow these tips on how to assess used gear to get the best deal.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR:

Outerwear

Waterproofing: No matter how sick your kit looks, when it’s dumping snow and everyone’s about to go ski the line of the season, the last thing you want is to be the one stuck in the lodge drying out your jacket under the bathroom hand dryer. Checking the waterproofing on a used jacket is as easy as it sounds. Pour some water on it. If the water beads on the fabric to form small droplets, you’re good to go. If it begins to soak in, the material has lost its waterproofing. If the jacket or bib is just too good of a deal to pass up, companies like Nikwax offer products that help return waterproof properties to used gear.

Zippers: Even though rocking an open jacket may make you look cool in front of the 14-year-old kids riding the park, adults zip up their coats. Don’t forget to check pit zips. Broken? Cure frosty midriff with this easy zipper repair.

Stitching: Rips can be patched, but give the seams a good tug to make sure nothing is starting to come undone.

Pockets: Check them for cash or grass. Say no to year-old PB&J.

Helmets: NEVER buy a used helmet. No matter how much the previous owner swears they only crashed once, the risk is just too high. A general rule is that you should replace your helmet every five years.

Hardgoods

Skis: Three things to check—base, edge, and topsheet. Check for deep gouges and core shots in the bases. Beware the claims of shoddy-looking “professionally filled” core shots. Your friend doing it in his garage for a six-pack doesn’t count, buddy. In terms of edges, a pair of season-old park skis versus a pair of season-old powder skis can mean a world of difference. Unless you’re buying a pair for late spring skiing, steer clear of any park ski older than a few seasons. Some chipping on the topsheets may not be the end of the world, but any excessive abuse could lead to internal water damage and a generally bad time.

Boots: The good thing about used boots is you get to skip the painful process of breaking in a new boots. The weird thing is someone else’s feet have gotten pretty acquainted with the inside of that liner. Fortunately, many liners can be re-molded multiple times (or you can buy new liners). As long as a little pre-existing boot stank doesn’t scare you off, a pair boots a year or two old are a solid way to save some coin.

Poles: Unless there’s noticeable cracks or broken clamps, used poles are good to go, and a lot cheaper than new ones.

Subscribe to a year of The Skier’s Magazine for gear coverage of the best skis, boots, and bindings.

WHERE TO LOOK:

Craigslist: Gear found on Craigslist tends to be hit or miss. Sometimes you find a girl selling her ex-boyfriend’s touring set up for $200, other times you only spend hours scrolling through decades-old 200-centimeter straight skis and rear-entry boots (hello, Gaper Day) people find at the back of their attic during spring cleaning. Safety tip: Never go with a hippie to a second location.

There’s an App for That: Apps like OfferUp feature a user rating service, which can help weed out shady sellers. All deals are done in person, so you actually get to see what you’re buying before you even open your wallet. The closer you are to a ski town, the better. Facebook Marketplace is also a growing hub for community-based buying and selling.

Newschoolers: Newschoolers.com is host to an extensive buy/sell/trade forum if you’re willing to dig. Unfortunately, there is no search feature on the thread, so surfing NS tends to be click-heavy and difficult if you’re looking for something specific.

Local Shop: Of course, one of the best places to find used gear is at your trusty local shop, which often sells used demos to make room for next year’s new stuff. Benefits include finding a new-to-you setup at a great price, and supporting a local outlet. That’s what we call a win-win.

Consignment Shops: These shops act as the middleman between those wanting to sell their used gear and you, the new buyer. Also, consignment shops often employ fellow outdoor enthusiasts who are always happy to answer any questions you have on gear. Unfortunately, this also means that they know what gear should cost, so the chances of a great deal are generally much lower.

Not sure what to do with your old gear? Here are eight ways to reuse and repurpose your worn out skis and gear.