Alpine skiing is expensive. Want proof? Skis can costs over $1,000 (without boots bindings or poles), 1 day lift tickets range $50-80 and you will also need to spend a few hundred dollars on clothing such as a jacket, pants, goggles and insulating layers. Unfortunately, there is nothing cheap about this sport. However there are a few things you can do to make skiing more affordable. Below are the top 5 things that have helped me avoid going broke while funding my skiing habit.
1. Join a Ski Club:
Ski club membership is one of the best ways to save money on the slopes. Clubs like the Connecticut Ski Council offer substantial lift ticket discounts to members. Their “Council Awareness Days” offer members discounts of almost 50% at different mountains throughout New England on every day of the season. In addition council members enjoy discounts at ski areas like Mount Snow. These discounts are great and they also make it affordable to visit a variety of mountains. Membership only costs $30 a year so it essentially pays for itself if you use it once. The Connecticut Ski Council also offers group trips, rental discounts and other ski related events. It really doesn’t make sense to not join a ski club unless you like to waste your money!
2. Lease Skis for the Season:
You can easily spend over $2,000 if you buy a set of skis, bindings, boots and poles. This might make sense if you are an advanced skier but it is not the best option for newer skiers. Many ski shops, such as Valley Bike and Ski Werks , will lease skis for the entire season for about $119. This is a great value since many ski areas will charge $40 just for 1 day ski rentals. Also, renting from the ski area forces you to wait in line and get fit for rental skis each time you go skiing; not fun! A season lease allows you to use the same ski setup all season which helps you become a better skier. Oh yeah, Valley Bike and Ski Werks gave me a free 1 day pass to Berkshire East with my lease which saves another $50 that I would have spent on a lift ticket.
3. Don’t Pay Retail:
If you want to avoid frostbite then you will need a ski jacket, pants, insulating layer, base layer, socks, gloves, goggles and a helmet. This can easily cost several hundred dollars at full retail. Thankfully you have other options! Well known outdoor retailers like Eastern Mountain Sports and REI regularly have sales on almost all of the gear you’ll need. Be sure to get on their email lists to stay in the loop on these deals. Online retailers like Backcountry.com also offer regular sales on high end gear. Backcotunry.com also has a Backcountry Outlet section on its site where you can save up to 70% on gear. Additionally, many ski shops have end of season sales where you can stock up for next season at steep discounts. Lastly, Ebay can be a great place to score new gear at low prices; this is how I got my skiing jacket.
4. Ski Local:
If you live in New England then you live near a ski area of some sort. However, many of us regularly drive for hours to go to big mountains like Killington. Depending on your trip distance and gas mileage, this could easily add another $50 in transportation costs just to get to the mountain. Skiing local will save hours of your time and hundreds of your dollars throughout the season. It will also keep your dollars in your community but that is a topic for another article. Your local mountain might not have the sickest descents or hundreds of trails but it will let you save money and spend more time skiing.
5. Know the Snow:
Check the snow conditions at your desired ski area before you get in the car. How does this save you money? If you buy a lift ticket only to find poor conditions or few open trails then you are wasting money. Sites like Onthesnow.com provide up to date information on every ski area in the country. You can check base depth, % of open trails, reviews, and weather before you go. This helps you choose the ski area which will give you the best value.
Hopefully these tips help make skiing at least slightly more affordable. Ski safe.