Author Topic: Ski gear buying strategies, whats yours???  (Read 1039 times)


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Ski gear buying strategies, whats yours???
« on: September 29, 2006, 12:40:13 pm »

The more you spend skiing, the more important it becomes to select, buy and sell ski gear efficiently.

What is your strategy? Do you demo many skis, or buy exclusively based on research or suggestions? Do you buy at retail or online? Do you buy and hold, or do you refresh your selection often?

Do you stick with a few brands that you like or to try something new and different when you buy?


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« Last Edit: September 30, 2006, 01:56:05 pm by Barrettscv »

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Re: Ski gear buying strategies, whats yours???
« Reply #1 on: September 29, 2006, 08:50:26 pm »
Good topic, Michael.

I tend to buy skis somewhat like I do cars.? I seldom buy current year skis; I'm much more likely to buy an unused pair of skis that has been out for a year or two.? With cars, I never want a new model year, much prefer to give them a year to address any teething problems.? Same thing with skis (remember last years early production 160cm SuperShapes).? I seldom demo skis as part of a purchase decision, but use demos to correlate my impression of a ski with another reviewers so I can know how much their review of other skis would relate to my impression of that ski. Have never bought a pair of skis on the same day that I demoed them or as a result only of a demo.

I figure a really good ski from 2005 is still a really good ski in 2006/7 if it hasn't been redesigned.? Topskin changes don't count, they just increase the likelihood of getting a better price.? I tend to buy at the end of spring or at beginning of season fall clearances, and tend to buy based on service rather than absolutely lowest price (but I have a threshhold of about 10% premium for service).? For example, I bought my iM77's from Dawgcatching in appreciation of the service he provides on Epic.? Price was good, but I probably could have done a little better.? In general I pay about 50-60% of list price for new (or should I say unused) skis.

The toughest part of garnering ski knowledge is assessing the skiing abilities of the reviewer.? For example, in Dawgcatching's reviews of several skis he mentions his friend that skis with him who isn't a level 9 racer.? I learn a lot by comparing how the two of them felt about various skis.? The fact that his friend loved the iM77 in spite of it being a higher end ski was the deciding factor for me.? Similarly, SKI and SKIING don't have reviewers that I can relate to, and they don't even consistently relate reviews to each other.? Two skis on the same page may be rated on 3 different characteristics, so comparisons are basically useless (probably their intent).? But there is some information to be gleaned.? For example, the fact that one of then selected both the Magfire 10&12 in the all mountain expert category said a lot about the high end of the Magfire 10, which we already knew was a pretty forgiving ski.? And, the fact that the Magfire 10 was even submitted in that category by the manufacturer showed their confidence in the flexibility of the ski (an important characteristic for me).

However, I think the most important part is to recognize what kind of skier you are, realistically where you ski, and whether you want to spend your money on skis or ski outfits (or ski goggles).

[edit on 9/31 for jbotti below]
I have two current pairs of skis, but I don't think of myself as having a two ski quiver.  I have the Head i.SL chip for my east coast ski and the Head im77 for my "out west" ski.  The only exception to this is that I did take both last December and used the i.SL Chips's during the mornings at Harald's camp.  I remember a few years ago at Monarch (in Colorado, but not one of the biggies) with 24" of new snow.  There were a lot of local kids there with 10 year old skinny skis that were doing just fine, and the light sort of came on.  I had my iC160's at the time, and I was doing fine as well (less than 70mm waist).  I wasn't floating and smearing like Michaels Spatulas will, but I was having a blast.  I decided that living with a compromise wide ski, skiing in the powder instead of on it is OK for the snow that I usually encounter and is preferable to hauling two pair of skis from Virginia to Colorado.

« Last Edit: September 30, 2006, 08:19:30 pm by jim-ratliff »
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Re: Ski gear buying strategies, whats yours???
« Reply #2 on: September 30, 2006, 07:17:10 am »
Nice Jim....a lot of great thoughts.

When I start thinking about new skis, I start with finding out as much info about that ski first and foremost from this site and then Powder, Ski Press, SKi and Skiing. I kind of get an overall feel from the a general consensus of sorts. I do trust Peters reviews as I have never to date found any major discrepancy in those reviews. I prefer to buy new and get the latest technology from the industry when possible. Skiing is a passion with me so I figure that's the one place I like to spoil myself. I need confidence in my equipment so getting gear with the latest protection and performance is important to me. Starting from the bottom up....cause that's where it all happens. Ok Ron,....I know you start from the top down cause multiple and co-ordinated outfits are just as important to you.....hey live and let live!!!

I target the ski based on the conditions I will be using it for for say 75% of the time and my skiing ability. It's interesting where I have seen articles on the Head IM77's referring to it's "thrashing" or "stiff" tail, I never ever once experienced that kind of feeling from the ski. Those comments came not from this forum either. Those kind of comments sure make me wonder..."what the heck are they talking about???!?!?!?" Still, my primary task is gathering as much info as possible. It's funny, sometimes either just before ski season starts or even mid ski season, my wife will see me pouring over tons of magazine articles, you know, the gear sections and asks."ok, so whataya doing,"? Of course I say "oh, "just checking on the pretty colors" but secretly, I think she knows I've "GOT THE ITCH"!

So...after mulling over all the wonderful choices, I start narrowing in on my bomb skiology!....Now, I usually prefer to demo a targeted ski. I have purchased skis based on reviews by Peter. I purchased my Head IM75's based on it's "one quiver" title given back then. Eventually I came to find myself....saved by my Michael, that I was a 2 quiver ski guy. I purchased my Fischer RX 8's based on how well the reviews were, how some friends liked them, and how my buddies at the ski shopped raved about them. I took a shot and have no regrets. Still, I prefer to demo skis whenever possible.

Well, the 82's I never demoed. I did know that I really liked my IM 75, the IM 77's and Ron was head over tea cups on the 82's. I also know that Michael spoke highly of the ski. Given my previous experience with the Head mid fats, I feel the 82 will be exactly what I'm looking for.

My first time out on the 82's will tell me if I made the correct decision but feeling pretty confindent. I do feel fortunate that I can be out there enjoying the mountain, that I have a desire to constantly improve and challenge myself.

Good ski weather, good attitude and good gear go a long way in my book!



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Re: Ski gear buying strategies, whats yours???
« Reply #3 on: September 30, 2006, 09:21:17 am »
Great Topic and Great Commentary form Gary and Jim.

My buying habits and pattern have changed over the last few years. I think it changed when I bought my first pair of slalom skis (Head I.SL chips) and I realized how much fun they were, how they lead you to better technique, and how versatile they are as an everyday ski. When I had this ski and a powder ski, I noticed that I really only needed two skis, a slalom carver and a big pow ski. As my technique improved over the past two years I have gravitated more and more to sandwich construction skis. They just tend to perform better (more upper end performance) with superior edge hold. This was why I bought the Head SS's. They are pretty redundant with the I.SL chips, but they are definitely more ski.

After demoing lots of skis over the past several years, there really are three ski manufacturers that standout for me. I guess it has to do with feel. Head, Fischer and Elan consistently make skis that I like alot. I pretty much feel like I can buy any ski that gets a good review form Peter that is made by Head, Elan and Fischer. On the other hand, every Volkl ski that I have been on has always seemed like to much work and way too stiff. I also have never liked the feel of Atomic skis. I owned a pair of Salomon Pocket Rockets. Compared to other powder skis with sandwich construction, the Pocket Rockets just feel unsubstantial (so now I have a bias against Salomon skis which is clearly irrational because I know they make some good skis).

As for price, if I can wait I will always wait for the end of the season and pick up a deal on the skis. If I am buying Head skis, i usually will buy them frm Harald Harb. He gives reasonable deals, but I like to support what he is doing. Having said this, he is carrying less and less skis each year as they are so busy with boots and bootfitting.

Lastly, I now try to temper my enthusiasm for gear. I spoke with Scoitt (Dawgcatching) and he was raving and telling me that the new Elan Speedwaves are incredible skis. When I hear this and I have an urge to go buy them, I ask myself: where in my quiver will these fit? When and in wjat conditions will I use them. With regard to the Speedwaves i realized very quickly that I would always rather be on my SS's than the SW's. This is the same reason I have yet to pull the trigger on a pair of XRC 1200's or 1400's. In the conditions in which I would use them, I know I would rather be on my SS's. If I find something that is better than my SS's or better than my IM 88's, I most likely will buy them.

Having said all this, I am still armed and quite dangreous. I could buy two new sets tomorrow!! There really is nothing quite like some new gear!!

Which leads me to my last point. The only time that I ever feel like I would like a one ski quiver is when I go away on a trip and I would prefer not to carry two sets of skis. For the past few seasons when I go away, I bring a powder ski and a carving ski and my back keeps asking why? I probably should demo the Metron B5, or some of the other one ski quivers. I will definitely try the IM 82 and I'm inclined because of how much Micheal likes it to try the new AC4 (even though I have generally hated Volkl skis). Still, I'm not sure that I still wouldn't prefer to just lug two sets and have a ski for each condition.?

I would love to hear thoughts on this and what you guys do when you go on ski trips. JB.


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Re: Ski gear buying strategies, whats yours???
« Reply #4 on: September 30, 2006, 10:09:21 am »
My strategy should carry a warning as seen on Fear Factor, so "do not try this at home". Like Gary, I feel that skiing is the one area where I can spoil myself a little, so with the determination of a jones-driven gear-geek, I immerse myself in multiple on-line tools and buy & sell a little compulsively. As a family man I also buy for my three teenage kids who tolerate it-all with healthy amusement.

Is there a method to my madness? Realskiers has converted ski buying from an expensive gamble to a interesting hobby and reduced my costs significantly. I buy all my skis online at eBay or for-sale at the forums. I generally spend $100 to $275 for skis and another $100 for bindings. 90% of the skis I buy are new-old stock, but I will gamble on a "almost-new" model that has been used. Both My Fischer Scenio & my Salomon Supermountain were used but in superb condition with bindings for chump-change. I've only regretted one purchase of a used ski online, so I'm a confident on-line trader.

I normally will buy boots at retail, but again I buy new-old stock. I will also buy boots online if the model is one I've used and I know the correct size from experience. I do feel that a good bootfitter is critical and will pay for this service willingly. Buying boots at a ski show is a viable option and better than buying on-line, IMO.

Like Jim, I am reluctant to trust a new model and I prefer to buy a ski that has been on the market for two or more seasons. I may break this pattern and buy a Monster 82 this year, but most skis I own are recent classics. The advantage of an established model are the multiple opinions based on substantial usage that can be developed at this forum and at Epicski. I don't trust the magazines at all.

I do own a quiver. As a former racer I've had multiple skis for 30 years. I do like every Fischer RX & WC hardsnow skis and a few of their super-wide skis. Head and Volkl consistently make great midfats. I'm willing to gamble on an unfamiliar make and model after ample research.

I am in the process of demoing mid-fat and wider skis when I travel out west. Last year I demoed the Volkl AC4 & Mantra, also the Head Monster 77 & 88. I liked 3 out of 4 of these models and had the opportunity to buy a Flat 77 and AC4 for a good price this summer and passed. Instead I just added a pure powder ski based on the theory that a big guy needs a big ski for float in powder. I'm willing to live with a risky purchase, knowing that I travel with multiple skis and I can always resell without losing too much $.

I generally do resell after one or two years, although this will slow now that I have an attachment to most of the skis listed below my signature. The Dynastar Intuitive 74 is a very good ski, but wider midfats like the AC4 and the Monster 82 outperform this model in every way, so a new midfat will happen in the next 12 months. I still think that the Fischer WC RC is the ultimate hardsnow hooligan ski, although other models are more versatile. The RX8 is the best on-piste ski, IMO.

Midfat & wider skis are more of a challenge to purchase. Several good 76 to 82mm wide underfoot models are out there. Finding one of these at a good price is getting easier. Super-wide skis are very difficult to buy. Many of these models perform terribly and are not well made. I can only think of a half dozen truly great wide skis and its difficult to demo these in deep snow. Its also difficult to find a bargain in these models.

I do enjoy the hunt.



« Last Edit: September 30, 2006, 11:30:39 am by Barrettscv »


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Re: Ski gear buying strategies, whats yours???
« Reply #5 on: October 02, 2006, 07:13:27 am »
I don't know if I have a strategy. I love skis and all the gear but I really like to ski on the same skis as much as possible. Although I have been through my share of skis I think that for now (note the inherant disclaimer in those words) I am very happy with my SS's and 82's.  When I do buy, I read this site and some of the reviews at epic. I will try to demo but I just find that I like the feel of Heads and Fischer best. Elan's are good as well but in the past 2-3 years,  have been liking the Heads most. I do use Peters reviews as well as the gang here. I like dawgs (scott) reviews but sometimes he's a little off from my perception.  Buying-wise, like many of us here, If i can get a ski that is not changing, then I'll buy it used or left over any day.  I got my 82's that way. I guy had them for 4 days and didn't like the way they skied in moguls. Scott's prices are fantastic and I bought my SS's from him. Gary's connection is excellent as well.  I will NEVER pay full retail, its just the principle of it. I did pay full retail for my boots but you don't always have the flexibility on those.


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Re: Ski gear buying strategies, whats yours???
« Reply #6 on: October 03, 2006, 03:22:52 pm »
When I was actively looking for a new ski, I demoed every chance I got, read everything I could find and infested every ski shop I could get to, waiting to bump into a sale in the spring/summer with a great ski for 50 to 70 percent off.

Now that I'm sort of looking for, but don't really NEED a gs ski, I'm reading everything, infesting all the ski shops, but my budget is a little more limited.  I think I'll find my GS ski at a garage sale.


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Re: Ski gear buying strategies, whats yours???
« Reply #7 on: October 18, 2006, 03:13:58 am »
Hi all,
My experience

First pair of sikis I bought was solely on the recommendation of the salesman in the ski shop.
Spent the time explaining where my skiing level was at, what I wanted to do, and I had built up enough trust to buy.
Turned out that the Head ic160s were what I needed, also what he had on sale :) and needed to move.
Spent two years improving my technique, and now have demoed many skis this year in the quest to replace my now sold Heads.
Skiing in Aspen is a VERY different experience from skiing down under on the ice / crud that Turoa generally has in abundance.
Hence needing different skis on different mountains. But I have to make do with what will be a one ski quiver.
I'm on the lookout for a pair of Atomic Metron B5s, but cant cut a deal at the right price yet.

Strategy to buy new skis.
1. Read as many reviews as I can.
2. Demo as many of the skis I have reviewed on the mountain I intend to use them most often on.
3. Take my time to find the deal for the ski I want at the right price. I will not pay retail when I've done all the home work, testing, demo work, phone calls etc.
4. Ski till I cant stand.
5. Next day, go to 4.




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Re: Ski gear buying strategies, whats yours???
« Reply #8 on: October 18, 2006, 11:26:13 pm »
I've pretty much always followed the same strategy.  I'm a bargain hunter and don't mind being on gear that's a few years outdated.  It's all new to me when I finally get it!  I find that to pull this off I have to pretty much know the good gear from every year's crop of skis so that I know a good deal when I see one.  For example, my mid-fat is an Intuitiv 74 I picked up last season.  I'd been following it and about 6 other comparable models for years.  When it finally hit the price I wanted I was ready.  The fun part about this habit is all the ski gear research.  The not-so-fun part is the fact that after all that research I have to settle for gear that was current two or three seasons ago.  But hey, when you can get into an expert ski package for less than $300 including bindings, one can afford a larger quiver.

Dave T

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Re: Ski gear buying strategies, whats yours???
« Reply #9 on: October 19, 2006, 09:55:05 am »
 I chuckled when I read kwilliams startegy :D.  I think I am cut of the same mould.  I generally buy top end skis that are 3 years old or newer if their has been a model change.  so I am always skiing on 'old' technolgy, but I generally add a new ski to my quiver every 2 years.  Last year I added a pair of Dynastar Intuitiv 71s -new in the plastic bags.   I think kwilliams must have bought the last pair of new 74s  ;)
I think I will continue this frugal startegy as I get to ski on new skis more often than if I paid the big $$$ for new technology every 4-5 years

The one thing I will not bargain hunt foris boots.  The new Head S10s cost way more than my skis and bindings.



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Re: Ski gear buying strategies, whats yours???
« Reply #10 on: September 23, 2007, 08:51:06 am »

I'm looking at some golden oldies before the site gets dumped.

Has anything changed with your buying strategy?


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Re: Ski gear buying strategies, whats yours???
« Reply #11 on: September 23, 2007, 12:07:57 pm »
No change in my ski buying strategies yet!
Great topic. Enjoyed reading thru it again.
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Re: Ski gear buying strategies, whats yours???
« Reply #12 on: January 29, 2008, 06:34:26 am »
Just like cars also.  I created a database organized by qualities that I was interested in and looked at raters reviews.  UNTIL I was made aware of magazine raters potential bias.  Now I am relying on realskiers ratings.  But the first strategy is to select the type of skier you are which is difficult.  I still can't narrow it down to Tactical or Technical as I seem to fall in both.  Advanced seems the best skill level. but my carving is expert since I was on a ski team in H.S. (slalom, usually last place).  Yes, demoing (sp?) skiis would help, but since I ski once/twice a year for a week at a time I would be forced to rent for the whole week or buy what they had in stock.  At ebay prices is cheaper to make a mistake and resell the skiis.  AND to top it off, there is the whole PMTS I need to select a ski that will help me learn this, do I need to learn this, and what does my wife's monthly (Oh you did NOT go there!) many questions....


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Re: Ski gear buying strategies, whats yours???
« Reply #13 on: June 28, 2008, 11:37:19 am »
Hello everybody; i just joined, and have been impressed with this site and this thread.  I am a once or twice/year skier (live in Alabama), and have decided to buy skis (bought boots out west this year). I really liked the Dynastars i rented in Park City (i'm almost sure they were Contact 9's), and would like to buy a pair of them or something similar. I'd appreciate any advice on where to go to get a pair of 1 to 3 year old new skis, and the best time (now or in the fall) to get the best price; as well as any other suggestions you think might benefit a first time buyer.   Thanks, stuart


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Re: Ski gear buying strategies, whats yours???
« Reply #14 on: June 28, 2008, 08:25:39 pm »
Welcome Stuart:

Contact 9's are a good match for you, and you won't quickly outgrow them.? At this time of year, I wouldn't be in a hurry because this is the slowest time of the year.

1. Check eBay.? Many of the skis there are actually often by someone with a connection to a ski store.? Just do the research ahead of time to know what fair prices are.? The fact that you've already settled on a reasonable ski makes that easier.? This is probably your best bet.
2. Around here (Washington DC area) many of the ski stores have a 'beginning of season in August' sale trying to kick start the coming ski season.? They are pushing the new skis and soft goods, but often have leftover inventory as well.
3. May not be available in your area, but there are often ski swaps where you can pick up used skis at really good prices.? Ours are usually run by local ski patrols as a fundraiser.? Doubt that you have many ski patrols groups where you are.
4.? THIS IS THE BEST.? Tell Ron or Gary or Midwif what you are looking for and let them do the searching.? All are awesome shoppers, and there may be a pair in their local ski shops.
5. Post something the Buy, Sell, Looking for section.

I also wouldn't discount the idea of waiting until your next ski trip, and buying the skis that you demo.? Most ski stores will unload their demo equipment late in the year pretty agressively (especially if you negotiate a bit).

« Last Edit: June 29, 2008, 01:23:08 am by jim-ratliff »
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