It’s hard not to get excited by shiny new ski gear. No one wants to be ‘that guy’, decked out head to toe in Arc’teryx and on the learner slopes in Happy Valley, but we all love a new piece of kit every now and then. The problem of course, especially when you’re a cash-strapped student such as myself, is that new ski gear comes with a fairly hefty price tag.
I love to support local retailers, but when the price of a new jacket online is less than half what is in a shop here, it’s pretty hard to resist. Despite the temptations of these online retailers, it’s wise to be wary when buying ski gear online. From ill-fitting gear, to massive import taxes, there are a variety of perils to online ski shopping.
In my first year of university, I decided that a new pair of ski boots were in order. I went to our fantastic local Canterbury ski shop, Gnomes Alpine Sports, to check out what was in stock. Finding their range of boots impressive, but out of my league, I ventured into the mysterious world of online ski stores. I found a pair of boots that seemed suitable, and given their fantastic price, decided to purchase them. The fantastic price became less fantastic when a hefty import tax was added, and the whole thing proved truly disastrous when the boots didn’t even fit.
More recent forays into online ski gear shopping have been more successful, and I am now the proud owner of skis, a helmet, gloves and a really amazing, completely bombproof jacket, all of which have been bought online. Given these recent triumphs, I feel myself experienced enough to impart a few pearls of wisdom.
Start shopping by knowing what you want. Just like the chocolate placed by the checkout at the supermarket, there will be extra temptations when shopping for ski gear. While that extra pair of spring gloves might seem like too good a deal to pass up, ask yourself if you really need them.
Know your sizes. Most websites have measurements for each size, and although getting someone to measure your arm length from shoulder joint to second knuckle might seem really frustrating, it’s well worth it for gear that actually fits the way it should. Remember, ski gear fits differently to normal clothes, and where you might normally be a medium, you’ll want a large in that new jacket so you can layer up underneath for those bitter Whakapapa days.
Read online reviews. There are countless sites with reviews of ski gear, and these are invaluable to get a real idea of the gear you’re buying. It’s all very well to read the product manufacturers spiel about the technical brilliance of the fabric, but often it’s more useful to see what johnsmith123 from Colorado had to say about its actual performance in the snow.
Beware of taxes. Read up on the import taxes before buying any big items of gear from overseas. They change fairly regularly, and it’s always worth checking to see whether you’re going to be hit with a 40% tax before clicking ‘buy’.
My favourite sites for online ski gear shopping are evo.com, backcountry.com, and levelninesports.com. It’s also worth checking out Torpedo7, who have recently taken over from R&R Sports nationwide. The megastores have a great range, and the online selection is even better.