Renting skis is a little like dating. Whereas buying skis is like diving headlong into a marriage, renting allows you to play the slopes, so to speak. When you rent skis, you might not find the love of your life on the first go. You’ll meet some great skis along the way, learn new things each time, and discover your preferences. You, yourself, will evolve and change from year to year, ski season to ski season. A top-notch outfit like RentSkis.com will enable you to try more advanced equipment as you progress. Maybe one day, after years of exploring the trees, you’ll find that one perfect pair that you share a special bind, er, bond with.
Until that time comes, however, you’ll need to know how to strike up the right conversations to learn about your potential partner skis. Here are the questions you should ask when renting your skis.
1. What kind of skier am I?
First things first—it helps to know what kind of slope persona you have. Are you a speed demon? A captain of control? A tree explorer? A super timid “I’m not sure I wanna be here, but I’ll give it my best shot for the benefit of the group (and likely be thankful that I did)” trooper?
How you define your ski style will go a long way toward determining what rental skis you choose. There are two ways to break down what kind of skier you are: 1) ability and 2) preference. For ability, it’s pretty standard: advanced, intermediate, or beginner. If you’re an advanced skier, you’re probably not reading this article, so let’s skip ahead to the preference section for the intermediates and beginners in the group.
Preference boils down to a few things. Are you looking for speed, control, or confidence? Most ski rental options tend to favor one or the other (more on that in the next question). Intermediates have a little more latitude here. They know where they’re strong and where they’re weak; where they might want to improve or where they might want to lean into the tried-and-true. Beginners are likely looking for skis that will get them down the mountain in one piece.
Ultimately, choosing the wrong gear for your favored style is no bueno. It’s like a Nascar driver in a Go-Kart. So, to bring back the dating analogy, it helps to know yourself—the most honest and actualized version of yourself—before trying to find a partner pair of skis that defines who you are. (Woah, deep, huh? Like fresh powder dump at Kirkwood Resort kind of deep.)
2. What’s the difference between performance, demo, and sport skis?
Not all skis and snowboards are made the same, and it’s crucial that you get equipment that suits your ability level and the conditions you’ll encounter. When you rent, get your stuff from a company that provides plenty of choices. With RentSkis.com, you can choose from three categories—Sport, Performance, and Demo.
For first-timers or few-timers, Sport skis are probably best. They have softer, more forgiving flex. This makes them best for beginner skiers for a couple of reasons. First, softer skis are easier to turn. This is key for beginners who might not have the knowledge or muscle memory to carve correctly. Softer skis are also easier to tame and control. Think about horseback riding. A first-time rider wouldn’t opt for a bucking bronco when a friendly little pony is beckoning in the next pasture over.
Second, softer skis absorb bumps on the mountain a bit better than stiffer ones. This means you won’t experience that little momentary burst of momentum that can happen when your skis touch down after getting a bit of air under them. These small bursts of speed can be frustrating and detrimental to a beginner skier’s equilibrium.
For intermediates who like to pick up speed and prefer groomed bomb-y blues and introductory black diamonds, Performance skis are the ticket. They’re stiffer and perform better at high speeds. They require a little more physical strength to turn, but they hold their edges more firmly, so there’s an explosive burst of acceleration as you come out of a turn.
For intermediates who like speed but who also enjoy exploring the trees and getting playful on small jumps and tight turns, Demo skis are the best of both worlds. These are newer retail skis, so they incorporate the latest top-of-the-line ski technology and have virtually zero wear and tear.
Oh, one more kind of skier we should mention: the mini shredders in the family! If you’re going on a ski trip with children under 12 years old, opt for Junior skis. You don’t want your little ones struggling to turn in oversized clown flippers.
3. Should I wear a helmet?
Yes, absolutely. Protect your head! It’s, like, essential for all of your bodily functions. Most rental packages (and certainly all RentSkis.com packages) include helmets. Use one.
4. How should my boots fit?
A lot of skiers know that ill-fitting boots make for a bad day on the slopes. Blisters, numbness and cold, cramped feet are not things you want to deal with when you’re trying to get your shred on.
In general, your boots should fit snugly. They should be super snug if you’re going for a performance fit and sort-of-snug if you’re optimizing for more comfort. Too much room gives way to sliding around, which can cause blisters and loss of control. If boots are too tight, they can cause unwelcome hot spots and squeeze pressure points. A snug middle-ground is best.
Pro tip: Be sure to wear the same type of socks each day you’re on the mountain. Changing socks leads to a higher chance of varying sock thicknesses, which can change how the boots fit.
5. Where can I rent skis?
The answer to this one is easy: RentSkis.com offers cutting-edge rental services and high-quality gear from top brands. RentSkis.com works with more than 90 shops in 19 premier resorts across the continent to ensure a smooth and efficient way for people to rent skis for their winter trips. You rent and reserve online and pick up in person. Then, once you’re done skiing for the day, you can store your gear overnight with partner locations close to where you stay. It’s that simple and that easy.
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Written by Ry Glover for Matcha in partnership with Rent Skis.
Featured image provided by © Vail Resorts