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Before Buying Lift Tickets, Get Your Skis

Last year, Vail Resorts launched Epic Mountain Rentals, which offers free delivery at many of its resorts.

Generally speaking, the farther you are from a ski resort, the cheaper the rentals.

Two winters ago, I priced rental gear for a ski trip to Taos, N.M., from a shop affiliated with Christy Sports in Santa Fe and another of its locations at the base of Taos Ski Valley. The difference in rates, about $5 a day, added up over a week of skiing for a family of three. In the end, an early flight departure made it impossible to return the skis in Santa Fe when the shop was open, so we went with the more expensive alternative.

“We try to meet skiers and customers where they’re at,” said Matt Gold, the chief executive of Christy Sports. Compared to outlets in resort bases, he said, “the city stores and mountain town stores will be a little bit less, but then you have to transport the equipment yourself.”

Sometimes, it’s worth it. Last ski season, a trip to Aspen took me through Glenwood Springs, Colo., where it was convenient to rent from a local shop, Brian’s Bench. Paying $24 a day, I saved about half of what I would have spent at the resort’s rental shops.

For those staying local or driving regionally, many REI stores in northern regions rent downhill and cross-country skis as well as snowshoes. Prices for classic cross-country ski packages, with skis, boots and poles, start at $22 for the first night and $13 for each additional night. Downhill packages start at $28 for the first night and $17 for each additional night.

Supply shortages may be felt the most in winter apparel, much of which is manufactured in Asia, where factories have been slowed by the pandemic and goods have been subject to shipping delays.

If your old parka won’t do, or you hadn’t needed one, try a secondhand source like Geartrade, which has strong inventory of jackets searchable by size. For a more temporary solution, the outdoor industry has its own version of Rent the Runway in services that supply outerwear.

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