Smelly boots, chintzy bindings, and rock-beaten decks; this is the common snowboard rental experience. How long do you have to use this second-hand crap anyway?
Plus, renting equipment is generally a hassle and can get expensive fast. Wouldn’t it just be cheaper and easier to invest in your own gear and pay a one-time fee?
Keep these tips in mind as you consider whether or not owning your own snowboard equipment would be worth it…
1. For first-timers
If you’ve never been snowboarding before, you should always rent–in fact, you may want to rent the first few times you head to the hill.
Rental boards are tailor-made to help a new rider through the learning process. Plus, with a rental board you don’t have to worry about damage when you ride off of the trail and into the dirt.
Even if you are planning a longer vacation and the price of renting seems greater than buying, you are better off sticking with the rental equipment. You might find that after the first few full days of snowboarding, you need a few days off to recuperate; you won’t be needing a board the entire vacation after all.
2. Don’t rent, demo
If you can shape turns down a green slope, it might be time to start thinking about customized gear as you start to further advance your skills.
But if you don’t get that many days on the hill, maybe you don’t need to spend all of that money just yet?
A renter who is looking for an upgrade without making a commitment should consider demoing. Demos are legit, name-brand board, boot and binding models available for rent from most rental shops.
Demos usually cost a bit more than average rentals, but they are a great way to start shopping for your first setup by testing several available-for-purchase models. Demos are like sticking your toe in the pool, instead of just jumping in.
3. Go feet first
If you are really itching to get out of your rental gear, but you are unsure how much you will ride or you simply don’t have the cash for a decent full setup, consider spending some dough on your first pair of snowboard boots.
Boots are the single worst part of the rental experience. Most rental books reek something fierce; they are all packed out from having so many pairs of feet in them and usually the liners are so beat that the boot offers virtually no support.
Probably 80% of the difficulties people experience when using rentals come from poor boot fit.
One thing in snowboarding you will hear over and over, “Boots are the most important piece of your equipment”. Since boots are the first step in relaying your movements into snowboarding, they should be the first piece of equipment you invest in.
I guarantee that owning your own pair of custom-fit boots will make more of difference on snow than any board or binding will. This article from the Angry Snowboarder features excellent tips on getting a boot that’s practically made for you.
One final tip: you will know when you need to buy your own snowboard gear. You will feel like your rental gear doesn’t turn hard enough, or go fast enough, or pop high enough; and depending on which of those it is, you will also have a good idea of what to look for in your first setup.