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Every ski season, parents throughout ski country face the same dilemma. Should they buy or rent skis for their kids? This is a decision that should not be taken lightly.
On the one hand, you might be anxious to have your kids get involved with the sport. In the long run, owning a pair of skis will turn out to be less expensive than renting. However, not all kids take to the sport immediately. If you invest in a pair of skis that sit in the closet, you've wasted your money.
Unfortunately, it gets even more complicated. One of the reasons that many kids end up hating skiing is because the ski and boot rental process is a total disaster. The lines are often eternal, and kids get restless. In many cases, the kids end up in equipment that does not fit correctly. As a result, they spend the entire day in the lounge.
Here are some compromises that might offer a viable solution. Your first step is to research the various ski schools that offer specialized lift, lesson and equipment packages for kids. Ask advice from other parents. Sometimes, you can get valuable feeback from message forums such as Epicski.com. If possible, visit the suggested ski areas and check out the rental areas. Is the staff truly interested in giving the kids the best fit? Then, watch the kids classes on the hill. Do the kids seem comfortable? Is there more than one kid crying that his or her feet hurt? Take these observations into account and choose the best ski school accordingly.
Once your kids have attended about three sessions, you will be able to determine whether they will stay committed to the sport. If the answer is yes, then you should consider buying equipment. In rare cases, your kids might have found the rental equipment quite comfortable. If that's the case, check the rental shop at the end of the season. They will often sell their rental equipment at a significant discount.
My 11 y/o is only a beginner but has had fun with learning to ski the last couple of seasons; mainily through his schools ski club. Buying is usually expensive but renting is not cheap either. If you can buy used equipment cheap enough it pays for itself in a couple of trips down the slopes. My suggestion. Go to your local Thrift stores such as Goodwill, Salvation Army, or the many other non-profit ones. End of season is the cheapest. I bought a very nice pair of "trendy" boots for $10, set of poles for $5, and a decent pair of 140's skis for $15; between spring of last year and start of this winter. The kid loves the gear and has never complained that it was "not new!". Also check local listing boards or national ones such as Craigslist