With the price of lift tickets hovering in the $75 to $80 range, finding ways to curb costs is essential, especially if the whole family skis. Ways that I’ve found to squeeze the most out of my skiing budget are:
Equipment. Renting at shops off the mountain is less expensive then renting at the ski area. I’m partial to the Great American Ski Rental Company. A good rental shop will fit up out with the right size skis, and boots, which you’ll need to know if you take up skiing in a more serious way. Buying will in the long run saves over renting. Most shops sell off used rental equipment at deep discounts in the Spring. An on-line source for very inexpensive, but very used skis, boots & bindings a is Galactic Snow Sports. Level Nine Sports offers a wide selection of new equipment, and their web site has a couple of helpful video buying guides. Ski Haus in Burlington MA, and Salem NH has a buy back program for kids’ equipment (turn in the equipment you bought last year from them, and they’ll credit 50% of your purchase price toward a new pair of skis)
Clothes. Invest in ski socks. While most ski wear can be improvised, wearing cotton tube socks will result in cold, wet feet and no end of misery long before lunch time. And longer ski socks are better than short socks. (Personally, I like Smart Wool socks.) Sporting goods stores that sell ski parkas, pants, long underwear, helmets and gloves (like Sports Authority) usually knock down their prices after Christmas.
Lift tickets. Many ski areas reward loyalty. So be loyal. The Boyne Resorts, which include Sunday River, Sugarloaf and Loon Mountain in the east, and Big Sky, Brighton and Crystal Mountain in the west, has a free reward program – a point for every dollar you spend, which can be redeemed for lift tickets. Ski New Hampshire has discounted ticket packages and a kids ski free program for 5th graders. Ski Vermont also has a 5th graders ski free program. Our local ski area, Nashoba Valley sells 5 packs of weekday lift tickets that gets the cost down to $28 for half a day of skiing. That leaves a little cash left over for a sandwich and a beer at the Outlook.