5 ways to get your kids skiing for cheap

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It’s officially October, meaning that ski season is creeping even closer.  Although there is still some time before the slopes open up, this is the perfect time of year to get all of your gear ready for the upcoming season.

Skiing means kind of a lot to us.  Like so much so that probably the only reason that my husband and I are married is that when we met on chairlift, each of us impressed the other enough to warrant a second glance.  We’ve always known that our kids would ski – not optional in our family.  Therefore, we make every effort to make skiing really fun for the kids.  This, however, does not have to mean really expensive for us.  Most of our friends know that we ski and their main excuse for not taking their kids is “it’s too expensive”.  WHAT?  Then we throw out the incredibly low number of dollars it cost to get these kids cruising.  Under $40.  No lie.  That’s about the cost of one day at an amusement park.  The best part is, at most resorts, little kids ski free, so Mason still has 2 more years of free skiing and Chloe has 4!  Our goal is to have these kids ripping by the time they’re 6 and we have to start paying for a lift ticket.  Not sure if that’s more of a tribute to our intelligence or frugality, but we don’t want to fork out big money to have our kids ski 2 runs and then sit in the lodge for the rest of the day drinking hot chocolate.  Call us crazy.

So, here are some great tips to get gear for cheap (and no, we’re not counting coats, gloves etc.  We assume this is something that most people already have.)

1.   Buy Used.  I know, sounds like a no brainer.  However, when you’re at the sporting goods store and you see those ‘cute’ little skis, they’re hard to resist.  Besides, they’re only $100 (plus bindings and boots).  AHHH.  Let me tell you, I love my kids, but I can’t think of anything that 2 year old Chloe could ever need that would cost over $100, no matter how cute.  Also, just buy their gear.  We see lots of ‘deals’ for kids season long rental packages.  Seriously look into buying before you commit to this option, since owning can often be cheaper.  When your family is done with your gear, resell it, or trade it with another family!

2.  Brand and Style do NOT matter.  When you get your kids skiing as young as ours, gear is all about function.  Right now they both have pretty old, straight skis, complete with the remnants of tons of stickers from kids past.  The way we see it, right now, our kids need to learn to stop, go, and turn.  When they’ve really mastered that and are onto more complex skills, then they can get nicer skis.  Nicer, used skis that is.  One thing that we know does matter is comfort and fit.  If you put gear on your kids that doesn’t fit, no one will be happy regardless of how much you saved!  I must have looked like a real idiot to my friend who asked me last week which of 2 toddler skis I thought was better.  When she asked me, my face went blank and the only thing I thought was ‘really, they’re 2’.

3.  Trade with friends.  In our experience, most kids ski gear doesn’t wear out quickly.  If you know of other families who ski, see if they would be interested in trading gear for a season.  That way you both benefit from gear that doesn’t fit your own kids.  This works best if you have friends whose kids are just older or younger than your own.

4.  Scope the ski swaps.  We often find some of the best deals around at local ski swaps.  Here, you will find lots of people who really know their stuff, trying to sell their gear CHEAP!  It’s also a great option because the selection is usually great, meaning it can easily be your one stop shop for all your gear.  These usually happen soon, so check out your area to find some great deals.

5.  Look online.  What did we do before the internet?  There is so much gear out there that you are sure to find something to suit your needs.  Ebay can score you some great deals, just be aware of shipping as skis are an oversized item.  Check out local classifieds like craigslist for some screaming deals as well.

Not convinced yet?  Mason’s set up cost us $31.  $20 skis and $5 helmet at a ski swap and $6 boots at a thrift store.

Whatever you do, do it soon so that when the snow starts falling, you and your family are ready to rip.  

12 thoughts on “5 ways to get your kids skiing for cheap”

  1. Great tips! The worst mistake we ever made with our kids was not buying a warm enough coat. We didn’t go for a brand name, and it looked warm but wasn’t. After one miserable day, we ordered a down jacket from Lands’ End for our 3 year old. A great investment!

  2. Great tips! I already swap and consign their other clothes, why not their ski gear? Has anyone found a good place to buy kids ski boots that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg? Also, does anyone have a kiddo who just doesn’t seem to like the cold weather? Our middle child just whines whenever we go out. I really hoped skiing could continue to be a family event. How can I encourage her to give it a try? I don’t want to force her to ski but if we are all going, we aren’t leaving her behind.

  3. Great advice. How do you afford for Mom and Dad to ski though? That’s why we x-country ski here. WE can’t afford to ski. I’m sure we could afford for our son to ski. Most hills here are $80+ per day. You can buy ski cards that help you save money but it’s still really expensive and not something we could do more than once or twice/winter. Add gas to get to the hills (at least an hour drive for us) and hotels if we want to go to different hills that are 2+ hours away.

  4. Thanks for the reality check! Last season we borrowed all our kid’s gear, but this season were going to do a rental package. That doesn’t make sense knowing that this is the 1st of 4 boys we’ll be teaching in the coming years. Why would we keep throwing that money away year after year?

  5. I sure wish I had read this last year before I bought the “cute” helmet at the store. Keep up the great blogs I think you just might have become my new favorite blog.
    One tip I learned last year was if the child gets snow in his gloves it won’t melt and warm up just by putting his gloves back on, I’m so smrt.

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