The snow is piling up in the mountain, and you’re feeling the itch to get out and play in it. For outdoor aficionados, skiing is one of the best ways to enjoy winter. It can also be a darn expensive hobby.
But never fear—we’re here to help you get the most out of winter skiing and snowboarding with insider tips for saving money when you hit the slopes.
1. Look for advanced discount ski passes online, instead of paying full price at the resort. Some ski areas offer variable pricing with cheap ski passes for lower-demand days. Check out liftopia.com to see what’s available for your favorite mountain (or try a new one). Also look for bundle deals like the Powder Alliance which gives you access to 13 different partner resorts like Steven's Pass and Crested Butte. Insider tip: read the fine print carefully. Refunds are usually not available.
To nab the best season pass offer, commit early. Some resorts offer multi-day discount lift tickets, with access to several ski areas. And the more you ski, the less a day on the slopes will cost. A great excuse to head for the mountain!
2. Cheap lift ticket tips:
- If you’re above a certain age, are a student or are currently serving in the military, you might be eligible for discounts. Ask!
- Ski Monday through Friday for lower mid-week pricing and quieter slopes.
- Give up first tracks to grab a discounted afternoon lift ticket.
- Sign up for email lists to be the first to hear about deals.
3. Hike Up! Technically, skiing down the hill is free—it’s the ride up that requires an expensive lift ticket. But if you’re into hiking and have backcountry gear and knowledge, go for it! Some ski areas even allow you to hike up in bounds. Others don’t—so ask first, and for everyone’s safety, stay where you’re supposed to be.
4. Rent ski gear in town. Depending on how often you ski, it might not make sense to buy equipment. Rent what you need at the ski area or check local gear and ski shops—they often rent ski gear at lower rates than the mountain does.
5. Embrace cheap ski gear. Want new skis, boots or apparel? Wait until this season is over, or settle for last year's models. The selection might not be as broad, but you could save 50% or more.
6. Hit the used gear sales and swaps. If new ski gear is not in your budget, look into buying last year’s rental gear at your local gear or ski shop. Used skiing equipment, including skis, boots, poles, snowboards and all kinds of apparel are also found at gear sales and swaps sponsored by local ski shops or parks and recreation offices.
7. Take care of your gear. Clean goggles with a microfiber cloth to avoid scratches and keep those mirrored lenses lookin' good. Buckle your boots and set your bindings while storing them. Wax your skis and boards and store them in a dry place. Rusty edges= not so fun on an icy day.
If your jacket and pants aren’t keeping you dry, don’t ditch them—restore them. Waterproofing a ski jacket is easy with ReviveX by Gear Aid. Patch those holes in your down or torn Gore Tex with Tenacious Tape. Keeping your gear in good shape is a surefire way to save money.
8. Give sledding, snowshoeing or cross-country skiing a try! If your goal is playing in the snow, try sledding, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing for great exercise and lots of fun—with no lift ticket required.
9. Save your brain (and possibly a pricey trip to the hospital). Wear a helmet. Each run, every time.
10. Pack Your Lunch. Choose a sandwich, chips and fruit from home over expensive burgers and pizza. Bring some soup to zap it in the microwave and warm yourself from the inside out. Stash some Red Vines or a bag of trail mix (homemade, of course) in your pocket for a quick lift snack. Fuel up while keeping costs down.
Don’t let a thin wallet keep you cooped up this winter. The only thing that beats shredding your way down a mountain in knee-deep powder is doing it more often, because you were smart and saved money.
Originally Published: Dec 30, 2014