Ski Whisperer: Be A Savvy Buyer At Pre-Season Sales
Preseason sales this fall should offer some of the best bargains in years, not only in savings, but also in availability of top rated equipment. This fall, after the worst snow year in memory, there should be great deals on great gear.
The best skis typically sell out in season and seldom appear in clearance sales. While you can find good deals at sales, it's also easy to go awry. Here are some thoughts on how to avoid expensive mistakes.
It's important to note that there are sales and then there are sales; not all are the same.
The typical small specialty shop offers prices that are better than in-season, but not as aggressive as “door busters” at what we might call mass sales. The tradeoff is that you can count on expert service. Specialty shops also tend to have more high-end gear than do chains.
The real "blowout" deals usually are found at big box stores like Sports Authority or larger full service winter sports shops. Advice here applies primarily to these mega-sales.
Skiers who have tested skis and know exactly what they want can find spectacular deals. Performance differences between leftover skis and next season's crop are often minor. This is mostly true for 2012, although Blizzard, Head and Kastle have made significant changes to their 2013 lines.
But, and this is a big but, be wary of buying a ski with which you are unfamiliar, no matter how attractively priced. A busy sale is not ideal for doing research and while it's hard to find a bad ski, it's too easy to find a wrong ski. For example, groomer skiers who get talked into a 100mm big mountain big gun will probably have an OK time, but might have had even more fun on a 78mm front side carver-cruiser.
Reviews of more than three hundred 2012 models are available on realskiers.com, and our consulting service can help you get it right if you haven't had a chance to demo.
Many skis still include binding systems, which renders binding issues mostly moot. Some skiers need stand-alone bindings for, as an example, skis purchased 'flat'—without bindings—and a sale is where the savings are. Be prepared to pay for mounting, whether done by the store holding the sale or by a specialty shop, which we recommend.
We do not recommend buying boots during a large sale. It’s just too hectic and chances for a bad fit are high. This is true in spades the first day of a tent sale.
Everything you do, everything you spend in skiing and even your very safety depends on boots. Bad boot, game over!
Our suggestion is that you plan a day or even weekend for boot buying. Make an appointment with a qualified technician
for a quiet period and plan on investing as much time as necessary to get fit. Just as important, once it snows, make some test laps early in the season. If something needs correction, a run or two will bring it out.
Poles, helmets, goggles, socks, sunglasses, boot heaters, assorted gizmos and gadgets: Stock up!
Remember that helmets, poles and even goggles and sunglasses need precise fitting; don’t just grab and go, but sales do offer the best deals on accessories, as anyone who has ever bought goggles at a mid-mountain restaurant can attest.
Persistent shoppers can snag bargains on clothing that may have sold for twice as much as recently as spring. It’s often possible to find some of the latest fashions, or what were the latest fashions at the beginning of last season, fashions that failed to catch on as predicted but have since become the hot look.
We suggest you don’t pass up booths manned by resort representatives. In many regions it has become common for resorts to offer good discounts at preseason sales. It's easy to walk on by, but that may turn out to be an expensive mistake.
If you would like more information on all things skiing, or have questions, please visit us at realskiers.com.
Until next time, Have Fun, Don't Fall!