Buying used skis, poles and boots is risky business. Not only does it take a lot of knowledge to actually know what you’re looking for, but signs of wear can also be hard to spot. So I called in a professional.
Katie Marvasti is Service Shop Manager at The Equipment Fix, in Bend, Oregon, one of the West Coast’s largest outdoor gear consignment stores. She really knows used skis. She spends countless hours every season helping customers get the right kits, and she personally oversaw the repair and subsequent sale of 588 pairs of used skis last year alone. Here are his tips for buying used skis, bindings, boots and poles.
Use an age limit
Marvasti puts in place a general ten-year limit on the skis and boots the store accepts. “Once you’re past ten years, that’s when things are more likely to fall apart and plastic is more likely to degrade,” she says. “You can still find a lot of good stuff in that window and not go broke doing it.”
Use Google Images
While it can be easy to find a make and model of ski by looking at the top sheet, determining the year of manufacture can be tricky because some brands make the same model for five or more years at a time and only change the top sheet. . “If you search for a ski on Google Image, you can find the year the ski was made” by looking at the year the chart at the top of the page was released, says Marvasti. If you can’t find it, it’s probably too old anyway.
Carefully inspect the fasteners
“The bindings are the most important thing for your safety,” says Marvasti. “When you look at the bindings, if you see any discoloration or cracking, a red flag. You don’t want to risk your knees on this. It is also extremely important that the bindings reflect your correct DIN setting, or looseness, as calibration can be off and you cannot tell if this is the case without the use of specialist equipment. “When it comes to DIN settings, there are few of the springs that cause the skis to come loose when you fall and you want them to come loose when the time is right,” she says. “You don’t want your skis to come off in the middle of a turn, but if you fall and your skis don’t come off you could seriously injure yourself, which is why we always suggest taking them to a professional to have them fitted. A reputable ski shop will not only match you to the correct DIN setting based on your height, weight and ability, but will also test your bindings with a calibration machine that will ensure that bindings work properly.
Get to know your local ski shop
Most ski shops won’t work on bindings older than five or six years due to restrictive insurance policies, according to Marvasti. But you might get lucky: “If you’re looking for older bindings, you might want to see if you have a ski shop in town that is able to work on them,” she says. (The Gear Fix pays higher insurance to work on older bindings than most ski shops.) Your best bet is to call your nearest ski shop to see if they work with the bindings you have. consider buying. “If you buy bindings that you think are great, but you can’t take them anywhere to test or adjust, that puts you in a precarious position,” says Marvasti.
Lows over highs
Damage to the topsheet is usually superficial and does not affect the performance of the ski. Marvasti recommends fixing the ones that bother you with some epoxy at home. “Basics you want to inspect more closely,” says Marvasti. “Shallow scratches are completely normal, but deep – a base hit where you can see the material underneath – that raises red flags.” Although basic shots are repairable, they are often expensive to make and often don’t last more than a season or two, especially if they are close to an edge.
Check the edges
Your edges are essential for turning, and if one is blown off, the likelihood of your ski performing well is low, Marvasti says. “Run your finger all around and make sure the edges don’t stick out anywhere.” she says. “Edge damage is another very difficult problem to fix, and even if they fix it, it will never be as good.”
Look in the soles
The first thing you should check are the soles of the boots, says Marvasti. How worn are the heels and toes? If worn smooth and even only a few millimeters thinner than before, they may no longer be compatible with bindings, which can be extremely dangerous as it could affect the ability of the binding to hold or release when it needs it. Boots worn to the point of having no texture are a no-no. Some pairs have replaceable insoles, which are a good solution for worn-out bottoms. But if the screws that hold these soles to the boots are worn out, that’s a good indicator that they’ve been worked enough.
Broken loops are not deal breakers
“If a buckle bursts on a ski boot, it doesn’t necessarily mean the end of its life,” says Marvasti. “I keep a big tub of old buckles here at the store to try and fix any buckles that break.”
Don’t forget the liners
Marvasti suggests putting your hands in a used pair of boots you’re considering buying and feeling the back of the liner above the heel. This is the area most likely to experience wear. It’s worn out, skip it. If the liner is strong, see if you can tell how many times it has been thermoformed. Most liners can last two to three molds in a lifetime, so if they’ve only been heat molded once, you can have them molded to your feet at a ski shop.
Don’t overestimate them
“If there are no big knots and there are baskets, go for it,” Marvasti says. “You want it to be the right length. Flip it over, grab it under the basket,” and lay the top of the handle on the floor. If your arm makes a 90 degree angle, you’re good to go. If you’re looking for used poles to use in the backcountry, consider The factors like carbon (lighter, but more fragile) against aluminum (heavier, but more robust).