• For more information on how to avoid pop-up ads and still support SkiTalk click HERE.

Open Letter to Skiers: Expect To Find a Shortage of Ski Gear This Winter

We are going to start and probably end with this statement: Expect to find a shortage of ski gear this winter. In a recent article, Where Ski Retail Is Headed in the New Normal, we talked about how retailers will need to adjust for this season, but what about consumers? This past summer we saw shortages in every outdoor pastime including bikes, camping gear, paddle boards ... all activities that offer some level of social distancing. Now, as winter approaches, which sport requires two 6-ft-long sticks on one’s feet, preventing someone from getting too close? Oh yeah, skiing.

Let’s revisit the typical ski retailer’s buying cycle timeline. In January, shop buyers begin to look at gear for the next season. In February they start to demo and decide which products they want to stock. In March they put their orders together. And what happened last March? Right. It might seem like six years ago rather than months, but yes, the ski season stopped dead. Ski retailers and their buyers then had to reassess what to order for the following season. Combine their buying process with the manufacturers' production cycle, throw in the need for factories and warehouses to social distance, and the whole product chain was thrown into complete chaos. With the back channels in disarray, the consumer will feel it.

On the hardgoods side of the shop, we can start with those 6-ft social distancing tools (aka skis). There is a consumer belief that you should demo before your purchase; well, forget that. With many shops limiting face-to-face contact, demo skis will be either nonexistent or very limited. If you are convinced that you must demo, make sure to consider whether the model you settle on will still be available once you finally make a decision. It is very likely that it won’t be. So, what do you do instead? You will need to trust either your gut or, even better, reviews like ours. In our not-so-humble opinion, our reviewers are probably more qualified to choose a ski for you than that gut of yours. Here is how to decide which ski to buy: read our reviews, ask our testers questions, and feel confident that you will not be led astray. Choose a ski, place your order, complete the sale, and know that we helped you make the right choice. As we started out here: Expect to find a shortage of ski gear this winter.

Now to the foundation of your gear, boots. There is still no substitute for meeting with a qualified bootfitter trained by [sponsor plug] Masterfit [/sponsor plug]. Like everything else, the process for this year will be a bit -- I mean a lot -- different. Don’t expect to just go in and try on boots; you will need to plan ahead and make an appointment. Don't be surprised if you have to put down a deposit with a fitter; that deposit will go either to the fit consultation or toward the price of the boot. You will be expected to bring your own clean socks or buy new ones. Expect boot options to be at least as limited as skis.

In our conversations over the past few months, more than one ski rep and product manager have told us that inventories are done and depleted, there will be few or no special orders. Combine those already-low inventories with a recent fire at the largest ski factory in Europe, well, what is either on the shelves at your shop or in transit, that will be it. So if there is something you have your eye on (especially if it is a hot model in a popular size), buy it now because as soon as the snow starts flying and the guns are blasting -- everyone together now -- expect to find a shortage of ski gear this winter.
About author
Philpug
I started skiing in the mid-70s in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania; from then on, I found myself entrenched in the industry. I have worked in various ski shops from suburban to ski town to resort, giving me a well-rounded perspective on what skiers want from their gear. That experience was parlayed into my time as a Gear Review Editor and also consulting with manufacturers as a product tester. Along with being a Masterfit-trained bootfitter I am a fully certified self proclaimed Gear Guru. Not only do I keep up with the cutting edge of ski gear technology, but I am an avid gear collector and have an extensive array of bindings as well as many vintage skis.

Replies

Most ski apparel is made in Asia. Asian factories were shut down for a time during their first wave of Covid, then re-opened with full order books. As fast as they can produce, there isn't enough shipping to carry it all. Container ships have been brought out of lay-up, and there are no more to be put into the transpacific trade. Containers are all in service; there are few empties available for loading. The ships are running full loads at full speed. Freight rates are at all time highs due to the limited supply of shipping space and high demand for shipment. Expect this to level out following the pre-Christmas shipment of holiday items, but expect continuing shortages of the things we expect to find.

Europe will be a different situation. Someone with info there may comment of the factory labor situation due to Covid restrictions and the transport situation. Do any of the products used to make skis or boots come from Asian suppliers?...resins, fiberglass or carbon cloth, UHMW polyethylene base material, ski boot plastics, etc.? Would any of the factory managers last spring or summer have reduced production rates due to anticipated low winter tourist bookings?
 
Excellent post. As an industry professional, it seems to me that any ski touring boot, backcountry ski, pin/hybrid binding, skins, and snow safety equipment will be short supply and mostly likely unavailable by mid-November. Backcountry equipment is in high demand, for many reasons, but during the pandemic, all backcountry inventories will be depleted and eventually sold out.
 
Last edited:
Yeah but ski hill capacity will also be (drastically) reduced, leading to a drop in demand for ski equipment. Whistler is planning to operate lifts at only 50% capacity.
 
Not all Masterfit fitters are the same though. I've had a bad experience with Masterfit certified fitter, where the fitter used all the right buzzwords to sound knowledgeable, but the end result was a disaster for me.
 
I had to drive 200 miles yesterday to pick up a refrigerator that wasn't a scratch and dent floor model. Shortages are popping up in the most unexpected places, but to your point, any disruption in a long supply chain is echoing now.
 
I have been planning to pick up another pair of 170cm 90Ti Mindbenders at the end of the season. I guess I better move that purchase up.
 
Not all Masterfit fitters are the same though. I've had a bad experience with Masterfit certified fitter, where the fitter used all the right buzzwords to sound knowledgeable, but the end result was a disaster for me.
Find a good boot fitter close to your sk resort. A good boot fitter can easily modify most ski boots (boots that generally fit) and you can evaluate the boots the same day. Usually, I can modify new boots during the initial fitting session. As long as the boot fitter addresses your ankle first and always without socks/pants rolled up.
 
I got new sticks 1.5 yrs ago adding to my 8 ski quiver. So I'm already set. And my skiers edge band retro is working perfectly. Mammoth 11/14. How are you Architect?
 
I got new sticks 1.5 yrs ago adding to my 8 ski quiver. So I'm already set. And my skiers edge band retro is working perfectly. Mammoth 11/14. How are you Architect?

My Skier's Edge is fine as well. Thanks for asking! ogsmile
 
Supply issues are definitely going to happen. Wondering are there any other related issues people are anticipating? Access to ski tech and maintenance services? Something else?
 
Find a good boot fitter close to your sk resort. A good boot fitter can easily modify most ski boots (boots that generally fit) and you can evaluate the boots the same day. Usually, I can modify new boots during the initial fitting session. As long as the boot fitter addresses your ankle first and always without socks/pants rolled up.
I eventually went to the least likely place, Manhattan, NYC... to US Orthotic Center, home to one of the Co-founders of Masterfit University. He took one look at the Instaprint insole made and then threw it in the trash and made me a custom orthotic with the necessary corrections. My boot was fine at the time. He wasn't cheap either.
 
Supply issues are definitely going to happen. Wondering are there any other related issues people are anticipating? Access to ski tech and maintenance services? Something else?
My husband is a tech for a local shop. They are up and running and have a ton of bindings to mount on skis purchased over the summer. I think the bigger issue could be getting supplies to keep the shops running, so we'll see.
 
I have been planning to pick up another pair of 170cm 90Ti Mindbenders at the end of the season. I guess I better move that purchase up.

Aaand @SkiEssentials just sold a pair of Mindbenders and Attack2 bindings. Not as good a deal had I taken the chance and waited until the end of the season but a lot less stressful! Thanks for the open letter/warning @Philpug
 
Aaand @SkiEssentials just sold a pair of Mindbenders and Attack2 bindings. Not as good a deal had I taken the chance and waited until the end of the season but a lot less stressful! Thanks for the open letter/warning @Philpug
Did they give you PugSki discount? When I bought some skis, they gave me 10% off my order. Great online experience and another reason I support this site! Thanks for starting and keeping this going @Philpug!
 
Did they give you PugSki discount? When I bought some skis, they gave me 10% off my order. Great online experience and another reason I support this site! Thanks for starting and keeping this going @Philpug!

No, but I didn't tell them I was on Pugski. :doh: A discount would've been nice but I think I'll just consider paying full price as helping them to survive through COVID times. I've bought several pairs of skis from SE and have always been happy with them.
 
Glad I bought my gear this past spring. The only thing I will likely invest in is a pair of custom boot liners and the shops I spoke with have lots in inventory.
 
I was gearing up just before March and the Corona virus, new skis, new insulated jacket. When the season ended and my April trip was cancelled, I saw all the hardgoods and clothing go on steep discounts online. So I went on another shopping spree, a couple pairs ski pants, another pair of skis and a bunch of midlayers. Helps everyone to try and keep positive, to keep your eye on the ring. Oh, yeah I saved a bucket of money too.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Article information

Author
Philpug
Views
18,220
Comments
30
Last update

More in General Skiing

More from Philpug

Top