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Exclusive: Ski Gear is Just Too Expensive ... or is it?

Skiing gear is less expensive now than it ever was. I stand by that statement. Do not get me wrong, gear is not cheap, but it has not kept up with inflation.

There is no need to get into the previous century since many of our readers have not been buying gear for more than 25 years… at least not their own gear. But if we look back to some of the most popular gear in the early 2000’s, we will see that gear has not gone up in price that much.
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If we just pick out a year for flat skis … say 2005-ish, most of the better skis like a Volkl Mantra were in the $600 range as a typical street price. What would that be in today’s money? Over $950. Today, most top end all mountain skis, like the Volkl Mantra M6 are in the $750-850 range.
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Do you want to talk system skis? Well, in the late 2000’s, an Atomic Nomad Crimson Ti and a Volkl AC50 had a street price of $999. Their modern counter parts, the Atomic Redster Q9.8Ti and Volkl Deacon 84 have a MAP/Street price of $1,099. Again, if we followed the rate of inflation, these should be in the $1,400-1,500 range.

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What about the more mid-level recreational skis? In the 2000's, most of these skis were transition skis, skis that you bought until you were able to afford the ski you really wanted. Today? $499-549 buys you a very good ski that all but the best skiers would, for the most part, be happy on. What does $650 buy you today? A damn fine mid 80mm offering that you would be proud to own.

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Boots have followed the same pattern as skis, and actually possess more value today than 20 years ago. A $600 boot purchased 15-20 years ago has not only increased just minimally to about $700, but more so, you are getting a boot that is so much better designed and built compared to its predecessor that it is almost not a fair comparison.

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What holds the boots to the skis? Bindings. Other than a few top end bindings which we will address in a bit, the sweet spot in mainstream 4-12 DIN bindings were $200-225. It was this way for a good decade plus. Not until the past year or two did we see that range take a slight step up to the astronomical (I jest) $225 to $250 range. We have seen the top level race/premium priced bindings increase from the low to mid $300’s to the low to mid $400’s. This is about a 25% jump, still well below rate of inflation.

Again, to reiterate, gear is not cheap but it is not as expensive as it could be. Frugal shoppers who look at leftover gear or are willing to take a step down from that premium model are getting good deals. That model below is better quality than ever. You can get a new ski, ski/binding combo, and boot for about the same price as the top-of-the-line models were two decades ago, and it will be far superior to that product in performance, sweet spot and versatility.
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

Just compared pricing of the SR95 from 14/15 vs 24/25. 100 dollars is the difference during that decade.

Now to think it's been over 10 years with Stockli...crazy how time flies.
 
Ski gear can be extremely inexpensive even in absolute terms if you are willing to buy used, avoid the very last model and shop at weird times of the year. Especially kids stuff.

That said, I believe that prices for new gear are stagnating just because -sadly- skiing has shifted to a touristic, enjoy-the-scenery, once a year activity, rather than a sport you practice regularly.
With current lift tickets very few people outside of a small group of hardcore skiers are willing to ski more than 3-4 times a year. Good luck convincing them to spend a grand/person to update their gear. They cannot even tell the difference.

I'm speaking from the perspective of someone living in Switzerland, probably the most expensive skiing country in Europe, but still far away from US prices. If you are trying to raise your kids with this passion and spend some 30 days on the hill without blowing inordinate amounts of money, you have to find all kinds of loopholes. You clearly realize you are a weird byproduct of this industry.

I'm currently sick at home and might be a bit pessimistic, but while I'm glad gear is not getting more expensive, I'm not sure it is a good symptom in the grand scheme of things.
 
Just compared pricing of the SR95 from 14/15 vs 24/25. 100 dollars is the difference during that decade.

Now to think it's been over 10 years with Stockli...crazy how time flies.
Wow with prices like that I think I need to get another two pairs of Stock;i, just to hedge against future price increases and inflation ;)
 
When I worked in the retail end of the business in the late70’s -early 80’s it cost around $500 to walk out of the shop with the “best” ( top of the line) boots, skis, and bindings. Skis-$215-$235 , boots $175-185, bindings around a $100. That was 40 years ago, so yes, it’s mostly mirrored inflation in general. That said, I remember when skis topped the $ 200 mark- that seemed like a big deal . If you were on a budget or just starting out you could get a ski package from a place like Herman’s sporting goods for under $200. That likely meant Caber boots, re-branded skis ( Rossi, Fischer K2 ) or Elan and Salomon 2 series bindings. Oh and Dovre poles.
 
Skis-$215-$235 , boots $175-185, bindings around a $100. That was 40 years ago, so yes, it’s mostly mirrored inflation in general.
Sorry to tell you. that was more than 40 years ago. I remember my Pre 1200 SP's were $285 in 1981 and they weren't the most expensive skis on the rack.
 
I know it was more than 40- I’ve got the scars to prove it.:roflmao: Yes, I forgot that ski and wasn’t considering Authiers and other boutique brands.
But, I remember when the $200 barrier was broken although I can’t recall which ski it was though. My The Skis were $235 one of the most expensive in 1978 . Not sure when those Pre’s came out. 1982/83? Iits getting fuzzy Phil.
 
Speaking of PRE’s @Philpug , the rap/story/myth was that the early PRE was essentially a K2 plus- sort of like an AMG is to a Mercedes. No idea where that came from but it was floating around in the early days of PRE. Sound familiar?
 
My take on all of that ....
You should look at the cost of manufacturing skiing equipment and the margins left to the various actors .
I bet skis are much cheaper to make than when guys had to screw all the one inch interlocking edges !
Same with plastic molding : a machine can produce thousands of parts in a day ( more in fact ) .

I could be wrong ... probably ... anyway I know that skiing is going down the drain because we are bleeding middle class skiers ... again , this evening , young skiers in their twenties were telling me that the activity as a whole was too expensive to do it more than the week off during the Holidays ( no snow this year ) and the school off week at the end of February . Tickets , commute , clothing , gear and lunch ...

I do not care because I buy skis from the '70 , '80 and early '90 ... I have to find a new pair of boots ( that is expensive , more when you know that there is no difference in manufacturing costs between a beginner boot and an expert as it is plastic molding ) .
If I was in the US , close to major ski hills , I know that I could not afford my passion ... and believe me , I sold my soul to skiing ! Even in Canada , I can't afford big ski hills or resorts .

Nothing to be done : skiing is in the capable hands of corporations who care more about their quarterly profits than the future of the activity or its soul . When it is over , they will branch out to paddleboard and pickleball .

Note that this evening I skied a pair of PRE M2-A 190 cm : too light as the tail was always flushing out at the end of a turn . I let a patrolman try them and he had the same comment . But it was fun ... PRE had some very nice skis but the brand was never legendary like Spalding with Tomba and the Numero Uno . Or Dynamic and the VR17 .

Snowstorm tomorrow ...
 

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