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"Tweener" kid - when to buy vs rent and upgrade equipment

Basilherb

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My almost-12 year old DS is 4'11", ~85 lbs. We've always done seasonal rentals for the kids, with pretty basic equipment. This year he was on a 23.5 mondo Dalbello junior 4 buckle boot, and 130cm skis. The boots are getting too small for him now, his feet are larger than mine! He has a high instep and a wide/high volume foot.

He's definitely improving his skiing a lot, and we are hoping to get out even more next year. IMO, he has some bad habits and just slashes/skids his skis all over the place rather than carving. But he gets down almost anything and quickly! Steeps, ice, trees, bumps, etc.

At what point does it make sense to get him his own equipment, vs the rentals? The price is not a huge issue, though no one wants to throw away money. I do have 3 younger girls to hand down to, but they will probably never be in a 24.5 boot.

I was thinking of getting a pair of ~140 cm skis that had at least a wood core for a little more stiffness. I figure the girls should be able to grow into these as well. Should he stick with junior boots or is there something between those and men's boots (which it doesn't seem like he's ready for)? Any recommendations on particular gear?
 

East Coast Scott

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I've been purchasing gear for my granddaughters for about 3 years now, they are both 12. I just find year end deals and the cost isn't that bad. The one mistake I've made is to purchase normal bindings and not a system type binding. If the ski still fits them but their feet grow, then it is a remount of the bindings. A system binding would be simple, just adjust them. I originally got the boots on good sales I found. Now I like to get them fit and one of the places will give me 40% of the cost of the boot on trade in. I guess there are pros and cons either way you go. What you don't want to do is buy a ski that you think they can grow into, this will hamper progress in my opinion.
 
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crgildart

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I raised two skiers, one more enthusiastic than the other. From about age 5 on I would spend each year shopping deals on the next size up.. used or NOS aged inventory stuff.. Usually getting them something 3-4 seasons past but lightly used, really good shape..

Stopped shopping a season ahead when they stopped growing.. And if I happened across something better than what I already had I'd flip the other item I had waiting in the wings.

Sometimes I'd have two pairs of boots the same size and just let them decide which felt better... talking thrift store $5 investment so no big deal to have a few extra options.. Sharing the spoils with other scout troop kids was a win win.

They are now both adults have full boot bags and appropriate skis and poles.. but only one of the two still goes with me every chance they get.

Really glad the fall boot checks and weigh ins are a thing of the past but it was worth it.
 
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x10003q

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I would continue to rent until his feet stop growing. The rental program we used had free boot swaps mid-season including binding adjustment. This happened at least 3 times for my son and twice for my daughter. It would have been very costly if we owned the boots and skis. Also, there might be upgraded equipment available in your rental program.
 
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Basilherb

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I was looking at something like these Nordica skis Nordica Unleashed J

Are they going to be significantly better in performance than a foam core/cap ski like he's been skiing on?
 

Mel

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My kids (13 & 15) are now in adult boots, gear, and clothes, but I've gotten really good at shopping for ski gear over the last decade. I would say it is worth buying boots (at almost any age) to make sure they fit properly. Having boots that fit will help him improve his technique, since his foot won't be sliding around his boot when he's trying to do something. You will likely get one season out of them, maybe 2 if you're lucky.

At almost 12, your son is likely to hit a growth spurt soon, and hands/feet grow first before height so you might go through sizes quickly - if he's just had a year where he's grown out of 2 or 3 pairs of shoes, you can anticipate a 1-2 year period where his feet stop growing but he starts to get taller. My now-15 year old son was in a 26.5 junior boot by age 13, since his feet grew massively in one year between age 12 and 13! He was still only ~5'2", 100lb then. This season, he switched to a 26.5 adult boot but he is now 5'10, 145lb. Stick with a junior boot until he's truly adult sized. My 13 yo is in an adult boot, but more because they needed a much narrower, low volume boot than was available in the juniors selection.

Depending on where you are, some stores offer a junior buy-back program - here, if you buy brand new boots and bring them back within 2 years, you get 50% of the purchase price applied to new boots. I did the math and figured out that it was only a bit more $$ than a season rental with better selection. They resell the returned boots, so you can also get less expensive boots without committing to a specific shop long term. I buy boots in the fall for maximum selection, but tried to save some $$$ by shopping end of season sales for skis and clothes. I used to plug their numbers into a growth chart every spring to see if they were likely to outgrow current clothes or skis next season based on likely height/weight, and shop when stuff was at its cheapest.
 

GB_Ski

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I have two kids, and I only buy equipment. Rental shop gears are way more beat than hand-me-down in a family unless you pay for new packages which is not worth it. I have every boot size from 14.5 - 20.5, and skis from 67-120cm in 10cm increments, and will continue to accumulate as they grow. I shop fairly early, so my kids always have good and well fitted gear heading into the season. I usually shop early, and get past season stuff. Unlike adult skis, kids skis rarely change much, cap construction with composite (some might add wood) core, and extruded base. Some advanced and race skis are slight different with sidewall and wood for more durability.

I've done the math many times, I don't see the value of seasonal rental if you can pass the gear down to the next kid(s).
 
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Basilherb

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I can get those Nordica Unleashed skis with a wood core and a sidewall and system bindings in 138cm, and used pair of junior Lange RSJ 65 "race" boots in a 24.5 for around $350. That's about $200 more than the seasonal rental. I think this would be a set for him to grow out of, and not into, but let me know if I'm off on that? :)

I think I ought to be able to get a bunch of use from the skis since I have younger kids who will eventually need a ski that size. The boots maybe not as much since I bet they will only last a year (hence buying them used).

If the price is the same or just a bit more, I'd rather him have better gear than lesser gear. I spend money on his clothes/helmet/goggles etc to make sure he's as comfortable as possible. But is this stuff a step up from the rental stuff in terms of performance? I feel like he's picked up bad habits from having soft and short rental skis and boots, and I'd like for him to take that next step in his skills too!
 
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Mel

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I can get those Nordica Unleashed skis with a wood core and a sidewall and system bindings in 138cm, and used pair of junior Lange RSJ 65 "race" boots in a 24.5 for around $350. That's about $200 more than the seasonal rental. I think this would be a set for him to grow out of, and not into, but let me know if I'm off on that? :)

I think I ought to be able to get a bunch of use from the skis since I have younger kids who will eventually need a ski that size. The boots maybe not as much since I bet they will only last a year (hence buying them used).

If the price is the same or just a bit more, I'd rather him have better gear than lesser gear. I spend money on his clothes/helmet/goggles etc to make sure he's as comfortable as possible. But is this stuff a step up from the rental stuff in terms of performance? I feel like he's picked up bad habits from having soft and short rental skis and boots, and I'd like for him to take that next step in his skills too!
Everything is usually better than rental gear! Even just a better tune and less wear and tear is a good thing. The description of the Nordica ski construction sounds better than average kids rental gear.

Another thing to consider is getting an aftermarket footbed for the boots to customize them at home a bit. Once you get them right they can be moved up to the next pair of boots next year.
 

East Coast Scott

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I can get those Nordica Unleashed skis with a wood core and a sidewall and system bindings in 138cm, and used pair of junior Lange RSJ 65 "race" boots in a 24.5 for around $350. That's about $200 more than the seasonal rental. I think this would be a set for him to grow out of, and not into, but let me know if I'm off on that? :)

I think I ought to be able to get a bunch of use from the skis since I have younger kids who will eventually need a ski that size. The boots maybe not as much since I bet they will only last a year (hence buying them used).

If the price is the same or just a bit more, I'd rather him have better gear than lesser gear. I spend money on his clothes/helmet/goggles etc to make sure he's as comfortable as possible. But is this stuff a step up from the rental stuff in terms of performance? I feel like he's picked up bad habits from having soft and short rental skis and boots, and I'd like for him to take that next step in his skills too!
Yeah, kids will pick up bad habits because they just want to have fun. Just having him on the slopes he will get better and better. Obviously we try to teach them some and put them in some ski schools. In all reality we know they won't spend every day in ski school because of cost and they will lose interest.
 

Hankj

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Only one kid, but have churned through a lot of kid and tween gear. It seems as if these categories have improved recently, products are not as often poorly thought and designed as they used to be.

Out of the dozen or more kid and youth skis that we've given a serious try, there are two that we almost had to physically pry our daughter off of when she grew way too big for them.

The first one is the K2 Shreditor. She skied these in 139s and 149s and loved them. I think the secret sauce of the Shreditor is that it's built pretty thin but out of wood, and so has an appropriately soft, responsive and sensitive flex for a smaller and lighter skier. Workable ski for the whole mountain - these skis helped her learn to ski pow and off piste in the PNW. My kid started skiing like a little adult on these skis almost right away.

My girl's old Shreditor 149's were passed down 3season ago to her best friend, who is a smaller kid. Best friend is now 14.5 years old, definitely too big for the Shreditors, and still refuses to get off them.


The other ski my girl fought like a wildcat to keep was the Volkl Revolt 95s I got her a beat up set of the 157's for 100 bucks. She almost wouldn't get on them because they were thrashed, and then after two runs she wanted nothing to do with any other ski. They might still too much ski for your kid. But the soft flex and soft torsional stiffness in the tip and tail combined with a very long effective edge make the ski both smeary/easy and stable/damp. She can play around on them and easily ski tight spaces, but because the long edge they also are stable and reassuring when going fast.

What's nice is how cheap used and old season kid and youth ski stuff is. Since kids blow through it so quickly I bought a lot of used stuff for mine and it didn't hurt the pocketbook much.
 

Wilhelmson

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Kid boots are not that expensive at the shop. It takes a little planning to get a good boot selection installed on new or used skis. Usually if you buy boots from a shop they will give a discount on mounting or adjusting bindings, but they might not if you purchase the ski/binding elsewhere. We have found boot guys who get that you are not looking to spend $800 on your kids ski setup. ymmv.

This adds up to the lease/buy trade off being dependent on whether the kid uses the full setup for 2 years. With more than one kid, at least some of the gear can be passed down. Our kids have done fine but they are not in FIS or Ski The East.

There is a large market for used kid ski gear; expect to get $50 for the boots and $50 for the skis, maybe a little more.
 
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Basilherb

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Thanks for all the input! It is so helpful!

I ended up ordering skis for the two oldest kids. They are the Nordica Unleashed J as above. They come mounted with a Marker FDT system binding with DIN 2-7, which is Gripwalk and child/adult lug compatible, and were about $150 each ordered from Finland (!). So I feel good we will get a lot of use out of them!

My question now is about the boots. As mentioned, my son will be 12 next winter. He's growing out of his mondo 23.5 rental boots (Dalbello Menace 4.0). He has complained a lot about those boots hurting his ankle/instep. I put my foot in and they are fairly devoid of any padding, so I think they are pretty packed out.

I'm tempted to buy him the K2 Reverb in a 24.5, which is a "70 flex" and a "103mm last". The description sounds appropriate for his high-ish volume foot. It's unclear to me does that mean that the toe in all sizes is 103mm wide? or is that in relation to other junior boots somehow? As measured, his forefoot is about the same width as mine, and I ski a 99mm last, but his instep is higher and his foot is not flexible at all. I'm ok with him sacrificing some performance for comfort, but don't want him to be swimming in it either. The other option would be the Lange RSJ 65 or the Tecnica Cochise Jr. I can't find width info on the Lange and the Tecnica is listed as 99mm, so based on my own experience that may be narrow for him. I'm also not sure what the current Dalbello width is, but they seem too narrow for him. I wish he could try on but finding a shop with all those in stock in his size in this area seems like a pipe dream! Should I get the K2 or try to work with something narrower?

My other question is about my daughter who will be 9 next winter. She's tiny. About 55 lbs now and is wearing a Mondo 20.5 boot (Dalbello Menace 2.0) that in retrospect is too big. Her feet are "easier" than the above 12 year old :) And she has better technique. But she's tiny. The Dalbello has a 25 flex rating. I was initially looking at the Lange RSJ 60 in a 20.5, but wonder if that's too big of a jump for her. Even the Lange RSJ 50 (3 buckle) seems like a big jump! I did want to get her a 3-4 buckle boot because 1) I figured it would fit her better and 2) she really wants a "big kid" boot. Any suggestions for her?

We aren't racers or competitors, so I definitely seek to keep the complaining to a minimum ;) maybe at the expense of maximum performance. Any thoughts on any of these kids' boots?
 

GB_Ski

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My daughter is similar size, and a u8 racer. She would crush the dalbello 2 buckles. She had Lange starlet 3 buckle last year and was still too soft for her. She’s on Rossignol Hero 65 now. She likes those boots a lot better. I don’t think 3 buckles are too stiff for a 55# kid unless she’s really tiny.

PS. Can you send me a link to the unleashed?
 
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Basilherb

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My daughter is similar size, and a u8 racer. She would crush the dalbello 2 buckles. She had Lange starlet 3 buckle last year and was still too soft for her. She’s on Rossignol Hero 65 now. She likes those boots a lot better. I don’t think 3 buckles are too stiff for a 55# kid unless she’s really tiny.

PS. Can you send me a link to the unleashed?

I think the Lange Starlet would be the same boot as the RSJ 50 (diff colors). Maybe I should step her up to the RSJ 60? But she's not a racer...

I got these in 138 cm and 118 cm. Total was around $300 when VAT subtracted and converted to dollars. Did have to pay ~$60 for shipping but still not too bad since I should be able to get a bunch of years of use out of them.
 

EricG

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We have been buying skis/boots for our boys since they were 4. i just keep a size run of boots on the shelf so as needed I move them into the next boot. The Technica JT4, Dalbello Menace 4 have space on the shelf. Both of these shells are pretty thin are relatively soft flexing.

i think I have some 3 buckle 20.5 & 21.5 slightly used on the shelf if you need something.
 

GB_Ski

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I think the Lange Starlet would be the same boot as the RSJ 50 (diff colors). Maybe I should step her up to the RSJ 60? But she's not a racer...

I got these in 138 cm and 118 cm. Total was around $300 when VAT subtracted and converted to dollars. Did have to pay ~$60 for shipping but still not too bad since I should be able to get a bunch of years of use out of them.

AFAIK, starlet is the same as RSJ. RSJ 60 is a lot stiff by feel. 4 buckles & strap.
 

Hankj

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Don't know your kid's foot, but 103 is really wide. It seems nearly sure a kid doesn't need a boot that wide.
 
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Basilherb

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Don't know your kid's foot, but 103 is really wide. It seems nearly sure a kid doesn't need a boot that wide.

Yes, The 103 last on the Reverb does seem really wide! That's why I didn't know if it was some sort of Junior designation where it was proportionally like a 103 last but actually narrower in smaller sizes (kind of like how some skis are called "Fischer 102" but the 155cm is actually a 100mm waist). And the Skiessentials write up of it says it's good for a "medium width" foot. But looking into it further there is a women's boot called the K2 BFC 75 which is a 103mm last and must be the same shell as the Reverb.

The Lange RJS 65 and the Tecnica Cochise Jr don't seem to share a shell with the women's models, at least as far as I can tell from looking at photos on the internet. The local ski shop only sells the Dalbello Menace, and that's the one he complained about all season.
 

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