The 10 Best Places to Buy Skis and Snowboards

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The Rundown

Best Overall: Your Local Ski/Board Shop

"It’s worth repeating: There’s still no substitute for having the tech support and customer service support nearby.”

Best for Buying Advice: Backcountry

“Their Gearheads will talk you through a purchase when everyone else is sick of listening to you mull it over.”

Best Customer Service: REI

"Online, phone, and in-store help with a well-known, forgiving return policy.”

Best for Low Prices: eBay

“Find occasional deep discounts on both new and used gear with solid customer protections.”

Best Selection: EVO

“Massive online action sports warehouse with local store support in a handful of markets.”

Best for Used Demo Skis: Powder7 Ski Shop

“Awesome online interface built for browsing skis and a large selection of used as well as new.”

Best Direct-to-Consumer: J Skis

“An industry innovator brings a nimble business model and fun skis to the marketplace.”

Best for Custom Snowboards: Kindred Snowboards

“Blends traditional woodworking techniques and modern technology to build boards to your specifications.”

Best for Custom Skis: Romp Skis

“Custom-built skis tailored to your ski style and preferences, made in Crested Butte, Colorado.”

Best for Backcountry Gear: Cripple Creek Backcountry

“Focuses on human-powered skiing and feeds the growing market for touring skis and splitboards.”

Like most products these days, skis and snowboards are sold worldwide. Lots of ski and boards are sold by online-first mega-retailers such as Backcountry and Evo, but also by the online arms of outdoor and snowsports retailers such as REI. Gone are the days when your local snowsports shop was the only game in town.

Shopping for skis and snowboards online is a great way to research a purchase since you can sort search results by the specs most important to you such as length, sidecut, brand, and other dimensions we review in our What to Look For section below. Because the ski- and board-specific specs matter so much to your search, general retailers such as Amazon aren’t a great shopping experience since it’s harder to filter your search, and, somewhat surprisingly, the selection isn’t usually very broad.

Pricewise, shopping online is usually (but not always) a great way to get the skis or boards you want at the lowest price. Pro-tip: Shopping portals such as Google Shopping and Amazon let you find the exact product you want as well as the seller with the lowest price. Keep in mind, however, that if the lowest price takes you away from snowsports-specific retailers, you’ll likely forgo benefits such as binding mounting service and warranty support.

Buying Local

Despite the many obvious benefits of online shopping, there are lots of reasons you might consider buying from your local ski or snowboard shop, or even directly from the manufacturer or their local shop. 

Leanne Wren, lead buyer for Underground Snowboards in Breckenridge, Colo., says local shops offer more interesting options than big-box brick and mortar or online superstores. “You're going to see only the popular brands and models—the stuff that's easy to sell. It's like a pop radio station—you'll get the same thing no matter where you are. At a small locally owned business you're going to walk in and get a curated shopping experience.” Local shops may sell big name brands, but they’re also more likely to experiment with smaller, new, and up-and-coming brands before they hit the chain ski shops."

Your local shop also has direct relationships with the manufacturers and can navigate warranty claims on your behalf. Large online retailers rarely are willing to handle warranty submissions for you and will send you to deal with the manufacturer directly. If you’ve lost your receipt, your local shop can go to bat for you since, receipt or not, a real human being remembers you buying the products from them.

And while many online retailers offer loyalty programs, Wren says each local purchase cements the “relationship with the folks who work at or own that business. The more the people in the shop see your face, the more you’re going to get hooked up.”

Of course, local shops can’t compete with the inventory of the entire internet, so if you can’t find what you want in-store, see if they can order it. If they can’t get it for you, they’ll still be happy to service it knowing you tried to get it through them. 

With those caveats in mind, here are our picks for the best places to buy skis and snowboards so you can get off the computer and onto the snow on the right skis or board for you.

Best Overall: Your Local Ski Shop

You’re probably starting to feel sorry for this dead horse, but, seriously, if you have a good ski or snowboard shop in your area, use it when you can. The people that work in snowsports shops generally do it because they love the sport and the gear, and since they help customers through a ski or board purchase several times a day, they’ll be able to help you find the right ski much faster than all the internet research you plan on doing. (Even though, we do appreciate your internet research.)

If you do end up buying online, it’s worth stopping into a shop to get your hands on some actual products, see what’s new for the upcoming season, and bounce your decision-making process off someone besides your poor roommates or significant other.

Best for Buying Advice: Backcountry

Never SummerProto Synthesis Snowboard (2022)

Courtesy of Backcountry

Lots of online retailers offer customer service reps who chat with you on their sites or over the phone. But outdoor retailing giant Backcountry takes it to the next level, hiring several hundred Gearheads seasonally to help customers navigate buying decisions. Alex Quitiquit, Backcountry's merchandise manager for Hardgoods, says Gearheads aren’t just customer service reps, they’re vetted to be only hardcore outdoor enthusiasts whose ranks include former Olympians and bike racers. “I think the fact that it's a seasonal gig attracts people who live their lives in 'seasons,' which means you're getting advice from someone who has built their life around skiing, snowboarding, mountain bike racing, etcetera,” Quitiquit says.

Backcountry’s new loyalty program lets you spend your way into higher tiers of membership which grants you a dedicated team of Gearheads so you have a direct line to the same people when you reach out with product questions. Backcountry’s size doesn’t hurt either, offering large inventory to choose from and discounted prices on skis, snowboards, and pretty much anything outdoors.

Best Customer Service: REI

Jones Solution Splitboard (2021-2022)

Courtesy of REI

In the good old days, REI had a lifetime no-questions-asked return policy. I once skied a pair of Atomics for a season and a half until the top sheet peeled off one of the tails. I took them back to REI and got a full-price refund. Unscrupulous deadbeats like me ruined a good thing and in 2013, REI scaled their famous policy back to one year on top of any manufacturer’s warranty. While it may not be the gravy train it once was, REI’s policy is still generous and a security blanket that lets ski and board buyers rest assured they won’t get screwed by loopholes in a manufacturer’s warranty (at least for a year).

The combination of their massive online presence and stores in nearly all 50 states means you have options when you need customer service. Most REI stores also have some sort of ski and board shop where you can get discounted services as a member or get bindings mounted, even if you buy online or from another shop.

Best for Low Prices: eBay

Never Summer Premier Snowboard

Courtesy of eBay

Everyone’s favorite behemoth garage sale is actually a decent place to buy a pair of skis or a board, as long as you know what you’re looking for. I have bought several pairs of skis on eBay over the years, both used and new, and have never had a bad experience. The first time I turned to eBay, it was because it was the only place that still had the skis I wanted in the size I wanted. I offered the seller $100 less than the low price they were asking for and got the skis I wanted still in the plastic for less than half of their retail cost.

What you won’t get at eBay: buying advice, snowsports-specific search results filtering, mounting services, or, really, anything besides the product. You’re also buying from individual sellers of varying degrees of professionalism, so read descriptions carefully, analyze product images, and ask questions of the sellers if you’re unsure. That said, eBay has excellent customer protections, so if your item arrives and is anything less than what you expected, eBay will usually make things right.

Best Selection: EVO

Season Nexus Snowboard 2022

Courtesy of EVO

Started by a former pro skier, Evo has become one of the biggest snowsports retailers online and they have the selection of skis and boards to show for it. At press time, Evo had both skis and boards from more than 30 brands each and hundreds of models. So, you’re not relegated to the biggest brands and their mass-appeal models like you are in most sporting goods chains. 

As an action sports-first retailer, Evo has smart filters to help narrow your search to just the size, style, or shapes you want, so you’re not flipping through dozens of pages of results. If you’re near Denver, Portland, Seattle, or (coming soon) Salt Lake City, you also have the option of buying from or shipping to one of their flagship retail locations.

Best for Used Demo Skis: Powder7 Ski Shop

Black Crows Atris Skis (2022)

Courtesy of Powder7 Ski Shop

Shopping for used demo skis (essentially retired skis from a demo or rental fleet) in a store is usually a roll of the dice. You might find your perfect skis for cheap and in great condition but more than likely, you’ll find nothing that’s quite right. Golden, Colo.’s Powder7 Ski Shop brings the boundless inventory of the internet to demo ski shopping. I’ve personally bought several pairs of both new and used demo skis from Powder7 over the years and have had a great experience. 

Detailed pictures combined with detailed condition notes from an employee (they name them in case you need to yell at someone) let you know exactly what you’re buying before it shows up on your doorstep. Their search result filters are also the best in the business, in my opinion, with toggles for skiing style, waist width, length, price, ability, year, brand, and pretty much anything you’d want to sort by. The demo skis are regularly offered at deep discounts even when they’re in near mint conditions, and their new ski prices often have good sales as well.

Best Direct-to-Consumer Brand: J Skis

The Hotshot Kootenays

Courtesy of J Skis

The ski industry is full of big legacy brands, and even the newcomers to the industry tend to follow the same business model, relying on big factories and years-long development processes. Industry veteran Jason Levinthal created the first twin tip ski in 1995, launched and sold Line Skis, started Full Tilt boots, and now runs one of skiing’s only direct-to-consumer ski-making brands, J Skis. These aren’t custom skis but they’re all limited editions numbered, signed, and designed by Levinthal who says he’s prototyped over 1,000 skis in his lifetime and put hundreds into the market.

The pitch from DTC brands usually includes something along the lines of “we cut out the dealers and middlemen so we can pass the savings on to you!” These skis aren’t particularly cheap, but they’re around the retail cost of skis from the big brands and they’re a lot more fun both in terms of their graphics and their innovative shapes.

Best for Custom Snowboards: Kindred Snowboards

Nootka Snowboard

Courtesy of Kindred Snowstore

While there are lots of handmade, cottage snowboard companies, few create truly one-of-a-kind custom boards. Kindred is a Vancouver Island-based husband and wife business that blends traditional woodworking techniques and modern technology to build boards to your specifications and with a custom top sheet that’s an all-wood counterpoint to traditional snowboard graphics.

If you want a board that’s truly one-of-a-kind and designed with you and your riding style foremost, just call or email Kindred. If you’re not ready to drop in on a fully custom build, Kindred offers several limited edition runs of both skis and snowboards via their website.

Best for Custom Skis: Romp Skis

OSO 106

Courtesy of Romp Skis

Brothers Caleb and Morgan Weinberg started making custom skis for themselves and friends in a garage in Crested Butte, Colo. in 2010. Over a decade later, they’re still making custom skis in Crested Butte but for the rest of the world via Romp Skis. Romp does consultations with skiers to hone in on the right ski shape, length, flex, and materials and then builds a one-of-a-kind ski to suit your needs. They do fully custom skis, semi-custom skis based on tried-and-true shapes, and as of November 2021, they sell limited edition runs of skis through their Romp Ready lines based on their custom designs.

In addition to getting skis tailored to you and your ski style, you have the option of customizing the graphics on your skis’ topsheet or choosing from a library of unique designs. The non-custom Romp Ready skis come in a range of shapes and ski types from extra-fat powder boards to skinny, ultralight skimo race sticks.

Best for Backcountry Gear: Cripple Creek Backcountry

Cardiff Crane Enduro Splitboard

Courtesy of Cripple Creek Backcountry

Another Colorado-based brick and mortar operation with an outsized e-commerce presence, Cripple Creek Backcountry focuses on human-powered skiing and feeds the growing market for touring skis and splitboards. Founded near Aspen, Colo., Cripple Creek now has stores throughout Colorado and even in Seattle, which support their online sales. 

In addition to often having the best prices on backcountry gear, Cripple Creek offers one-on-one consultations with category experts in their shops which can be invaluable for beginners and grizzled veterans of the backcountry alike when trying to sort through the bivvy of innovation coming into backcountry ski and snowboard gear.

Final Verdict

If you know roughly what you’re looking for in a ski or board, it’s hard to go wrong buying from REI. They offer a wide selection of brands, competitive prices, and a generous satisfaction guarantee on top of any manufacturer warranty. Their stores are also easy to find in most states, so you have the option of buying online or in-person and can get face-to-face service when you need it.

If you want to step outside the mass-produced realm into something more bespoke, look at the limited edition and custom options from Romp, J Skis, or Kindred.

What to Look For When Shopping For Snowboards and Skis

Price

Snowsports are notoriously expensive and hard goods such as skis and boards are often a rider’s biggest expense. Snowboards are generally cheaper than skis but both will cost you several hundred dollars. A decent pair of new skis from a major brand (without bindings) will cost at least $300, even on-sale, and most skis retail for $500 or more. Specialty skis such as powder sticks or lightweight touring skis often retail closer to $1,000 per pair. Snowboards cover an equally wide range with high-end splitboards costing upwards of $1,500, though lower-end mass-produced boards can be had for less than $300 at retail prices.

It’s hard to find deep discounts on skis and snowboards, especially after Covid spiked demand and crushed supply chains. But buying used or demo fleet equipment is a great way to get good gear for less. If previous years’ models are available, those are often discounted and may be the exact same aside from cosmetic changes. If you have a ski shop locally, ask them about sales as spring approaches and the ski season winds down. Shops are usually eager to clear out that year’s inventory and will incentivize buyers with deep discounts.

Length

Length on both skis and snowboards is the least subjective spec to choose from and shop owners and customer service reps can help you choose an appropriate length based on your height, weight, style of skiing, and type of ski or board you prefer.

Width

Since ski and board edges taper to the narrowest point near their middle, the center, or waist, is the most common width number listed to assess how wide a ski or board is. The wider the boards, the better they’ll float in deep snow. Skinnier skis and boards are usually better at holding edges throughout turns and turning over quickly. Western riders tend to favor wider skis and boards since they spend more time in cold, light snow while coastal riders trend toward narrower planks to handle harder snowpack.

Shape

There are more shapes of boards and skis than ever and if you don’t already have a favorite ski or board shape, make an effort to demo a few new models any time you get the chance. Different shapes and flex patterns can change your riding experience dramatically and, after you get used to a new shape, you may find it has opened up a better ski style and experience for you.

Flex

Flex, and its inverse, stiffness, can be controlled in the design and materials of a ski to adapt to terrain and skiing styles. Stiffer skis and boards generally require a more advanced skier or rider to drive them, while flexible ones are more forgiving to beginners who won’t have to put as much effort into turning on them. That said, there are plenty of expert riders who prefer the playfulness of a softer flex. As an expert, you probably will already have an idea of the flex pattern you prefer. If you’re a beginner, look for a slightly softer ski or board and start to go stiffer as your technique improves.

Warranty

Most manufacturers of skis and snowboards offer some type of warranty of one to three years but limit it to defects and explicitly exclude damage. It’s all too easy to damage even the most durable skis and boards, so don’t expect any generous warranties to cover your ill-advised line choices. Some companies, such as REI and Romp Custom Skis highlighted above, offer satisfaction guarantees that may provide replacement if you just aren’t stoked on your purchase after a reasonable timeframe.

Why Trust TripSavvy?

Author Justin Park is a lifelong skier based in Breckenridge, Colo. He’s been buying skis since his dad haggled with local ski shop owners in Upstate New York over the cost of skis that would look like antiques today. Since moving to Colorado, he’s bought an average of a pair of skis a year both online and from local shops, both used and new, and he’s tested the limits of their warranties almost every time.

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