Before I got my first snowboard I often asked myself the question -“Should I rent or buy a snowboard”?
I ended up buying after years of renting and really wish I had done so sooner. In my opinion it is better to buy than rent in most, but not all, cases – even for the beginner, especially for the beginner.
To start with let’s outline the pros and cons of each option.
The Pros and Cons of Renting and Buying Snowboards
~ You don’t have to fork out as much in one go
~ You can try different boards
~ Always visiting the rental shop
~ Costs more in the long run
~ Always having to get used to a new board
~ Choice of board is often limited
~ Often get the wrong size
~ You have the same board every time for consistent learning
~ You don’t have to go by the hire shop every time you go up the mountain
~ Works out cheaper in the long run
~ You have a better ability to choose a board that is going to be most suitable for you
~ Can select a board that suits your style of riding
~ Have the ability to research and get proper advise on the proper size
~ A larger initial outlay of money
~ Having to research to get the right board
Why I think it is better to buy than rent
The pros and cons box above might giveaway my reasons for choosing to buy rather than to rent but here it is laid out.
When I used to rent – and I did for my first 3 seasons – I always ended up with a different board. This meant that every time I hit the slopes I had to get used to a different feeling board – and sometimes even a different sized board if the rental shop was out of my preferred size!
It’s like driving a different car every day – you can do it but each time it takes a while to get used to the subtleties and to be able to drive it as smoothly as you would a car that you are already use to.
After the initial researching is done it’s so much easier having your own gear. There’s no waiting in line, getting sized up or taking a detour on the way to the mountain. This saves time and hassle.
Whilst your initial cost is greater buying a board it is actually a fair bit cheaper to in the long run to buy. And even if it were to work out the same price you get all the benefits of buying as per above and below.
Even if you spend just five days up the mountain it will work out around the same. If you pay around $25 to hire a board per day (a pretty cheap rate that you are only likely to get if you are hiring multiple days in a row), that’s $125 for the season. Now let’s imagine that you buy a board at around $300 and bindings at $150. That’s $450 – and that’s going to be a decent set up (certainly miles better than standard hire gear).
Then you sell that gear at the end of the season for $300 (pretty reasonable estimate of what you’ll get for a board and bindings that are just 5 days old!). Now you have spent $150. That’s just $25 more than hiring (if you can find somewhere to hire that cheap) and you get all the benefits above and below of buying.
And that’s just based on 5 days and 1 season. The more days you go in a season and the more seasons you keep the board for, the more sense it makes financially to buy over renting.
Yes you can get quality snowboards at the rental shop – but they’ll cost you more than the standard rental boards – and then with the price calculation above it means it is still more worthwhile buying. If you go with the cheap options you are getting what you pay for.
Rental boards do a lot of work on the mountain. For this reason rental boards need to be sturdy. This usually means they are heavier and sturdier to last longer. This almost always means a sacrifice in performance. When I got on my first bought snowboard it felt like the difference in maneuverability between a tank the length of a limo and a 2-seater, road hugging sports car!
Most rental shops are pretty hurried and you can’t really go in there, go behind the counter and hand pick the board you want to use. Or be really fussy about the width and length and the style of board that you want.
Again, there’s usually a bit more choice if you go with their high performance boards but then there is also more cost – and again your ability to be fussy is diminished.
When you buy you can choose a board that suits your style of riding. When you rent you can’t usually choose the flex, camber profile, shape or base type. And you can’t choose the type of bindings which will also affect how well you can do what you want to do.
And the length and width of your board are very important for getting something suitable. And rental stores are notorious for giving out boards of an unsuitable size (from experience and from what many others have told me).
What About for Beginners?
Even for beginners I would recommend buying over renting. The exception to this might be your first couple of days on the mountain if you are unsure whether you actually like snowboarding or not.
But once you’ve decided that snowboarding is the thing for you, waste no more time with renting and buy.
The main reason for this for beginners is that you are going to progress much faster if you have a board that you are used to. Imagine learning to drive and you have to learn in a new car every time you drove! It’s going to take a lot longer to get good.
The other important reason is that when you buy you can get a board that is great for learning on – they will attempt to get you on an easy to learn on board in the rental store – usually by just getting you a shorter board – but there are boards you can buy with specific specs that are easy to learn on – and if they get the size wrong it can make for a hard day on the hill.
I suggest that when beginners do buy that they buy a beginner board. You might be tempted to get a more advanced board so that you don’t have to replace your board as you progress. This is going to really stall your progress.
Beginner boards are typically more stable in the snow and are designed to make initiating turns more comfortable.
These boards are typically in the cheaper category and you can sell it when you are finished with it. And of course you can buy second hand. Do your research and get a beginner board. You can always upgrade later. Your progression will thank you for this.
When is it better to rent?
One good time to rent is your first couple of days when you are unsure of whether you will like snowboarding or not.
The other time is when you are going on an overseas trip and know that you will only be spending a couple of days on the mountain and it is cheaper or more convenient to rent when you get there rather than paying for the extra baggage on the flight. But usually it’s still worth bringing your own board.
Otherwise, in my opinion, buy. It’s cheaper in the long run, better for your progression, more convenient, gives you greater choice, more consistency, a more suitable board and a better quality piece of wood to hurl yourself down the mountain on.
Thanks for reading
Thanks for reading and I hope this post has helped you to decide whether to rent or buy a snowboard. If you do decide to buy and would like to learn what you need to know to choose the best snowboard for you check out the links below.
Do you agree? Or there other occasions where you think it might be better to rent than buy. Comments and questions welcome below.
Milad Mosapoor [Attribution], via Wikimedia Commons