Becoming a Wildsnow minion and being a true dumpster diver at heart (I learned that from uncle Dom) the goal is always to do things on the cheap. Try PB & J sandwiches instead of Godfather heros stacked with every imaginable meat, GU electrolyte drink tablets instead of my morning OJ, and even hitch hiking if I don’t feel like filling up the gas guzzler.
Living on the cheap also means finding gear on the cheap for myself or that special lady. But she doesn’t need to know that. We’ll call it “smart shopping” instead.
Summer is always a great time to shop for deals on backcountry ski gear in new condition from online sites and used from a bike junkie in need of a few extra bucks to get his carbon wheel replaced mid-summer.
Armed with $1000 Lou bucks here’s what I came up with as a smart backcountry ski shopping list (bear in mind this is for the total entry level, low budget shopper and you can certainly upgrade any of it):
Skis: Black Diamond’s Justice skis were a favorite from the Ultimate Quiver Review and being rockered ski with 111 underfoot (175cm model) you can’t go wrong regardless of the conditions. $394.49 Altrec.com
Boots: Black Diamond Methods, lots of beef for the buck. $299.99 REI.com
For the princess, Garmont’s Mega Star. $255.98 Backcountry.com
Bindings: G3 Onyx Binding seems to be the most available for deal shoping, but look around for any model of Dynafit as late summer progreesses. $337.46 Backcountry.com
Skins: BCA Magic Carpet Skins, terrific budget deal. $86.99 Altrec.com
Shovel: Ortovox Orange Shovel, gets the job done. $16.18 Backcountry.com
Beacon: Pieps Freeride Avalanche, a trusty standby with multiple burial capabilities. $159.96 Backcountry.com
Probe: Ortovox 200cm Economic Probe, an aluminum workhorse. $27.27 Backcountry.com
Pack: Black Diamond Bandit Pack, simple no frills 11L ski pack. $39.99 Altrec.com
We left out ski poles because these can easily be found in any dumpster or lost-and-found at a ski area.
The hardest item to find a deal on was a pair of backcountry ski bindings. Places like Craigslist had a few beater skis with tech bindings for decent prices. My mantra here would be to make a chair out of the skis and put the bindings to use underfoot.
Other places to find good deals on gear are local gear swaps which benefit local causes and school systems. Some big ones worth mention are the 59th Aspen Ski Swap happening in late October, the Colchester, Vermont Ski swap happening October the weekend of the 6th & 7th, and the Park City Ski Swap on the 2, 3, & 4th of November. If you know of any other great ski swaps or rep sales events please comment.
Editors note: Due to inflation $1000 Joe is now somewhere around $1,362.83 Joe, and $1,318.82 for his lady, but he recently changed jobs from bailing hay to bussing tables plus he has a bunch of REI credit to burn. Besides, if any readers want to chime in with comments about gear deals they know of, we’re sure that’ll help keep Joe’s fisc intact.
We could have added more gear to the list, such as ski crampons, boot crampons, ice axe, harness, rope, sat phone, a box of GU gels, airbag pack, AED, and more. But the above represents a starting point for someone who wants to make the plunge into backcountry skiing and needs to do it on a budget, or for someone who is looking to add to her quiver. And of course you could do it even cheaper than this, but we’re not going to share the location of our favorite dumpster.
Joseph Risi was raised on pasta and meatballs in the “backwoods” of Long Island before seeking higher education in the mountains of Vermont. Always looking for adventure, building treehouses, working too many odd jobs around the world he now lives in the Aspen area of Colorado.