New ski equipment can be really expensive which is why many Colorado Springs mountain sports lovers wisely buy second-hand skis to save money or get better quality skis for the price of lower quality new skis.
Generally, when buying used skis you need to consider two factors: the condition of the skies and the performance of the ski. In this post, we will discuss what to look for regarding the condition of the skis. Ski performance is a whole different topic that we will cover in a future article.
Note that the information in this post applies to the purchase of used alpine (i.e. downhill) skis. Are you a snowboarder? Check out our Snowboard Buying Guide article.
What to Look for When Buying Used Skis – The Parts of a Ski
There are four parts of a used snow ski that we will be looking at in this article: edge, base, top layer, and bindings. These are the key elements of a ski that affect performance and value. The ski binding is included in our discussion because the bindings are usually mounted on and included with a used ski purchase.
Checking the Edge of a Second-Hand Ski
The edge of a ski is the metal strips mounted to the sides of the ski. The condition and shape of the edge of a ski are important to the performance of the ski. You want to buy secondhand skis with well-maintained edges.
Visually check the ski edge for sharpness and no rust. Run your fingernail along the edge carefully to feel for ridges, gouges, and sharpness.
The ski edges should be straight. Give the edge an eyeball test as if you were sighting a rifle or inspecting a pool cue. Don’t buy used skis that looked twisted or with edges that contain bulges, dents, gaps or looseness.
How much edge is left on the ski? The process of tuning a ski includes grinding off a little bit of edge each time. If the skis have been tuned a lot the edges may get too thin and limit the amount of future tuning you can perform. Also, look to see if the edges are the same thickness. If one edge is thinner than the other this could be a sign that the ski with the thinner edge has been previously damaged or skied more than the other ski.
Checking the Base Before Buying Second Hand Skis
The base of a ski is the area on the bottom of the ski that rides on the snow. The base of the ski is also very important to the performance of the ski.
The base of a ski gets scratches and gouges when the ski comes into contact with rough and hard objects such as rocks.
Scratches and gouges in the base of the ski can be easily fixed, especially when small in width, short in length and not very deep. It’s best if long scratches are not near the edge of the ski.
Do not buy used skis with deep gouges that go into the core of the ski. A gouge that goes into the core of the ski is not good. This is because water can get into core and weaken the ski as the water in the core freezes and thaws over and over.
Put the two skis base-to-base and slide past each other sideways. You want skis that slide smoothly. If you notice a clicking noise as the edges slide over each other you may need to have a ski shop “grind” the bottoms of the skis to fix this.
Checking the Top Sheet of a Used Ski
The top sheet (aka top plate and ski cap) of a ski is the area on the top of the ski where the bindings are mounted and your feet attach to the ski.
Scratches, chips and small gouges on the top sheet are common and are no big deal. However, as mentioned above regarding deep gouges in the base, deep gouges in the top sheet that go into the core of the ski are a show-stopper.
Examine each ski for top sheet delamination (separation of the layers) and don’t buy the skis if separation is detected. Closely scan the length of the top sheet for delamination at the edges. Look closely around the tail (back end) of the ski for delamination caused by pounding the skis into the snow during beer breaks on the slopes of Colorado. Also, look around the tip (front end) and the binding area of the ski for signs of delamination.
Checking the Bindings on Secondhand Skis
A ski binding is a mechanical device that holds the boot to the ski. Unlike a new ski purchase where ski bindings are purchased separately, the bindings are almost always included with the purchase of used skis because the skis already have bindings attached.
Each year the major ski binding manufacturers distribute a list of “indemnified bindings” which means the bindings on the list are still considered safe. Older binding models fall off the end of the list. The indemnified bindings list is available at ski shops. Your goal is to buy used skis with bindings that can be serviced by a local Colorado ski shop if needed. Ski shops will typically only service binding if on the list. Generally, after 10 years bindings fall off the list.
Even ski bindings still on the list should be inspected. Look for any loose parts, cracks, or loose mounting screws. Check to see that the DIN (spring) settings, front, and rear, are the same. If the DIN settings differ, that may be a sign that one spring has worn out and releases too easily. Ski shops have tools to measure the binding springs for safety and maintainability.
Used ski shops like us will sometimes buy the gently-used rental skis from ski resorts. This has the advantage that the rental bindings are easy to adjust.
Check for a Recent Tune-Up
A recent tune-up on a pair of skis is a good sign that the seller has taken good care of their equipment. A fresh tune-up also means that the skis are ready to hit the Colorado slopes without any work being needed first.
At Mountain Equipment Recyclers, we provide all of our skis with an in-house tune-up before they are sold. Our tune-up includes a machine buff wax, sharpening, and belt sand base.
Buying secondhand skis is an excellent way to save money. The condition of the used skis you purchase is crucial to your enjoyment on the Colorado ski slopes. You also want skis that will last a couple of seasons. To help you examine second-hand skis before purchasing, we wrote this post to explain the four parts of a used ski that you need to inspect to make sure your new to you skis are in good condition.
And remember us when bike season rolls around for buying used bikes for sale!
Mountain Equipment Recyclers is an outdoor gear consignment shop located in Colorado Springs, CO. We specialize in offering used skis and used ski clothing that is in great condition and a great value. We are the middleman between local Colorado Springs outdoor enthusiasts that want to sell their used gear and you, the new buyer. We employ fellow outdoor enthusiasts who are always happy to answer any questions you have on gear.