vintage henke ski boot
You’re taking off for a weeklong winter vacation.
Should you take your skis with you or leave them behind?

A Realskiers member recently shared the following suggestion:

I would like to see your (article) recommendations for Eastern skiers going to the Western ski areas and vice versa. Do you recommend we bring our Vermont hardpack/ice skis, rent powder surfers, stay on the front side? Thoughts?

To maintain a lower stress level, the answer is clear: chose door number two and pre-arrange your demo ski rental. This way skis that are most likely better and more current than the ones you own will be waiting for you. Yes, the daily rental fee will be around $50, but most airlines charge at least that much to punish skiers for having the nerve to bring skis on a ski vacation.

As for whether or not to “rent powder surfers,” that depends entirely on the prevailing conditions at the resort. A wide, double-rockered battleship isn’t great fun on groomed runs. Unless you know you’re going to be hit by two-foot dumps on a daily basis, it makes more sense to reserve something in the 90mm – 100mm waist-width family as it will readily ski any other condition you might encounter. If a big storm does roll in, you can always race back to the demo fleet and grab whatever floats your boat for the deeper conditions.

At $50 a day, demo fees add up quickly, which makes buying your very own “western” ski feasible for longer vacations. As you’ll be on demos from day one, you’ll automatically be conducting try-outs for your next favorite ski. If you’re looking for love, you’re likely to find it.

Of course now you’ll have to get your new skis home, a process that will remind you why you skipped it on the front end of your trip. If you habitually return to the same resort, you can usually find a place to stash your new toys so they never have to endure the travails of travel. Or you can ship your new skis home as there’s usually no reason they have to get home as quickly as you do.

Shipping skis ahead via services such as or is a feasible option for those who want to save a little coin (compared to airlines’ fees) and a lot of hassle (lugging ski bags around is an unrewarding pastime). But do plan ahead to avoid beating your skis to your destination.

Perhaps it goes without saying for an audience as erudite as the readers of realskiers, but the one article of equipment you aren’t going to ship anywhere is your boots.

You don’t ship them. You don’t check them. You don’t let your boots out of your sight. And for heaven’s sake, don’t even think of renting them. If you need new boots, get them now.

BTW, when you travel with your ski boots slung over your backpack, remember two things: you’re now over a foot wider than you think you are; and polyurethane leaves a nasty mark on the unprotected skulls of your fellow travellers.

Getting back to our Dear Reader’s question, one option tossed out as if it were a last resort is to “stay on the frontside.” Perish the thought! The reason to go west, whether young man or old, is to ski big mountains; to limit oneself once there to groomed boulevards is a thought too painful to contemplate.

Even if, after all the advice we’ve laid at your feet, you tote your slender eastern sticks out west, the better to enjoy the G forces that endless white highways afford, you might discover the well-kept secret of skinnier skis: they travel off piste better than their reputation would lead you to believe.

The notion you can’t ski an “eastern” ski in the West is piffle. There’s only one thing a wide ski perforce does better than a narrow ski and that is float. When the conditions are right, this advantage is worth the price of admission. Where flotation isn’t a factor, a narrower ski is a better tool.

Some of us just want to ski our own skis no matter where we go. We share a bond with our titanal buddies that the rigors of public transportation can’t be permitted to break. We seek out ski-friendly carriers like Southwest, who don’t charge for bags, even ones with skis in them.

Followers of this column please take note: next week we reveal our personal picks as the best skis of 2015.

jackson hogen