Ski Resort Life

You’re Flying to Park City—Do You Bring Your Skis or Demo?

Expert advice on renting equipment at your destination, using a delivery service, or bringing your own gear from SKI's travel expert.

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Active Pass members get exclusive access to SKI’s “Ask the Traveler” series. Join Active Pass to get expert advice on all things ski travel-related from our travel-tested Senior Content Producer, Samantha Berman, who’s skied all over the globe. Send your travel questions to editor@skimag.com.

Q: I’m planning some ski travel for next winter and navigating how to transport my family’s skis from the East Coast, where we live, to Park City, where we’re spending Christmas week. I’m also considering renting or demoing when we get there. Any insights on how to make this decision?

There are lots of options (and opinions) when it comes to getting your ski gear to your destination, but everyone in the industry agrees on one thing: bring your own ski boots. And by “bring your own ski boots” we mean put them in your carry-on, sling them over your shoulder, do whatever you need to do to keep your boots out of your checked luggage. If your bags go missing or get delayed, it won’t derail your enjoyment of the slopes.

"Deer Valley Top 10 Access"
Good news: Salt Lake City International Airport is one of the most convenient and efficient hubs in skidom. Photo: Keri Bascetta

When it comes to skis, there are so many factors to weigh as you decide whether to travel with your sticks or rent or demo at your destination. From budget constraints to oversize-bag fees to convenience to just wanting to try skiing on something new, here’s some things to chew on to help you make your decision.

  • First, do you like your skis? It sounds like a silly question, but if you’ve been feeling like you and your planks are no longer the perfect match, an upcoming ski trip could be a prime opportunity to sample some other options. 
  • Even if you love your skis, are they the right match for your destination? Your East Coast daily driver might be made for your home hill’s snow conditions, but the weather, snow, and terrain at your destination might call for a different type of ski entirely. 
    • Let’s dig into that one for a second: Assuming you plan to ski primarily in and around Park City—meaning Park City Mountain Resort, The Canyons, and Deer Valley—you’ll encounter a great variety of terrain. If you plan to take advantage of the steeps and soft snow, your East Coast skis may not be the best bet; if you plan to stick to groomers, then there may be no reason to try a different style of ski.

If you decide you want to travel with your skis, you have options on how to get them there, including sending them ahead of you so you don’t have to schlep them through the airport. Companies such as Luggage Forward and Ship Skis will come get your ski equipment from your home and deliver it directly to your hotel or condo. This convenience comes at a price, but most airlines will charge you for extra or oversized bags anyway. Consider:

  • Both Luggage Forward and Ship Skis charge about $90 per bag (provided you send them a week ahead of time).
  • While Frontier may only charge $75 for a pair of skis, on Delta the costs can go as high as $150 (depending on how many other bags you’re checking).
Black Tie
One of several equipment-delivery options, Black Tie brings skis directly to your hotel or condo. Photo: Courtesy of Black Tie

If you decide to rent or demo skis at your destination, there’s never been more convenient options. In addition to the traditional brick-and-mortar ski shops that do multiple-day rentals and demos, there are services that bring all the latest models right to your hotel, condo, or rental home. These services will meet you at your hotel lobby, condo, or rental home with a selection of skis in your desired lengths for you to choose from, at prices that are very competitive with the ski shops. Delivery-service demos all sit at around $70/day, with adult rentals coming in at around $49 and kids at $37:

  • Black Tie and Ski Butlers are the two biggest, with locations at most major ski resorts in North America.
  • Skis on the Run is a local delivery service to the Park City-area resorts.  If you need to swap out your skis for any reason, they’ll bring a replacement to you. 

Again, if you decide to rent or demo at your destination, the base area ski shops at most resorts have the latest and greatest in new ski brands and models, but you’ll pay more for the convenience. If you have a rental car or can use a lodging shuttle, consider visiting one of the local shops in town, as opposed to at the base area.

  • In Park City, Jans has a great selection, service, and rates on rentals and demos. Base-area demos start at $59/day, while Jans can get you into a high-performance demo starting at $53.
  • If saving money is truly the goal, Canyon Sports, near Salt Lake International Airport, has demos starting at $48/day. (Just be sure you know exactly what you want, as swapping out a pair of skis will require a trip back to the city.)

At the end of the day, travelers teetering between taking their own skis or renting at their destination should start by checking their airline’s oversize-bag policies, considering whether their skis are compatible with the terrain they want to ski at the resorts they’re visiting, then crunching some numbers. We’re confident the right choice will present itself.