Cross-Country Skiing On A Budget

Cross-country skiing is like most sports, you can drop a whole lot of money into fancy equipment, waxes, coaching, races, clothing and gear or you can invest very little money on the basics.

When I was racing it was common for me to spend every cent that I earned at the ski shop. But for most people cross-country skiing can be done without breaking the bank.

If you’re looking to get into recreational nordic skiing here are 4 frugal ways to get out on the trails.

  • Rent or buy used equipment. A few months ago we went into detail about how and where to buy used equipment.  Our favorite places for used equipment are ski swaps and second-hand gear stores. We haven’t found a good second-hand gear store in Southeastern Wyoming or Northern Colorado (if you know of one please let us know). Our favorite second-hand gear store is Secondwind Sports in Bozeman, Montana.
  • Shop big sales, buy used clothing or make your own. We love REI garage sales (here’s a good post about how to shop them) and Sierra Trading Post. If you’re following Sierra Trading Post‘s social hub or on facebook or twitter you’ll notice that they are always having a huge sale or promotion. The Sierra Trading Post Memorial Day and Labor Day sales are unbeatable. We also like to buy used ski clothes (especially for our trail toddler). Sometimes it takes some scrounging on the internet and used clothing or gear stores but it’s worth it not to pay full price for something that a kid is going to grow out of in 3 months. Every once in a while we get crafty and make our own ski clothing, but only if it’s faster and cheaper to sew it than it would be to find what we’re looking for.
  • Swap ski lessons. We’re a big fan of learning to ski from other skiers. While we’ve been posting video’s and “how to” information about skiing a video simply isn’t a good substitute for a real live ski lesson. The downside is that ski lessons can get expensive, and quality ski instructors may not even exist in places without bonafide cross-country ski areas. That’s okay though, join a local ski club or start making friends with good skiers and offer to buy them a case of beer, babysit their kids, or take them out to dinner in exchange for a one-on-one ski lesson. If you’re in the US and going to splurge on a ski lesson, try to find an instructor that is PSIA (Professional Ski Instructor of America) certified.
  • Don’t pay to ski on groomed trails. Around Laramie it costs $5.00 to park at most trailheads where the Forest Service grooms our trails. If you live near a cross-country ski area, it’s easy to drop almost $200/winter on a season pass. Groomed trails are fun, but if you’re on a tight budget hit the backcountry where you won’t be paying for groomed trails. Around Laramie we’re fans of the Albany County Rail Trail in the winter.

We’d love to hear how other skiers save money while still getting out to enjoy the ski trails. What works for you?

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  3. The Gearage in Ft. Collins has quite a bit of nice used gear, and really attractive pricing too. Being a second hand store for all sort of outdoor gear means that the staff isn’t well versed in all the specs, of course. They may not know if a binding will work with a certain boot, but it is usually useful gear…cheap

    • Rebecca |

      Cool, thanks for sharing, we’re going to have to check it out!

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