Showing results for 
Show  only  | Search instead for 
Did you mean: 
Membership now as great as the outdoors!
Already a member? Take a look at the Co-op Members section of the community.
Ready to join? Explore all of the benefits here.

Advice on skiing equipment for a beginner.


I am looking into buying skiing equipment so I don't have to continue renting. I'm not sure where to start, and I would love some advice. I'm a beginner skier, and I'm 5'7. 

13 Replies

Hey @Hayley,

Thanks for reaching out to us! Having your own gear is always best, especially when it comes to skiing. So I'm excited to get you started in right direction!

First, it's important to know what type of skiing you want to pursue? Are thinking about downhill skiing, backcountry, or cross-country? If you're unsure which is the right fit for you, here's a REI blog article discussing the various types of skiing out there. Also, our we have a great selection of Expert Advice articles going into even more detail on technique and gear you'd need for skiing as well.

Lastly, when you decide what type of skiing you want to pursue, it will be important to try on ski boots to see what models will fit best. Since we're currently at the end of Summer, REI will start stocking their in-store ski inventory soon. I would reach out to your local REI within the next month to inquire when they'll have their inventory will be available. 

I hope some of this info helps. Let me know if you have any additional questions and I wish you a great upcoming ski season!

At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.

Thanks for the reply! I am a downhill skier. I was wanting to try and narrow my choices down so I wasn't so overwhelmed. I see that quite a few skis come without the bindings. Is this standard? Where do I buy the bindings? And do all ski boots go with all bindings? Can I choose any boot and any skis, and a binding will connect the two? 

I am about an hour away from the Spokane store. 

Thanks so much for your help!


some folks like to purchase their skis and bindings separately. 

Many places sell 'package deals' of skis+bindings, at fantastic end of season savings.  Very convenient for average skiers like myself.

Ski manufacturers are constantly churning out new models, so prices will drop, especially during the summer on 'last years' models.

If you are patient and shop around, you can find great deals, for instance a set of K2s with Marker bindings for under $300, and new boots for maybe under $250.

But don't skimp on the boots, they are critical to the system.  And shopping by mail is sooooo problematic. They should feel 'great' once you get into them (though putting them on may be painful when brand new), but don't be afraid to suck it up and return them.  Make sure you check the return policies before hand.

I just did a search on womens ski packages! great bargains, including boots!

Look at 'all around' skis, which are normally great for just 'cruising' the slopes.

Try not to over think it.  There are zillions of options out there which can you crazy!

good luck!



REI Member Since 1979

If I do anything, it's definitely 'cruising' the slopes! I will absolutely look into buying a ski package. They look like a great deal as far as price is concerned. 

Thank you so much for your time and advice, I really appreciate it. I will try to not make myself crazy! 


Hey @Hayley,

Really good questions! I can help narrow some of those choices down.

So first, skis come either integrated (included with bindings and mount) and nonintegrated (just the skis themselves). Integrated are the easiest option, because the bindings are already included. Nonintegrated are usually more favorable with skiers who want to customize their choice of skis with specific bindings; then the bindings have to be professionally mounted by a ski shop. Here's a couple helpful REI Expert Advice articles on downhill skis and bindings.

In regards to ski boots and binding compatibility, this is where it may be more helpful to connect you with a Green Vest to help direct you in the right direction for you. Ideally, having you in the REI store would be the easiest way to show you gear first hand. Most stores will start setting up their ski selection around October (always important to call your local store to confirm inventory first). By discussing with a Green Vest firsthand, it will be easiest to steer you in the right ski, binding, and boot combination.

Now since you mentioned that your nearest store is about an hour away, it might be a good idea to look into REI Virtual Outfitting. In this format an expert can work with you in real-time and help find the best possible gear for your needs as a beginner skier. Since we're at the end of Summer, the Virtual Outfitting site hasn't updated their availability for Ski Outfits for the upcoming winter season. Let me get back to you with a better time frame on when they're planning to start their Ski Outfit Service. If that is alright with you?

I'll respond back as soon as I hear back from the Virtual Outfitting team on when to expect their ski boot outfits!

At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.

After doing some additional research, I think it is best that I go into our local store to try on some boots and find what is right for me. Thank you so much for your help! I now know what I am looking for.

Have a wonderful day,


Downhill (Alpine) you should start with some low flex boots, 70-100 range and some mid width, all mountain skis (90-95mm). Ski length should be 155-175 cm (as a beginner you would probably want to ski short because you can turn quicker and easier).  If possible, try on the boots with a thin ski sock because they can make or break your whole experience.  The Salomon custom molded shells are very comfortable if you want to buy new.

If you are buying used skis from a private seller, check the condition.  There should be no "core shots" (as in, you can see the wood core of the ski) on the bottom or delamination of the fiberglass.  The edges should be free of rust and fully intact.  I wouldn't recommend buying used bindings separate from the skis or any bindings that are older than 3 years.  Take them to REI for mounting or at least a functional release test before hitting the slopes.

I would recommend buying a complete package from Evo or Level 9 sports, because they are generally the cheapest and a reasonable quality.  Shop REI for past season gear or when you know exactly what you want to cash in on that dividend and get the guarantees behind your equipment.

Personal Favorite Skis:  Black Diamond Boundary Patrol or Helio Recon.

Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.

This is all fantastic advice! I think I am going to visit an REI Store to try on some boots and find which ones are comfortable. It sounds like the boots are unique to each person. If I buy used on the skis I will be sure that they are in good condition. I think being able to see the core would be a dead giveaway!

Thank you for taking the time out of your day to help a fellow skier out!


No problem.  I could talk skis all day, but I promise I won't!

Boots/socks are certainly a huge part of a good ski experience, both for comfort and warmth.  Thicker socks usually are going to make your foot colder inside the boot than thin merino or synthetic ski socks because the cuff of your boot and thick socks will cut off blood flow to your feet when properly strapped in.  Avoid cotton socks at all costs because they do not wick moisture and your feet will freeze.  Past that you can get some Dry Guy boot covers if you still have cold feet while out.  The lower boot flexes (below 110) usually also help keep your feet warm.

Also, don't be discouraged if a liner is particularly tight in some "hot spots" on your foot, toes, or ankles during the break in period because experienced bootfitters can punch out the outer layer of the liner to give you extra room in those areas.  I need all my boot stiff flex liners punched because my ankle bones are prominent.

REI will certainly be able to help you with all your boot fitting once the ski equipment is back on the shelf and most larger resorts can provide adjustment if you find a problem mid-vacation without an REI nearby.

Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.