What to Look for When Buying Used Skis

Last Updated November 8, 2021 | by Timo

Buying Used Skis

Mountain biking, skiing, and rock climbing; what do these three outdoor sports have in common?

Well, they can all be really expensive.

The thousands of dollars you need to spend on appropriate gear, certifications, and lessons can easily push you into a currency conundrum. One of the best ways to get the right gear is to buy second-hand.

In the world of ski buying, second-hand purchases can take hundreds of dollars off of standard prices, but there are some typical pitfalls to avoid. Below, we take a look at some things to look out for when buying used skis, without sacrificing quality and safety.

The Physical Inspection

Let’s say you found a pair of used skis you like at a ski swap or a local store. Before swiping a card, take a second to do a proper inspection of what you’re buying. Since second-hand skis have been used before, start by looking for any abnormal or obvious damage scars on the equipment.

First, inspect the edges (the metallic sides of the ski). Wear and tear on skis is normal, and edges are ground down over time to stay sharp; however, some used skis may have noticeable damage or too little edge to represent a useful investment. Next, flip the skis over and check the base. Even if there was previous damage, any reputable seller should have taken care of the skis.

Look for evidence of a recent tune-up and run your hands along the base to feel out whether or not there are bumps and scars on what should be a smooth surface. Core shots or deep cuts that break through the base layer to the components beneath are to be avoided entirely, no matter how cool the skis look. If there are cuts, make sure they have been filled in properly; the ski base should feel smooth and glide-ready.

Be thorough

Finally, check the top of the skis. Look for peeling plastic or delamination between layers because that issue will only increase as the ski gets older. Run-of-the-mill cuts and scratches are pretty standard fare but if ski layers are pealing, avoid that ski.

The key here is to look at all three pieces of the ski (edges, base, and top) slowly. Skis are a large investment and if a seller is trying to rush the process, or won’t let you inspect the skis, take that as a red flag and shop elsewhere.

Once you finish the first part of the inspection, check out the bindings. If you already have ski boots, make sure you check out our Ski Bindings to Boot Compatibility post to be sure your boots can fit the bindings. Old, cracked, or difficult to adjustable bindings are red flags.

Pay special attention to how and where the bindings are screwed into the skis; anything loose is questionable. If the mounting screws are stripped, it’ll also be twice as hard to remove the bindings in the future. Additionally, check to make sure the DIN setting on the front and rear are the same. You can check out our DIN Settings post to get a better idea of where your DIN settings should be. Lastly check the bindings manufacture expiry date.

Ask Questions

More than just the physical inspection, come ready to ask a ton of questions before you buy. Focus on the history of the ski; is it an old rental from a resort? Is it from a private seller who doesn’t use them much anymore? How long has the ski been in rotation before you came across it? If you’re unsure of the quality, ask if the skis have been tuned recently or if the seller can provide ski maintenance receipts.

You can also ask about the type of ski and what terrain conditions it handles best. That information is usually available online as well, provided you already know what ski you’re going to buy. If you’re a park skier, try to avoid buying park skis that have more than a few years of use. Between the rails, jumps, boxes, and pipes, used park skis tend to show wear and tear faster than all-mountains or racing skis.

The piece that ties all this together is patience. Don’t rush the process; ask the right questions and do a thorough physical inspection before buying. Nothing feels worse than spending hard-earned money on a product that doesn’t work right.

Ideas of where to start looking

There are a few ways to hone in on the right second-hand ski. Websites like craigslist and Offerup (created to compete with craigslist) can have epic deals. They are also full of sellers who aren’t honest about what they’re selling. Make sure you get what was advertised.

For those close to resorts or colder environments, get to a local ski shop. Ski shops will have new and expensive offerings, but the majority of them also carry discount racks and second-hand ski gear. If you have the flexibility, find ski swaps and ski sales featuring good quality used products. If online shopping is your preferred method, lean heavily on reviews for specific sellers before pouncing.

Here is an incomplete list of where you may find good deals:

  • Craigslist or Offerup
  • Gear sites like Gear Trade or Steep and Cheep (Do NOT settle for something close to what you want, get exactly what you want or go a different route)
  • Local ski shops
  • Outdoor retailers like REI, the-house, Skis.com, bergskishop
  • Friends, family, etc.


Skiing is an expensive sport, always has been, always will be. Second-hand skis are a great way to shave hundreds of dollars off the total price but try to avoid rushing the process.

For brick and mortar stores, do not skimp on the physical inspection. If you opt for the online route, dive deep into whatever site you’re using, looking specifically for customer reviews, any news or controversy regarding the seller, and what kind of a return policy they have.

By asking the right questions and paying attention to the details, you should be able to find reliable skis at significantly reduced rates.


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