Another ski season is finally upon us, and to help navigate the confusing online environment, we have put together a list of our favorite websites for buying ski gear. The sites we recommend below all are reputable companies that we purchase from ourselves. In creating the list, we prioritized having a wide variety of inventory, an easy-to-use website, a good return policy, and free shipping. Sales tax can be a significant factor on expensive orders, so we also included information on which sites may result in tax-free purchases. We also would like to note that when you make a purchase through the links below we receive a small commission, helping us continue to review and write about ski gear.
 

1. Evo.com

Evo logoShipping: Free standard (at $50+)
Sales tax: Yes (for some states)
What we like: Great selection and pricing.
What we don’t: Returns are only for new, unused products.

For skiing and snowboarding, Evo.com quickly has become one of the top sites on the Internet for new gear and clearances. This Seattle-based company has a great online interface for choosing gear and placing your order (we especially like the “sell out risk” that shows exactly how many of an item are left), an excellent selection of ski touring and downhill hard goods and apparel, and you get free ground shipping in the U.S. on orders over $50. In addition to the flagship Seattle store, Evo recently opened branches in downtown Portland and Denver where you can order online and get store pickup and shop services.

Sizing is always a challenge when online shopping for ski gear and clothing, but Evo has one of the best and most comprehensive sizing and buying guide section we’ve run across. Their articles offer helpful tips and cover anything from ski boot sizing to the various fits and styles of outerwear. In addition, they have a reasonable return policy (as long as the product is unused), for returning or exchanging items, and an impressive inventory of discounted and used gear.
Visit Evo.com

 

2. Skis.com

Skis.com logoShipping: Free standard (at $49+)
Sales tax: Yes (for some states)
What we like: Helpful video reviews and manufacturer interviews.
What we don’t: Listed % discounts aren’t always truly on sale.

Skis.com may not have the slick aesthetic platform that you’ll find from their main competitors; instead, the website screams information and authenticity. From video interviews with the manufacturers to their employee-driven “On the Snow” video reviews of new gear, you get a high level of quality information to help in your buying decision. They also stock a wide range of gear and apparel, but we give the edge to Backcountry and Evo in terms ski touring gear, jackets, and pants. For all-mountain skis, poles, boots, bindings, helmets, and goggles, however, there is no competition to their inventory, which spans beginner to expert. In addition, they do a great job of categorizing products to match ideal use and terrain. If you’re looking for snowboarding gear, the same company also operates Snowboards.com.

One complaint that we have about the site is that at first glance, it appears that every single item is on sale. Even brand-new releases will have a “% off” listed, but these products match the list prices at other retailers. Even with this complaint about pricing—and they actually do run some really good sales—Skis.com is one of our favorite ski sites for hands-on knowledge and expertise.
Visit Skis.com

 

3. Backcountry.com

Backcountry logoShipping: Free 2-day (at $50+)
Sales tax: Yes (for some states)
What we like: Strong inventory of high-end gear and apparel.
What we don’t: Product specs are sometimes limited and confusing to understand.

As the name and Park City, Utah, headquarters indicates, Backcountry has a strong focus on expert and off-piste ski gear, with a great inventory of powder and alpine touring skis, boots, and bindings. More, we appreciate their wide selection of colors and sizes in ski and snowboarding soft goods, and they seem willing to take a chance on some smaller, boutique brands. We’ve found their staff to be very knowledgeable, and you’ll find them offering their takes on products and responding to customer inquiries in the review sections.

The Backcountry site itself is user-friendly and easy to navigate, but we would prefer a greater level of detail in their product specifications. As a result, we often find ourselves looking elsewhere for more a more intuitive site experience. Overall, however, Backcountry remains one of our favorite retailers with a consistently great selection, and the fact that they offer free 2-day shipping doesn’t hurt.
Visit Backcountry.com

 

4. Recreational Equipment, Inc. (REI)

REI Co-OpShipping: Free standard (at $50+)
Sales tax: Yes (for most states)
What we like: Excellent return policy and availability of popular ski products.
What we don’t: Limited variation outside of the big sellers.

The nation’s largest outdoor retailer is best known for camping and hiking gear, but they are a strong player in the winter months as well. The inventory focus is on resort skiers with gear and apparel to match, but they do carry a good number of high-end Arc’teryx, Patagonia, and The North Face products. The one-year return policy remains one of the best—it’s based on your satisfaction with the products, so if you try it and don’t like it, you can return it. Because REI operates brick and mortar stores in 36 states (and counting), it is becoming more difficult to avoid paying sales tax on online orders. The plus side is if you order online and have a local store, you can always return products there and avoid any return shipping costs. In addition, their ski shops can mount your bindings (for a fee) and perform yearly maintenance.

The co-op structure of REI means that they are not as inclined to offer discounts during the season. If you are a member ($20 for a lifetime membership), you get 10% back on regularly priced items as a dividend, which amounts to a sale of sorts. We’d like to see a little more variety in product selection that moves outside of the big sellers, but their website is clean and easy to navigate.
Visit REI.com

 

5. Amazon.com

AmazonShipping: Varies, but often free 2-day
Sales tax: Yes (for most states)
What we like: Value pricing on apparel and other soft goods.
What we don’t: Less access to high-end gear and product knowledge.

Amazon may not be the first retailer that comes to mind for ski gear, but they are a growing presence in the market. Currently, they have a more limited selection compared with the retailers above, particularly for the big-ticket items like skis. Their strong suit—and the reason they made our list—is value. You’ll consistently find the lowest prices on smaller items like goggles, helmets, gloves, and socks. The online retail giant also has an easy return policy and no-nonsense customer service—not to mention good shipping deals if you’re a Prime member. Don’t go to Amazon looking for great detailing on sizing or hands-on employee reviews, but their high volumes of sales make user reviews somewhat helpful. We have a tendency to look to Amazon for items that retail for less than $200, and we’ll often find that if they are stocking the product, it’ll be at the best price.
Visit Amazon.com

 

Online Retailer Comparison Table

 

Evo.com
Evo logo

Skis.com
 Skis.com logo

Backcountry.com
Backcountry logo

REI.com
REI logo

Amazon.com
Amazon

Equipment 9/10 9/10 8/10 7/10 5/10
Clothing 7/10 7/10 8/10 7/10 7/10
Pricing 8/10 8/10 7/10 6/10 9/10
Shipping Free @ $50+ Free @ $49+ Free @ $50+ Free @ $50+ Mostly free
Sales Tax Some states Some states Some states Most states Most States

 

Ranking Criteria

Platform

As we all know, online shopping can be challenging. When you aren’t able to actually see and touch the products, a lot can get lost in translation from a computer screen to using the gear in deep snow and freezing temperatures. As such, we give a lot of credit to retailers that go the extra mile with the information they provide. Most list the basic facts (weight, materials, ratings) are passed along from the manufacturers. Other sites like Skis.com and Evo do a really nice job of moving beyond those specs. Some of our favorites include the Skis.com video series, “On the Snow,” where employees give video reviews of new skis, or Evo’s extensive library of buying advice. Backcountry and REI also have excellent "how to" articles and videos that answer common questions. Bridging that gap in the online environment is tremendously helpful and we value the companies that make the effort.
 

Ski Equipment (Hard Goods)

This category includes your primary ski gear: skis, bindings, and boots. All retailers on this list carry the popular all-mountain skis from top brands, but moving outside of those items reveals some variation. In ranking the retailers, we placed an emphasis on consistency of stock as well as carrying a good assortment of products. Backcountry and Evo excel in the high-end market, including ski equipment for alpine touring and deep powder, while REI has a large stock of resort gear. Specialized snowsports retailers like Skis.com and Evo have the widest selection covering nearly every category, including skis for youngsters and park and pipe.
 

Ski Clothing (Soft Goods)

Soft goods cover clothing items like insulating and outer layers in addition to accessories like goggles, gloves and helmets. A wide color selection is often an important consideration for consumers, and a quick look around the ski resort will confirm this. You’ll find some bright and expressive styles on the slopes, and we’ve ranked the retailers to reflect this demand for a wide color palette. More, ski gear varies quite a bit depending on the area of the country you live in, snow and weather conditions, and the type of skiing you’re into (resort or backcountry), which means we gave high marks for having a comprehensive stock of clothing and accessories.
 

Shipping

There are a number of commonalities in shipping deals. Free shipping has become the norm for ski gear—even including bulky skis. If you need an item quickly, it’s hard to beat the free 2-day shipping with Backcountry or Amazon (with Amazon Prime). The rest of the retailers on our list still have free shipping offers once you clear $50 (or $49 in the case of Skis.com), but it’s standard shipping that can take a little longer. Knowing where your product is shipping from can help. For example, Evo has their distribution center in the Seattle area, so those in the West will get their items pretty quickly. But this doesn’t hold true for everyone. REI has distribution centers on both coasts, and should the item only be in stock in the one furthest from you, you may have to wait a little while longer. During the holidays, and particularly leading up to Christmas, most retailers offer expedited shipping at no additional cost, which is a real help to the procrastinators out there.
 

International Shipping

For those living outside the United States, international shipping is an added gear cost but often worth it (if you live in a remote place or have ever traveled somewhere like New Zealand and bought gear there, you know what we are talking about). Rates vary by retailer and not all brands and products are available to be shipped internationally. REI, for example, has a flat fee based on the price of the order that starts at $35, however, oversized items may be charged extra. Backcountry allows you to calculate international shipping costs by adding the product to your cart then entering the shipping address (you are not obligated to buy at this point). Skis.com uses a third party called International Checkout to fulfill orders worldwide. To be sure, international shipping isn’t cheap but may be offset by price and availability. We recommend checking with the retailers above to find the most cost effective shipping method for your location. 
 

Sales Tax

When you’re shipping a product from an online retailer that has operations in your state (including a store or distribution center), you will be charged sales tax. Outside of REI and Amazon, most of the retailers making our list do not have a strong nationwide presence, and as such, you won’t be charged sales tax (there are, however, a growing number of states passing legislation to charge tax in these cases). This can make a big difference as ski gear and clothing is pricey stuff. There is a little more to the story, however, as technically you are still required to pay a tax for the items in the form of a “use” tax. It’s not something that is commonly enforced on smaller items but is worth noting nonetheless. For more information on the subject, we’ve found this article from FindLaw summarizes the issue well.

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