Another ski season is upon us, and to help navigate the confusing online environment, we have put together a list of our favorite websites for buying ski gear. All the sites below are reputable companies that we purchase from ourselves. In creating the list, we prioritized factors like having a wide variety of inventory, an easy-to-use website, free shipping, and a good return policy. Sales tax can be a significant factor on expensive orders, so we also have included information on that topic. Finally, we 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. For our favorite picks in each category, see our detailed ski gear reviews.
Shipping: Free economy ground (at $50+)
Return policy: 366 days for new, unused items
What we like: Great selection and easy-to-use website.
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 free ground shipping in the U.S. on orders over $50. Plus, if you live near one of their retail locations—Seattle; Portland; Denver; Whistler, B.C.; Salt Lake City; Snoqualmie Pass, Wash.; Hood River, Ore.; and soon in Tahoe City, Calif.—you can order online and pick up your items in store or take advantage of shop services like boot fittings, mounts and tunes.
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 sections 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 and exchange policy (as long as the product is unused), as well as an impressive inventory of discounted and used gear.
Shipping: Free standard (at $50+)
Return policy: Lifetime for new, unused items (refund); 30 days for used items (store credit)
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 indicate, 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. 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. Plus, they continue to expand their in-house selection of ski touring gear and apparel. 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. Finally, if you find gear listed elsewhere for less, Backcountry will beat the price by 5%—provided it’s in new condition and identical in size, color, and year—before you buy or up to 48 hours after you purchase.
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 (including at Evo) for a more intuitive site experience. Overall, however, Backcountry remains one of our favorite retailers with a consistently great selection, excellent customer service, and a solid return/exchange policy.
3. REI Co-op
Shipping: Free standard for members (at $50+ for non-members)
Return policy: 1 year for members, 90 days for non-members
What we like: Excellent return policy and availability of popular ski products.
What we don’t: Overall selection can’t match Evo or Backcountry.
The nation’s largest outdoor retailer is best known for camping and hiking gear, but they’re a strong player in the winter months as well. REI’s inventory focus is on resort skiers with gear and apparel to match, but they have a growing number of alpine touring offerings and carry quite a few high-end Arc’teryx, Patagonia, and The North Face products. While now only available to members, 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 42 states and the District of Columbia, it’s 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 pick up or return products there and avoid 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 (it costs $30 for a lifetime membership), you get 10% back on regularly priced items as a dividend, which amounts to a constant sale of sorts. Members also get access to a used gear trade-in program, occasional “garage sales,” and savings on shop services. We’d like to see a little more variety in size and color selection—for example, many of their ski boot listings are only for a single color and a limited range of sizes—but their website is clean and easy to navigate.
4. The House
Shipping: Free ground (at $99+)
Return policy: 90 days for new, unused items
What we like: Great sales and discounts and helpful product information.
What we don’t: Site is less polished and harder to navigate than the retailers above.
If discount shopping is your goal, The House is the place to go. Their site may not be as easy-to-navigate as REI or Evo, but they consistently offer flash sale-style deals, reduced-price outlet items, and seasonal sales. It’s a good place to score discounts on both current and past-season items for your kit, including skis, boots, bindings, helmets, and more. It may take a bit of work to find exactly what you need, but their product descriptions and specifications are descriptive and well sorted. All told, if you’re willing to put in a little added effort, you’re likely to find a good deal, whether you prefer lapping the resort or earning your turns in the backcountry.
We really appreciate The House’s helpful sizing and buying guides, including detailed breakdowns of skis (from versatile all-mountain models to specialized cross-country designs) and goggles. And if you happen to be near St. Paul, Minn., a visit to their main showroom is worth the time—in addition to ski equipment, it’s packed with gear for other outdoor sports from cycling to skateboarding. The House’s return window is fairly short at 90 days from the date of purchase (vs. 366 for Evo and a year for REI members), and their clothing inventory lacks the sheer number of brands and colorways offered by Evo and Backcountry, but most skiers should be able to find what they need. And if another online retailer carries a product for less (third-party sellers like Amazon are excluded), The House will match the price as long as it’s identical and in stock.
Shipping: Varies, but often free two-day
Return policy: 30 days for new, unopened items (some third party-seller return policies vary)
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.
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), which are passed along from the manufacturers. Other sites like Evo and The House do a really nice job of moving beyond those specs with extensive libraries of buying advice and sizing guides. 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 excels 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 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. We always appreciate a wide selection of colorways for apparel and outerwear, and we’ve taken this into account with our rankings above. Also, 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.
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 two-day shipping with Amazon Prime. The rest of the retailers on our list still have free shipping offers once you clear $50 (or $99 in the case of The House), but it’s standard or economy 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 farthest 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.
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 $20. However, oversized items may be extra, and not all brands can be shipped outside of the United States. 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.
Most retailers—including Backcountry, Evo.com, and Amazon—require items to be new and unused in order to be eligible for return. Backcountry also offers store credit within 30 days if you’ve used the item, while REI is the most generous of the bunch and allows members to return items for a full refund within a year of purchase—no questions asked (non-members get 90 days). Before buying, our best advice is to do your research and ensure you know when an item must be returned in order to be eligible for a refund. It can be difficult to determine sizing for skis and boots ahead of time, but if you’re unsure, talk to your local ski shop before making a purchase (once bindings are mounted or you’ve used the items, you can no longer return them to most sites).
The quality of a site’s customer service department can have a big impact on your overall online experience, especially if you’re having an issue or need to return something. The good news is that all of the sites we’ve listed above have customer service teams that generally are speedy, helpful, knowledgeable, and friendly. We especially like the live chat feature on REI, Backcountry, Evo, and The House that allows you to chat with a representative in real time for those moments when you don’t feel like calling or emailing. Backcountry even has a “text a gearhead” option in case you’re not sitting in front of a computer when you have a question. We’ve reached out more times than we can count for product specs and other information (by phone, via email, and by chat) and have had very few negative experiences to date.
Sales tax laws have gotten stricter in recent years, and the long and short of it is that you can expect to be charged sales tax on the vast majority of online purchases. The total amount is based on the shipping address you provide, but discrepancies between states continue to narrow. This can make a big difference as ski gear and clothing is pricey stuff, so it’s important to factor the added cost into your purchase beforehand. For more information on the subject, we’ve found this article from Big Commerce to be helpful and informative, including breaking down requirements by state.
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