$1000 Joe 2012 –Budget Ski Gear

Post by WildSnow.com blogger | July 23, 2012      
Thousand dollar Joe in a two dollar thrift store outfit.

Thousand dollar Joe in his two dollar thriftstore apre ski kit. Plenty left over for ski shopping.

Becoming a Wildsnow minion and being a true dumpster diver at heart (I learned that from uncle Dom) the goal is always to do things on the cheap. Try PB & J sandwiches instead of Godfather heros stacked with every imaginable meat, GU electrolyte drink tablets instead of my morning OJ, and even hitch hiking if I don’t feel like filling up the gas guzzler.

Living on the cheap also means finding gear on the cheap for myself or that special lady. But she doesn’t need to know that. We’ll call it “smart shopping” instead.

Summer is always a great time to shop for deals on backcountry ski gear in new condition from online sites and used from a bike junkie in need of a few extra bucks to get his carbon wheel replaced mid-summer.

Armed with $1000 Lou bucks here’s what I came up with as a smart backcountry ski shopping list (bear in mind this is for the total entry level, low budget shopper and you can certainly upgrade any of it):

Skis: Black Diamond’s Justice skis were a favorite from the Ultimate Quiver Review and being rockered ski with 111 underfoot (175cm model) you can’t go wrong regardless of the conditions. $394.49 Altrec.com

Boots: Black Diamond Methods, lots of beef for the buck. $299.99 REI.com

For the princess, Garmont’s Mega Star. $255.98 Backcountry.com

Bindings: G3 Onyx Binding seems to be the most available for deal shoping, but look around for any model of Dynafit as late summer progreesses. $337.46 Backcountry.com

Skins: BCA Magic Carpet Skins, terrific budget deal. $86.99 Altrec.com

Shovel: Ortovox Orange Shovel, gets the job done. $16.18 Backcountry.com

Beacon: Pieps Freeride Avalanche, a trusty standby with multiple burial capabilities. $159.96 Backcountry.com

Probe: Ortovox 200cm Economic Probe, an aluminum workhorse. $27.27 Backcountry.com

Pack: Black Diamond Bandit Pack, simple no frills 11L ski pack. $39.99 Altrec.com

We left out ski poles because these can easily be found in any dumpster or lost-and-found at a ski area.

The hardest item to find a deal on was a pair of backcountry ski bindings. Places like Craigslist had a few beater skis with tech bindings for decent prices. My mantra here would be to make a chair out of the skis and put the bindings to use underfoot.

Other places to find good deals on gear are local gear swaps which benefit local causes and school systems. Some big ones worth mention are the 59th Aspen Ski Swap happening in late October, the Colchester, Vermont Ski swap happening October the weekend of the 6th & 7th, and the Park City Ski Swap on the 2, 3, & 4th of November. If you know of any other great ski swaps or rep sales events please comment.

Editors note: Due to inflation $1000 Joe is now somewhere around $1,362.83 Joe, and $1,318.82 for his lady, but he recently changed jobs from bailing hay to bussing tables plus he has a bunch of REI credit to burn. Besides, if any readers want to chime in with comments about gear deals they know of, we’re sure that’ll help keep Joe’s fisc intact.

We could have added more gear to the list, such as ski crampons, boot crampons, ice axe, harness, rope, sat phone, a box of GU gels, airbag pack, AED, and more. But the above represents a starting point for someone who wants to make the plunge into backcountry skiing and needs to do it on a budget, or for someone who is looking to add to her quiver. And of course you could do it even cheaper than this, but we’re not going to share the location of our favorite dumpster.


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21 Responses to “$1000 Joe 2012 –Budget Ski Gear”

  1. Dragos Toma July 23rd, 2012 3:06 pm

    Joe could save a lot of money if he knows people at stores that demoed skis during the winter in smaller resorts. I got a pair of demo Movement Sluffs for about 200E last summer. The skis had only seen about 10 days on the snow and they only had 2 deep scratches. No big deal with that and dealing with an extra set of holes.

  2. Dave Field July 23rd, 2012 4:51 pm

    I was under the impression that the Pieps freeride was a single antenna model with limited feature set. Certainly not to be confused with the better featured and trustworthy DSP.

  3. stevenjo July 23rd, 2012 4:58 pm

    Speaking of budget…. is that a porsche in the background?

  4. stevenjo July 23rd, 2012 5:01 pm
  5. d July 23rd, 2012 5:37 pm

    Wouldn’t be recommending the Pieps Freeride.

    Again, not to be confused with the very good Pieps DSP or Tour models.

  6. Kevin July 23rd, 2012 5:46 pm

    evo has a great sale going til the end of the month. I was looking at the Rossignol Sickle (new S6) as a powder touring ski, has anyone tried it or a rockered S6 that can comment?

  7. Dostie July 23rd, 2012 6:09 pm

    Within the context of easy to find deals on the web, Joe did a great job. Would only add that better deals can be found at swap meets for ski/binding packages that will inevitably consist of a plate binding and skis with a waist width less than 100mm. Hey, that’s what Lou started with, and myself, and many others and for a newbie that would be my recommendation. It’s about getting out there and earning a few turns, right?, not having the latest rad gear.

    However, I wouldn’t cut corners on boots and would recommend getting something fitted at a shop – hopefully used, but most certainly where the option exists – WITH tech fittings.

    Packs shmacks. This is entry level, right?

    Good call on the Magic Carpet skins.

    Beacons can be had on eBay for a song or in the $150 range. That leaves plenty of cash for a new shovel and discounted probe with the option to splurge for dinner out at your fave Mex restaurant after fitting the boots and adjusting the plate bindings to those boots. Maybe even a bar of wax too. 😉

    One other consideration…best to stack the odds in your favor and do your first tour in spring conditions. Safer and might allow a newbie to avoid the cost of a beacon & probe. Maybe not in Colorado, but come visit the Sierra where batteries can be put to better use in an MP3 player (spring season only). 😉

  8. Scott Nelson July 23rd, 2012 6:28 pm

    Nice write up Joe.

    ” Speaking of budget…. is that a porsche in the background?” If Joe was up in Aspen at the thrift store, then yep, that’s probably a porsche, a used porsche of course… or is Lou handing out Wildsnow salaries that I’m not aware of ?

    Totally agree with Dostie. You don’t need the latest greatest to get out and earn some turns, especially come spring time, even in Colorado. I started with some like 70 ish mm lightweight skis, Scarpa F1’s, and Dynafit vert st’s…. all bought on sale wherever I could find those things. And I’ve had some really great days on that budget stuff.

  9. Joe July 23rd, 2012 9:39 pm

    Yep Lou traded in all his unicycles and I get to drive him around in the Porsche while he sips on Cristal.

    @dragos the dumpsters around here are loaded with gold, Louis Vuitton trunks, and sometimes the occasional ski or two 😉 My first pair of skis that my dad ever bought me was a demo pair from Killington those puppies had seen more grass and rocks then snow. But they had me grinning ear to ear. I skied them till they both broke.

    @D & @dave field I do agree although on a budget I tried to find the most economical a better choice if I saved up some and bought Bud instead of the locally brewed IPA would be the Ortovox Patroller Digital reciever for another $30 at $186.

  10. JCoates July 24th, 2012 5:52 am

    Since we are talking about good deals, this seems to be the best forum to ask since I haven’t seen anything specifically on 2010 models of Dynafit Low Tech Lite which I bought this spring from backcountry.com for around $200. These seem like pretty cool bindings but I’m not real familiar with them.

    I had them mounted here in Germany at a Dynafit service center, but they didn’t seem real familiar with them and had to essentially make a template from scratch to mount them. Since the time they were mounted, one of the binding heel pieces tends to auto-rotate out –usually at inopportune times (like steep terrain turns when I’m aggressively unweighting my down-hill ski).

    Lou (or anyone else who might know), if you are generous to bestow your knowledge, can you help with a couple of questions?:

    1) Is this a problem with the heel piece not being mounted close enough to the boot?
    2) and if so, do I need to remount the binding heelpiece or can I slide the pins forward to better mate with the Dynafit boot?

    The obvious answer would be to take them back to the same place, but they seemed a bit confused by this model. Thanks in advance for any input.

  11. Mike Bromberg July 24th, 2012 6:07 am

    Seems like a few of these items are likely to need replacement after one gains some experience and develops preference.
    I’m disappointed to read that you would recommend a lexan shovel (at a savings of as little as $10 over a metal bladed shovel-found through your shovel link) and a single antenna beacon (these are currently recommended by no-one). These are acquisitions that could have real consequences for you and/or your partners.
    Use of all of these items in backcountry terrain assumes a minimum level of competency and understanding of the hazards involved in backcountry travel and I have to say that I would be really weary of any partner who chose to save a few $’s at the cost of safety. I know that dirt-bagging it lends you some credibility in certain circles, but skimping on avalanche safety equipment is irresponsible. I know you in no way advocated for gear instead of education, but arming yourself with some baseline knowledge about backcountry safety through experienced partners and/or professionals could be a more reasonable alternative to “making the plunge into backcountry skiing” by spending your $$ on a bunch of budget gear.
    With regards to items that less directly affect safety, many shops have demo equipment available and some will even credit the cost of rental toward purchase in hopes of helping you make a more informed purchase on boots, skis and bindings. Remembering that skis don’t have to be backcountry specific to be great for backcountry skiing can save you some $. Shopping for a backpack in the 20-30L range that can be used for hiking/backpacking/climbing as well as BC skiing or riding is easily found for under $50 (you probably already have one!)

  12. Lou Dawson July 24th, 2012 7:02 am

    Good points Mike. I’m not so sure a good quality composite shovel is such a bad thing — I’ve seen aluminum ones break as well — it’s more about design than simply giving something a yea or nay based on what it’s made of. Nonetheless, I do tend to favor aluminum, like most people these days. Lou

  13. Brian July 24th, 2012 7:11 am

    Why don’t you just ski what you had last year and spend the $1000 on beer for the season?

  14. Lou Dawson July 24th, 2012 9:03 am

    That’s a pretty good beer budget… I think a winter’s worth of suds can be had for quite a bit less, unless you’re perhaps over doing it a bit, or buying the expensive stuff…

  15. Dragos Toma July 24th, 2012 10:54 am

    Regarding the Beacon issue, I would look into the ARVA Evo3+. It’s the cheapest 3 antenna beacon I was able to find and it actually works pretty well. Not very sophisticated, and the multiple burial function doesn’t work that well, but it’s a world apart from the Pieps Freeride. And it’s not that much more expensive that the Pieps.

    Here in Europe, Sport Conrad has it for about 200E, and the Pieps Freeride usually goes for about 140; well worth the difference in my opinion.

  16. Nick July 24th, 2012 5:51 pm

    A plastic shovel and a sngle-anntenna beacon?!?! As your partner, I will loan you money to get rid of those items and purchase more reliable life-saving equipment (and also loan you money to take a Level 1).


  17. Lou Dawson July 24th, 2012 7:41 pm

    He he, one way or another to stay on a budget!

    In all serousness, we’re assuming our total newbie is in a party with a number of experienced people. She probably won’t be doing a beacon search if something does happen, but does need a beacon that transmits. And yes, upgrades of all this stuff are totally appropriate if the money is available.

  18. Jane July 25th, 2012 8:51 am

    With that après ski outfit, sexy Joe will surely land a cougar to pay the bar bill. He doesn’t need a beer budget.

  19. Chuck July 25th, 2012 1:17 pm

    LOL. Watch out for those ski bunny cougars. They pack more hazards than avalanche terrain! But free beer might justify the risk.

  20. LePistoir July 25th, 2012 10:27 pm

    $100 Avy 1 purchased at silent auction raising funds for avy center like I did.
    Rockered skis are nice, but a super budget dude like Joe should be getting twice-drilled ones off craigslist or from a bro. $200
    $150 boots are definitely out there.
    tech bindings, along with skins, are definitely the hardest to find. At least $250 and $125 for those, respectively, especially considering Joe needs fatter skins.
    I would check the Boulder Sports Recycler and Second Tracks in Silverthorne.

    So that’s $700, leaving $300 for beacon/shovel/probe, which is doable, unless Joe needs to squeeze clothes, backpack, sunglasses, helmet and whiskey flask into that final $300 too. It’s gonna be tight but with enough time hunting and real effort put into building relationships with the right people, he can make it happen.

  21. Eric April 19th, 2013 3:24 pm

    Hi Lou,

    I am looking for a ski set-up that will allow me more freedom in the hills. Basically, I want something that I can use as a tool to approach climbs, especially on glaciers (re: Denali, etc). I’m not as interested in actually skiing on the mountain. Just want something that is compatible with my climbing boots (Kayland M11+ soon to be Spantiks) where I can stash the skis at base camp when the climb begins. The ability to ski down snowfields would be nice, but I’m not looking to do any crazy turns or anything, just get down the mountain a little faster. If I do get into downhill skiing do I need a different setup? Cost really isn’t an issue–I can buy two set-ups if need be, just don’t know what I need or where to start.

    I’ve been climbing for 10 years but am a complete noob when it comes to skiing. I’ve heard the terms AT, alpine, telemark, inline, cross country, but have no idea what they mean. Educate me!

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