5 Pieces of Winter Gear Worth Buying Used
From technical outerwear to snowsports gear, it’s no secret that winter gear can be a slippery slope of expensive purchases. Buying gently used items is a great solution to avoid going over your budget and helping to recycle materials which leads to a lower carbon footprint.
Here are 5 pieces of used winter gear worth buying, and what to look for while browsing:
Whether you’re into cross country skiing, downhill, or snowboarding, shopping for used snowsports gear can save you some serious cash! However, like a car, how the previous owner took care of the equipment greatly impacts the worth. Regardless of the sport you choose, a few things to keep an eye out for on used gear:
- Rust: Signs of rust tend to be around the edges where the base of the ski/snowboard meets the topsheet.
- Base/topsheet damage: Gear shops can often repair minor scratches. If you see a piece of gear with massive gouge on the base or topsheet, keep looking. Also, this is when you want to check to see if the bases look dry, or other visible signs of neglect.
- With or without bindings? Yes, skis and snowboards can normally be remounted so buying gear without bindings is an option. However, be aware that mounting equipment more than 2-3 times can compromise the cores’ integrity. If the seller doesn’t know how many times the gear has been mounted, it may not be a great choice. Before immediately going for skis with bindings already on them, make sure the bindings can be adjusted or that the current set-up can safely lock and release your boots.
Financial talk aside, you’ll be avoiding the physically painful process of breaking the boot in when you buy used. The downside? Boots are broken in so the liner forms to that person’s foot shape. So when buying used, the boot may not have that Cinderella-feel that a brand new boot eventually could achieve. However, that’s an easy fix! Many modern liners can be taken to gear shops and be remolded to your feet. Or, you can buy new liners and still save some cash by buying a used boot shell. As far as safety, make sure all the buckles open and close, and if it’s downhill set-up, make sure the boot transitions smoothly between walk and ski mode.
Surprisingly, a lot of people end up getting rid of their technical outerwear because they think it’s old and lost its durability. However, that’s not always the case! First off, look into how to properly clean and maintain your gear. Materials like Gore-Tex can and must be washed regularly if you wear the garment often. The process is just slightly more specific than your everyday laundry. So, a few things to keep an eye out for when shopping for used outerwear:
- Waterproofing: Checking if a used water jacket is still waterproof is as easy as it sounds. Try pouring a tiny bit of water on the garment. If the water beads on the fabric and forms small droplets, you’re good to go! If the water gets absorbed, the material has lost its waterproofing. Luckily, if that item is just too dang good of a deal to pass-up, products like Nikwax can help return waterproof properties.
- Zippers: Again, as easy as it sounds. Does it zip down easily? Great. Can you zip it back up? Boom, you’re good to go!
- Stitching: Patches are always an option to fix small tears or rips, but check out how much damage the garment has and determine if it’s worth the effort to repair. Especially keep an eye on the stitching and see if things look like they are going to hold up to your activity.
As long as there are no visible cracks or broken clamps, you should be good! If there are multiple knuckles, make sure to open and extend each one to make sure they function correctly. Also, once you’ve adjusted the pole height to your usage, put some weight on the pole to make sure it doesn’t start to compress down and that the clamps are still sturdy.
Buying used snowshoes is the same process of buying new ones. Aside from making sure all the straps, buckles, and teeth are intact and functioning, a few things to know:
- One size does not fit all: A common misconception is that a snowshoe can fit everyone, regardless of size. And while it may fit your boots fine, that’s actually not the most practical approach to finding a snowshoes that will perform in the snow. The most important part of choosing a snowshoe size is weight–of you plus whatever gear you’ll be carrying. Most manufacturers will have a sizing guide on their website so check that out before buying.
- Traction types: Snowshoes feature what are known as crampons, or cleats, along the base and sometimes even the edge. Depending on the conditions you’ll be playing in, the amount of traction you’ll need varies greatly. If you’ll be in icy or compact situations, then more traction is preferred.
- To lift or not to lift? Not necessarily a deal breaker, but some snowshoes feature what’s called a climbing bar or lift. It’s a small pop-up metal bar behind your heel that can flip up to help reduce strain when hiking uphill.
Where to buy
Now that you’ve got the knowledge of things to keep an eye out for when deciding what used gear you should buy, the natural next question is where to find it?
- Local Gear Shops: Not only is supporting local a great idea, but most of these gear shops will have used or demo sales and sections. Check out Wonderland Gear Exchange in Fremont, Superior Seconds in Issaquah, Ascent Outdoors in Ballard, or Rambleraven in Spokane.
- Thrift Stores: One luxury of Pacific Northwest living is finding quality outdoor gear at thrift stores like Goodwill. The locals can donate some pretty sweet used gear!
- Online: Of course online shopping is an option! Websites like Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, OfferUp and others are a great place to start. Just make sure you see the gear in person and check all the concerns discussed above before any financial transaction occurs.
- REI Garage Sales: Downside? You have to be an REI Member to gain access to this awesome sale. Upside? If you’re a member, this is hands-down one of the best places to score incredible gear for a killer price! Make sure you’re signed-up for their newsletters though, because garage sales are typically only one-day-long and the best gear goes quickly.
What about buying used helmets?
Sorry, but the rule is NEVER buy a used helmet. Even if the owner swears they barely used it and never crashed, it’s not worth the safety risk. Replace your own helmet after a crash or every five years. Stay safe out there!
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