Ski season is heating up across the country, but the freedom of sliding with gravity comes at a high cost. Most expenses are fixed and non-negotiable – lift tickets, rental gear, après cocktails. With so much money flying, don’t be tempted to scrimp on your apparel. Set yourself up for more fun with quality gear that keeps you warm and safe from the elements.

Credit: Disabled Sports Eastern Sierra
Supporting some thrift stores, like the, helps others less fortunate to get out on the slopes, too.

Consider hitting up consignment and thrift stores for your ski and snowboard apparel. With whatever clothing you choose, Nikwax has your back in the performance department.

If the fiscal savings doesn’t sway you, remember that you’ll also be helping to save the planet by reducing and reusing the unloved ski wear out there. Buy less, invest in longevity, and get out there to have some fun without blowing your budget. It’s a win-win-win.

Best Finds at Used Clothing Stores

 – Ski Pants – 

Go figure, but nearly every thrift store in a cold climate will have a solid selection of ski pants – often in really good condition. Look for fabrics without sun fading or large tears. Small rips in non-critical places are typically easy to mend and won’t greatly impact your comfort.

When you bring your “new-to-you” outerwear home, run them through a Nikwax Tech Wash cycle to remove oil, dirt and grime that impedes performance. Leave them in the washing machine for a second cycle of the Nikwax TX.Direct to revive the waterproofing to its original state.

– Outer Layers and Parkas 

Just as with ski pants, avoid sun-faded or ripped jackets. Ensure the main zipper and pocket zippers are all in working order. If you’re not a whiz tailor/seamstress, avoid bad zippers. They are expensive to fix.

Look for consistent fill in insulated jackets and good seaming in shells. Seek out brand names that you associate with quality. Nikwax is effective at reviving a piece back to its original performance level (or darn near), but the quality of the original fabric dictates what that will be.

– Stylish, Hipster Sweaters –

Style is big part of skiing and snowboarding culture, and individuality is rewarded in these expressive sports. Thrift stores are phenomenal places to find vintage styles, warm wool sweaters and even ironic finds that will bring a laugh to your buddies and be a killer insulating layer for you. If a cleaning is in order, try Wool Wash for a gentle cleanse before you hit the slopes.

Thrift Store Deals to Avoid

– Socks –

Don’t buy used. Invest in a new, good quality, ski/snowboard sock, which will run you about $20 per pair (plus or minus). Pack some Basewash Travel Gel to rinse the socks each night and you only need one pair for a multi-day trip. It’s easy, less costly and less stinky than the alternative.

– Long Underwear/Base Layers –

It’s not so much the intimate nature of long underwear that pushes it toward the “buy new” column. Rather, it’s that people tend to keep their long underwear until it’s good and worn out. They don’t need to be fancy, but buy them new.  And when your sweat-soaking layers get a stench, use our new BaseFresh to restore a fresh and clean smell.

Hints for Shopping at Thrift and Consignment Stores

Hint #1: Consignment stores will typically be more discerning than thrift stores with the age and quality of garments they accept.

Hint #2: Bring a spray bottle of water with you. Ask permission from the store clerk to give a light spray on the jacket. The water droplets don’t need to bead perfectly (that’s what Nikwax is for!), but the quality of beading (versus instant absorption) will give you an idea to the current state of the performance of the garment.

Hint #3: If you’re willing to roll the dice with availability, thrift and consignment stores in resort communities will have the best selection. In upscale resorts, like Aspen, Colorado, you can find top quality brand names at fractions of the cost of buying new. Even better, you can often find these garments with little to no wear.

Happy sliding!


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