Thursday, November 24, 2016

Where to buy ski mountaineering gear

So you are looking to get into ski mountaineering, but not sure where to get the gear? Many backcountry ski stores are starting to carry light gear, but still at a weight penalty compared to even an entry level race setup.

Although ski mountaineering racing is an emerging trend, it is still hard to find in North America. In Canada, this is further exacerbated by shipping, exchange, and brokerage costs when buying from the United States. And the shops that are nice enough to bring in skimo gear? Well it usually sits and collects dust all season(s), and they vow to never purchase it again.

Here are a list of shops that I've come across in my searches.

Used: High initial cost and low supply means that skimo gear typically has great resale value that comes at a cost above a typical "impulse buy". Demand is spread thinly across the continent, so it can be hard to find buyers! Gear Swap : Stano has left a space on his website for buying and selling gear. A great, focussed place to look for skimo gear. gear swap: A similar gear swap setup by Utah Skimo. This one is a little busier. forum gear swap: Race gear occasionally makes it on here. It seems everyone who uses this website has access to deals, so prices are low!
Skimo Gear Swap & Forum Facebook Group: Lots of gear here, although some telemark and "freeride" junk is popping up here.
Local kijiji, craigslist, ski swap: Pretty tough going.

Canada: Want cheap shipping, favourable exchange rates and no fees when you pickup? Best buy Canadian (if you are in Canada!). As more alpine brand distributors import skimo skis and more shops start carrying ski touring companies, any decent ski shop should be able to special order stuff for you. : A soon to open Canadian skimo shop specializing in lightweight gear. 
MEC: The Co-op has some entry level boot and skis (Scarpa Alien, Dynafit PDG), low tech race bindings. The $550 Salomon Minimums went quickly. Hope they return. They've done a good job in the past of keeping prices under control with the struggling Canadian dollar, but they seem to have lost their handle  this season.  : Formerly le Yeti, this Quebec based retailer has the Dynafit PDG series as well. : Another Quebec retailer with Dynafit DyNA and PDG kit!
Vertical Addiction; In Canmore has some Scarpa Alien boots in stock. They've also been able to special order CAMP stuff for me.
Sundance Ski Shop : In Edmonton has a pair of mens and womens Fischer Alpattacks in stock. I was also able to special order dynafit race binding parts.
Escape Route : They've previously carried Dynafit race gear, Colltex skins and Plum race bindings on their website.

International websites: A good strategy is to image search "Scarpa Alien" or "Dynafit PDG" to find websites that might carry skimo gear.

US: The exchange rate is a tough pill to swallow for Canadian customers. Look for places that ship via USPS, or can include some sort of "all in" rate to avoid any surprises when the Purolator or UPS guy shows up at your door. Or you could look into self declaring if there is a CBSA office nearby. From the CBSA website:
  • When the courier attempts to deliver the shipment, you must refuse delivery and advise the courier that you will pay duties and/or taxes directly to the CBSA.
    • Write down the unique shipment identification/tracking number. The shipment will be returned to the courier's warehouse for storage for a limited period of time. 
  • Next, visit a local CBSA office that offers accounting services to the public. You will need to provide specific details about the shipment, indicated on the commercial invoice. 
    • You will need the shipment identification/tracking number, the commercial invoice (receipt), and personal identification when you visit the CBSA.
    • If someone else is doing this step on your behalf, the CBSA requires a letter of authorization and a photocopy of your identification.
  • You will be given an official receipt indicating that you have paid duties and/or taxes paid to the CBSA. 
  • A copy of this receipt must be presented to the courier, either in person or by fax, at which time receipt or delivery of the shipment may be arranged." : The largest selection and most knowledgeable source for ski mountaineering gear in North America.
Cripple creek backcountry  : Another keen store with a good selection. The Totally Deep Podcast is awesome as well!
COSMIC shop :  proceeds go towards organizing races! : has some skimo gear. Free shipping on orders over $200US : The goliath of the online shopping world in North America, they have skimo gear.
Boulder Nordic Sport : The of the nordic world, unfortunately they are getting out of the skimo market. They do have a limited selection of boots and bindings left at closeout prices though. : The outlet section is often a good source for skimo essentials: packs, gloves, clothing, training skins : I picked up a race backpack and a race harness from here a while back with free shipping to Canada (orders over $200). It looks like they have Dynafit race gear this year, though they say they aren't allowed to ship it to Canada. : Some Dynafit DyNA Evo race boots in stock. Careful, these might be an early pair that had some sole wear issues (losing the rubber lugs).
Voile and Scarpa both offer direct sales on their respective websites.

Europe: Look for websites that offer VAT free pricing for North American customers. A bit more hassle, but the retailers actually put stuff on sale. Due to the sport's popularity across the pond, there are more retailers than listed here. These are just some I have heard of friends buying from. A rabbit hole you could tumble down... : A starting point for European shopping. DHL shipping extra fees were reasonable : Good source for race gear and good prices. Large skins selection
Riap Sport : German website. A little more expensive I find. : Some good deals can be found here. : Another German website.

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