Posting this for as much of a reminder for myself for future years and as a heads up for anyone looking to get into the sport or upgrade their current setup. This isn't cross country skiing or running where reps apparently see some sort of return (really?) from giving away free stuff. We all buy our gear, except a select few top guys. The top guys just have to beg their "sponsors" for replacement equipment when things break. It's one of the refreshing things about the sport: we all work to pay for it; you aren't competing against the equivalent of the Russian boxer from Rocky.
Anyways, there are some good deals out there right now on clothing, packs, and equipment that bring prices more in the ballpark of what you would spend on a normal touring setup. You just have to know where to look and what to look for.
If you aren't sure what/where to look (refer to an earlier blog post), you could comment below, but I would suggest waiting for the fall and following the development of a new local skimo shop, skiuphill.ca who will be able to provide expert advice and stock the gear that you can physically touch.