Updated July 2nd, 2023
You may have heard that skiing is an expensive sport. How much does it cost to ski or snowboard for a day? How much does it cost to ski for a season? The really short answer is that 1 day of skiing or snowboarding will run you anywhere from $200(or more) to $80(or less) depending on whether you need to rent skis and clothes. Being a skier can be as cheap or expensive as you want to make it. Let’s take a look at all the costs involved in a day of skiing.
Check out our guide How Much Does a Ski Trip Cost to learn more about ski trip costs.
How much does it cost to ski for a day
There are 4 things you need to go skiing for a day. You need clothing, skis, a lift ticket and most people will need to eat or drink somewhere during their day at the ski area. If you don’t have any gear or clothing and need equipment rental, a day of skiing is going to run you around $200 at the average ski resort. If you have clothing it dops to $150. If you have ski equipment it will drop to $100. If you pack a lunch it drops to the cost of a lift ticket which is around $80.
- Ski Rental equipment and helmet – $50 + $12 = $62
- Daily Lift Ticket – $80
- Clothing rental – $50
- Food – $20
- Total – $212/day
You will need skis and ski boots for your day of skiing. A helmet is a good idea too. Renting a set of skis, boots, and poles in the United States cost between $47 to $68. The average price to buy a set of ski equipment is between $600 and $1300. High performance gear costs more than beginner to intermediate ski gear.
You will want a ski helmet too. Some ski resorts include one in the cost of daily rentals. Others will rent them for an extra charge. The average cost to rent a ski helmet is $12/day. You can buy a decent ski helmet for $75.
If you are renting ski gear for more than 1 day the price goes down. You can expect to save 20-30% for getting a multi day rental.
See our article on the costs of renting vs buying skis to learn more.
To go skiing you will need a winter coat, ski pants, base layers, a sweater, ski socks, gloves, and a set of ski goggles. You can get a good beginner set of ski clothes for about $200. You can easily spend a few thousand on all high end high performance clothes.
- Goggles – $25 – $100
- Ski jackets – $80 – $150
- Ski pants – $30 – $100
- Base layers – $30 – $80
- Ski socks – $20 – $40
- Ski sweater – $20 – $100
- Total – $205 – $570
Most large ski resorts have clothing rentals available. There are online options too. Renting ski clothes will run between $30 and $100 a day. Kitlender.com is one of the more popular online ski clothing rentals.
lift tickets/season pass
Daily lift tickets can be one of the most expensive parts of skiing. The price for a lift ticket is much lower at a small local resort than it is at a large luxury ski resort out west. Daily tickets at smaller local ski resorts will run from $50 to $80. There are some places with tickets as low as $20 a day. A lift ticket at Vail resort will run you over $200.
Buying multi day lift tickets can save you some money over the daily ticket price at the ticket window. A 3 to 5 day ticket can save you 25% to 40% over buying single day tickets. Buying tickets ahead of time can also get you a decent discount over what you will pay at the ticket office.
If the weather isn’t great they may not let you exchange your pre-purchased ticket for a different day. We were at Blue Mountain, Ontario once and it was an absolute downpour raining outside. The lifts were still running so no exchanging for a different day. We found out what it was life skiing in a downpour and experience the mountain being evacuated for a thunderstorm. In most cases they will not refund you for your unused lift tickets.
Season passes are a great way to save money over buying single day ski pass. If you plan on skiing at one mountain more than a few days during the winter, a season pass can save you money. Season passes can run anywhere from $100 to $1500 depending on the size of the resort.
Another option for saving money on lift tickets is muli-resort passes such as the Epic Pass, Ikon Pass, Mountain Collective, and Indy Pass. For a single cost, you get days (sometimes a season pass) at many ski resorts around the world. A multi-resort pass can run you from $300 to $1000 depending. There are discounts for buying it in the spring and summer for the following winter.
They have also started offering smaller day count passes such as the Epic Day Pass. These are cheaper than a full Epic Pass and give you 1 to 4 days of skiing anywhere during the winter.
Another benefit of season pass and mulit-resort pass holders is that you get to skip the ticket window line and go straight to the lifts when you arrive. With standard lift tickets, you have to go buy them in the morning before you can start skiing.
If you served in the armed forces, sometimes there is a military ticket discount.
Food and drink
Skiing is exercise and if you do it for an entire day sooner or later you’re going to need to eat and drink. This is one area where almost every ski resort is guilty of gouging its guests. There are a few exceptions that have reasonably priced food in their cafeteria. For the most part, expect to pay $15 to $20 for a lunch. If you choose to eat at the mountain bar or sit down restaurant expect it to go up from there. Packing lunch is a great option to save money. You can leave it in your car, carry it in a backpack or use a locker at the base of the mountain.
Another great trick I have heard is to bring instant noodles and grab some free hot water on the mountain if you want a hot lunch but don’t want to pay for it.
It’s not that common right now for ski resorts to charge for daytime parking. It is starting to trend at larger resorts with overcrowding or parking shortages. In the future parking will become a regular charge once resorts realize they can get more money. Check with the ski resort you are going to, to see if there is a parking charge before going.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How much does a set of skis cost?
The cheapest set of adult skis you can buy now is running about $400 for skis with bindings. If you go high end you can hit $1500 for a set of skis and another $500 for bindings. The price for a set of skis runs from $400 to $2000.
Q: Is skiing an expensive hobby?
Yes. Skiing is expensive. There really is no way around it. You can buy used equipment to help reduce the cost. You can ski at smaller local hills with cheaper season passes. Because of the equipment required and lift ticket prices, skiing will never be a really cheap hobby or sport. It’s only going to get more expensive in the future as the population of skiers and snowboarders grow but there are no new ski resorts to handle more people.
Q: How much is a decent ski setup?
A decent set of intermediate ski gear will run you about $1790. A set of mid-range skis will run about $600. Intermediate ski boots will add another $400 for ski boots. $40 for ski poles. A ski outfit including baselayers, midlayers, jacket, pants and gloves will cost you around $500. Add another $100 for a set of ski goggles and another $150 for a MIPS ski helmet. That is for decent intermediate to advanced level ski gear. Not beginner level gear that you will advance out of.
Q: Is sking more expensive than snowboarding?
Both sports cost about the same. The only real difference between the cost of skiing and the cost of snowboarding is the skis/boots/poles vs snowboard/bindings/boots. Those cost about the same after you add everything up. The outfits and lift ticket costs are the same. A decent set of intermediate level skis/boots/poles will cost around $1000. $600 for a set of skis and $400 for a set of boots. A decent set of intermediate level snowboard gear will run $950. That is $500 for a snowboard, $300 for a set of boots and $250 for bindings.
Q: How much does ski equipment cost to rent?
Ski rentals including a set of skis, boots, and poles can run anywhere from $40/day to $100/day. It is more expensive at larger more popular corporate run ski resorts. They cost less at local independent ski hills. Some ski resorts will charge an extra $10-$15/day for a helmet. Others will include it in their basic rental cost. See our guide to renting vs buying skis to learn more.
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Co-Founder & Editor
Kate is from Taiwan and came to the US after meeting her husband Doug. She has degrees in Fashion Design, Sales, and Marketing. The first thing we did her first winter here was go straight to the mountains and start ski lessons. These days she is an expert black diamond skier and waits for no one at the bottom. She also loves hiking and biking. She comes from Taiwan where people ride scooters way more than cars. She would rather bike or scooter and only drives when she absolutely has to.