Updated July 2nd, 2023
Are you afraid of your skis being stolen? You should be. Skis and snowboards are stolen every winter at ski resorts across the US and Canada. If you ski long enough and don’t do anything to prevent theft, sooner or later you’ll come out from a break and your skis will be gone. Keep reading to learn how to lock skis and other ways to prevent your skis from being stolen
Skis and Snowboards get stolen
My first experience with ski theft occurred when my dad left our families skis on the ski rack of our car overnight at a hotel in upstate New York on the way home from Killington. We came out in the morning to discover that ski racks can be easily and quickly opened with a crowbar. All 4 sets of skis were gone.
My second experience with ski theft came a few years later at Killington, VT. I went in for a warmup break with my sister who didn’t want to wait while we used the locks our parents gave us. Sure as shit, I came out and my 5 days of skiing old K2 Extremes had gone skiing on their own without me.
That was about 30 years ago. In the years since then, I’ve used a lock every time I leave my skis and they have always been there when I returned.
Lots of people around doesn’t keep your skis from being stolen
Last year at Canyons/Park City, we arrived on a massive snow dump morning. The gondola out of Canyons base was on wind hold the first few hours. The gondola line was winding all the way through the village. We got in line and waited over 2 hours after the lifts started spinning.
The group in line behind us thought they were being really clever and left their gear on a ski rack right by the gondola figuring they could grab them right before getting on and not have to carry them through the long line. 2 hours later they got to the front of the gondola line, their skis and snowboards were nowhere to be found.
People in a large crowd don’t know which skis belong to which people. Someone could walk up and take your skis a minute after you set them down and most people nearby wouldn’t know the difference. They aren’t paying attention to who set the skis down or who picked them up.
How to lock skis and other ways to keep skis from being stolen
There are many methods for preventing ski and snowboard theft. Here are a few of the most popular.
Use a ski lock.
This has so far been 100% effective for me in the 30 years I’ve been using one. Most of these are a small retracing cable lock.
I have heard the argument that they could be easily cut. They probably could be. My thoughts are that most ski thieves are looking to grab and go. 99.9999% of skis sitting in the racks around yours aren’t locked. If you’re a thief, why bother spending time to cut a cable when there are so many other options out there to grab and go without the hassle of cutting a cable.
Look here for the best ski locks available this winter.
Universal Cable Ski and Snowboard Lock
Currently, I use a Dakine Cool Lock. There are several companies selling the same lock under different names. These have a 36-inch cable which is long enough to go around most ski racks. In most cases, the cable is long enough to reach around 2 pairs of skis. It doesn’t weigh that much. It easily fits in any pocket on your ski jacket. One lives in my ski jacket all the time and never comes out except for use.
- Featuring a 3/32 inch (Dia) x 3 feet (L) retractable cable, thicker than most other cable locks
- Adjustable vinyl coated steel cable to lock and tighten around items
- 4-digit set-your-own 10,000-combination at your convenience
- Push-button retraction for easy cable recoiling
- Ideal for securing skis, bikes, buggies, stroller and other items together or to a secure fixture
A lot of modern ski racks at resorts have become taller or other ways more awkward to get a cable around the rack and your ski bindings. This isn’t a great trend. I’ve found that oftentimes you need to place your skis on the end of the rack to get them close enough for the cable to reach around the binding and some part of the rack.
Dakine also makes the Dakine Micro Lock. I do not recommend this. I have one. The cable is only 30 inches. It is difficult to use on a lot of ski racks. Don’t even bother trying to lock 2 pairs of skis with it. 36 inch is the minimum length the cable can be and the lock is still useful.
Rack Specific Ski and Snowboard Locks – Ski and Snowboard-Fat Ski Lock
There are ski racks designed to work with certain locks. One system is the Ski and Snowboard-Fat Ski Lock. These work great. They are dependent on the ski resort your skiing at having compatible ski racks. They aren’t at many ski resorts. A cable lock will work on most racks anywhere.
Mismatching Ski Swap
This method involves pairing up with a buddy and you trade a ski and ski pole. You each take your half of the set to a different place on the racks, preferably far apart and not close enough to be easily found. I first learned this while in a ski school group at Whistler BC.
This method works great for groups. It relies on the theory again that ski thieves are looking to quickly grab and go. They aren’t interested in being noticed. They aren’t interested in spending time looking for the other halves of a pair of skis when again, 99.9999% of skis are sitting there ripe for the taking.
Have someone stand and watch them
If your skiing with a group and just running in for a quick bathroom stop, have someone designated to stand and watch them. If you’re in a large group, it usually takes long enough for everyone to go that one guy can wait for another guy to finish and then go in. They probably still won’t be the last person back out.
Use a Ski Check
Some ski resorts have complimentary ski checks at some of their lodges. All you need to use these is a couple dollars to tip the workers. Your skis will be nice and secure in what is usually a little gated area. I think way more ski resorts should offer this service.
Sit where you can watch your gear from a window
A lot of people believe in this method. I’m not a huge fan. You only have to turn away for a minute when your skis go for a walk and they are gone. While eating and chit-chatting you’re probably aren’t paying that much attention. With the grab and go method of ski thieves it only takes a second for someone to walk by and pick up as they go.
Don’t leave your skis on a car rack overnight
If you use a car rack, spend a few minutes and take your skis into your hotel room for the night. Ski racks are very easily broken into. We have used a carrier box for the past few years now. Perspective thieves can’t see what is inside a cargo box. They don’t know if there is any reward to the risk of spending time breaking into it. I have several friends who use cargo boxes. None of them have had anyone break into it yet. I’m sure it’s happened somewhere. Most thieves are looking for a quick grab and go and want a sure thing.
Record your serial numbers and any other identifying marks on your skis/snowboard
Way back when at Killington when my skis went skiing without me. My mom saw someone the next day with identical skis and bindings to what I had and told the ski patrol. The ski patrol asked if she had the serial number or any other way to identify them as my skis. She did not. The ski patrol stopped there and couldn’t do anything. My stolen skis might have been recovered that day if she had.
Write down your serial numbers and any other thing special about your skis. A photo of the ski binding combination is a good idea. My wife and I both have Shaggy’s Skis with custom graphics that have our names on them.
You might also like:
- The Best Ski Locks Helpful Guide
- Do You Need To Wax New Skis Before You Ski On Them?
- The Best Type Of Ski For Intermediate Skiers
Co-Founder & Chief Editor
I grew up back east in Pennsylvania and learned to ski on a family trip to Killington, Vermont when I was 6. I immediately fell in love with the mountains and outdoors and have been skiing across the US and Canada ever since. I went to school for Mechanical Engineering, and have a Master’s Degree in Material Science and Reliability.
I am a total gear nerd and love learning how things work and thinking about how they could be improved. Nothing excites me more than trying out new gear. I’d rather spend 3 hours taking my bike apart and learning how to change something than go to a bike shop. These days I reside in Michigan by the Great Lakes and go skiing, biking, and boating as much as possible.