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Why wouldn't one want to use old, knackered gear for learning?

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Suppose I'm a cheapskate, and want to learn to snowboard (say) without paying for kit hire. Would it damage the experience of taking lessons as a complete beginner to borrow or buy someone's knackered, almost but not quite bin-ready snowboard to learn on? What happens to their performance when they wear out; would it matter to beginners?

I'm assuming that there is no actual damage that makes the board unsafe.

Invert the question to involve skis and ski bindings if it makes any difference to the answer - I am aware of the lifespan and inherent safety risks of using worn-out ski bindings, so let's assume there's enough life in the bindings that they are not unsafe.

Also assume that you can get the right size - obviously using kit that's the wrong size for you will be a poor-to-terrible experience.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
as long as the bases and edges are well maintained, I see no issue. I'm not quite sure why there would be one.
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
I don't know snowboards so can't help

But obviously with skis there are the caveats that the skis need to be suited to you - an 'expert' ski will likely need good technique in order to turn it, so as a beginner you might be doing everything right and still travelling in a straight line whilst those around you successfully turn; despite you doing the same thing, just because their skis are more bendy and easier to turn. Blunt edges would also make you go sideways a bit more and affect turn initiation so again you might be fooled into thinking it's you at fault, when it's actually the skis.

Basically, nothing wrong with using old gear but make sure it's not so bad that it leads you into making no progress as a learner whilst those around you on newer hire skis progress.
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A little while ago I was due to teach a couple of private lessons at The Snow Centre at Hemel and forgot to take my ski boots with me. No problem, I thought, I'll just grab a pair of rental boots and I'll be fine. Within 15 minutes of skiing in them I was on the phone to my girlfriend begging her to drive to Hemel with my boots as I couldn't face skiing in the rental boots any more. The one thought which dominated the experience was "how the hell does anyone learn to ski in these things?". I like a snug boot, but nowhere near race department levels of tight fit, and understand that someone new to skiing wouldn't need something quite so precise fitting. But I was staggered by how much my foot moved around inside the rental boot (which was about the right size for me). Now I appreciate that I'll be a bit more sensitive to how my gear performs than a skier who is new to the sport, but even so it was a shocking experience for me. I'd strongly urge beginners not to use any old, knackered boots, no matter how much money they save (apologies this is ski-related, but I'd guess the same applies for boarding boots?).

As for skis, I'd echo the comments about making sure their edges are well serviced regardless of the age, and to a certain extent the overall condition of the ski. And don't get anything too wide underfoot or too stiff as that will make acquiring good skills harder than it needs to be (again, apologies this is not board-related, but I'd guess the same applies in terms of not getting anything too niche, no matter how cheap you can get a board).
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
@rob@rar, at Braehead I had to down 3 sizes from normal to get any sense of fit. Utterly appalling.
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under a new name wrote:
@rob@rar, at Braehead I had to down 3 sizes from normal to get any sense of fit. Utterly appalling.
I went down one size and thought they were about the right length for me. But everything about the boot, including how soft the flex was, the apparent lateral 'give', the spongy liners, the short cuff, etc all worked to give me a massive feeling of disconnect from the skis. After a few turns on the first run I did stop because I thought I hadn't clicked in to the bindings properly.
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
rob@rar wrote:
A little while ago I was due to teach a couple of private lessons at The Snow Centre at Hemel and forgot to take my ski boots with me. No problem, I thought, I'll just grab a pair of rental boots and I'll be fine. Within 15 minutes of skiing in them I was on the phone to my girlfriend begging her to drive to Hemel with my boots as I couldn't face skiing in the rental boots any more. The one thought which dominated the experience was "how the hell does anyone learn to ski in these things?". I like a snug boot, but nowhere near race department levels of tight fit, and understand that someone new to skiing wouldn't need something quite so precise fitting. But I was staggered by how much my foot moved around inside the rental boot (which was about the right size for me). Now I appreciate that I'll be a bit more sensitive to how my gear performs than a skier who is new to the sport, but even so it was a shocking experience for me. I'd strongly urge beginners not to use any old, knackered boots, no matter how much money they save (apologies this is ski-related, but I'd guess the same applies for boarding boots?).

As for skis, I'd echo the comments about making sure their edges are well serviced regardless of the age, and to a certain extent the overall condition of the ski. And don't get anything too wide underfoot or too stiff as that will make acquiring good skills harder than it needs to be (again, apologies this is not board-related, but I'd guess the same applies in terms of not getting anything too niche, no matter how cheap you can get a board).


Ditto. I'm a size 8 in shoes/boots. First time in the Chillfactore I had to wear size 10 to find anything that was even close to being bearable to wear, and even then they still crippled me. After only my second time there, I bought my own boots, had them heat moulded and had custom insoles made. Best thing I ever did.
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
For boarding not much risk - in fact an average used board may be better than the stock rental planks many places. Plenty of low 150ish freestyle flex boards that are probably ok for learning on.

Used boots maybe a bit more sensitive - sb boots can pack out really quickly but as they are essentially big trainers fit is a bit less problematic than ski boots.
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You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
Where are you planning to learn?

If it’s an indoor snow centre you should get the rental gear included in the price of your lesson? So it’s doesn’t cost any more money.

If your going to learn at a resort then you can get package deals with lessons, rental kit and lift passes really cheap. Check out Andorra with tour operators like Crystal ski, Neilson etc.

If you buy your own kit you have to pay to take it on the flight. It’s £37 each way on EasyJet. You can rent kit for a week for less. Plus you will have to buy a Ski/ Board bag for the flight as well.
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If you are learning in the UK then domes and dryslopes include equipment rental in lift ticket or lesson prices. If going to Europe you'll have to pay for transport, so I don't think you get a saving
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@rob@rar, yeah, my takeaway was that I couldn't understand how people could begin to learn in them. Shocking really.
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And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
There is a benefit to having your own consistent and tuned gear even as a beginner. Main problem for a snowboard is if the camber is completely trashed (of course may have been designed as a rocker board which probably makes life easier as a beginner at the expense of not being able to get the feeling of a really powerful heel side tuen (IME anyway).

If you buy a board that has been used for the odd holiday chances are that it will be almost mint. If you buy a snowdome/dryslope/jib monkey board it is to have been quite trashed.
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So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
Your instructor is probably the best guide. One told me I needed new boots! And one told me I needed shorter skis - they were both right! And in another context a flute teacher told me I needed a better flute because my failure to hit the high notes was partly down to the flute. She played it, and it sounded fantastic to me - but that's because she had vastly superior technique.
ski holidays     
 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
Similar to rob's experience I once drove from Munich to St. Anton only to discover I had left my boots sitting outside my front door in Munich! No problem I thought, I'll hire some... One of the worst days skiing I've ever had ensued. Terrible. Never again!
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Well... it depends.

I'd not go that way though, because:
  • You don't know what's totally useless and unsuitable.
  • You'd have to pay to carry (bag, airline charges) and prep your gear, which means rentals are likely cheaper.
  • Rentals are more flexible... if you don't like the one you have, swap it out.

Whatever, the most important thing is to have a board which you feel you can ride well on, whatever that means for you. What ought to happen is that you'll start with short floppy boards because they're easiest to manoeuvre without technique, then as you improve and get quicker you'd look for something which is more stable at speed, albeit requiring more skill to drive.
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
If you want to snowboard on old gear you run 3 risks.

Slow, unwaxed gear sounds like it'll be easier; less easy to lose control right? But it's actually much harder - you want everything to slide nice and evenly and not be 'grabby'.

A lot of old snowboards were a lot too stiff and are very hard to steer using pedalling. They need a lot of energy putting in to get anything out of them - not easy on your first day.

Finally, a lot of old gear will be very badly matched up. I did a board swap with someone who was covering lessons using a rental setup once, because I wanted to ride the rental board. In his ultra-soft rental boots he couldn't flex my mid-stiff setup at all, and did the sketchiest run I've ever seen, just rocking from edge to edge and skidding. Same guy, same boots, but back on the rental board and bindings and he was riding fine - everything was flexing soft and that worked.

Personally, I wouldn't ever look to use/buy anything utterly ancient, other than as a novelty. Just not worth it - stuff moves on.

Finally, disagree somewhat about starting on short, floppy boards being easiest. I've had a lot more success teaching on boards the right length or even slightly too long. Anyone on something short for their height isn't going to have much material to balance on and a shorter board brings the feet together on most rental setups, resulting in people riding too high without suspension.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
I started on a borrowed board, bindings and boots and purchased clothing/helmet/goggles that cost just over £100 total; this was only 8 years ago.

In hindsight the board was wrong (full camber, stiff and too small) and the boots leaked but the kit was ok for a couple of seasons. I now have 5 boards and goggles that, even with 40% off, cost more than all my original kit!

My recommendation would be to learn on a flat based board, most are medium flex. I progressed so much faster once I started riding one. I don't like rocker or hybrids but after several years on flat boards I'm now back on full camber.

Get some decent boots and find a board and bindings on ebay. Decathlon/TK Maxx/Sports Direct for the rest of the kit.
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
@86tomw, Nothing wrong with old gear in servicable condition.
As an aside - what size boots are you? Got a second hand pair of Vans Encores with the Boa system which I've got going spare... No leaks, good enough condition and comfortable as anything - traded up to something stiffer a few years ago and they've been gathering dust. Free to a good home + postage or collect if you're near S.London.
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@AdamNotts, oh come on. If snowboarding was that hard, it would be called “skiing”
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
under a new name wrote:
@rob@rar, at Braehead I had to down 3 sizes from normal to get any sense of fit. Utterly appalling.


Given where you live, I find the idea of you even bothering to ski in Braehead quite amusing. I hope you didn't just fly to Glasgow for a ski holiday.
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