So you’ve made the brilliant decision to visit the powder capital of the world, and amidst the excitement of booking airfares, deciding whether to visit Kyoto, and practicing your chopstick skills, the question of rentals comes up.
There’s nothing like your own gear, but lugging a board bag around can be frustrating to say the least, especially if you are sightseeing. To make it easier for all you punters out there, I’ve put together this little list comparing the advantages of renting and ‘lugging’.
Try something new
This is your chance to try out a Gentemstick, or perhaps a longer set of skis. The world of renting has changed since last time I visited (2007, Whistler, an unwaxed plank that was just made to catch edges). Rental fleets are up-to-the-minute and boast quality stock. Rhythm Snowsports, for example, offer the latest Burton boards, with a range of shapes that I’m dying to try, like the Flying V hybrid camber. They also stock Stepchild and Endeavour, two brands I am less familiar with and as a result, equally eager to try. Larry Adler actually offers next season’s powder skis for rental, an impressive accomplishment.
Change it up
Don’t worry about being stuck with something you can’t get a feel for; ski rentals around town are very good about letting you change between equipment. In fact, The Vale Snowsports (aka Niseko Sports and Hanazono 308 Rentals) will let you change between skis and snowboards, if you decide you’d like to cross to the dark side, and this is the case for most Niseko rental shops.
Even a board bag on wheels is a pain in the backside when you’re making a train change in Otaru, especially if you’ve been stung by excess baggage fees.
Plus, if you aren’t lucky enough to be staying slope side, you’ll probably have to walk to the chairlifts, and even a five-minute walk in full ski regalia can be a nightmare on slippery roads. Fear not! Larry Adler, The Vale Snowsports, .Base Rentals, and Hirafu Gondola Rentals, as well as NBS Rentals and Hanazono 308 are all right by the hill, and these guys will happily store your equipment for you overnight.
There’s no place like home
That’s what your feet are singing as you slip them into the haven of your own boots. Of all rental gear I think boots are the hardest to get used to, so pack your own even if you decide to leave the stick at home.
Plus, you want to be in prime condition to tackle Niseko’s powder jungle, so if you are worried about the time it will take to adjust to a new ride then drag that bag!
Most airfares are forgiving when it comes to ski/board bags; for example, Jetstar will include them as regular luggage if they are within the weight limit. If you’re not paying for excess baggage and you’re not forking out for rentals, you are looking at a pretty significant saving.
If you have prearranged your lift ticket, and you have your own gear, there is nothing to stop you getting straight up the hill as soon as you’ve arrived! Rental shops can be crazy in the busy periods, so sauntering past with your own skis could be a very satisfying experience.
Well, there it is, and I would love to hear about your own experiences with renting in Niseko, especially if you’ve sampled the Feelgood Flying V. See you on the slopes, snow friends, I’ll be interested to see if your ride is sporting that little rental sticker!