How Long Do Skis Last? (Plus When To Replace Them!)

If you’re thinking about buying a pair of new skis then you may find yourself wondering how long do skis last? It’s not like they’re cheap sticks you can replace every year or so!

Of course, I look for other things, too, but durability is essential to me. Even if you’re not a serious skier, it’s probably important to you, also. 

Skis last for 100 to 200 days of use on average. Their frequency of use, terrain that they’re primarily used on, and attention to basic maintenance all play a factor in determining how long a pair of skis will last.

With that basic answer in mind, let’s take a deeper look at how these different factors influence how long skis last.

What Makes Skis Wear Out?

Technically, skis don’t wear out the way that the phrase might make us think.

Depending on what materials they use in their manufacturing and how often you have maintenance done, they can last quite a while!

Reason #1 – Regular Use and Ski Terrain

Just like everything, regular use eventually wears skis out. Snow is abrasive, particularly on icy slopes. Snow and ice scratch up your bases and edges to the point where it’s almost acting like a nail file. 

But if you’re always skiing backcountry trails or otherwise being rough on your skis, they’ll wear out much more quickly than if you stick to groomed, vanilla slopes.

Also, wooden cores start breaking down and foam cores begin to collapse, which causes your skis to lose the stiffness you need for maximum control.

The springs and other mechanisms of your bindings loosen and, even with tuning, eventually stop holding your boots securely to the skis.

Reason #2 – Lack of Use

Not using your skis often can cause them to wear out, too!

Only skiing a couple of times per year could lead to the epoxy drying out faster. Additionally, if you’re not using them frequently then there’s a good chance that you’re also ignoring basic maintenance and upkeep for your skis!

Just like your vehicle, a little use and a tune up and every now and then is critical to maximizing their life!

Reason #3 – Ignoring Regular Maintenance

Not performing proper maintenance can accelerate that declining process process as the snow wears your bases and edges down. You can maintain your skis yourself, but taking them into a ski shop for maintenance involves more than most people want to do at home.

Ski shops generally have tools for sharpening the edges, stripping all the wax off the bases, and smoothing them down. They also tune your bindings so they continue to hold your boots properly. 

When you use poorly maintained skis, you put wear and tear upon existing, unaddressed wear and tear, and things spiral downhill from there.

How to Tell When It’s Time to Replace Your Skis

Simply getting worn out isn’t the only reason to consider replacing your skis!

Ski technology moves at a fast pace, and what was top-of-the-line even five years ago may be so obsolete today that you have an increasingly difficult time finding places that will perform maintenance and repairs on your skis.

Bindings

Perhaps one of the most significant signs that you need to replace your skis is not whether they’re worn out, but rather how old your bindings are and whether you’ve remounted them.

Depending on how your skis feel and whether you need them moved, you can remount your existing bindings, moving them slightly forward or slightly backward. Doing so can help compensate for reduced floatation in powder, improve your control, or otherwise improve your performance. 

However, you need to have the holes for your binding mounts at least eight millimeters away from the previous spots, and you shouldn’t remount them more than three times. 

Once you’ve reached that point, you need new skis with new bindings because your current skis’ structure is too compromised and no longer safe. 

Not to mention that ski shops have a list of bindings they won’t service anymore. When that’s the case, your bindings may become unsafe and require replacement. 

That could also mean you need new boots since new bindings may not fit your old boots. However, if it’s time to replace your skis, you can use it as a reason to replace your boots, too.

In fact, buying new skis and boots together is best because the shop can custom fit your equipment. 

Breakage

If you notice anything that appears broken, you need to replace your skis. Skis use layers of material and the epoxy holding those layers eventually starts coming apart.

If you notice that your skis seem to be “peeling,” the epoxy is bad, and it’s time for new ones.

Also, if your edges are cracked or broken, or if the bases are so worn down you’re starting to see your skis’ cores through them, you need new skis.

Camber

If your skis have no more camber in them, or if you notice they don’t seem to flex and snap back the way they used to, the core is probably wearing out. You can still use them for a while, but they’ll only get worse.

The camber, or arch, of your skis is what allows you to snap from turn to turn. When you start losing that, you lose that ability, and making turns gets harder.

Eventually, your skis will feel incredibly wobbly and like you can’t go as fast as you’d like. 

Tips for Extending the Life of Your Skis

The good news is that you can extend the life of your skis without sacrificing time on the slopes or spending more money on skis than you’d like. 

Tip #1 – Wax Them!

If you wax your skis every five to ten uses, you reduce the friction between the snow and your skis. You also reduce the amount of water that sticks to them, plus the wax can act as a protective layer between the snow’s abrasiveness and the bases of your skis.

Tip #2 – Dry Them Thoroughly

After you’ve finished skiing for the day, make sure you dry your skis off.

Many of us, myself included, develop a bad habit of simply wiping the snow off and then putting them away. But we really should be taking a soft towel and actually drying them.

That prevents water from causing premature damage.

Tip #3 – Store Them Upright

When you aren’t skiing, whether it’s the off-season or you’re just between sessions, you should store your skis upright in a dry place with the tips pointing toward the ceiling.

Doing so prevents warping and damage to the tips. It also helps maintain your skis’ camber because they aren’t fighting gravity all of the time!

Tip #4 – Take Your Skis to the Shop

The most important reason for going to a shop is to get the edges sharpened. You can sharpen the edges of your skis yourself, but it’s better to leave that up to the professionals. They have the proper tools and training to do it safely and correctly. 

You can also get your bindings tuned at the shop so they continue to grip your boots properly. That, too, is something you can do at home, and it’s easier than sharpening the edges of your skis. However, if they’re going to be at the shop anyway, it’s not a bad idea to get them professionally tuned.

Finally, the shop can smooth the bases and put a fresh layer of melt-wax on them. If you do all this at the end of the season, your skis will be good to go as soon as the new ski season begins. 

Final Thoughts

It’s hard to part with a pair of skis. They become a part of you, seeing you through many various triumphs and difficulties on the slopes. But you will eventually need new skis. 

You should always be aware of signs that your skis are wearing out so you know when to replace them. That way, you can keep having fun on the hills without the problems that come with old skis.

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