Should I Rent or Buy Snowshoes?

For many beginner snowshoers, there is a sticker shock upon seeing the cost of a new pair of snowshoes. Buying appropriate snowshoe equipment is an investment, but how do you know if you want to commit to the sport if you are a beginner snowshoer and have never even hit the trail?

Fortunately, there are many ways to rent snowshoes to test out different brands and sizes before you commit to purchasing your own pair. However, depending on your circumstances, you might be ready to buy your snowshoes right away. If not, consider these tips if you are unsure whether to buy or rent snowshoes.

Buy or Rent Showshoes?

Cost Considerations

Renting a pair of snowshoes is almost always going to be cheaper than buying new equipment. For example, an REI member can rent a basic pair of snowshoes for $18 for one day, and each additional consecutive day costs only $5 more. Contrast that with the MSR Revo Explore Snowshoes, which retail brand new for $229.95. Keep in mind that there are a range in prices for snowshoe rentals and purchases depending on the specific product and retailer.

When deciding whether to rent or buy, one tip is to calculate the “break-even” point of how many times it would take to recoup the purchase price. For example, if it costs an average of twenty dollars to rent snowshoes, and the cost to buy the same set of snowshoes is two hundred dollars, then it would take ten snowshoe outings to break even. 

Using the pricing data of the REI rental snowshoes vs. the MSR Revo Explore, the break-even point is roughly thirteen days, assuming that snowshoes were rented on non-consecutive days. This means that from a cost perspective, it would take thirteen days of use from purchasing snowshoes for the purchase price to outweigh the cost of renting. Hypothetically, if you were to rent the snowshoes for one consecutive period, that break-even point would jump to forty-three days!

To help estimate the break even point, start by making a realistic estimate of how many snowshoe trips you plan to make in a season. Beginners should be realistic with this assumption and consider factors such as their access to snowshoe trails, climate, and availability.

For many enthusiasts of the sport, it is quite easy to manage thirteen days in a single season. Also, consider buying a used pair of snowshoes to keep the costs manageable. Finally, keep in mind that if you buy your own snowshoes, you can continue using them for multiple seasons. Modern snowshoes are durable and should last many years!

Flexibility Considerations

Buying a pair of snowshoes means that you have complete ownership of your equipment, for better or worse. When the first snowstorm of the season hits, you can strap on your snowshoes and enjoy winter from your own backyard without having to wait for a rental shop to open. Many recreational snowshoers love the freedom of being able to snowshoe whenever they want – and if conditions allow!

However, owning your own equipment also means that you have an entire set of questions to worry about. For example, you must account for storing your snowshoes, maintaining and repairing damaged equipment, and transporting them. 

If you don’t live in an area with much snow and are planning to fly to a winter destination, have you even considered whether you can bring snowshoes on a flight? If you are visiting a new area, it might be easier to rent out snowshoes for sake of simplicity.

Interest and Enjoyment Considerations

One of the most difficult considerations to take into account for beginners is how much they will actually enjoy the sport. Not only is it unknown how many times you’ll get out snowshoeing, but you also don’t know whether a certain snowshoe fits the needs for the type of snowshoeing that you’ll enjoy.

You might already know that you want to own your personal set of snowshoes, but renting once or twice can allow you to test out some of the best products on the market and make sure that they are comfortable and up to the task for your winter hiking adventures.

The last thing you want to do is end up having a brand new set of snowshoes collecting dust in the garage, so be sure to brush up on how to buy the best pair of snowshoes for your needs.

At the end of the day, any option that will get you on the trail and expose you to the magic of snowshoeing is a good option. To help the decision, we’ve outlined some pros and cons of renting versus buying snowshoes.

Pros of Renting Snowshoes

Great way to “test the waters” for cheap

Ability to test out different equipment and types of snowshoes

Don’t have to worry about maintaining or storing equipment

No commitment to become a frequent/”expert” snowshoer

Cons of Renting Snowshoes

Subject to availability of physical storefront locations

Too expensive for frequent or longtime snowshoers

Pros of Buying Snowshoes

Flexibility to snowshoe anywhere and anytime there is snow

Saves the most money for frequent snowshoers

Snowshoe adjustments tailored to your specific shoes

Cons of Buying SNOWSHOES

Large upfront purchase required

Takes up storage space

Repair / maintenance might be required