Despite all weather reports to the contrary, ski and snowshoe season has arrived full-swing into the consciousness of many Alaskan parents, and our little email account has been abuzz with requests for rental resources. Where do we find the proper gear? How much will this cost us? Season, or weekly rental? Here are a few places to start.
If you are looking to slowly integrate your growing children into the wonderful world of snow sports, renting is a great way to feel everybody out. Besides accurately gauging a child’s interest in a particular sport, renting also allows parents to defer the enormous cost of gear for kids who will likely grow out of said stuff within a year. Speaking from personal experience as both kid and parent, hand-me-downs or rentals may not be the ultimate in cool, but at least they represent a sport without investing in a second mortgage. Alaska’s largest city is fortunate to have a number of options available for visitors and/or residents to get out in the snow; it just depends on a parent’s preference.
REI in Anchorage is a great outlet for Nordic ski and snowshoe rental. No longer renting alpine skis (I’m still wringing my hands about this), REI nonetheless provides many residents of Anchorage and environs with quality classic, backcountry, or skate skis for a rather reasonable charge. At $17/day or $50/week, adults can be confident that the boards they strap upon their feet are waxed, checked, and perfect for outdoor adventuring. Kids’ skis rent for a mere $10/day $35/week, a great idea if Junior Nordic classes are in your future this year, or for a longer ski vacation. On the snowshoe shelf, gear can be borrowed for $15/day or $50/week, kids’ $8/day or $28/week. REI can even assist a family in securing the proper sizes and styles and sometimes staff will mention their fav spots around town. Find their web site HERE, or call 907-272-4565 to check on availability. Once snow falls the stampede begins, especially around the holiday season, so calling ahead sometimes avoids a disappointment at the counter, located in the back of the store near Customer Service.
Looking for alpine gear? Of course each developed ski area in town offers rentals; Alyeska and Hilltop riding the top of the heap. Visit their web sites for current rental pricing and age/time/variability specifics. Hilltop, located a mere 10 minutes from downtown Anchorage, is a lower-cost alternative to pricier, further-away Alyeska, but with less terrain for the hotdoggers. Alyeska Resort, 45 miles south of Anchorage, is the biggest and flashiest opportunity for alpine skiing and snowboarding, with prices to prove it, but one cannot beat their top-notch rental shop and knowledgable staff.
Another alternative to ski area renting is to visit any area Sports Authority store. With two in Anchorage (Dimond/Old Seward and Tikahtnu Commons), customers can rent by the day for around $20, and weekly for around $100. Junior dailies begin at $15/day. Juniors can also rent for the season at a rate of $109/new gear, $89.99 for previously used (meaning a few dings may be visible, but hey, these are kids. Just check for big rips on the bottom). Each rental package adds a small fee ($3-$7, depending on package) to each transaction for insurance against breakage, but even so, it is still a nice way to try out new gear or resurrect an old sport.
Sports Authority also rents snowshoes at a rate of around $10/day, $25/week for adults, and either Tubbs or SnowPaw snowshoes at a rate of $29.99 or $24.99, respectively, for kids.
It’s a marshmallow world out there, and kids as young as three can begin exploring their wintery world via skis or snowshoes. Play games, march around, and become comfortable experiencing one of our favorite ways to see Alaska.