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Should you rent or BYO snowboard to Japan?

Posted: 4 December 2019 2:15 pm
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Find out what's better bang for your buck when going overseas.

If you own a snowboard or skis, then you might be wondering whether or not it's worth bringing your own gear or hiring once you're on the slopes of another country.

Curious and heading to Hakuba soon myself over Christmas, I decided to dig into the costs and weigh up the potential savings against the hassle of bringing my own snowboard.

About my trip

  • 2 weeks in Japan.
  • No domestic flights, just a train between Tokyo and Hakuba.
  • Three airlines in my round trip: Qantas, Cathay Pacific and Jetstar.
  • 5 days of snowboarding.

Key learnings

  • Your airline's sports gear policy will affect the cost of BYO gear among other factors.
  • Bringing your own gear makes sense if you are staying for an extended period of time.

Cost comparison: Bringing your own snow gear vs rental snow gear

From a cost perspective, it makes sense to bring my own gear. However, this won't always be the case for you.

Cost if I hire everything (Source: Rhythm Gear Hakuba)Cost if I bring snowboard and bootsCost if I just bring my snowboard
$256 - $330 (from standard - premium gear)$122$189.62

Prices correct as of 1 December 2019.

Cost-wise, it makes sense for me to bring my own snowboard and boots. In many other cases however, you might actually save money hiring gear at the mountain:

What affects cost?

There are a few factors that will impact how much it'll cost to bring your own gear.

Airline baggage policy

The first factor is your airline's baggage policy. Typically, 'full service' airlines will include a checked baggage allowance. Depending on the airline, the checked baggage may also cater for sports equipment.

In my case, my departure flights (Qantas and Cathay Pacific) include both of those. However, my return flight (Jetstar) requires an additional purchase to cover both checked baggage and extra space for sports equipment.

AirlineQantasCathayJetstar
Check baggage included in flight?YesYesNo
Cost to add baggage$0$0$87 (15kg)

$97 (20kg)

Baggage rules
  • Weight included in baggage allowance is 30kg
  • Weight included in baggage allowance is 30kg
  • Weight included in baggage allowance is 30kg (Max single item is 32kg)
  • Max length for an item is 1 metre.
Cost to add extra lengthN/AN/A$25
Total cost to add snow gear:$0$0$122
More info

As you can imagine, if I were to travel all three flights with Jetstar then I'd pay upwards of $300. At this point a standard board and boot rental package at Hakuba ($256) is cheaper and for just $30 more I can hire premium boards for $330.

How much luggage you are bringing

How much luggage you have matters. If I was already bringing 15kg of clothes and camera equipment, then my board would exceed my luggage allowance on my departure flights.

Your trip

If I was getting a bunch of domestic flights or if my snow trip was part of a wider Asia holiday then I'd need need to factor in the additional baggage costs too.

Where do you plan to rent your gear from?

For my trip I'd rent from Rhythm just because of convenience and choice of boards. If you can get a cheaper rental (for example, from a smaller independent rental company or if your Airbnb offers complimentary boards) then you could pay less for board hire.

How many days are you on the slopes?

The more days you ski, the more expensive renting becomes. If you are considering a one month stay at the resort then it's definitely worth considering bringing your board as my rental expenses would go from $330 to $738.56 (that's the price of a new board).

Verdict: Rent or hire?

For my trip, cost- wise, it makes total sense to bring my board… but I'm going to rent. The hassle of carrying a board around and the ability to try various boards for different days is enough for me to rent instead.

Pros and cons of renting

ProsCons
Selection of boards for different mountains.Can work out more expensive if you are on the mountain for an extended period.
More convenient if you are travelling to heaps of places.
Makes more sense if you're airline does not include sports equipment.

Pros and cons of bringing your own gear

ProsCons
Can be cheaper if your airline includes sports equipment.Not convenient if doing a bunch of travelling e.g. won't fix in some taxis.
Can be cheaper if your stays are on the slopes are extended.Can work out more expensive if you're flying with a budget airline.
If you love your board then this is a good choice.Potential damage by baggage handlers.

Picture: GettyImages

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