A seasonal change in temperature brings a seasonal evaluation of gear: What do you need — but don’t have — for winter’s recreational powder, and what do you have that you can purge?
The Skyliners Ski Swap addresses this conundrum for the 31st time. Now at The Pavilion for the third year, the event is Mt. Bachelor Sports Education Foundation’s second-largest fundraiser after the Pole Pedal Paddle. Hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of winter gear is estimated to fill the Bend Park & Recreation District space that is occupied by ice curling, ice skating and hockey during the colder months.
“The place will be packed full of stuff,” said Molly Cogswell-Kelley, the MBSEF event director.
MBSEF, a nonprofit, collects 25 percent from each item sold.
New this year is the ski swap’s online check-in process, open until Oct. 8, which lets sellers circumvent a lot of day-of paperwork. It makes it easier to get the gear on the floor, Cogswell-Kelley said.
For many Central Oregonian snow sports enthusiasts, the ski swap ushers in the beginning of the winter season.
“People get so excited,” Cogswell-Kelley said. “It really does put everybody in the mood for winter. Last year, it was really cold during the ski swap but it was almost perfect. It made the upcoming winter season seem a little more realistic. That’s what I love about this event — everyone is just fired up about Mt. Bachelor.”
It’s also a one-stop swap where shoppers can pick up equipment and soft goods that are either new or lightly used.
Around 300 individual sellers, four local retailers and 100 volunteers make the ski swap possible, Cogswell-Kelley said.
Prices range from $5 for small items to nearly $1,000 for top-of-the-line skis.
Two large vendors from Chico, California, and Idaho will provide about 80 percent of the gear.
Local outdoor retailer Mountain Supply has participated every year since 2010.
Kevin Ganey, the store manager, said the ski swap lets the business not only liquidate inventory, particularly rental gear, but also give back to MBSEF, which specializes in youth and adult development in skiing, snowboarding and other outdoor pursuits.
“The obvious reason (for participating) is to give back to an organization that aligns with getting (people) into the outdoors and promoting an active lifestyle,” Ganey said. “It aligns with us, an outdoor shop, and what we like to promote.”
Mountain Supply unloads a range of winter gear, such as snowshoes and equipment dedicated to cross-country, alpine touring and telemark skiing. That includes skis, boots, bindings and poles.
At the ski swap, retailers mix their wares with those of other sellers big and small — there is no particular booth or section.
“There are always some diamonds in the rough if you look hard enough and have an idea about the equipment,” Ganey said. “(You’ll find) anything from nostalgic gear that would look good in the shed to some really well-priced equipment (that will) get someone started in a sport.”
Brenda Einstein, the founder and co-owner of Nevado Mountain Adventures, has sold gear at the ski swap each year since 2010.
A Bend-based outdoors marketing company that specializes in product testing, Nevado, receives gobs of new gear from manufacturers, which it runs by its team of testers.
At last year’s ski swap, Einstein moved $15,000 worth of product.
“It was a very successful (swap). I priced everything right — I mean, it was ‘priced to sell.’ I had some skis and snowboards but mostly accessories, like 80 pairs of 10 (styles) of gloves. That’s what I was really making money on. That’s why I did so well. The gloves were probably 30- to 40-percent off, and everyone can use a new pair of gloves,” she said.
Einstein brings some of the more unusual or niche items to the ski swap. This year she’s bringing four pairs of skis and two snowboards — all made of bamboo — by the now-defunct Utah manufacturer RAMP.
Einstein will also bring a fleet of telemark ski gear, including boots by Crispi, Scarpa and Garmont.
She will offer two varieties of 22 Designs telemark bindings — a design that allows for free heels — and 25 pairs of Leki poles. Einstein will also have a bunch of miscellaneous Gore-Tex jackets and some by NuDown, which are inflatable.
“They’re kinda cool,” she said. “It’s like a puffy jacket on steroids. Fill it up with air to give you warmth on the lift. When you’re telemark skiing — which is what I love to do — and you get too hot, you let the air out and you breathe in the shell.”
Among other niche products Nevado brings to the swap are portable stoves, solar-powered generators and batteries, ideal for backcountry expeditions, long days on the lift or tailgating in the Mt. Bachelor parking lot. And don’t forget about the CEP-brand compression socks, which Einstein has by the box load.
Still, it’s the ski swap’s inevitable oldies-but-goodies that Cogswell-Kelley and others hold dear.
“Vintage, one-piece ski suits are pretty great,” Cogswell-Kelley said. “The ones that are barely used from the early ’90s, late ’80s — those are my fave.”