Not all custom skis and snowboards are created equal. In fact, the term “custom” can often mean a range of characteristics and practices. It is therefore essential to know what you want out of a custom build experience, so do your research before contacting a shop or putting any money on the table; a business’s definition of “custom” may mean something significantly different from your conceptualization.
Some companies might advertise superficial “custom” services; that is, they will design and provide custom graphics. This side of the spectrum is responsible for many crossed-wires and some disappointment. On the other side, a custom ski or snowboard will be built to suit your profile. The builders take into consideration a range of measurements and preferences—from your riding style to your favorite or preferred material. The process can be very complex and complicated, leading to the necessity of understanding important terminology (see our terminology and “What to Look For” pages). Luckily, those considering purchasing custom skis are likely familiar with the more technical aspects of the sport.
Though not very common, some companies will draw customers by advertising custom services with the intent of only providing a personalized design. Most custom builders are small companies with very transparent policies, but—with so much money on the line—it is necessary to cover your bases. There are several tell-tale signs that you might be scammed. The most important: the lack of a physical consultation. It is impossible to design custom skis and snowboards without taking essential measurements, such as your height, weight, foot size, camber preference, and riding ability.
Furthermore, it is impossible to have a full custom ski or snowboard experience without an in-person visit. If a shop wants to conduct the consultation online, it might spell bad news. If anything, be sure to get a builder or the shop owner on the phone before consenting to an online consultation.