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» Mountaineering boots Unless you’re planning seven or more alpine ascents, the $50/week rental is a bargain versus the $380 price tag. On the fence? Check with rental companies; they often sell used gear at deep discounts; one rental shop quoted us $79 for a pair.
» Expedition/winter tent Burly, weatherproof four-season tents are too heavy to carry in moderate conditions and can cost upwards of $500. Renting is smart ($79/week at lowergear.com) unless you snow camp more than once a year.
» Crampons Spiky points add safety to any snowy trek, and if you need them four times, rental fees exceed the cost of buying a pair like Kahtoola’s KTS aluminim ($149; 1 lb. 3 oz.; kahtoola.com).
» Harness You can buy a bomber adjustable model for $50, about the cost of renting one twice. Plus, the peace of mind you’ll get from knowing the history of your life-and-death safety device is priceless. (The same goes for ropes, carabiners, etc.)