Note: I
focus on cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and skating in this article.

Cross-country Skis

There are
different kinds of skis, but most beginners start with what are known as
classic skis. This is what you’ll usually find for rent, too.

Then
you’ll need to choose between skis with scales (also called waxless), or skis
that require wax. This is in order to avoid sliding backwards on the snow. When
you rent, usually you’ll get waxless skis automatically – they’re easy and
ready to use.  Otherwise you will need to put wax on your skis each time, and
there is a different wax for each temperature and snow condition. Some people
enjoy the art of waxing skis, but many beginners opt for waxless skis.

You’ll
need to get skis, bindings and boots as well as poles. The bindings and boots
need to match – there are many different systems. Bindings are what attach ski
boots to the skis. When you rent, everything comes together anyway. When you
buy, it is usually cheaper to buy a full package.

As for
the size, it is a bit complicated, so it is a good idea to talk to a sales
person in a sports store and try the skis on before buying them. The boots
should feel comfortable with thick socks. The skis should generally be 25 cm
taller than you. They should be even shorter if you are very light, or a
beginner, and should be longer if you are big. Poles should come up to your
armpit.

Snowshoes

There are
many shapes and forms of snowshoes. Old-style wooden snowshoes are charming but
these days people usually get the new high tech light weight ones. The new ones
are usually lighter and easier to walk in, and have crampons on the bottom,
permitting you to go up steep hills. Big or long snowshoes are helpful if
you’re crossing deep snow, but are more tiring in general. Around Montreal,
trails are well-compacted usually, so you can often get away with a smaller,
lighter pair of snowshoes. Often when we snowshoe on steeper trails we bring
poles. You’ll need any normal winter boots that you can wear with the snowshoes
that will keep you warm and dry. Boots should come up above your ankles –
otherwise, snow will get into your shoes.

Ice Skates

There are
hockey skates, figure-skating, and ‘generic’ skates. You’ll need to decide
based on how you’d like to use them and comfort. Many people wear hockey skates
even for every day skating. Wear a thick pair of socks as extra padding. If you
are just starting, you can also bring a helmet, knee pads or wrist guards.

Places to Rent and Buy

Beaver Lake Pavilion

This is up at the top of Mount Royal. The Bus 11 drops off there. It is a convenient place to rent and you don’t need to reserve ahead of time. You can rent cross-country skis for a few hours for about $20. Bring photo ID – they’ll need to keep a piece of identification. You can also rent snowshoes or skates here. Note that there is always at least a short line-up, and on nice days, there can be long line-ups. Usually they have enough of everything, but again, on a very beautiful day, they could run out of certain sizes. www.lemontroyal.qc.ca

Elsewhere in Montreal’s Parks

You can
rent cross-country skis and snowshoes in many of Montreal’s major parks. See
here for more info: www.ville.montreal.qc.ca
and https://www.guepe.qc.ca/location-de-skis-et-raquettes-montreal/

Other Skating Rinks that Rent Skates in Montreal – Parc Lafontaine, the Old Port
skating rinks, Parc Jarry and more.

Mountain
Equipment Co-op

8989,
boulevard de l’Acadie, 514.788.5878. www.mec.ca  Also has stores in Laval and Longueil. Sells
new skis, snowshoes and skates, as well as sports clothing. Also rents skis and
snowshoes and winter camping gear.

La Poubelle du Ski

8278
St-Laurent, Near metro Jarry. Call 514-384-3582 or 514-384-1315 for opening
hours. http://www.poubelleduski.ca/  
They sell used and new skis and skates and possibly snowshoes. You can rent
skis and skates for the whole season
and then either return them or buy them minus the cost of the rental.

Dépôt du plein air

Across
the street at 8267 St-Laurent, you can also check out Dépôt du plein air, where
there is some fairly reasonably priced new outdoor sports clothing. They also
rent snowshoes, and at least in the past, you could rent for free once per
season! https://depotpleinair.com/

La Cordée

2159 Ste-Catherine E, 1-800-567-1106. www.lacordee.com Rents and sells new skis and snowshoes, as well as sports clothing. Additional location at 5190 St-Laurent (Métro Laurier). Be sure to reserve a few days IN ADVANCE. The first time you rent cross-country skis, plan on picking up your skis the day before so you have the time to try on a few different sizes of boots.

Décathlon

Several locations, including the Eaton’s Centre. https://www.decathlon.ca/en/ Sells gear for multiple outdoor activities and sports, as well as clothing. Low prices.

Renaissance Fripe-Prix

Various
locations. https://www.renaissancequebec.ca/
  Sells many old hockey skates, skis
and other second hand items. Winter coats, scarves etc.

Other
second hand stores sell winter gear, including Salvation Army, Value Village,
Le Chaînon and more.

Kijiji, Craig’s List, Les Pac

You can find used snowshoes and skis/boots for $30 and up, skates for $15 and up. www.kijiji.ca http://montreal.en.craigslist.ca http://www.lespac.com/

McGill
Outdoors Club

3480 McTavish Street. http://www.mcgilloutdoorsclub.ca/services/gear All sorts of gear for rent, very inexpensive, for members. It’s about $30 to become a member for the year.

Cégep Édouard Montpetit

Located at
945, chemin de Chambly in Longueil. https://www.cegepmontpetit.ca/centre-sportif/services/boutique-location-plein-air  Rents cross-country skis, backcountry skis,
snowshoes, winter camping gear and more.

Parcours
Gouin

10905 rue Basile-Routhier near metro Henri-Bourassa. https://parcoursgouin.ca/location-et-pret/ Lends snowshoes for free, and rents cross-country skis.

During
certain events, parks may lend gear for free in Montreal, including Frédéric
Back Park, and Le Grand Sud-Ouest. www.ville.montreal.qc.ca

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