How to Ship Skis and Snowboards

Learn how to package skis and snowboards for shipment and which major carrier will offer the most affordable rates
how to ship skis and snowboards
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As any fan of winter sports knows, sometimes it’s not so easy to lug around your skis or your snowboard when taking a trip to the slopes. Checking them onto the plane can be nerve-racking when you fly, and trying to take a road trip with several sets of skis or boards can be a pain. If you find yourself wondering how to get your equipment to the mountain, you should consider one other option: ship them! This guide is all about how to ship skis and snowboards, which carrier’s service to use for the most affordable rates, how to package them properly, and how to save the most money doing it. Let’s strap in and start shredding!

Table of Contents

Skis and Snowboards are Considered Irregular Packages

When taking into account the height, width, and length of skis and snowboards, they’re relatively large objects. Most packages come in the form of handheld boxes, and by that standard, shipping carriers consider skis and snowboards to be irregular-shaped items. Irregular items like these require big boxes to send them in…and generally speaking, UPS is the premier carrier for shipping larger boxes.

UPS offers similar services as FedEx does (such as emergency next-day, two-day, and ground service). However, their prices are much lower. Contrary to popular belief, UPS also wins out over the US Postal Service in terms of affordability…and we’re about to get into why.

Why UPS May Be Cheaper than USPS

UPS often beats USPS for sending larger, lighter boxes because of surcharges that USPS imposes on packages that exceed certain size thresholds. For shipments over a certain size, USPS imposes non-standard fees on all of its domestic services if packages meet certain size thresholds. Below is a breakdown of each of those non-standard fees from USPS, and the thresholds at which they kick in.

For USPS Ground Advantage Shipments

  • $4 if any length of your package exceeds 22 inches but is less than 30 inches
  • $8.40 if any length of your package exceeds 30 inches
  • $18 for packages greater than 2 cubic feet in volume
  • $1.50 for missing or incorrect dimensions that result in any of the above non-standard surcharges; think of this like an “overdraft” fee that USPS charges for imposing any of these non-standard fees

For Priority Mail & Priority Mail Express Shipments

  • $4 if any length of your package exceeds 22 inches but is less than 30 inches
  • $18 if any length of your package exceeds 30 inches
  • $30 for packages greater than 2 cubic feet in volume
  • $1.50 for missing or incorrect dimensions that result in any of the above non-standard surcharges

Since most boxes containing skis and snowboards are well over 30 inches in length, you can expect to face these non-standard fees with USPS every time you try to ship winter sports gear.

UPS Ground is the Cheapest Way to Send Packages Containing Skis or Snowboards

Out of all the services UPS offers, UPS Ground will far and away be the most affordable way to ship skis and snowboards. UPS has consistently lowered the price of Ground service in recent years specifically to be more competitive with USPS. The difference is, UPS Ground service is faster than the Postal Service’s comparable service. Delivery timeframes for UPS ground packages typically run between 1-5 business days, while USPS Ground Advantage features an estimated delivery timeframe of 2-5 business days. When the cost to ship is lower due to USPS non-standard fees and the delivery timeframe is faster, UPS Ground is often the better choice.

Learn more about UPS Ground versus USPS Ground.

UPS Imposes Additional Handling Surcharges Instead of Non-Standard Fees

Unlike USPS, UPS doesn’t impose any non-standard fees for larger shipments. However, keep in mind that they do impose an Additional Handling surcharge for shipments where the longest side of the package exceeds 48 inches. This surcharge typically runs somewhere around $11…but because UPS ground has become so affordable, the price still beats USPS in many cases even with this surcharge tacked onto the cost of your label.

Package Your Skis and Snowboards in Large, Custom-Fitted Boxes

Packaging is critical to shipping skis and snowboards the proper way. The good news is that these items are highly durable and are meant to be put under a lot of stress and pressure. So, you won’t need to worry about using any kind of packing material to protect them. The only key, really, is to find boxes that are long enough to fit the length of your skis and/or snowboard, but not wide enough so that they’ll move around a lot during transit.

If you’re looking for brand-new boxes that fit skis and snowboards, you probably won’t find them at your local Target or Home Depot. Fortunately, ULINE sells tall corrugated boxes that are perfect for skis. They also even sell snowboard boxes that should fit any standard board!

Note: Don’t package your boots in the same box! Boots won’t fit inside custom-fitted boxes for skis and boards, anyway, so you’ll need to ship them separately. Any square box should do the trick for those.

Offset Surcharges on UPS Labels with Online Shipping Software

Even though you’ll run into surcharges with UPS, you’ll be able to offset these added costs by purchasing discounted UPS postage through online shipping software.

When you buy postage with online shipping software, you get access to special levels of discounts that carriers such as UPS typically only grant to commercial shippers who send more than 50,000 packages each year. For UPS, that level of pricing comes as part of the Digital Access Program. In some cases, these discounts save you up to 76% on the cost of shipping the same box at your local UPS Store!

When it comes to sending oversized boxes like packages containing skis and snowboards, locking in those discounts will allow you to keep the most money possible in your pocket.

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