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Epic or Ikon Pass — Which One Should I Get?

January 14, 2021

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Winter isn't coming—it's here, and winter resorts are in full action. So why haven't you hit the slopes? Or maybe you have. But enough? Really enough? Most likely not. And that's probably because you don’t have a multi-use lift pass that puts you in fresh powder on the world's most majestic mountains.

But which pass should you get? Between the two top contenders, Ikon and Epic, there are varying levels, benefits, prices, and different resorts across the globe. It's a lot to choose from and it can feel overwhelming. So let's unpack the plans to figure out which one is best for you.

Ikon Pass Overview

With the Ikon Pass, you get access to more than 40 destinations worldwide. The Ikon Pass gives you unlimited riding and skiing at over a dozen destinations in North America, including Big Bear and Mammoth Mountain in California, and Colorado's Winter Park. You also get up to seven days on the slopes at legendary winter resorts including Zermatt, Switzerland, Niseko United, Japan, and Mount Buller in Australia.

Ikon also has a Base Pass that gives you access to over 40 destinations around the globe with some blackout dates. Over a dozen of the Base Pass destinations offer unlimited riding and skiing. More than two dozen of them each offer five days on the slopes. For shorter trips, Ikon has a Session Pass that gives you four days each at more than two dozen destinations.

Epic Pass Overview

A full Epic Pass gives you unlimited access, with no blackout dates, to nearly 40 resorts, mostly in North America, plus a few in Australia. You also have limited access, from five to seven days, at resorts around the world, including Hakuba in the Japanese Alps, and over 20 (yes, more than 20) destinations in Europe that include Italy's Skirama Dolomiti, Les 3 Vallees in France, and 4 Vallées in Switzerland. Or you could choose an Epic Local Pass that gives you unlimited riding and skiing at over two dozen resorts.

Local or Global Ski Resorts?

If you’re after globe-trotting, Epic has the edge. If you live in—or wish to go to—Southern California, Oregon, or Montana, you may lean toward Ikon as the pass offers more destinations in and around those areas. Ikon also has a stronger presence at winter resorts in the Northeastern United States. With one big exception. If you want to hit Vermont's crown jewel of Stowe, Epic is your best bet.

Ikon Pass Price Versus Epic Ski Pass

With so many options and deals, pricing varies. And we're looking at commonly found prices of the last round of sold-out passes, as the upcoming 2021/2022 passes aren't yet for sale. In general, Ikon and Epic are priced competitively:

A standard Epic Pass, discounts aside, should cost you $1,099 for those age 13 and up, and $529 for kids from age five to 12. Kids four and under ski for free. An Epic Local Pass will usually run $749 for adults, $599 for ages 13 to 18, and $389 for kids ages five to 12. Day passes start as low as $93 a day.

Again, discounts and promotions notwithstanding, with Ikon Passes you can expect to pay: $1,149 for adults, $779 for ages 13 to 22, and $479 for kids ages five to 12. Ikon Base Passes generally cost $839 for adults, $679 for ages 13 to 22, and $449 for kids ages five to 12. And Ikon Session Passes commonly cost $429 for adults, $359 for ages 13 to 22, and $259 for kids ages five to 12.

Epic Day Pass for Short Trips

If you're planning a getaway from one to a few days, Epic is your best option, as you can often save about half the price of a regular full-day lift ticket using an Epic Day Pass. And you don't have to limit yourself to one day with Epic’s four to seven-day passes that you can use in top spots like Idaho's Sun Valley, Utah's Snowbasin, and Telluride in Colorado.

Perks That Could Influence Your Choice

Epic offers some sweet Ski-with-a-Friend tickets, allowing you to get lift tickets at big discounts for your pals who aren't pass-holders. The EpicMix app has some awesome features such as interactive trail maps and trip trackers. Plus, in addition to discounts on lodging, dining, and more, the Epic Pass Club offers deals on warm-weather activities such as summer gondola rides to hiking trails.

Like Epic, Ikon lets you get lift tickets for friends and family at discounted rates, along with food and beverage discounts at some establishments. The Ikon Pass can connect to your credit card, handy for making on-mountain purchases. And the Ikon Pass comes with a one-year membership to the nonprofit Protect Our Winters.

Have you decided? Well then grab your board, wax your skis, gather the squad and pack your gear! Whether you choose Ikon Pass destinations or Epic Pass resorts, the decision to pick up a multi-use ticket is one you won’t likely regret.

Written by William McCleary for Knockaround.

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