BA is working in Breck which is just over the pass from Vail. He might be able to hook you up. Another option is to try Breeze or Larson Ski and Sport in the Denver area. Breeze has several locations, the Dumont/Downeyville location being the easiest. It's right off of 70 on the way to Vail. Larson is also right off of 70 on Kipling and is also an easy stop. It's also in the Metro area. There are a couple of places in Idaho Springs that also rent gear. Can't think of the names right now.
To be honest though, the rental doesn't sound horribly overpriced either.
As killclimbz said, that rental quote isn't bad at all, $31 a day is pretty good. I know people who have gotten rental gear $25 for one day but that was a at a Christie Sports in Littleton. I imagine what you were quoted is the norm for any rental shop located near the resorts.
Not surprised by the number of trails. We have to get some seriously heavy snowfall for Vail to open with much more. You have to keep in mind that Vails base area is at 8k ft I believe. Most Summit County areas are over 9k and some are at 10k ft. Lower elevation means warmer temps. Not a big deal once winter gets going in earnest, but at the book ends the higher elevation resorts have an advantage.