If you’re new to a sport, finding out what to wear can be intimidating. Going skiing for the first time is no different. After all, everyone up on the mountain already looks like they know what they’re doing, and no one wants to look like they don’t know anything.
This is a simple guide to helping you find out how to dress for the slopes, without having to spend a ton of money. If you follow these easy suggestions, you’ll be warm, dry, and you can focus on learning to stay upright.
A Quick Checklist
First, we’ll start with a quick list you can read down. This will help you refer back to when you’re shopping. Also, if you’re trying to save a few bucks, you can also take this list to your closet and see if maybe you already own some of this.
Lastly, when you’re heading up to the mountain, keep this list handy to make sure you got everything into the car. Trust us, there’s nothing more frustrating than getting all the way to the ski resort and realizing your waterproof ski pants aren’t in the car.
Something you’ll notice about this list is that it calls for layers. This has two reasons. The first, it’s because each layer does something distinct. Long underwear can help keep you dry from sweat, the middle layer helps keep you warm, and the ski pants and jacket themselves are primarily to keep you dry from the snow. The second reason for layers is to help you take some off or add more, depending on whether you’re getting too hot or if you’re still cold.
Here’s the list:
- Long underwear
- Fleece, wool, or good cotton layer
- Ski Jacket and Ski Pants
- Gaiter or balaclava
You can use your discretion when choosing these items. If you’re skiing in warmer, Spring-like conditions, and you have a sturdy jacket, you may want to skip the fleece outer layer or wool sweater. If you are naturally a very warm person, you may not want to wear long underwear underneath your pants. Comfort can be as important as anything else when it comes to safety. That’s because if you’re distracted by how hot or how cold you are, you won’t be focused enough on the actual slope in front of you.
This is all about comfort. There are new materials that will wick moisture, which is important—skiing is hard work, and you will sweat. So find something that balances keeping you warm with keeping you dry. If you decide to buy top-of-the-line ski pants, you may not need the long underwear for your lower half.
Fleece/Wool Upper Body Layer
An upper body layer is important because some ski jackets are intentionally designed to be thin and breathable. Their main focus is to be waterproof. So you may need to provide the layers for your warmth. Find something comfortable, that you can move in. Again, if you’re skiing in warmer weather, you may want to skip either the long underwear or the outer layer, depending on which is more comfortable for you.
You’ll want good, thick socks. Even if you run hot, as a person, go thick. For starters, ski boots can be quite uncomfortable. A thick sock can make all the difference in foot comfort, and you’ll be on your feet all day. Also, a thick sock helps find a boot that fits best for safety. It will help you find a boot that’s big enough to allow proper blood circulation, but also fits snug enough that your foot can manipulate the ski boot, and thus the ski.
Ski Jacket and Pants
When it comes to good pants and a jacket, you really shouldn’t skimp. We’re not saying you need to go for the most expensive, by any means. But don’t trust just any waterproof jacket or pants. Ski equipment is made for three important functions: waterproofing, breathability, and mobility. When you pick up a ski jacket, you’ll notice how much extra material is around the waist, armpits, and wrists. You’ll want pants and a jacket that fit you well, that you can move around in, and that has options for adjusting the fit on the go.
Like the pants and jacket, ski gloves need to be waterproof but also provide you with ease of movement. You’ll need to do nearly everything with your hands inside the gloves that you do with them outside the gloves. Waterproof here is key. If your hands get wet, one trip down the slopes could be enough to freeze them.
Gaiter or Balaclava
Scarves used to be the call, here, but you don’t want a scarf to get caught on something and pull at your neck. A gaiter provides neck warmth, and you can pull it up over your face and nose for added warmth. A balaclava, or ski mask, provides even more protection.
UV protection for your eyes? Absolutely. Ski goggles protect you from wind and moisture, but they’re also polarized to protect your eyes from UV rays. While snow doesn’t reflect much heat, the water molecules do refract and reflect UV rays, which is what makes the slopes so bright. Serious eye damage can occur if you’re not protected. Goggles are better than sunglasses because they won’t come off if you fall, they won’t whip off in the wind, and they provide full eye protection.
A relatively new addition to many skiers outfits, helmets are becoming more and more common. Not only do they offer protection from tree branches or rocks buried just beneath the snow, but the snow itself can be an incredibly hard surface to impact with your head. Not least of all, helmets keep you warm. Very warm.
Boots and Skis
You might find it difficult to go skiing without them. Finding the right boots and skis is an article or two all by themselves. Right now, we mention them to let you know that you should spend serious time with a qualified person finding the exact right fit of boot and ski for your comfort, safety, and success.
Dressed for Success
Keep the checklist with you. It’ll help you raid your bedroom for existing clothes, it’ll help when you go shopping, and unless you intend to drive out to the mountain fully decked out, it’ll help you get ready on the slopes.
Whatever you decide to wear, make sure you’re warm and waterproofed. Then look at comfort and moisture wicking. And above all, stay safe.