So you’ve decided to take the plunge (not literally, we hope), and head to the fluffy white mountains of Banff or the alps for a skiing holiday, but have absolutely no idea what you need to take with you to
survive enjoy your trip. Fear not, we’ve compiled the ultimate beginner ski gear guide...so you don’t look like THAT kid who forgot to pack their underwear for after swimming class.
Be sure to read to the bottom of our post as the last essential on our list is one of the most important, but rarely mentioned.
“Skiing combines outdoor fun with knocking down trees with your face.”Dave Barry
Chapped lips while skiing is real. Like, we don’t care how big, hairy or brave you might be, chapped lips will get you and they SUCK, big time. That bitter mountain air mixed with harsh wind and direct sun requires a chapstick that’s a little more robust than your average drugstore lip balm. Lip balm suitable for skiing requires not only a high SPF to protect from sunburn but also dedicated wind protection to protect from windburn.
Just like chapped lips are real, serious sunburn while skiing is also super real. Many people think because it’s cold they can’t get sunburnt, but this couldn’t be any further from the truth. As such, taking sun cream on your skiing trip is as essential as your lip balm.
Our favorite product to protect and repair against sun and wind is the Après Ski Balm.
What makes Après Ski Balm SO great is that it’s basically a face sunscreen and lip balm in one pack. It can be applied to your face and ears as well as your lips. So, not only will it save you from returning home with those unmistakable raccoon eyes, it will save you precious space in your suitcase too. Win-win.
Base layers are a must-have for any beginner skier. They might sound kinda boring or unnecessary but what base layers do is highly important for your comfort and enjoyment on your first ski trip.
Most base layers don’t really provide thermal insulation as many people think, what they actually do is stay dry no matter how wet you get from sweat or from your clothing on top of the base layers getting wet. This means you naturally stay warmer as the layer touching your skin remains dry. This is obviously highly important when you’re exerting intense energy followed by rest in freezing temperatures.
Good baselayers for skiing are usually made from merino wool. Merino wool is the perfect base layer material as it is soft, light, breathable and antibacterial.
We always recommend you purchase a long sleeve base layer and long john style leggings as a minimum.
Ski mittens are obviously essential if you want to come home with your fingers. You might be tempted to buy ski gloves but in the most polite way possible, DON’T. No glove can come close to the thermal insulation provided by mittens. We also recommend a pair of touch screen compatible glove liners to wear underneath the mittens in case you want to take off the mittens to use your phone or have a drink without exposing your hands to the bare cold.
Our favorite ski mittens are by Tough Outdoors - you won't have to worry about cold, numb fingers if you’re wearing these. They're cheap and come in sizes from xs-xl, so they are perfect for both men and women.
If being warm is a big deal to you (like it is to us), then the warmest ski mittens you’ll find are a pair of rechargeable heated ski mittens, which are also made from sheep leather just to add that extra warmth.
Ski goggles serve two primary uses:
It’s important to know that sunglasses are not adequate for protecting your eyes when skiing, and you shouldn’t compromise on this just because you probably already own a pair of sunglasses.
OutdoorMaster offers some of the best ski goggles at a budget price. The OutdoorMaster OTG ski goggles, for instance, have universal ski helmet compatibility, 100% UV protection and anti-fog lenses for under $20. The absolute major feature of these, however, is that they are OTG (over-the-glasses) - allowing you to wear your glasses underneath the ski goggles if you need to wear prescription lens glasses.
These ski goggles are also perfect if you have a small face as they are suitable for both adults and teens.
A good ski jacket needs to fulfill many duties besides keeping you warm and protecting you from the wind and snow. It must also allow enough room for you to be able to move freely whilst wearing extra layers underneath. Many generic snow/winter jackets are far too restrictive for intense physical activities such as skiing or when numerous under layers are worn underneath. As such, it’s important to pick a suitable and dedicated ski jacket for your trip.
Our favorite ski jackets are made by Columbia. The quality, durability, comfort, and value for money cannot be beaten in our eyes, despite being on the pricier side. The jacket will no doubt last you years, even with heavy use if you decide to go skiing on a regular basis.
Ski pants mainly provide wind and water protection as opposed to warmth, though many these days do come with fleece lining to add an element of warmth to them. However, their main priority is to create a ‘shell’ over the top of your base layers. As such, it’s important that they are relatively stretchy and elastic to allow for easy movement while wearing under layers. Over recent years, ski pants have become a little more fashionable than they used to be, and you no longer need to wear those frumpy looking trousers that weigh you down.
A fleece is needed to provide an extra hit of thermal insulation over the top of your base layer and underneath your ski jacket. Our favorite brands for fleeces for skiing are by Columbia and North Face. They’re durable (think years), warm and comfy.
The best women's fleece for skiing is the Columbia Benton Springs Fleece.
Ski socks, like mittens, are an essential part of enjoying your skiing trip. Your fingers and toes, being that they are extremities, means they get cold quicker and easier than other parts of your body. Ski socks need to keep your feet and toes warm but not make them sweat. For a week’s skiing trip we would recommend at least two pairs. The WEIERYA ski socks come in packs of two pairs and in multiple colors.
Or if you fancy something a bit funkier, Smartwool has a great range of stylish ski socks.
Essential to keep the chill off your neck and chest. Whilst zipping up your ski jacket will give some protection from the wind and cold, a neck gaiter will ensure no wind can travel down your jacket when your skiing.
Kind of a self-explanatory entry, but one many forget about nonetheless. Being on the snow means your clothes get WET and having your phone in your pocket is likely not going to end well. So, if you want to take your phone out with you it’s best to purchase either a waterproof phone bag (universal fit and is usually cheap) or a designated waterproof phone case for your phone model, like this waterproof phone case for the iPhone 7/8.
This is one we’re surprised we haven’t seen mentioned on any other list of essentials for skiing. Especially for beginners who may not have experienced high altitudes before and as such may not even be aware that altitude sickness is a thing. Altitude sickness can be debilitating and ruin your whole skiing experience if you don’t have anything to help prevent or curb the symptoms.
We recommend taking a medicine such as Acli-Mate altitude and energy aid to prevent altitude sickness if you’re resort has a base area above 5000 feet. You need to start drinking it three days before arriving at your destination to avoid feeling any form of acute mountain sickness from day one of your trip, and then 3 times daily whilst on your trip to keep it at bay.
Acli-Mate is our favorite brand and has never failed to treat or prevent altitude sickness for us. It’s also vegan, gluten and nut-free.
And that's the end of our list of 11 skiing essentials for beginners. Not too bad, right?
Is there anything you think we've missed that you can't go skiing without?
Let us know in the comments below!