Top Ski Essentials
For outdoor enthusiasts, snowsports holidays have all the ingredients for a perfect escape – stunning scenery, glistening slopes and fresh mountain air. The most important thing is to dress for it. You can plan your chalet, resort and activities down to a tee but if you neglect to research the right ski gear, your snowy dream could turn into a nightmare.
Seasoned ski bums and green run first-timers all share the same essential kit list. Don’t miss a thing with Ski Club’s head to toe guide on dressing for the elements.
1. Ski Helmet
Whether you're a total beginner or seasoned pro, helmets are an important addition to your skiing gear. There's been a huge surge in the popularity of helmets, and for good reason – protecting your brain is a priority!
Helmets can range from around £20 to £500, depending on the protection and features they offer. But no matter how much you pay for a helmet, it won't protect you if it doesn't fit. When worn, a helmet should fit snugly without digging in and shouldn't move when you shake your head. When buying a helmet for your child, never buy a bigger size for them to grow into as you will compromise their protection.
We recommend having your ski helmet professionally fitted for free at our Snow+Rock stores.
2. Ski Goggles
Clear pistes are best viewed through a protective lens which will stop snow, ice and sun affecting your vision. You can beat snow glare, flat light and changing weather conditions with lenses specifically designed for your surroundings, and most leading goggle brands now offer interchangeable lenses. To protect your forehead, there shouldn't be a gap in between your helmet and goggles.
Top tip: It's a good idea to take your helmet along when buying goggles to make sure you get a comfortable fit when worn together.
3. Ski Jacket
It’s easy to base a jacket choice on style alone, but as your biggest barrier to the cold it must firstly be wind and water-resistant. To maintain a comfortable temperature no matter what the conditions, choose a jacket with zip vents and good breathability, so that you don’t over-heat or let the cold in. Vents shouldn’t be the only zip-able feature on your chosen jacket, zip pockets are essential for keeping your valuables safe when you're on the slopes.
Whilst some jackets will have built in synthetic or down insulation for added warmth, it is not uncommon for outer jackets to act as just a barrier to keep the elements out, often referred to as a ‘shell’. So you may want to layer up with an insulated jacket underneath.
4. Thermal Base Layer
To keep comfortable in plummeting temperatures, a thermal base layer is a must. Your base layer will help wick away moisture from your body to help you stay dry all day long.
Merino wool is a highly breathable fabric which is perfect for this purpose as it retains insulation even when wet. But in our opinion, the best thing about merino is that it doesn’t get smelly. Whilst synthetic base layers perform well, they can get a little on the pongy side after a few days use. Merino’s antibacterial threads mean that you can wear the fabric for your whole holiday without the fear of stinking out the gondola come day three!
When your goggles come off at lunch or après you may be dazzled by the light and your eyes can get sunburned causing snow-blindness – a temporary loss of vision due to overexposure to the sun's UV rays. Aim to block 100% of UVA, UVB, UVC and harmful blue light with a good pair of sunglasses. If you prefer to use glasses over goggles with a helmet, make sure you take your helmet along when purchasing. Using helmets with googles will also require you to keep your face topped up with sun cream to avoid some embarrassing tan lines!
6. Ski Socks
A great day skiing can easily be cut short by cold feet, and you can avoid that disaster by investing in some good quality ski socks made from either synthetic material or wool. A common misconception is that two pairs may keep you warmer, but this generally leads to discomfort and reduced circulation. A good pair will provide warmth, comfort and moisture wicking properties to ensure that nothing stops you on the slopes.
7. Wicking Underwear
It may be hard to tear yourself away from the comfort of cotton but we promise wicking underwear is the key to staying comfortable all day. Not only does it dry faster than cotton-based garments, it also draws perspiration away from the skin, leaving you feeling fresh and ready to go.
8. Mid-layers / Fleeces
The mid-layer is the main item of clothing that traps in that vital body heat that’s so precious up in the mountains. Mid-layers range from tight-fitting, synthetic fleeces to more free-flowing hoodies and down inner jackets. As well as your base layer, this layer needs to be breathable to ensure the thermal efficiency for this garment doesn’t cause any unwanted moisture buildup.
Mid-layers are usually the item most on show at après too, so bear that in mind if you’re hoping to draw the crowds by cutting some shapes on the tables on holiday!
Just like your jacket, ski pants (or salopettes) must withstand the elements, so whether you like them baggy or tight they should have quality insulation, zipped ventilation and decent waterproofing. Zip pockets will keep ski passes in one place.
Whether you are skiing or snowboarding choose a pair of pants that fit while still allowing free movement. Try multiple sets on in-store to find the right salopettes for your body shape.
A good backpack can be the difference between skiing all day and making frequent stops to refuel or gather extra kit. On the mountains it's all about balance, you need enough space to carry all your stuff, without having a bulky pack that effects your balance or prevents you from using some ski lifts safely.
Opting for a backpack with different compartments will help you keep your valuables safe and prevent any snacks you're carrying from getting squashed. You should also look out for a combination of shoulder, chest and waist straps, which will help improve security and provide a comfortable fit.
11. Beanie Hats
Beanies can be critical in keeping your body warm in low temperatures, especially in the mountains. As soon as your head gets cold, the rest of your body will quickly follow suit, so it is worth making sure that you take decent quality headgear on your trip. As soon as your helmet comes off, your hat should go on whether that’s at après, walking around the resort or sitting outside at lunchtime. So, make it a good one!
Top tip: It's a little known fact that a bobble on the top of your hat will help you retain 12% more heat!
12. Waterproof Gloves Or Mittens
Ever tried holding a ski pole with frozen hands? We can assure you it’s not easy or pleasant! Make sure your handwear is up to scratch – waterproof construction with insulation technology is a must. Separate thermal inners are always a good save if you need that extra bit of warmth in your fingertips.
13. Neck Warmer
A neck warmer (or buff) is a fun and versatile addition to your ski outfit. Alongside the obvious function of keeping your neck warm, product features to look out for are quick drying fabrics and breathability. The beauty of neck warmers is how adaptable they are: you can wear them as a hood, scarf, bandana, balaclava, headband – the options are endless!
This skiing equipment is essential if you ski off-piste at all. They transmit an electronic signal when skiing and should someone wearing one get caught in an avalanche then the others in the group switch theirs to receive to help locate them. A probe and shovel complete the trio, so make sure you're carry these too when heading into the backcountry.
Ski Club of Great Britain
For more useful ski tips head to the Ski Club’s Info & Advice section on their website.
The Ski Club of Great Britain is a not for profit organisation that provides its members with a range of benefits and services including discounts, insurance, snow reporting, holidays and on snow leading and guiding. Find out more about how you could benefit from joining the Club here. Cotswold Outdoor customers can save 25% off Ski Club membership, when using code COTS1415 at skiclub.co.uk
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