Skiing: What kit do I need?
If you are thinking about taking your first ski lesson or booking a skiing holiday, you will also need some help choosing your first items of clothing and equipment.
Most people will hire skis and boots from the ski lesson company or when they arrive at a ski resort. Until you are sure you like the sport, there is no point in buying the latest skis and ski boots. Once you are sure, there is a vast rnage of ski boots and skis to choose form according to ability and snow conditions.
But a set of warm and comfortable ski clothes, as well as a range of accessories, is a worthwhile investment at the outset.
You can either choose a layering option, where you wear a baselayer, or two, followed by a mid-layer jacket and then an outer shell, or a single jacket option.
The layering option is more versatile and allows you to put layers on and off according to the weather. Make sure that at least one jacket has a pocket where you can keep your ski pass. Most ski resorts now have electronic ski pass recognition to allow you on to the slopes, so a pass should be left in a sleeve or chest pocket. A pas left in a trouser pocket can often be too low to activate the electronic system.
Another feature to look out for is a snow skirt. This is usually an elasticated section of fabric inserted at the lower interior part of the jacket and is meant to stop snow rising up your back if you fall while travelling on your skis.
The single jacket option will be less versatile but if you buy a specific skiing jacket it will have more features/details that suit the sport, including a sleeve pocket for your ski pass, a snow skirt, removable hood, cuff and thumb loops (this is a great idea as it means you will not end up with a gap at the wrist where you could feel the cold air.)
A jacket that sits between the two is a three-in-one. This comprises two jackets that zip together. It has versatility because you can wear one or the other as well as warmth when worn together. A 3-in-1 ski jacket will include many sport specific features.
Again there are different types of ski trousers. Sallopettes are the traditional dungaree style skiing trousers. They are great for keeping the midriff warm and are held up by braces. Be aware that braces require a full top layer strip off when you go to the bathroom.
Ski trousers can come with braces. Because they are held up by elastic braces they generally offer a better level of warmth at the waist area. However, most ski trousers, even without braces, have a system that ensures you can tighten them around the hips/waist so they stay up.
The trousers should fit over ski boots and a pair with zip access at the ankle and snow skirts are the best choice.
Choose baselayers that allow sweat to wick through the fabric so that when you stop for refreshments you do not end up cold from the damp. Merino wool, or other natural products, are usually better insulators than synthetics although some people, like me, find they are a bit itchy against the skin.
Synthetics are nicer against the skin but they do end up smelling of dry sweat, while merino tends to be whiff-free for longer.
Wear several baselayers on top of each other for increased warmth. Multiple baselayers create heat between each other for better insulation.
A thick pair of ski gloves can be combined with a thinner glove to provide good warmth. Choose mittens for warmer hands, rather than fingered gloves.
Most ski socks are designed as a long tube so as to avoid seam rubs when wearing them in ski boots. Make sure the ski sock is long enough to come above a ski boot.
Again, natural wool, rather than synthetics tend to be warmer and less whiffy.
Most skiers and snowboarders wear a helmet these days. In some countries, a helmet is a legal requirement. Look out for ski helmets with MIPS, which is a newer and more scientific internal protection system for the head.
Helmets should fit neatly but not be too tight. There are plenty of choices of brands and designs. Alternatively, you could buy a plain helmet and add helmet stickers
Whether it’s sunny, snowy, overcast or bright, a pair of ski goggles is vital for skiing. They keep the sun and wind out of your eyes and help you to see where you are going on the white stuff.
Choose by fit first and then colours and designs. Most ski helmets have an attachment for keeping ski goggles in place when wearing them.
These are warm boots for when you are getting to and from the place where you will put on your skis and ski boots. If you know it’s going to be cold and snowy, snow boots are a great investment. My favourites are Sorel snow boots.
On-line store Outdoor Supply has a vast range of ski clothing and equipment. One of the best I’ve seen actually.