What kit do I need for a skiing holiday?
The skiing season is just around the corner and as well as making sure you pay attention to getting fit for skiing now is the time to make a list of what you have and what you might need for a skiing or snowboarding holiday.
Skis and boots
What you will buy or hire might depend on your skiing level. Many beginners will hire skis and boots in the resort. There is no point investing in expensive equipment if it turns out you do’t enjoy a skiing holiday.
However, for the best comfort during a holiday a pair of your own ski or snowboard boots are a good idea. The choice is vast and fit is important, so head along to a local ski store and ask for expert advice.
Many boots can be moulded to fit your feet to give even greater comfort. When you spend hours each day in the ski bots, a comfortable fit makes all the difference.
Skis also come in all shapes and sizes and are designed to be suited to different terrains and snow levels. For example, on a powder day, a pair of wide powder skis will be the perfect thing. If it is icy, or you are planing to take up ski touring, you’ll need different types of skis. Because of all this, many people choose to hire their skis until they know what type of skiing they most enjoy.
My skis of choice are Dynastar Cham 97s. They are a bit outdated now but you can see a review here: Dynastar Cham 2.0 97 touring skis. They work well on piste and off-piste. It took me a while to work out what kind of skis I needed/wanted. Check out Dynastar for updated versions.
Ski jacket and pants
There are two types of ski jackets and pants to choose from. A lighter weight shell version (rather like a waterproof hiking jacket) or an insulated jacket. I wear both, depending on what I am doing.
For ski touring, where I am likely to get hot and sweaty I prefer several baselayers with a thinner, lighter weight breathable shell jacket on top. My favourites are Salewa, especially the Salewa Ortles range. Another good option is Norrona Lofoten jacket and trousers.
See my Salewa Ortles ski kit review, too.
If I am spending most of my time on piste, travelling uphill by gondola or chairlift, I’ll go for insulated jacket and pants. I like Salomon, for example the Salomon Ice Rocket jacket. Insulated jackets and pants are generally warmer and require fewer base layers.
Decathlon often sell a cheaper range of ski jackets and trousers.
When buying a ski jacket look for one that has a 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 pass 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.
There are different types of ski trousers, too. 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 can require a full top layer strip-off when you go to the bathroom.
The trousers should easily 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 or to go to the loo 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.
Icebreaker merino baselayers are fab, especially if you can find them on an offer.
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. I have long loved a pair of Berghaus Down gloves but they are no longer being made. Another option for cold hands is Hestra gloves. Buy Hestra at good prices on Amazon.
For the best warmth choose mittens rather than gloves.
Heated gloves, such as Sealskinz Extreme Cold Heated Gloves (see my review) are an excellent idea if you end up with cold hands while, for example, travelling on a chairlift. I know I do!
Most ski socks are designed as a long tube so as to avoid seam rubs when wearing them in ski boots. Many sock makes now add [adding and support specifically designed to suit ski and snowboard boots. Make sure the ski sock is long enough to come above a ski boot.
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 stands for Multi-directional Impact Protection System, which is a leading slip-plane technology inside the helmet designed to reduce rotational forces that can result from certain impacts.
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.
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. See my review.
Also see five exercises for skiing fitness.