First Time Skiers – Essential Ski Holiday Items Checklist

It can be daunting looking at a list of items that you need to buy for your skiing holiday. If you are going skiing for the first time, then the list can be a long one. Of course, if you are trying it out for the first time and have a limited budget, then you could ask a friend to borrow a jacket and ski pants but I would not go further than that. Other items can be very personal. Never ask to borrow someone else’s ski boots, you will change the shape of them in a few days. Goggles can break and you will have to replace them anyway and a ski hat or gloves, well you wouldn’t want to do that now would you?

Here is a list of the essential items which you need for your skiing holiday along with some advice on purchasing, renting or borrowing:

Skis (Including ski bindings):
Obviously an essential piece of equipment! If it’s your first ski holiday, then rent a pair in resort from a reputable ski shop. Never lie about your skiing experience to the rental employee as this could compromise your safety. They should know what type of ski suits you best and set the ski bindings according to your weight and ability. If you are looking to buy skis for the first time, then talk to a ski shop professional about your requirements. Unless you know exactly what ski you want then I would not recommend buying on-line from an ‘auction’ site. Ski technology moves on very quickly and you don’t want to be the only person with dysfunctional skis in your group.

Brand recommendation: Scott Sports

Ski Boots:
Again, this is something you can rent in resort. If you enjoy skiing and plan to continue on a regular basis then seriously consider buying ski boots. You could rent skis forever but having your own boots is a must if you go back year after year.

Brand recommendation: Lange

Ski Poles:
Some would argue they are not essential, you could technically spend your days skiing without them, but in reality they are as important as your skis. What is not really important is what they are made of or what they look like. Advanced skiers get to like a certain type of pole with a certain type of grip. Just make sure they are the right size and again they can be rented alongside your skis in resort.

Brand recommendation: Scott Sports

Ski Jacket:
An important purchase and one that can be combined with a cold weather garment back home. So splash out and get the best you can afford.

Brand recommendation: Patagonia

Ski Pants:
Unlikely you will use them back home going down to the local shops but as important a purchase as your jacket. Make sure they are fully waterproof, breathable and hard wearing.

Brand recommendation: Patagonia

Ski Socks:
There is nothing worse than freezing cold feet when you are skiing (well, there are worse things but you know what I mean). Don’t wear your rugby socks, they have patterns in that will rub all day against your leg and cause pain. Buy proper ski socks and get at least 2 pairs for a weeks ski holiday.

Brand recommendation: Thorlo

Thermal underwear:

It can be cold when you are skiing and a thermal top and bottoms will help to keep you warmer and ‘wick’ moisture away from your skin. This means when you build up sweat whilst skiing you won’t freeze as you sit still on a chairlift for 10 minutes at -12 degrees.

Brand recommendation: Icebreaker

Mid-layer garments:

A good quality fleece sweater will compliment your thermal underwear and help to regulate your temperature. Like your jacket, they can be utilised back home in the winter months, so make sure it’s a nice colour!

Brand recommendation: Mountain Hardwear

Beanie style hat:

A decent woolly hat is a must for any ski holiday. Even if you ski with a helmet you will need a hat in the evenings or maybe if you eat al fresco at lunch time. There are thousands to choose from, some are warmer than others and some are fashion items. Fleece material or merino wool are the warmest.

Brand recommendation: Arcteryx

Gloves:
One of the most important items you will buy. Spend as much as possible on them and make sure they are waterproof and well insulated. The best ski gloves are not always the ‘thickest’ ones so look around and don’t compromise, cold hands are not necessary!

Brand recommendation: Hestra

Helmet:
Is this essential? For children under 16 years of age I would say it is. For adults who can make that choice, I would say it is not. So many people ski in helmets and that’s fine, I do most of the time, especially off piste. But I skied for 20 years without one and I’m still here.

Brand recommendation: Scott Sports

Goggles:
Some people prefer skiing in sunglasses and might state that goggles are not essential. I don’t agree. When it’s snowing heavily at -15 degrees then unless you want your eyes to freeze over then I would recommend them.

Brand recommendation: Scott Sports

Sunglasses:
Even if you don’t ski in them, if you stop on a sunny day and have lunch outside you will need sunglasses. The sun can be very strong in the mountains and you need to protect your eyes with full UV lenses.

Brand recommendation: Bolle

Sun Cream:
It might be cold outside but the sun is strong and reflection off the snow adds to UV rays hitting your face. Always use high factor sun screen everyday, even if it is cloudy.

Brand recommendation: Piz Buin

Other non-essential items which you might want on your ski holiday:

Backpack:
Used to keep your mountain safety and first aid equipment including snow shovel and avalanche probe, if you are skiing off piste or maybe lunch and a spare fleece, if you prefer.

Neck scarf:
On cold days a good neck scarf can make a real difference. You can choose between cotton, fleece or silk. You can also purchase full face masks, if you so desire.

GPS/Altimeter:
A growing trend to map your days skiing can be taken by a variety of tools including wrist watches and PDA’s.

Good quality equipment can make your skiing experience more enjoyable and ultimately more cost effective. There are many other gadgets and toys which are on offer to the skier, some helpful, others just a bit of fun. If you are into ‘gear’ then skiing will be a perfect sport for you. If you just want to get on with it then you can keep it simple and un-fussy, it doesn’t have to be complicated.

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Robert Stewart

Ski Editor at Snow.Guide

Robert has extensive knowledge and experience of winter sports and has been qualified to instruct and teach Alpine Skiing for over 20 years. He is also an experienced off-piste and backcountry skier and has competed in freestyle and freeride events around the world. Now a full-time ski writer and Director of Ski Press, Robert is Snow.Guide’s Ski Editor and contributes to many other snowsports, national and lifestyle publications.

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