What to wear skiing

What to Wear Skiing: A Packing Guide

Whether it’s your first trip or your millionth, it’s always good to have a list and a plan for what you should be taking, renting, or buying. We’ve listed out all the skiing and snowboarding essentials, including what to wear skiing and boarding and what to wear for your après-ski sessions.

Skiing & Snowboarding Clothing and Gear: What Do I Need to Bring?

Skis, Snowboards, Boots, and Poles

If this is your very first time don’t buy a pair of skis, a snowboard, boots, or poles. All resorts will offer gear rental, often with a huge range of different brands, sizes, and styles. Equipment is usually in top condition and rental stores perform routine safety checks and hygiene cleans on all their gear.

Gear rental is usually quite decent, and stores tend to get competitive with prices. If you want something fancier, you can ask the rental shop about the different gear they supply.

On the packing list? We’d advise against it. If you’re going do it, we recommend a lot of online and in store research to find gear that suits and fits you. Remember, you’ll have to pay an additional charge each way to fly your gear to the resort too.

Ski Jacket and Salopettes, or Snowboard Jacket and Pants

Yes, there is a difference between ski gear and snowboard gear. Technically you can use either for both sports, but, really, each item is designed for a particular use. Snowboard pants tend to be looser than ski salopettes. The same goes with snowboard jackets. That aside, you can typically rent your ski and snowboard jackets and trousers from a rental shop.

On the packing list? Up to you. If you’re convinced this first trip won’t be your last, you could splash out on your own jackets and pants. Investing in good quality, comfortable gear is important, so have a cheeky google and then go visit a snow sports store to try stuff on.

Base Layers

‘Thermals’ as they used to be called, are the first layers of clothing to touch your skin. Originally designed to keep your body warm, base layers have gone a step further and are now designed to regulate your body temperature by keeping your body dry. Smart materials wick away sweat and moisture from the skin, allowing the material and skin to breathe. Base layers don’t actually have any thermal material, instead the focus is on keeping skin dry. Damp clothes cool your skin and put you at risk of catching a chill when you take a break from skiing or boarding.

Base layers start from as little as £20 and are well-worth the investment. A decent base layer can last five to 10 years if cared for properly.

On the packing list? Absolutely. Pick out a long-sleeve top, full-length leggings, and technical undies if you can.

Sports Underwear

An important part of your base layer is your underwear. Technical boxers are designed to keep things dry and comfortable and are available for men and women. For anyone requiring a bra, choose a sports bra over a typical bra. No matter what your cup size, a sports bra that is soft, supportive, and wicks away moisture is a game changer halfway down a slope.

On the packing list? 100% yes. Invest in your undies.

Mid Layers

A good base layer can eliminate this need, but its also important to be able to regulate your temperature and keep yourself warm if things do get cold on the mountain. A mid layer will be a light layer, something like a fleece or thin down-jacket. You may already own a mid layer, so check out your wardrobe before splashing out on anything new.

On the packing list? Yes. Consider getting one really good thin jacket or fleece as a mid layer.

Hats, Hoods, Snoods, Neck Warmers, and Chubes

Perhaps the only time in your life when you can don a balaclava and not look like extremely dodgy, is when you’re skiing. Expect an abundance of different types of head gear including:

  • Hat. Your standard woolly one will keep your head warm in the evening.
  • Balaclava/Snood/Hood. A tubular scarf, sometimes with a cowl neck, will wrap over the top of your head and keep your neck, forehead, chin, and ears warm. The material is usually thin and synthetic, so you’ll be able to fit your helmet on top. As well as preventing yourself from catching a chill, you’ll also not put your neck at risk of being caught on any zippers from jackets and fleeces.
  • Hoods. This term is used synonymously with snoods, but also can be the hood to your jacket. If you have a hooded ski jacket, sometimes the hood is warm enough and fits well enough for you to not need an additional woolly hat.
  • Neck chubes/gaiters. A tubular scarf that comes up over your nose but leaves your ears and top of your head exposed. Usually thin material, for use on the slopes.
  • Scarves/neck warmers. If you’ve got a warm scarf that can handle the winter, bring that along. Otherwise, you can pick up a neck warmer made of merino wool or similar that will keep the wind and chill out. Usually for use when wandering around the resort.

On the packing list? Definitely bring at least one head warming option. Off the slopes, you’ll do well with a hat, or at minimum, a thick hood attached to your jacket. On the slopes, if you want full protection, go for the balaclava/snood option. Only your nose will be exposed to the elements, keeping you warm and protected from the sun.

Goggles and Sunglasses

Definitely take sunglasses. Whether or not you wear them skiing, you’ll want them for when you’re not. As for goggles, you have several options. You can skip them, and keep with your shades, especially if you’ve got a pair that you use for other outdoor activities. Your sunglasses should be able to handle some wind and rain, or snow, plus there’s the off chance they could get crunched or sat-on mid-session.

If you’d like to get a pair of goggles, find out if you can rent them (you then get to give them a test drive), or go to stores and get help finding and fitting your perfect pair.

On the packing list? Sunglasses, yes. Goggles, maybe.

Helmets

Once only something for the pros doing tricks, now, all resorts will have them available for rent. Ski schools tend to have a helmet-requirement policy, and although your head isn’t 100% protected from head injuries, it certainly helps to have one. If you’re wondering whether you need to buy one, don’t bother. They are bulky to transport and are readily available to rent in the resort.

On the packing list? No, rent them in the resort.

Gloves and Mittens

A solid pair of ski gloves is a game changer. They come with a thermal inner layer and waterproof outer layer and they’ll keep your hands warm, dry, and slightly less battered if you take a tumble on the slope. You can buy a decent pair from around £20. If you get super cold fingers and have bad circulation, bring a pair of mittens for when you’re not skiing.

On the packing list? Yes to waterproof ski gloves, maybe to mittens.

Socks

A good few pairs of ski socks are vital for a comfy and safe ride. Cold toes or poorly fitted boots are just recipes for disaster. Without a correctly fitted boot, you can damage the ligaments in your knee or foot, fall over, and generally overwork yourself trying to hold your foot in a comfortable position.

Socks will be at least calf length, and will appear seamless so as not to cause any rubbing in your boot. Socks shouldn’t be so tight you can’t wiggle your foot, but shouldn’t slide down your leg and make you look like Bigfoot after five mins of bootless ambling.

On the packing list? Yes. Bring a couple of pairs.

Backpack

A small to medium sized waterproof backpack with a snug fit is ideal for skiing and boarding. Being able to carry a bottle of water, something to eat, your phone, and additional layers will be really useful.

Try to get a rucksack that straps across your waist and chest. You can pick up something for as little as £15, but it’s worth investing in one that’s waterproof for any snowy days or moments where it gets plonked on the snow.

On the packing list? Yes, if you don’t want to spend a fortune on lunch everyday. 

Suncream

Don’t underestimate the power of the sun on the mountain. Sure, its winter, and yes, it can feel cold, but the sun is strong and you will see red, peeling faces around the resort. Bringing something from home will save you from extortionate in-resort prices. Regular suncream is fine, but if you are someone who is likely to sweat it off, or just get really burned, opt for sports sun creams that are waterproof. Even better, head to a ski store and you’ll be able to purchase special sun creams that are particularly resilient to being rubbed off. Don’t skimp on this step no matter your skin colour; without protection you will burn.

On the packing list? 100% yes.

Swimwear

There’s nothing worse than landing in a ski resort and realising you have to buy an ugly bikini or tiny y-front bathers because you forgot yours. And they aren’t going to be cheap in-resort either. Even if your accommodation doesn’t have a pool or sauna, don’t be fooled into thinking you won’t need any bathers. Bringing swimwear takes up so little space it’s worth throwing it in anyway. Ski resorts are packed full of health clubs offering massages, swimming pools, and steam rooms. After a few days, you might just find yourself spending a few euros to soak your muscles. You don’t wanna spend more on the heinously bright pink costume than the actual treatment.

On the packing list? Yes.

Après-ski clothes

After you’re done skiing, you’ll want to change out of your many layers and chuck on something either comfy or fancy and head out for dinner and drinks. You wardrobe choices are completely up to you, just beware that denim in snow turns soggy, heavy, and cold. Also, it’s better to have one really warm coat than layer up, as most indoor restaurants and bars will be bustling and boiling.

You’ll do better with a decent waterproof shoe or boot as compared to a Nike trainer or anything that you might slip over in. 

On the packing list? Yes. Think trousers, tops, snow boots, or a waterproof equivalent.

Non-ski-activity Clothing

If you’re planning on doing other activities, like tobogganing, husky sledding, snowshoeing, ice driving, ice diving, and ice climbing, expect the equipment for all these to be provided. Items like gloves, for tobogganing, may be required and not provided, so check out any activities you plan to do before you go.

Many resorts have indoor-activity centres, which include gyms, squash courts, tennis courts, and swimming pools. Don’t forget your gym kit if you’re intending on spending some time indoors.

On the packing list? Check what you need. Potentially you’ll be required to bring specialist equipment, or a gym kit with gym shoes in order to access certain sports courts and the fitness centre.

What to Wear Skiing: The Essential Gear List

This list is for a typical six-day trip.

On-piste gear

  • Skis or a snowboard
  • Ski boots or snowboard boots
  • Ski poles
  • Small backpack
  • Helmet
  • Water bottle
  • Goggles

On-piste clothing

  • Waterproof ski/snowboard jacket
  • Waterproof ski/snowboard trousers
  • Balaclava/snood/neck warmer/buff
  • Sunglasses
  • 2x base layer tops
  • 2x base layer bottoms
  • Technical underwear (boxers)
  • Sport bras
  • 3x ski/board socks
  • 2x mid layer tops eg fleece
  • Waterproof gloves

Off-piste gear

If this is your first ski trip, it’s highly unlikely you’ll be heading off-piste, however these are the sorts of items you would need.

  • Transceiver
  • Shovel
  • Probe
  • Strap to tie skis and poles together for walking
  • First-aid kit

Après-ski clothing

  • Underwear
  • Scarf or hat
  • Mittens 
  • Swimwear
  • Long trousers/jeans
  • Tops/t-shirt
  • Hoodie/jumper/fleece
  • Shoes/boots
  • Socks
  • Pyjamas
  • Gym kit (and shoes)
  • Après-ski outfits (for festivals or parties)

Paperwork

  • Passport
  • Credit Card/Debit Card
  • Cash
  • Flight tickets
  • Transfer tickets and information
  • Accommodation tickets and information
  • Ski hire tickets and information
  • Insurance details
  • If you’re driving:
  • Drivers Licence
  • Sat Nav/Local Map
  • Snowchains (usually provided by rental company)

Toiletries

  • Sun cream (high SPF), preferably a face stick
  • Sun cream lip balm
  • Shampoo, conditioner, bodywash
  • Aftersun, moisturiser
  • Toothbrush, toothpaste
  • Make-up 
  • Ear plugs

Electricals

  • Phone and charger
  • Camera/go-pro and charger
  • Travel plug adaptor 
  • Headphones
  • Walkie talkies
  • Kindle
  • Hairdryer
  • Hair straighteners

Miscellaneous

  • Books
  • Medication
  • First-aid kit (blister plasters, deep heat, Ibuprofen)
  • Ankle/knee/wrist supports
  • High energy foods like energy bars, chocolate, nuts
  • Travel pillow
  • Handbag
  • Cards or other games
  • Boot warmers
  • Hand warmers

Ski Gear Packing Tips for First-time Skiers and Boarders

So, there’s the full list. It may seem a bit daunting (and pricey) so here are a few things to remember before you drop a cheeky grand on equipment alone.

Use What You Have

Don’t feel obligated to buy everything, either new, or at all. Have a read through the checklist and see if you already own things, like waterproof gloves, base layers, and sunglasses.

Rent Gear Instead of Buying It

Check out what gear you can rent, like snow pants, salopettes, jackets, gloves, boots, boards, poles, skis, and helmets. If this is your first time skiing or boarding, experimenting with different rental gear will help you find clothing that fits you and your style. You can also have a browse in the shops at the resort, and check out how other people dress on the slopes, before dropping the big bucks on your fully co-ordinated outfit. At WeSki, we use Skiset as our rental gear supplier. One of the cool things they offer is clever tech that helps fit boots correctly.

It’s All About the Socks

There’s always someone who tries to go out with two pairs on. Don’t be that person (I was that person once, and I can tell you, you will only suffer). You need a decent pair of thick socks, but not something that cuts off circulation. If you have some, bring them along, but be prepared to drop a couple of euros on buying a proper pair if your boot fitting is just seriously uncomfortable. Why does this matter so much? Because badly fitting boots are at best painful, and at worst, can destroy your knees or cause you to lose balance and fall.

Be Tactical with Your Cheap Purchases

Buying a small waterproof day rucksack can cost you as little as a tenner. Doesn’t have to be the fanciest thing. Just enough for a bottle of water and a few bits to nibble on. Items that are a must-have and that you can get at amazing value can save you £££ on your first trip.

Be Tactical with Your Expensive/Investment Purchases

Yes there are some amazing brands, and yes, if you’re going to buy your own gear, you want to invest in quality stuff that will last. However, there are some great hacks for finding premium quality gear. Look for sales and promos, perfect for big purchases like jackets, skis, and boots. Sometimes, it’s better to buy a store’s own brand instead of a premium brand. For example, a shop’s own brand fleece for £50 compared to a premium brand fleece at, say, £200, may be all you need. Sure, the shop’s own may seem a little cheap, however if both fleeces have the same technical composition, all you might be paying for is a fancy logo.

Now You’re Set for Your First-Ever Ski Trip

We love lists. We love things all in one place. And we really like that when you book with us, you can choose your flights, accommodation, and transfers, all-in one place. We also sort any ski or snowboard gear rental, plus luggage, and lessons. So, everything is done, and you’ll have all your info, in your emails, ready to go for your trip.

Book with WeSki this season. Discover more about how to create your own unique trip online.

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