If you’ve never been skiing before, it can be a daunting endeavor. It’s an amazing sport, but it does take some time to learn how to cruise down the slopes. It’s not always a quick or intuitive learning process either. However, if you get some help through a ski instructor or a good friend, you can get the hang of it in no time.
In addition to learning the basics, you also need to consider what to wear while braving the slopes for the first time. That may also feel overwhelming, but it’s much easier than it first seems. This article will help you understand the basic elements of dressing appropriately to match the demands of skiing.
First, let’s start with your undergarments, which includes both socks and underwear. Socks are pretty important when skiing, and there are some aspects to take into consideration when picking the best pair. Avoid cotton. It gets wet and cold, which will ruin your day. Ski specific socks are usually made of wool or a wool/synthetic blend. You want a warm pair that are not so thick they will restrict the fit of your boot.
Underwear doesn’t quite matter as much as socks, but there are still some basic things to consider. Again, I would recommend avoiding cotton for the same reasons listed above. I typically wear athletic style underwear similar to what you would use to go on a run or hike. This is more about preference and comfort than what helps you on the slopes.
Next, you have the base layer. Your base layer is anything that goes over your undergarments but underneath your other warm-weather gear. Base layers are also commonly known as long underwear or thermals. These can be a top layer and/or a bottom layer depending on your personal preference and the conditions. Base layers should have a snug fit without being too tight. They should always sit comfortably on your body.
Many different brands make base layers. No matter what you pick, do your best to avoid cotton materials. If you’re skiing in cold conditions, it is best to wear both a top and bottom base layer. If you’re skiing in warmer conditions, you likely only need one or the other. I personally rarely use a bottom base layer and just wear a pair of athletic shorts underneath my ski pants. It’s up to you.
A mid-layer is what you wear over your base layer but beneath your outer shell. I always view this layer as an optional and/or removable layer. Wear a sweatshirt or sweater that is warm but not too bulky. I like to wear a wool sweater or a fleece jacket. Mid-layers are great because you can wear them when it’s really cold but easily take them off if you get too warm.
Ski Jacket/Outer Shell
Your ski jacket is the outer defense between you and the elements. A nice ski jacket can last for years, and it allows you to ski in any condition. There are so many different types and styles of ski jacket that it is hard to recommend one. Look for a fully water-proof and weatherproof option that’s well-constructed and has great insulation. I always recommend a jacket with a hood, as that provides another line of defense against the elements.
Gore-Tex is a common ski jacket material, but there are many solid options. I have had many favorite jackets over the years. Whatever you pick, make sure it’s warm, comfortable, and keeps you dry. Styles, colors, and added features are all personal options.
Ski pants are another essential piece of ski clothing. A good pair of ski pants will keep you warm and dry in any condition you might encounter. Look for fully water-proof options. Gore-Tex is one of the most common materials, but there are other synthetic options that keep the moisture out and the warmth in.
When picking out ski pants, get a pair that fits tight without restricting movements. Some skiers like baggy pants, while others prefer a more secure fit. Either way, make sure you have a full range of motion so you can move freely and uninhibited while skiing. I always recommend pants with plenty of pockets to store any extra gear. Ventilation zippers are great for warmer days.
In addition to the basic layering mentioned above, you also need some accessories for your first time in the snow. That includes gloves, a ski hat, and goggles. Gloves come in many different styles, but they are vital towards general body warmth. Good mittens work as well.
Ski hats, also known as beanies or caps, come in various styles as well. I like a nice soft wool/synthetic blend hat for my ski trips. Something that’s not too bulky but also provides plenty of warmth on cold days.
Goggles are another key ski accessory. Ski goggles will help you see clearly in changing weather conditions, and there are many different styles to choose from. You could get away with wearing sunglasses, but I would always recommend getting goggles instead.
For a quick recap, the basic elements of what to wear skiing for the first time include undergarments, a base layer, a mid-layer, a ski jacket or shell, ski pants, and accessories. By adding all of these elements to your attire, you’ll be able to handle any condition nature throws your way.
Do you have a favorite or recommended item of ski clothing? Let us know in the comments below!