Let’s face it; skiing is an expensive hobby, especially if you are just starting out. Flights, accommodation, lift passes, ski school…It all adds up. For this reason, I found it helpful to have ‘beg, borrow and buy’ as a mantra when gathering the equipment needed to go on my first trip. Some things are worth splashing the cash on, but other items can be borrowed off friends (or received as gifts – yay for Christmas!). To help you gear up for your first trip, here is a run-down of what I took, and my tips on what to buy or borrow.
(Now Spring is on its way, look out for sales of winter gear. This is a great time to pick up bargains!)
It can get pretty cold up on a mountain, so you need something waterproof, warm, and breathable to keep you comfortable. Ski jackets are also handy because they have loads of pockets. This means that you have somewhere secure to keep your lift pass, money, goggles, keys, camera and snacks. They also usually have a snow skirt, which will stop snow sliding inside your jacket should you happen to fall over (a likely occurrence as a beginner).
If someone you know has a spare jacket, think ‘BORROW’. Ski jackets are pricy, and if you are really on a budget, borrowing one off a friend will save you a lot of money. However, if money is not too tight, I do think a ski jacket is one of the things worth buying yourself. My ski jacket was half-bought as a gift (BEG!) and half paid for by me, which made it a lot more affordable.
You can also save some money by buying a jacket that is from last season. Prices will really be slashed and you can pick up some great bargains. If you’re in Norwich, Snowfit keeps a lot of old stuff behind the shop floor – just ask to see it.
Unfortunately for my pocket, I fell in love with a jacket from the current season (check it out!). However, there was reason behind my madness. I picked this particular jacket because it looks like a normal coat and could easily be worn around town. If you want something that is fluorescent orange with pink spots, go for it, but while this may look cool on the piste it may make you feel a little self-conscious if you wear it to Sainsburys.
(My jacket was made by Bonfire – check out their site.)
Gloves – BUY
It is definitely worth buying a decent pair of gloves, especially as you can wear them when you’re not skiing. When you’re looking at gloves, make sure that they are waterproof. Ski or snowboard gloves also sometimes have a protective layer on the palm-side of the glove so that your skis or board don’t cut in to your gloves when you carry them. My gloves are snowboard ones and they have a very funky protective pattern.
To save money, it is a good idea to get gloves in the sales. A decent pair will set you back a few quid, so strike while the price is good. I bought mine in September while walking in Austria for €30. They were reduced from €80!
Salopettes – BEG, BORROW OR BUY
Salopettes are the trousers that you wear when skiing or boarding. They are waterproof, warm and breathable. They are also another ‘must-have’ for your trip.
For my holiday, I borrowed a pair to wear. They weren’t the most flattering of items, but they did the job. I was originally reluctant to buy a pair in case this was my first and only skiing holiday. Now that I am planning on going again, I think I will purchase some.
You can spend a lot on a pair of funky salopettes, but if you can’t borrow any, head to the sales or to shops like TK Maxx. You can pick up some real bargains there.
Ski socks – BUY OR BORROW
I had a couple of pairs of ski socks already, but I certainly didn’t have enough to last me a whole week. I was lucky and I was able to borrow several pairs, which saved me a bit of money. However, if no-one you know has any spares, socks are definitely worth investing in.
Sun cream – BUY
If you’re lucky enough to ski in the sunshine, sun cream is a must. Snow reflects sunlight, so your skin will be exposed a lot of UVA and UVB rays and, unless you have the skin of a rhino, you WILL get burnt if you don’t wear any. Slather some on in the morning and then top it up throughout the day. The cream will protect your skin from the sun and it will also keep it moisturised.
As I am ultra-fair, I always wear children’s factor 50. You don’t have to go this extreme yourself, but I would recommend a minimum SPF of 30.
Sunglasses and/or goggles – BEG, BORROW, OR BUY
If it is a sunny day, a pair of sunglasses will minimise the glare of the sun on the white snow. However, goggles may be a wiser purchase as they can be used in the sun and in heavy snow. A good pair will help you to see the terrain clearly, which will give you added confidence as a beginner.
Some places have goggle rental, but they don’t usually cost more than a normal pair of sun glasses. I borrowed a pair for this trip, but I am thinking about getting a pair of my own for next time. I’m afraid there is no picture of the goggles I took, because I packed them away somewhere safely in my house…ahem.
The following are nice to have, but you can get away with not having them.
- Inner gloves. These can be carried around with you and changed during your lunch break. This means that your gloves will always be warm, dry and cosy when you put them back on again.
- Toe warmers. If the weather is super cold, or you find that you get cold easily, these packs are worth thinking about.
- Pocket-sized sun cream and lip balm. I really recommend this. You can get a small tube of alpine sun cream with an added lip balm that is attached to a string, which means that you can access it easily on the slopes. This is great for topping up your sun protection throughout the day.
- Buff. If the weather is very cold and windy, a buff can keep your neck and lower face warm. Plus they look cool.
- Thermals. If you feel the cold, thermals are a great base layer. You can also get them in funky patterns – see my spotty top!
Things you don’t need to buy…yet
- Helmet. This does not mean that I recommend skiing without a helmet. I certainly wore one for my holiday, as did most of the people on the slopes. However, for your first trip I would advise simply renting one for your holiday. If you’re serious about skiing again, you can think about buying your own.
- Skis. Buying skis for your first trip is daft. Don’t do it. Rental skis are really good now. The ones I hired were almost brand new and were perfect for a beginner.
- Ski boots. It is better to hire these for now. I got an excellent rental pair on my holiday – they were shiny, new, and super comfortable.
- Ski poles. Hire them instead!
I hope these tips have helped. Please feel free to share your own skiing or snowboarding must-haves below.