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The Best Ski Gear Buyer’s Guide for the Season

It’s the time of year when many of us are headed to the mountains for a weekend of skiing or snowboarding. If it’s your first time skiing you probably have a lot of questions. At the front of your mind might be, what to wear for skiing? Don’t fear. We’ll walk you through everything you need to know about ski gear, make some helpful suggestions, and help you dress like a pro your first time out on slopes.

Skier stands at viewpoint

What Should I Wear My First Time Skiing?

There are a few essential items that’ll make your first ski trip safe and comfortable.

Well-dressed Skiier on the slopes

While cross-country skiing and snowshoeing don’t require a helmet, you’ll want one for downhill. As you learn to ski it can be hard to not run into things (or people) and you’ll want to protect your brain with a high-quality helmet. Sunglasses will work in a pinch, but if it’s windy and icy a nice pair of goggles gives you solid protection from the elements in the way sunglasses just can’t. A warm ski jacket and snow pants will keep you warm even in cold temperatures, or while sitting on the snow. If you’re new to skiing you will, no doubt, spend some time sitting on the snow.

For more active days or warmer days, gloves can be great. But when it’s really chilly, mittens are the way to go. And don’t forget about liners. Glove liners add warmth and have more dexterity than mittens. Wear your liners all day to protect your hands, even when you’re fiddling with your boots or zippers, and then pop the mittens on to regain lost warmth. And socks. Are snow socks different than your other warm, wool winter socks? They are. For one, they’re longer, importantly going up above your ski boot preventing any chafing or blisters as your legs move around inside your boots. They also have different levels of cushioning in strategic spots to help with ski boots, which can be uncomfortable.

How Should I Dress for Skiing?

To stay comfortable, dress for the coldest part of the day. This is usually while sitting still and riding the lift. Especially at the start or end of the day, a windy ride up the lift can be frigid. If you’re warm and comfortable there, you’ll be happy. Start off with a base layer made from synthetic material to wick sweat away from your body. You can wear a separate top and bottom or wear a ninja suit!

Ninja Suit

One problem folks experience is that when they fall over, snow finds its way into your layers. That separation between your top and the bottom layer is a pain point. A ski jacket with a snow skirt helps with this, as do bibs, but starting off with a full, connected base layer is another great option.

Buy from Next Adventure

On top of your moisture-wicking layer, you’ll want fabrics that dry quickly and continue to insulate when wet. Wool and synthetic materials are great for this. How many layers you wear will depend on how cold it is and how hot your body temperature runs.

Many people will then add a down or synthetic jacket or vest. We created a whole roundup of great down jackets that’ll work with any budget. And then outside of this, you’ll wear your ski jacket and snow pants, which will both keep you warm and protect you from precipitation.

What Should You Not Wear While Skiing?

Cotton. Plain and simple. Avoid it at all costs. Your ski socks, base layers, jacket, none of it should be made from cotton. Cotton absorbs moisture, so all that snow that finds its way inside your jacket and then melts with the heat of your body, is sucked up by your cotton t-shirt. The sweat that you produce is also absorbed by cotton. And cotton dries very slowly. So you’ll get nice and wet and stay that way. It’s a recipe for discomfort, and worse, can be dangerous. In fact, you may have heard the saying, “cotton kills.” Well, that’s because of its poor insulative properties in harsh winter environments.

Can I Wear a Normal Jacket for Skiing?

You can. If you already have a nice weather-proof jacket you can totally wear that skiing. Skiing isn’t cheap so use the gear you already have to your full advantage. There are a few benefits to ski jackets. For one, they often have powder skirts to help keep out the snow. Nifty pockets on the wrist hold goggle wipes and serve as a place to stash your lift ticket (while also being able to easily wipe it when needed). And they tend to have internal pockets for gloves or a beanie when you get too warm, or for snacks when you get hungry. The main thing is, you want to stay dry.

What Else Do I Need?

Well, now that you know how to dress like a pro, you’ll need to consider your actual ski setup. Check out these 6 great skis for all types of skiers. You’ll also need ski boots, a ski bag, and a destination. Here are some of the best ski towns in the U.S. to check out on your next trip.

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