So here you are, planning your first ski trip to Japan, Switzerland, Canada or beyond, contemplating what to buy, rent or borrow from a friend. Your first ski trip can be overwhelming, from discovering the high prices of ski lift passes to deciding what ski gear for beginners is really essential.
Skiing has a reputation for being an expensive hobby, but it doesn’t have to be with the following recommendations of ski gear for beginners! If you are a beginner, you likely aren’t planning on going adventure skiing off-piste with advanced ski enthusiasts.
Save money on ski gear for beginners without sacrificing quality, longevity and style. Just, think, every dollar you save on ski gear will be well spent on apres-ski activities such as soaking in hot springs, sharing a beer in the resort, or extending your trip to explore neighboring cities.
Here is my affordable ski gear for beginners, the ultimate shopping list
Ski Gear for Beginners – What to Wear
Starting off with what to wear on the slopes to stay warm!
If you have friends or family who have been skiing before, reach out and ask if you can borrow their ski gear. That’s what I did the first time I went skiing as I wasn’t sure if I was ever going to go again! Long story short, I fell in love with skiing and bought my own ski jacket and pants the second time I hit the slopes.
If you don’t have anyone similar size to you who has ski gear to loan and think you are likely only going to go skiing once, I would check out rental company prices in both your home and destination country. Depending on where you go and for how long it may or may not be less than buying.
Ski Jacket & Ski Pants
So you have decided you want to buy your own ski jacket and ski pants. Keep your eyes peeled for sales. Again, it depends on where you are from and where you are headed but as a general rule of thumb, ski gear for beginners will generally go on sale towards the end of the ski season. Other sales include Black Friday, Boxing Day, End of Year sales or Stocktake sales.
I highly recommend you check out The Iconic for some stylish, practical, and affordable ski gear for beginners! Plus they offer free returns so if it arrives and isn’t quite right, simply send it back.
I’ve picked out my top recommendations based on functionality (it’s gotta be warm!), style and affordability. When purchasing ski pants, I recommend going for a straighter leg so you can comfortably layer underneath with thermals. Stay clear of press/snap buttons, my ski pants had these, and every time I’d hop onto the ski lifts and sit down, the button would open. Talk about a pain!
To save money I recommend just wearing your ski jacket with a pair of jeans when out and about, instead of purchasing another jacket to wear off the slopes. Just layer appropriately!
Thermals & Fleece
So now that we’ve covered the outer layer covered, let’s make sure you’re underlayer is suitable to keep you warm but not hot.
Being cold on the top of a mountain, and feeling like nothing will warm you up will spoil your ski day. It’s better to put an extra layer on and have to remove and pop in your ski jacket. On the first day you will get a feel for how cold the mountains are and how warm you get tearing through the slopes.
Before you head on your trip and purchase your thermals, check the weather of your destination, -4° is very different from -15°. I’ve only been skiing in Niseko Japan or Thredbo Australia, which is usually never as cold as places such as Canada, and Switzerland and resorts in the United States such as Whiteface. I did however have one day on the slopes where it was a whiteout and temperatures dropped fast! It’s not a pleasant experience to have burning fingers and shivers.
Now that I’ve ingrained in you how important staying warm is, let’s get onto the recommendations.
How to dress for skiing in cold weather?
I travel to Japan with the following:
- Thermal long-sleeve top
- Thermal Vest
- Thermal pants
- Fleece vest
- Fleece jumper
The above gives me options to work with both on and off the slopes.
For example, if I know I’m going higher up on a mountain where it is colder, or if there is a heavy snowfall predicted, I will wear my thermals with either a fleece vest or fleece jumper. If it’s going to be a little warmer, I just go straight for the thermals and ski jacket.
Below are my recommended thermals and fleece jumpers.
Gloves & Inners
The next ski gear for beginners that you absolutely need is ski gloves and inners. Cold hands are an indication that either
- You don’t have enough layers on
- You don’t have quality gloves
I personally wouldn’t cheap out on gloves as trying to hold poles with freezing hands is not fun. For added warmth mittens are recommended instead of 5-finger gloves as the warmth from your fingers are contained in one area. Although some people prefer 5-finger gloves for better dexterity and control.
As a beginner you may not know, that inner glove liners are essential for added warmth and keeping your hands dry. Glove liners with touchscreen capability are well worth it for slipping your hands out of your gloves or mittens to take photos or videos. Yet another pro of liners is if you are wanting to check your phone or take photos, your bare hands aren’t exposed!
Below are the gloves, mittens and liners I would suggest.
Neck Warmer or Balaclava
Another piece of skiing gear for beginners that is often forgotten is a neck warmer or balaclava.
I personally love a fleece neck warmer that you can pull up over your face if it’s windy, snowy or just freezing. Keep your nose, neck, and cheeks warm with my recommended neck warmers.
If you are going into more extreme conditions, a balaclava might be more effective at keeping your whole head, face, and neck warm.
Next, let’s discuss keeping your feet warm without making your ski boots uncomfortable.
You may think thick socks are a good idea to keep your feet warm, but spoiler alert, they’re not. Ski boots have a thick lining that will keep you warm. Ensure you’re ski socks are long enough that they go halfway up your shins, this will add an extra layer of warmth and will prevent your ski boots from rubbing.
There is a range of ski socks on the market that are suitable for different temperatures so depending on where you’re headed might impact the socks you pick out.
Also, ensure you grab a few thicker pairs of socks to wear with your boots or walking shoes when you’re off the slopes.
Handwarmers & Toe warmers
For all your girls or guys who always have cold hands or feet, hand and toe warmers will be your best friends.
Pick up a few pairs from your local chemist or order them on amazon. Pop a packet of each in your ski jacket ready to whip out if your hands and toes are cold on the mountains.
Hot tip, they are also great remedies for sore muscles when flying. I had a serious hip injury and these bad boys got me through a long-haul flight.
Ski Gear For Beginners – Ski Equipment
Moving onto the actual ski gear for beginners now that we’ve covered what to wear.
Starting off with ski goggles that will protect your eyes from the sun, snow and mountain hazards.
Ski goggles aren’t something I would invest in, as long as they are comfortable on your face, don’t fog up and have some form of UV protection.
Below I have popped a few great options, generally, you will need to purchase these instead of rent.
Next, we have skis, an absolute essential, wink wink.
I have only ever rented skis, it saves the hassle and cost of paying for extra baggage, storing them at home and shelling out several hundred dollars to own a pair.
Thinking of taking up skiing every year, perhaps you live nearby a great ski resort, or perhaps you would like to treat yourself or a loved one to a fresh pair of skis that are tailored to your size. Again keep your eyes peeled for sales during certain times of the year!
I’m no expert at picking out skis, but when renting the store will use your height, weight, and shoe size to pick the right skis for you and will adjust them to fit your ski boots.
Surprisingly Amazon.com is becoming a popular ski supplier, so I would do your research and see if it’s cheaper to purchase skis from Amazon. Scheels is also a great option for exploring a range of designs, sizes and functionality.
Hiring skis? Then hire ski poles at the same time, its not worth just purchasing ski poles if you are travelling via air.
Boots can make or break your time in the mountains. Too small or tight you will end up with blisters and sore feet. Too loose and you’re asking for a stack and an injury.
I have only rented ski boots and have found some are better than others.
Ski boots are not something I would buy online as you need to try them on in-store. Everyone is different, it’s not one size fits all. The more you splurge on boots the more comfortable and easy they will be to drive. Boots will set you back around $200- $400 so you’re going to want to get them right.
I have rented from Rhythm Snowsports in Japan and was very impressed with the service and quality of the rentals. If I were to buy, I would start there, the prices are great too.
The next essential is a helmet. Starting at around $10 a day to hire or $80 to buy. But remember if you buy and are flying to the slopes, you will need to pack the helmet in your luggage.
My take is you either rent all your gear or buy it all, I don’t think it’s worth the hassle of storing and transporting just to bring your own poles and helmet.
Apres Ski Gear For Beginners
Last, but not least, let’s cover what to wear and pack for apres ski activities such as eating out, shopping, exploring the city or even hitting a few cocktail bars.
I guarantee you, you will live in Jeans off the mountain. Bring a few different pairs to change up your outfit.
Still, feeling cold wearing your favourite skinny jeans or mom jeans? Chuck in a pair of pantyhose for added warmth or even wear your ski thermal pants underneath a looser-fitting pair of jeans or pants.
Want to spruce up your winter wardrobe with some fresh jeans? I find Asos and The Iconic have the best range of styles, sizes, and free returns making shopping from home stress-free! Let me know in the comments what your ride-or-die jeans are. Can’t beat a pair of skinny Levi’s!
Sweaters & Long Sleeve Tops
Refresh your winter wardrobe with some new sweaters and long-sleeve tops to layer under your jacket when out and about.
My go-to outfit is jeans, a long sleeve top, a stylish scarf, globes and a beanie. Practical and cute!
Basic sweaters and long-sleeve tops make it easy to layer, just change up your scarf for adding a pop of colour and transforming your outfit.
I tend to find wearing thick sweaters a little too warm, as soon as you step inside a shop or restaurant you will want to un-layer. Pop a thin top underneath a sweater in case it’s too hot inside. Layering is the key to adjusting to inside and outside temperatures.
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Save some money and room in your suitcase by just packing your ski jacket. Or if you’d like to change it up and wear something more stylish, a black, white or nude jacket is what I’d opt for.
Below are some of the top picks that I have on my wishlist.
Practical and adds so much to your winter outfit! Easy to pack in your suitcase or carry on as they don’t take up that much room.
I have hand-picked out a range of beautiful scarves if you’re in the market!
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Next, keep your noggin warm with a beanie. I travel with 1 to 2 beanies and won’t leave my accommodation without them. If your head is cold it will make the rest of your body feel even colder.
Lastly, we have a pair of shoes/boots that are snow friendly.
Anti-slip ice grippers are also well worth the purchase. For under $10 grab a pair and slip them on your shoes to reduce your risk of slipping over on the streets. When going inside, you will need to slip them off your shoes.
For some inspiration on what shoes you should be bringing, that don’t break the bank, check out the following!