Your first ski trip is overwhelming! Figuring out what to buy, rent, pack and how to prepare, whilst planning your flights, accommodation, car hire and more is a lot. I’ve been there, done that! I could only wish I had a one-stop guide like this that takes me through all the skiing essentials for beginners, including where to buy and how to save money.
In this post, I will take you through the essential ski gear for beginners that you will need to either buy or borrow from a friend, what equipment you will need to rent, and will finish off with some top tips for preparing for your ski trip.
Preparation is key, so you’re in the right place!
Let’s start off with a quick summary of the absolutely essential ski gear before diving into more detail about what to look for when shopping.
What is essential ski gear?
The skiing essentials for beginners that you should purchase and pack for your upcoming trip are:
- Ski jacket and ski pants
- 1-2 fleece mid layers
- 2-3 pairs of ski socks
- Neck warmer
- Gloves and glove liners
- Ski goggles
Buying Skiing Essentials for Beginners
Let’s now dive deeper into what to look for when shopping for skiing essentials for beginners and what to ski gear you will need to rent.
A ski jacket is an obvious essential, however, choosing the right jacket can be overwhelming and expensive. If you have friends or family members who have been skiing and have a jacket you could borrow, reach out and see if they wouldn’t mind sharing. Especially if you think your ski trip will be a one-and-done.
But if not or if you are wanting to purchase your own ski jacket, keep your eyes peeled for sales. Although it depends on where you live as a general rule of thumb, ski essentials 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.
Surprisingly, The Iconic has a range of stylish, practical, and affordable ski essentials year-round. 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.
Next, we have ski pants. Again, if possible see if you can borrow a pair of ski pants to save some money for your upcoming trip.
When purchasing ski pants, I recommend going for a straighter leg so you can comfortably layer underneath with thermals. Where possible, stay clear of single 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!
Check out below for some top-rated ski pants that don’t break the bank!
Thermals & Fleece
Stay warm on the slopes with a set of thermals and fleece jumpers/vests.
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.
I travel with the following when on a ski trip:
How to dress for skiing in cold weather?
- 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 and Inner Liners
Next on the list of skiing essentials for beginners are gloves! Cold hands are an indication that either you don’t have enough layers on, you don’t have glove liners on or you don’t have quality gloves.
For added warmth mittens are recommended instead of 5-finger gloves as the warmth from your fingers is contained in one area. Although some people prefer 5-finger gloves for better dexterity and control.
As a beginner, you may not know this, but 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.
Next, we have ski goggles. Ski goggles will protect your eyes from the sun, snow and mountain hazard making them a ski essential for beginners.
Ski goggles aren’t something I would invest in, as long as they are comfortable on your face, don’t fog up and offer some form of UV protection.
Below I have popped a few great options, generally, you will need to purchase these instead of rent.
Moving onto another one of the skiing essentials for beginners that is often forgotten, a next warmer.
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 can find a 2 pack or you can afford to grab an extra neck warmer, I would recommend it. Wearing a neck warmer over your nose when it’s freezing cold can get well… messy. If your nose is susceptible to running in cold weather, you get the gist!
If you are going into more extreme conditions, a balaclava might be more effective at keeping your whole head, face, and neck warm.
Keep your feet warm without making your ski boots uncomfortable with the right pair of socks.
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.
Skiing Essentials for Beginners to Rent
Now that we’ve covered the skiing essentials for beginners that you need to buy, let’s move on to what you need to rent. I will also provide a few recommendations if you are interested in exploring purchasing your own ski gear.
First and foremost on the list of skiing essentials for beginners is skis! Duh!
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.
Generally, you will have to provide your weight, height, and shoe size to the rental company so that when you arrive they can supply the best-fitting skis. Beginners will usually have slightly shorter skis as they are easier to control on the mountain.
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!
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 in comparison to specialty stores. Scheels is also a great option for exploring a range of designs, sizes, and functionality.
To pair with your skis, rent a set of ski poles. Usually pretty straightforward, the rental company will go off your height to pick the right size for you.
Next, we have ski boots which can sometimes be a little more tricky to get right when renting.
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 rented several ski boots and have found some are better than others.
Everyone is different, it’s not one size fits all. The assistant working in the rental store will step you through what the boot should and shouldn’t feel like. Expect it to take a while to get the hand of putting boots on and taking them off.
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.
As always, safety first!
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.
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How do beginners prepare for skiing?
Your first ski trip can be very overwhelming! Not only are you unsure about what to wear, what to hire, and what to buy but I bet you are also worrying about how you will actually go once you hit the mountains.
With most things in life, preparation is key. Skiing is no different.
Below I have covered what you can do to prepare for your ski trip, everything from the exercise to building endurance to arranging ski lessons. Skiing essentials for beginners is more than just what to pack!
Hope these tips help you to feel confident and ready to hit the slopes!
Get Ski Fit
Is beginner skiing a good workout?
Skiing is a tough workout, particularly for beginners who aren’t used to the movements and muscles required to turn, stop and pull yourself up the mountain to the ski lifts. You can burn 300-600 calories per hour of skiing!
Exercises that work on your balance, endurance, muscle power and cardio will be very beneficial. I’m not a trained healthcare professional, but to give you an idea of what I did in the lead-up to skiing below are a few exercises I did.
- Wall Sits
- Squats and single-leg squats
For a detailed guide from a trained professional, check out Gear Junkie and of course, make sure to check with your doctor if you have any concerns.
Learn some basic ski techniques
Spend your lunchtime break at work or your commute on the train reading up on a few of the basic ski techniques. Or jump on Youtube if you are more of a visual learner! Although not essential if you are taking ski lessons, it’s good to go into your first ski with an idea on the basics.
REI have a great resource with videos and photos to showcase the basic techniques.
Research the best ski resorts for beginners
Whilst you are busy Googling, do your research on the best ski resorts for beginners at your destination. Some ski resorts have more beginner-friendly runs than others. If you are taking lessons, skip this step, but if you are venturing out without an instructor make sure to check the runs before heading to the mountain.
Organise a few lessons
Speaking of ski lessons, I highly recommend taking lessons. There is a range of options to choose from at the popular ski destinations including private or group lessons.
The more technique you learn with an instructor the better you will be when skiing solo and the more you will enjoy your trip. No one likes to spend the day falling over or fearing for their life if they aren’t confident!
Lessons can be pricey so be sure to shop around and book in advance!
Book your rentals
Don’t forget to book your rentals in advance! It’s a pretty easy process that you can usually do online.
When you arrive at your destination, head to the ski store to get fitted and pick up your gear.
Book your transfers to the slopes or hire a car
The next thing to do to prepare for your ski trip is to arrange your transport to and from the mountains. If you are lucky enough to stay at a ski-in and ski-out hotel and don’t plan on exploring other resorts, this step doesn’t apply.
Weigh up catching a shuttle bus or hiring a car. Depending on cost, how many you are travelling with and how many ski resorts you are planning on visiting will impact your decision.
If you are wanting to hire a car, I recommend checking out Rentalcars.com to ensure you are receiving the best industry rates around!
Skiing for the first time, or the first time in a while, hurts.
Pack Ibuprofen, paracetamol, or whatever works for you to relieve sore muscles. Just trust me.
Another lifesaver is packing electrolytes. When you are skiing, you tend not to drink too much water, plus if you are enjoying a few beers at lunch, you are likely gonna be struck with a dehydration headache at the end of the day. An added boost of hydration never hurts!
Plan what to do on your rest days
Skiing for 5 days straight will take it out of you. Plan at least a half day off during the middle of your trip to rest, recharge, and explore beyond the mountains.
Go shopping, indulge in a massage, explore the local town, soak in the hot springs or try some new cuisine. There’s so much more than the slopes to enjoy!
And there we have it, the top skiing essentials for beginners. Now you are ready for your first, and hopefully not the last ski adventure! Ask me any questions in the comments!
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