I’ve been a skier now for seven years, but I remember feeling a bit out of my depth when I began packing for my first trip back in January 2011. I’d only ever been on sunshine holidays abroad, and my packing lists extended no further than pretty bikinis and summer dresses.
Winter sports holidays were alien to me (I actually only gave skiing a go in the first place because my husband, Tom, loved it so much – before I realised how much fun it could be!). However, I was lucky enough to have friends who had skied before and kindly loaned me some of their kit.
I’d highly recommend doing the same if you can. Skiing isn’t a cheap sport and just buying the right clothing to take with you can set you back a lot of money. And what if, after all that, you decide you don’t like skiing at all? You’ll have invested the best part of £1,000, perhaps more, for nothing.
If you’re new to skiing and need some advice before you hit the slopes, here’s my guide to what to pack and why (generous skier friends, willing to loan their kit, sadly not included).
The first thing you want to start with is some thermal base layers (Snow + Rock have a great selection). These are basically long-sleeved tops and long-johns designed to be worn under your fleece, jacket and salopettes, to help keep you dry.
These thin layers are extremely un-absorbent and therefore can’t hold much moisture, drawing water away from the skin and up into the outer clothing. This means that you won’t end up with sweaty under layers, which is important if you don’t want to catch your death when you unzip your jacket and stop for a breather on the slopes.
I usually take three or four base tops and three or four base bottoms on a week’s trip and wash and re-wear them. It’s a personal choice, but I always like to finish off the base layers by putting a cool T-shirt over the top, too (mine are all from Superdry).
Even if you’re borrowing someone else’s gear, make sure you invest in your own thermal ski socks (I’m not sure about you, but there’s just something a bit wrong about borrowing someone’s socks). Again, all the outdoorsy retailers/ski shops will have lots to choose from.
A WARM FLEECE
It’s not the most glamorous piece of clothing you’ll invest in, but if you get easily cold you’ll want to put a fleece on top of your base layers. I have one from The North Face.
Now this is where you can go to town. Think of the base layers as the flour and egg for the sponge, and the jacket and salopettes as the colourful decorations you put on the cake at the end.
You can go as bold and bright as you want when it comes to ski jackets and salopettes, though as someone who has worked her way through three different coloured tops and bottoms in seven years (yes, really), I’ve found the best rule is to have either a bright pair of salopettes and plain/darker coloured jacket or vice-versa. Don’t try and go too wacky with millions of clashing prints and colours… No one wants to look like a Christmas decoration, after all.
Great ski accessories can really add something (anyone who tells you that skiing and boarding isn’t at least partly a fashion parade is lying).
Borrow or invest in a cool pair of ski goggles – Oakley has a fab range and some awesome reflective lenses! There are a range of different lenses on sale, for different light conditions on the slopes, but a great all-rounder is the Oakley Prizm HI Pink lense.
I recommend taking a snood, too, which has the added benefit of protecting the exposed bottom half of your face (not covered by your goggles) when it’s particularly cold out.
You’ll be wearing a helmet while skiing (I’d hire one if this is your first ski trip – they don’t cost much) but when you hit the aprés ski bars afterwards, you’ll definitely want a bobble hat tucked away in your pocket or backpack to whip out. Not only will your ears freeze without it, but a cool statement bobble or beanie is part of the whole skiing get-up. You’ll feel left out without one. Equally essential is a statement pair of sunglasses. Oakley, again, have a brilliant range.
Sporting our Oakley sunnies!
Finally, you’ll need some warm gloves or, if you get cold easily, mittens – you can move your fingers around inside and your hands tend to stay much warmer that way. If you really feel the cold, consider buying some lightweight ‘under gloves’, too.
FOR YOUR POCKETS…
My husband wears a backpack when we ski (and there are some pretty cool ones, like this one from Osprey), for our essentials like a bottle of water, bobble hats and sunnies, but you can also pack a surprising amount into your ski jacket pockets. Three things you always should carry: tissues, for inevitable runny noses and streaming eyes, a high SPF sun cream (such as Piz Buin High SPF 30 Mountain Sun Cream) and chap stick (Piz Buin Very High SPF 50 Mountain Suncream). Even if it’s not sunny, you can easily burn while skiing at altitude.
I also recommend taking a small fold-up hair brush for your inner pocket, to tackle dreaded helmet hair when you pit-stop for lunch. This one is brilliant!
Forget buying skis, poles, board, helmet and ski/boarding boots if this is your first trip. It’s money you just don’t need to spend when hire is relatively inexpensive. I’ve only just bought my own ski boots for this season.
But if you’re a skier, rather than a boarder, I would spend a few pounds on these handy gel shin pads. You’ll find your shins do get pretty sore after a day with your weight thrust forward in ski boots and these stick-on, reusable gel pads – like Party Feet for your lower legs – lessen the impact on your shins and will help prevent bruising.
What I love most about skiing is that no one dresses up in the evening, so packing really is a cinch. Just throw in cosy jumpers and jeans and you’ll fit right in.
I’ve also invested in some cool snow boots, which most people wear to restaurants and bars in the evening. These are mine and are super warm and comfy!
Make sure you also put in a scarf and thermal socks.
Always bring lots of moisturiser on a ski trip. From experience, your nose will probably end up a little red as a result of sunburn or the cold, and your skin will be drier thanks to the weather extremes.
I’d suggest a rich night cream such as Liz Earle Superskin Moisturiser, a good body moisturiser like Clarins Moisture Rich Body Lotion and a nourishing hand cream – this rather expensive one by By Terry is a great investment. It’s not greasy and absorbs in seconds.
Author: Kirsty Nutkins
Kirsty is an experienced journalist and travel writer, currently working on a national newspaper supplement as Features and Travel Editor. She is the founder of TravelLuxe.co.uk.