By Anita Gait
Planning your first ski holiday? Or maybe contemplating heading out to work a winter season? Here’s a list of essential ski holiday must haves…
Thermals – Invest in a good set of base layers. You don’t have to spend a fortune however make sure you’re buying the right thing for the job. Do remember that cotton is an inefficient base layer and won’t keep you warm.
Layers – It’s all about layering up. You can always remove layers to cool down but it’s very hard to warm back up once you get cold on the mountain.
Socks – Get ski specific thermal socks, nobody likes cold toes! Avoid anything with seams around the shins as your boots will press into them all day long.
Gloves/ mittens – There’s a huge range of gloves out there that do some wonderful high-tech stuff. The important thing though is to get comfortable ones that fit properly and will keep you warm. Mittens are generally warmer than gloves, but can restrict your movement.
Snow boots – It is imperative that you take a good pair of boots with you; converse, heels or ballet flats are not going to do the job. Save them for inside and bring a sturdy pair of waterproof, warm boots that reach above the ankle and have good grip on the sole. You’ll be contending with icy slopes, stairs, snow drifts and slush.
Swim suit – You just never know when a hot tub opportunity may arise!
Sun cream – The sun is very strong and the higher you go in altitude the higher the factor needs to be. At 2000 meters a factor 30 sun cream only protects the skin at factor 15. Minimum factor 30 for adults and 50 for children! You’ll see a surprising amount of sunburn on the slopes…
Lip balm and moisturiser – Your skin will dry out at altitude like you’ve never seen before, put a lip balm in every pocket and moisturize religiously.
Hats – Big giant knitted colourful bobble hats are a necessity. That’s just a fact, and handy for hiding helmet hair.
Outer wear – Obviously the most important thing is to look cool on the mountain! I’m partly kidding but it’s worth remembering that you will be wearing your ski gear a lot and it will become the means by which people recognize you. Avoid all white, it gets dirty quickly and you will blend into the snow which can be dangerous. Don’t be afraid to stand out with bright colours and clashing patterns, trust me you’ll see all possible combinations on the mountain. Check your gear’s waterproof and breath-ability ratings (detailed on the tags) and make sure it’s going to keep you warm. Again you don’t have to spend a fortune – TK Maxx always has a good range of ski gear at a decent price and you can always find a bargain on Ebay.
Goggles/ sunglasses – Protecting your eyes is an absolute must and it pays to spend a bit more on good goggles or sunglasses as the sun is very strong and reflects off the snow. You can get goggles with lenses for bright days and ones for overcast days, but generally when starting out go for an orange or pink ‘universal’ lens that will serve you in all conditions.
If you wear sunglasses make sure you have decent ones that filtering out the harmful rays. Those freebie fake Ray-Bans might look cool but they’re not going to do the job on the mountain.
Helmet – Get a helmet! Whether you rent one or buy one I don’t care, so long as you wear one every time you hit the slopes. There is no stigma attached, it’s no longer ‘un-cool’ to protect your head, the pros wear them, they sell colourful funky ones that you can hook your headphones up to them, you can get fur-lined ones that keep your head toasty warm and you can sticker them up with all kinds of daft things, helmets are cool, wear one, full stop.
If you’re do decide to buy a helmet and you have goggles already, make sure you try them on together. Your helmet and goggles should fit seamlessly together and not leave a big gap across your forehead – that is un-cool and also lets the wind in.
Equipment – Unless you have money to burn I highly recommend renting your equipment to begin with, that way you get to figure out if you’re actually enjoy the sport. You can switch easily between skiing or snowboarding, try out a range of sizes and styles before committing to anything. Don’t be afraid to go back to your rental shop as your level progresses to request different kit and ask the ski technicians for help and advice.
Protective snowboard gear – As mentioned before helmets are a must, but as a snowboarder you also have the option of wrist guards, knee and bum pads. In the beginning you will fall a lot on your bum and knees. Padding can save you some serious bruising and make you much more likely to continue the next day.
Lessons – If it’s your first time on the slopes I highly recommend taking lessons, and pre-book them beforehand to avoid disappointment if there is no availability in resort. No matter what your level though, it’s always good to get a lesson in resort to help polish off your technique or get out of those bad habits.
That’s the basic essentials covered, now it’s up to you what you want to bring for off the slopes. Remember resort style tends to be very laid back and casual, think jeans and hoodies rather than shirts or heels, but mainly just get out there and enjoy!