So there you are, contemplating your first-ever ski holiday – and you’re wondering, nervously, “How many kits do I need?” Skiing has a fearsome reputation for being expensive, and given that nearly every ski photo in the newspapers underlines the fact – with a shot of a celeb or royal wreathed in the fur-lined designer jacket – it’s no wonder that most people tremble at the cost of all the extras, from ski jacket to Chanel sunnies.
But they shouldn’t. Skiing’s exclusive image is years out of date now, and although there’s plenty of opportunities to spend heavily if you want to, it’s equally possible to equip yourself for a relatively small amount of money. Here’s our beginner skier’s shopping list:
Skis, Boots and Poles
First of all, don’t buy your own skis, boots and poles for your first-ever ski trip. It’s standard to procedure to hire them all, in the ski resort, on your first week – which will cost from about £100, depending on resort and country. Look at our rental guide for advice on how to hire skis and boots in your ski resort.
Ski Jacket and Pants
You don’t need to buy a ski jacket or ski pants either. Unlike your boots and skis, these are just the kind of items you can borrow from your friends or family. If no-one can help you, then try one of the companies which rents out these items – a week’s rental of a ski jacket will cost considerably less than buying.
Much better than sunglasses – which won’t help you when it’s snowing or windy. But make sure you try them on first before you buy or borrow them, so you’re sure they fit. If you’re buying, go to your nearest ski shop, which could be an independent or one of the big chains.
Everyone should wear a helmet when they ski. Beginners are often under the impression that helmets are only for experts. “I don’t ski fast enough to need one,” we’ve heard some people say. But even nursery slopes can be rock hard if you fall on your head, and anyway you could be hit by another skier or snowboarder going by.
Gloves or Mittens
Your basic ski glove will get soaked both inside and out if you are falling over a lot – a very unpleasant sensation. Waterproof and breathable gloves are a lot better. For really cold hands, mittens are a lot warmer than gloves, and thin glove liners add an extra layer of warmth.
The one thing that is worth buying now is your base layer – what used to be known as ‘thermals’. Despite the name, a base layer provides almost no thermal insulation whatsoever: its purpose is to be dry, and stay that way, no matter how sweaty you get, or how wet the clothing on top of it.
Ideally wear a lightweight down jacket, which gives you an extra layer between the base and your outer jacket. You’ll need this between December and March, sometimes later. However, provided you’ve got a good base layer and a ski jacket, you can wear more-or-less what you like in between. The idea is to build up a layering system under your jacket. Then you add or subtract layers according to the temperature.