If you’re planning on trying skiing for the first time, there'll be lots of things running through your head, and you’re sure to feel a mix of emotions. Trying anything new is often exciting, but there may be some nerves too as you’re unsure of exactly what to expect. Don’t worry, those nerves will soon disappear with a little preparation and planning.
Many of the essentials such as skis, poles, and boots can usually be hired at most ski resorts (or indoor ski centres) so you won’t need to shell out for lots of expensive equipment straight away. It’s always a good idea where possible, to try out a new sport or activity to see if you like it, before investing in lots of kit which you may not use again. But there are a few essential pieces of clothing which you’ll need to buy ahead of your first ski trip.
- Ski Jacket and trousers: It’s essential to wear clothing that is warm and insulated. The weather can change in an instant, so wind/water resistant clothing will keep your body comfortable and dry, whatever the conditions. And the handy pockets are great for storing your phone, wallet, and other essentials.
- Thermals, baselayers, and mid-layers: Base layers and thermal underwear provide a layer of warmth while, at the same time, absorbing and removing sweat to keep you comfortable. And if it’s very cold, wearing a mid-layer like a fleece or sweatshirt over your base layer will keep you warm on the mountains.
- Gloves: Insulated gloves or mittens will keep your hands warm and dry. They should offer enough flexibility so you can easily hold on to the ski poles. And you might want to invest in glove liners to keep your hands extra warm in cold weather.
- Ski socks: You’ll need a thick pair of long ski socks to keep your feet warm and dry while on the slopes. Socks made from wool or synthetic materials are best, and make sure you take a few pairs.
- Goggles: You’ll need a pair of ski goggles (or sunglasses) whatever the weather. Clear visibility is key to prevent accidents and injury on the slopes, and goggles will protect your eyes against the glare of the sun reflecting off the snow. They’ll also protect your eyes from the cold and any debris, and also if the weather turns and it starts snowing or raining.
- Helmet: A ski helmet is an essential piece of kit if you’re going skiing, and it’s recommended to buy your own rather than rent one. It’s impossible to know how well a rented helmet has been looked after, and if it’s been knocked or damaged, it will not offer effective protection. Ensure you buy a helmet that fits you correctly (a snug fit that fully covers the forehead) so you’ll be safe on the slopes and you’ll be comfortable all day long.
- Backpack: Carrying a backpack with essential items is wise so you’re prepared for all conditions. You can pack sunscreen, lip protection, a scarf, a hat, a first aid kit, and anything else you might need to have with you.
You can usually hire most ski equipment at your resort if you’re a beginner, but if you do want to buy your own, here are some things to consider:
- Skis, poles and bindings: Rental employees are knowledgeable and will guide you through your rental decisions, making sure your skis and poles are suitable for beginners. They will also help set up the ski bindings to the proper setting based upon your size and ability. If you’re wanting to buy your own, short skis tend to suit beginners best as they’re easier to turn.
- Ski boots: Rental boots are easy to come by, but they can be uncomfortable as ski boots are designed to conform to your feet. If you prefer to buy your own, you can pick up a beginner pair for under £100 which will be much more comfortable. When choosing your boots, they should be snug, but not overly tight, and make sure you try them with your ski socks.
You’ll also need to consider how you’re getting to your resort as you’ll need to check your equipment in if you’re flying. A ski bag will come in handy to protect all your equipment while you’re travelling.
What is a lift pass and do I need one?
A lift pass (also known as a ski pass, or lift ticket), is a necessity for every ski holiday. With the exception of a few free beginner lifts to the nursery slopes in some resorts, a lift pass is essential to get you on the slopes. Usually, the pass will go inside a pocket, or attach to your ski wear, and it can be purchased for either the day or the week (but daily passes will usually work out to be more expensive). Your ski resort may ask you for a passport sized photo for your lift pass application, and everyone in your group will need a pass (though some resorts offer group or family passes, or free kids passes).
Lift passes can be quite pricey, so it might be worth buying them from your resort in advance. Pre-booking your lift pass is a great choice for saving pennies and making your holiday hassle-free.