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Ski Essentials – A Guide

Skiwear should provide protection, keep you warm and not restrict your movement. The mountains can be a very harsh environment with extremely low temperatures and fast changing conditions. The key to being kitted out correctly is wearing thin layers but it is crucial they are made out of the right fabrics designed for high altitudes and high exertion.

Outer Layers (Jackets & Salopettes/Pants)

Must be waterproof and breathable. Breathability is important to prevent overheating and to allow moisture to escape rather than being trapped and cooling the skin.
Jackets should have a hood, an adjustable cuff, snow skirt and storm flap covering the zip. Other extremely useful features are a two way zip which you can undo from the bottom or top, pit zips to improve air flow, and accessible pockets for the lift pass and piste map.

Base Layer

Base layers need to be made of close fitting fabrics that actively wick the moisture away from the skin and into the next layer of clothing, appropriate fabrics include polyester or silk, avoid moisture absorbing materials like cotton. Carbon Dry base layers also have antibacterial properties to keep it smelling fresh. Merino wool is extra warm if you feel the cold or are heading to resorts in North America and Canada.
2-3 vests and 1-2 pairs of long johns are required for a 6 day ski holiday.

Mid Layers

A brushed micro fleece top traps warm air in its fibres adding warmth but is breathable and lightweight so as not to cause overheating or inhibit movement.
A softshell jacket is a warmer alternative for extreme temperatures and can also be used as an après ski jacket.

Head and Neck

Helmets are highly recommended, and in some resorts, compulsory. Make sure it is a ski/snowboarding helmet and fits well. Helmets with size adjustment wheels are ideal for those that are still growing.
Helmet liners are a good idea, particularly if renting a helmet, it provides a hygienic, warm and breathable layer under the helmet.
A warm hat that is either knitted or is double layered or lined is required for après ski, make sure it covers the ears. A neck warmer is ideal to keep the neck warm and to pull up around the lower part of the face in poor weather conditions, it is also safer than a scarf.


Good quality waterproof, breathable and insulated gloves or mittens are essential. A brushed fleece lining improves comfort and non slip palms are good for gripping ski poles and improving the durability of the glove. Glove liners made of silk or polyester worn under the ski gloves keep hands warmer, an alternative are handwarmers inserted in the ski gloves.


Socks need to keep feet and legs warm and dry but also protect them inside those rigid ski boots which can cause tenderness and blisters. Ski socks should be made of a wicking fabric to keep feet dry and come up to the top of the ski boot, an elasticated cuff will prevent them from slipping down into the boot. Critical padding on the vulnerable areas such as the shin and lower foot will provide more protection. For extra warmth and comfort opt for ski socks made from merino wool.
A minimum of 3 pairs of socks for 6 days skiing is recommended as they do get a bit whiffy!
Apres ski boots that are warm, water resistant with a non-slip sole are a good idea for walking around the resort.


Eye protection is very important when in the mountains; even if the sun isn't bright the glare from the snow can still cause snow blindness. When skiing or boarding, goggles are essential, protecting the eyes from the sun, snow and wind as well as protecting the face in a fall . Goggles should be double lens and anti fog.
Sunglasses are ideal for lunch breaks or apres ski and even for skiing on a sunny day however, the wind can make the eyes water so sunglasses that wrap closely around the eyes are best. Make sure they are at least UV400 and plastic as metal freezes in cold temperatures and sticks to the skin. Wearing a lanyard will keep sunglasses securely on the head whilst skiing.


At high altitude the skin is exposed to high doses of UV rays even if the sun isn’t out, and the cold air chaps the skin. A high factor (minimum factor 30) sun cream and lip balm should be applied to the face and lips several times a day. The duo pack is ideal as it contains enough cream and lip balm for a 6 day ski holiday and attaches to a zip or clip on the ski jacket so it is readily accessible.

Other Useful Items

Small rucksack – useful for carrying goggles, hat, sunglasses, chocolate bar, drink or packed lunch whilst on the slopes.
Ski wrap – makes skis easier to carry and more easily identifiable (write name on the wrap)

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