One word above all should apply to clothing when heading to the slopes: waterproof. For some, fashion is a high priority but whatever the styling, ski wear is primarily functional. You want to be kept dry and comfortable, as well as warm and cosy, and it’s worth a few minutes going through the checklist below to ensure you have all bases, and body parts, covered.
Hat / Helmet
Ski helmets are now universally worn, as they protect the skull, are chin strapped in place and ensure goggles are fixed, but at very least you will need some form of headwear. Helmets usually come with ear pads and if you don’t cover your ears they’ll soon be stinging from the cold in the crisp mountain air and subzero temperatures of the Alps!
Jacket and pants/salopettes/ski trousers
These should be waterproof and windproof; the fabric should be breathable and insulated whether skiing or snowboarding to ensure you fully enjoy your activity. There is immense variation in fabric and quality available and you will need to ensure yours will be effective. If there is a detachable ‘snow skirt’ (a band that stops the snow going up into your jacket) this is a plus but not essential. Pant bottoms need to be wide enough to go over boots.
It’s a no brainer, but be sure your gloves are 100% waterproof and if you suffer from cold hands generally, then you might like to wear thin gloves inside of them. You want to be concentrating on the thrill of the sport, not nagged by cold, wet hands!
While you want to avoid feeling ‘bulky’ and restricted, a layer of thermal underwear including long legged pants and vest, will help protect against the cold and help remove moisture from your skin. Remember cotton absorbs sweat and can create a chill layer, so choose underwear wisely.
Thin but warm socks are best, allowing you feel the ski boot sole, but if boots are borrowed or rented and not a best fit then thicker socks can help. Pack a few pairs of comfortable or purpose designed ski socks to add to your comfort on the slopes.
Fit is all important with boots made for walking and skiing, and a poor fit will affect your performance. Take time to find the correct size for you, with no sloppiness or pinching. If you plan to take regular skiing holidays, there’s no substitute for having your own pair from a quality supplier.
A rucksack is invaluable allowing you to carry not only spare clothing, giving you the option to vary your layers according to conditions, but also to have a ready supply of food and drink… though the bonhomie in mountain bars and restaurants is always good to experience too.
OK, it’s cold, it’s winter but in the thinner atmosphere of the mountains, the suns rays are magnified by the reflective white of snow and you will need to wear sunscreen and lip balm at all times outdoors even if the sun has disappeared behind a cloud. Wear a high factor for protection and balm to prevent dry, chapped lips.
Don’t forget you will be able to pop this in your rucksack ready to take some stunning alpine scenery views as a memory of what is always a special time on the slopes with fellow sports enthusiasts and fun seekers.
Please be advised that hire of ski clothing is not offered at the CLC Alpine Centre ski shop and we advise that you follow our packing tips and come prepared. If you do not, you will need to rent or buy clothing items from one of the many sports shops in town or at the slopes.
photo credit: © zellamsee-kaprun.com / Gletscherbahnen Kaprun AG