How not to freeze your butt off: Get the Right Ski Gear
Deciding what ski gear to wear can be overwhelming and even a little bit stressful. Unless you live close to a ski resort and have a season pass to go skiing/snowboarding whenever you want, you probably don’t know what to bring. There are so many different options out there, but skiing weekly in Utah, I’ve learned what equipment works best. Here is a quick list of my favorite essentials, combined with some ideas of things I would look for in other pieces of equipment.
Also, this list of “ski gear” applies to almost any snow activity… such as snowboarding, snowmobiling, and even speed riding (yes, this is a thing… basically skiing with a parachute).
1.Mask with a mouth hole
Having a mask with a mouth hole is the number one most essential piece of gear, in my opinion. I also hear more complaints about this piece of clothing than anything else. I prefer a mask/neck combination so I can fully protect my neck, and really recommend some mouth/nose hole(s). This is super important because the build-up of condensation can be annoying and kinda gross. Even more importantly, the hole directs your hot breath away from your goggles so that your goggles don’t get all fogged up. This is easily the most annoying thing that happens while skiing. I mean if you can’t see, it becomes A LOT more difficult to ski. A lot of people like the versatility of a Buff, however, in my opinion, there is no air hole, and that air hole is crucial! Below are some examples of what I would look for.
2. Good goggles
There really isn’t too much to say about goggles (I keep wanting to spell these googles…) because they are all pretty much the same thing, in my mind. What to look for is proper ventilation (helps with fogging) and two different lenses (one for bright sun and one for a flat light day. AKA overcast). Everything else is mainly just preferenced at that point. You can expect to pay around $250 for a NICE pair of goggles, but you can purchase almost the same quality of goggles, not name brand for $100. IMO anything less than that you start to lack in different areas. Here is a couple of brands at different price ranges I would consider. When you click on the links in the photos, there are many other color options!
3. Thin gloves that can be used on touchscreen devices
Gloves. Gloves are an essential part of your overall experience. Here is the best set up I have found. Wear a very thin pair of gloves that are touch screen compatible (this is very important) and then a thicker pair of gloves that can fit over the lightweight pair. A feature I would look for in thick gloves (especially for any kids or persons who often lose things- like my amazing wife) is a wrist strap. This allows you to always keep your gloves on you even when you take them off. This way, you don’t have to worry about losing them and can pull them off on the ski lift when you want to pull out your phone to look at a map, etc. This combination allows you never to have to expose your hands to the outside world (which is a huge plus). It is also layering for your hands so that on hot days you only have to use the thin gloves, and on colder days, you can double up. Here are some examples of what I am talking about.
Yes, a helmet is an essential piece of ski gear because your brain happens to be the most important part of your body. So get a helmet! The more money you spend, the more add ons you get like ventilation, padding, and nicer straps. IMO get the most comfortable one. This way, you have no excuse not to wear a helmet. Here are a couple:
Socks are honestly pretty important, mainly because you shouldn’t just use any sock out there. There are specific socks that have extra padding in the shins for skiing (example below). There are also specific socks for cold weather and for different kinds of boots. So depending on what type of footwear you will be using, you should pay attention to what socks you need. IMO I mainly use Darn Tough socks and love them. They have different socks for just about any activity and have a lifetime warranty on their socks. Here are some men and women’s Darn Tough socks:
This is an easily forgotten item. There is only one brand that I have ever really enjoyed, and that is Blistex medicated (the green one). However, this is a Blistex specifically for preventing windburn, AKA, what will happen to your lips without chapstick. Here are my two favorites.
If you have a helmet, hat choices are pretty limited. I use a very thin hat to keep my hair out of the way. My face mask also goes up over my head so that combined with a light hat and helmet is more than enough to stay warm. If I am getting cold, I will throw my ski jacket over my helmet to add heat retention. Kiersten doesn’t wear a hat, but she wears a ski mask that goes over her head. Here’s an example of both that work great:
8. Face sunscreen
Just like chapstick, face sunscreen is seldom remembered. But unless you are covering your whole face and using shaded goggles, you will get burnt to be out in the snow all day. I already use a face lotion every morning that has SPF in it, and that works just fine. Just remember, it will go through your goggles, and you will get more sun then you think around your eyes. Here is what I use and some other options.
9. Ski pants/jacket
And . now for the classic ski gear equipment everyone knows about… ski pants and jackets. For these pieces of gear, I want to talk a little bit about the different things to look for in winter clothing. It is always hard to gauge how much clothing you need to wear at what temperature and what time of day. IMO, it is best to wear too much than too little.
Now that being said, you likely will be hot and may even sweat if you wear too much, but finding the perfect number of layers takes a long time to figure out. Especially with temperatures, sunshine, and wind speeds varying every day! So start off safe and wear too much because you can always take things off.
I already mentioned this, but layering is your friend. My ski coat is actually just a shell so that I can add whatever I want underneath. Something to look for in a jacket and pants are ventilation zippers. On a sunny day, these ventilation zippers are a lifesaver. I normally wear a top and bottom base layer, sweat pants, and my ski pants to keep my bottom half warm. (my ski socks go over my base layer, and I keep my sweats out of my ski boot to prevent any pressure points) To make sure I’m comfortable on my top half, I use a t-shirt, Northface ¾ pullover with a hoodie, and my ski jacket. If the temp is lower than 20 with no sun, I will add a down jacket on top of the pullover. This layering system seems to work quite well with the difference between a hot and cold day being one layer.
Checklists Make Everything Better
For you super nerds who are still reading, here is a google doc you can use as a check-off list for all of your ski gear.
The link will not let you make changes to that specific doc, but if you save this one to your google drive and then in your google drive right-click the downloaded doc and click “make a copy.” You just made another doc that is yours, and you can now change whatever you wish!