Unlike football, tennis, and many other team sports, winter sport’s fun levels are very equipment sensitive. What I mean is that the quality of your equipment can directly affect how much fun you are having much more in the snowy mountains, than on a basketball or tennis court. Having the right gear for skiing is very important, and looks have nothing to do with it.
Here is our list of the 6 essential winter sports clothing items that you should be carrying with you on a ski trip.
1. A Base Layer
The easiest (hence why it’s also one of the most common) way to get sick during a ski holiday is to sweat while skiing or carrying your equipment to the slopes, then to sit down and rest, while your t-shirt is soaking wet in the freezing cold. This is where your base layer comes in. The first question that comes to mind is “whats the difference between a normal shirt and a decent base layer”? Your first clue is that a base layer will never be 100% cotton. They are normally made with synthetic materials, such as polypropylene and should feel snug around your body.
So what exactly does a base layer do, that a normal cotton shirt can’t? Well, it can keep your skin dry, even in cases of extreme sweating. What these layers do is wick the sweat off your back, keeping your skin dry while you’re skiing. At the same time they don’t retain this excess moisture, allowing it to evaporate quicker.
2. Snow Jacket and Pants
How important is it for you to have snow pants and a good jacket? Considering your jacket and pants are pretty much keeping you alive in the mountains, I would say they’re pretty darn important. Without them, well, you’d be in some big trouble. So investing some hard earned cash in a decent pair of pants is the least you could do, for your own preservation.
When picking out outerwear there are two things you need to look for, waterproof rating and breathability rating. You can find these on the tags of any decent outerwear and will look something like “10,000mm/8,000gm”. The bigger the numbers, the better the jacket or pants are. Imagine placing a 1cm x 1cm square tube over the fabric and determining how high (in millimeters) a column of water you can suspend over it before it starts to leak. Numbers average from 0 (no waterproofing) up to 30000. For an average skier, who only sticks to the slopes and skips the wettest days, 5000mm is a good enough waterproof rating.
Breathability is the other feature you should take into consideration. Here the bigger number doesn’t mean its a better option for your riding. If you tend to find yourself sweaty at the end of a ski day, going for something with a higher breathability rating is a good idea. While if you are skiing in very cold conditions, to much breathability could be a downside, as too much warm air will be leaving your body.
One of the worst things you can do to your health is going skiing in normal jeans. Pants that aren’t waterproofed will be soaking after your first fall on the snow and things only go downhill from there. After a few hours of learning to ski (rolling around in the snow a lot) you’ll feel like you just pulled your jeans out of the washer and went outside in 0°C. Wet material also tears much easier. The only thing worse than being in the snow with a soaking wet pair of pants is being in the snow with a ripped pair of soaking wet pants.
If you don’t feel like you ski often enough to justify the purchase of specialized equipment, you can always rent a jacket, pants, helmet and goggles. If your in Bansko, feel free to stop by Ski & Board Traventuria and check out our selection of rental clothing. We also offer a wide selection of helmets and goggles, that you can rent during your whole stay.
Socks are something most people don’t put much thought into, until after buying their first pair of ski socks and realizing how noticeably much more comfortable they are. Ski socks are still made mainly from cotton, but some top offerings also have materials such as AEGIS® anti-bacterial protection and Cool cotton maX® moisture removal or equivalents. These allow for your socks to stay dryer for longer. Ski socks are also much longer than the socks you would go to work with. This allows them to reach well above the edge of your ski or snowboard boot for maximum comfort. Short socks tend to bunch up inside the boot and these creases can be painful in a tight ski boot.
Stinky is a bulgarian brand of socks, specialized for winter sports. Their top tier model – Young Blood is made from 66% cotton, 11% nylon, 1% elastan and 22% PYP-Prolen. Thanks to the anti-bacterial and anit-moisture technologies implemented into the socks, they are perfect for both skiing and snowboarding. This specific model also boast shock absorption where it’s needed.
This ones a no-brainer, use gloves while skiing. What gloves you use is down to personal preference. If your a beginner, get something that is waterproof, especially if your planning on learning to snowboard. Wet gloves are not only uncomfortable, but also smell, a lot. There are two main types of gloves to choose from – mittens or normal 5 finger gloves. Mittens tend to be warmer, but you should go with what makes sense for you. Experienced skiers and boarders can go for the so called “Park Gloves”. These are meant for warmer spring weather and will get soaking wet from too much contact with the snow.
Proper head gear is a must for winter sports enthusiasts. I highly recommend using a helmet when skiing, especially if your a beginner. Winter hats also work to keep your brain warm and comfortable. What you wear on your head is down to personal preference, whether you feel fine with just a hat or opt in for the extra protection a helmet offers. If you do choose the safer option of using a helmet make sure it has ear covers and some ventilation. Mesh covers over the ventilation holes is also a nice extra. Some ski/snowboard helmets also have removable lining, which allows for a winter hat to be worn underneath the helmet for extra warmth. I personally ski with a snug beanie and a helmet with removed ears and lining. This gives me the optimal mix of warmth while minimizing the total weight on my head (a beanie is lighter than the helmet’s lining and ears). If you do get a helmet, only to find out it has too much ventilation, a balaclava can be a good answer. I always ski with a buff or bacalava for extra neck protection from the cold.
6. Eye Protection
Some sort of UV protection is a must on the slopes. The snow cover has the tendency to amplify the brightness of the sun and skiing to much with a bare eye could lead to problems. In good, sunny, windless conditions, a decent pair of sun glasses is all you need while on the slopes. But when the going gets tough, most sun glasses won’t be able to cope with deteriorating conditions. When the conditions are moist, it’s snowing, or if you tend to crash, a good pair of snow goggles can be very useful. Other than offering superior protection in case of a crash, snow goggles also don’t fog up as much as normal glasses and won’t be letting small snow flakes land on your eyeballs. If you’re an expert skier who tends to ski really fast, the added wind protection of snow goggles is a great bonus (but expert skiers should already know this from expirience).
Do you really need all this stuff to go skiing? The answer is no, you don’t NEED them to be able to go skiing. You also don’t need running shoes to go running, but a nice jog wouldn’t be much fun in a pair of dress shoes, now would it? But if you do decided to invest in the above mentioned equipment, you won’t regret it.