What to wear on the ski slopes

[blog title] is a blog dedicated to providing you with the best information on what to wear for going skiing. We’ll give you tips and tricks on how to dress for the occasion, so that you can stay warm and comfortable throughout your day on the slopes.

Skiing is a sport that requires you to be prepared for anything. The weather can change in an instant, and you need to be ready to react quickly. You might be heading up the mountain in sunny weather one minute, and then find yourself fighting your way through a blizzard the next.

That’s why it’s so important to wear the right clothing when skiing, especially if you’re going to be on the slopes for more than just a few hours.

What to wear on ski

What to Wear When Skiing

Skiing is a wonderful way to spend your vacation. Not only does it provide a great workout and lots of fun, but it also offers the chance to do something different from the usual tourist activities. If you’re planning on spending some time on the slopes this winter, you’ll want to make sure you have everything you need before heading out. One of the most important things is what you wear!

If you’re going to be hitting the slopes this winter, you’ll want to make sure you’re well-equipped with the right gear. And while it’s easy to focus on what you need for your body, there are a few other things that can make or break your ski trip: what you wear and how you pack!

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What to Wear Skiing and Snowboarding

  • Long underwear.
  • Light fleece or wool top.
  • Ski or snowboard socks.
  • Ski or snowboard jacket.
  • Ski or snowboard pants (or bibs)
  • Gloves or mittens.
  • Helmet.
  • Goggles.

What to Wear Skiing and Snowboarding
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This article is part of our series: Intro to Snowboarding

A skier puts on a jacket over her bibs
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If you’re a slope newbie, or someone who hasn’t been out for a while, you might be wondering what to wear for an upcoming ski or snowboard session at the local resort. This article lays out the basics to keep you warm and protected from winter weather—without cramping your style.

Here’s a quick primer on what to wear skiing or snowboarding:

Long underwear
Light fleece or wool top
Ski or snowboard socks
Ski or snowboard jacket
Ski or snowboard pants (or bibs)
Gloves or mittens
Helmet
Goggles
Neck gaiter or balaclava

Long underwear
: This layer wicks sweat off your skin and keeps you warm. Choose wool, synthetic or silk (not cotton). You’ll want lightweight or midweight depending on the outside temperature and whether you run hot or cold.

Light fleece or wool top: Wear it over your long underwear top in the car and the lodge; wear it under your jacket to add warmth on the slopes.

Ski or snowboard socks
: Ski and snowboard socks are taller than your boots and not overly thick (thick socks can actually make your feet colder if they make your boots too tight and restrict your blood circulation). Some have padding at the shins. Go with wool or synthetic socks and avoid wearing cotton socks because, when cotton socks get wet from snow or sweat, they take forever to dry out.

Ski or snowboard jacket: These are usually waterproof or water resistant, and insulated, with convenient pockets and other snow-specific features. A waterproof/breathable rain jacket over your fleece or wool top would be sufficient as well, though its slickness might lengthen any slides you make after a fall.

Ski or snowboard pants (or bibs): Waterproof or water resistant, and insulated, these sometimes have convenient pockets, vents and features to prevent snow entering your boots. Waterproof/breathable rain pants would be sufficient as well. You can add fleece pants underneath for greater insulation.

Gloves or mittens
: Choose waterproof or water resistant and insulated. Generally, greater thickness equals greater warmth, and mittens tend to be warmer than gloves, but you sacrifice some dexterity (though inner liner gloves offer versatility). You don’t need ski- or snowboard-specific gloves or mittens, but they do have some nice features, like built-in goggle wipes and long cuffs that go up to mid-forearm to keep snow out.

Helmet
: Not mandatory, but highly recommended, a ski helmet helps protect your head, and it keeps your head and ears warm and dry. (Wear a warm hat if you’re not using a helmet.) Most ski resorts rent these, so you don’t have to buy one right away.

Goggles
: These protect your eyes from wind, snow and glare. Check that they work with your helmet, your face shape and fit over glasses if you wear them. You want them to fit without gaps. If you don’t own a pair, see if you can borrow some from a friend for a day. If it’s not actively snowing, sunglasses are a fine substitute.

Neck gaiter or balaclava: You can pull a neck gaiter up over your nose in icy temps; a balaclava offers even greater coverage.

Video: What to Wear Skiing and Snowboarding

What’s the Difference Between Ski and Snowboard Clothing?
Traditional skiwear was sleek because of the sport’s Olympic heritage and need for speed. Snowboard clothing is slightly looser, kind of like the sport’s counterculture origins. That styling carries over in ski and snowboard brands today, but the features aren’t dramatically different. Which is a long way of saying skiwear would work fine for snowboarding and vice versa.

Clothing and Dressing Tips for Skiing and Snowboarding
Three women walking with skis and a snowboard

Dress for your climate: People in the Pacific Northwest might want fully waterproof coverage and a little less insulation, for example, than folks in Rocky Mountain states, where conditions tend to be drier and colder.
Layering your clothing is the key to comfort: Wear layers that can be removed if the day warms up and added if you get chilled. (For more details, read Layering Basics.)
Save by using what you already own: If you’re on a budget, existing outdoor clothing can do in a pinch, though it will lack some specific features found on skiwear.
Invest when it makes sense: If you bought a season pass, then paying a few extra dollars for premium gear might make sense. If you only plan to go occasionally, there’s no need to splurge. Renting gear at first is a great way to save money and figure out what you might want to invest in sometime in the future.
Waterproof and synthetic is a winning combo: Jackets, pants, gloves and mittens should be waterproof and have synthetic insulation, a combo that ensures that damp conditions or your own sweat don’t compromise warmth. A few might instead be merely water resistant and/or have down insulation, attributes that are fine in dry conditions. (For more details, read What Does it Mean When a Jacket Is Water Resistant? and Down vs. Synthetic: Which Insulation Is Right For You?.)
Add handwarmers and footwarmers as needed: Many skiers consider handwarmers to be an essential; chemically activated when removed from their sealed pouch, these packets or insoles provide hours of heat even when your gloves and socks have gotten wet and cold.
Look for Recco® Reflectors: This safety feature is found on some helmets, jackets and pants. If your gear has one of these reflectors, it can help a ski patroller equipped with a Recco detector to quickly locate you after an avalanche. There’s nothing electronic to turn on—you simply have to be wearing an item with a Recco reflector on it and be on the slopes of one of 800+ ski resorts worldwide that are Recco equipped. You can select Recco as an attribute when you shop on REI.com. (Note that a Recco reflector is different from an avalanche transceiver that backcountry skiers must carry, turn on and use correctly for a similar purpose.)
Don’t forget the sunscreen: Avoid the racoon look and slather on the sunscreen on exposed skin. Sunlight is more intense at higher altitudes, and snow glare reflects the sun and intensifies sunburn and skin damage. Don’t forget the undersides of your chin, nose and ears.

What to Look for in Ski and Snowboard Jackets
A skier puts her phone into an inside pocket on her ski jacket

3-in-1 design: Jackets with this feature let you detach the outer shell from the inner insulating layer. You can leave the inner piece in your ski locker on mild days, or leave the outer shell behind if the inner jacket is wind resistant and the skies are a bright blue hue. Traditional jackets are less versatile, but you only have a single garment to worry about.
Lots of pockets: Most resort skiers don’t carry packs, so it’s nice to have plenty of places to stash essentials.
Specialized pockets: Some jackets have a clear sleeve for a lift pass; some might have an inner pocket with a soft liner to hold goggles.
Powder skirt: This inner gasket snugs around your waist to prevent snow from creeping inside during a fall; cuff gaskets perform a similar function.
Specialized hoods: Some jackets let you remove them; others allow you to adjust them to fit over a helmet.
Zippered vents: Pit zips or core vents let you add and adjust ventilation.

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What to Look for in Ski and Snowboard Pants
A skier wearing bibs with thigh vents

Bib styles: High in front, these fasten with suspenders; they are a little warmer and less prone to snow getting inside than standard pants. If you like suspenders but not full-on bibs, you can buy those separately. Keep in mind that bibs are fussier to get on and off for bathroom breaks.
Snow gaiters: These built-in internal cuff gaskets help seal out snow.
Thigh vents: These let you add and adjust ventilation – you can build up a lot of heat when you’re working hard, even on very cold days.
Reinforced inner ankles: These patches protect your pant cuffs from sharp metal edges.

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What to Look for in Ski and Snowboard Gloves and Mittens
A snowboarder wearing mittens with handwarmer packets

Mittens and gloves: Mittens group fingers for shared warmth, but gloves offer more dexterity. You might also find hybrid designs that group some fingers together to split the difference.
Removable liners: Thin liner gloves can be slipped out when you want to do detailed tasks, or left inside for maximum protection (liner gloves also dry faster when removed).
Heat-packet pockets: Sized for you to slip in a handwarmer; these can double as vents on mild days.
Thumb wipes: These soft fabric areas let you easily dab your nose or wipe your goggles.
Goggle squeegee: This raised rubber strip on the thumb or forefinger works like a wiper blade on your goggles.
Touch-screen compatibility: Some gloves feature fingertips that can work with your phone or other touch-screen gadget.

What to wear on ski holiday

Skiing is one of the most exhilarating sports out there, but it can also be a bit intimidating. Skiing, at its core, is about being outside in the cold and having fun with your friends. But there are a few things you should know before you get started.

First of all, what to wear on ski holiday? You need to make sure that you wear the right gear and clothing to stay warm and comfortable while you’re out on the slopes. If your gear is too tight or too loose then it will restrict movement and make things uncomfortable for you which can cause injury or even death! So what do you look for in skiwear? You want something that will keep you warm but not too warm so that you don’t overheat when you go inside for lunch or dinner or whatever else happens during your day off from skiing!

It’s also important to note that there are different types of skis available depending on what type of snow conditions exist where they’re made: powder snow (light fluffy snow) versus hard packed snow (densely packed crystals). Some skis are designed specifically for powder while others are better suited for hard packed conditions.

What to Wear On a Ski Trip

  • Moisture-wicking base layers. …
  • Waterproof ski jacket or hardshell. …
  • Insulated winter jacket. …
  • Sweaters. …
  • Hat, earmuffs or balaclava. …
  • Face mask. …
  • Neck gaiter or scarf. …
  • Waterproof gloves and lightweight gloves.

What to Wear on a Ski Trip – Ultimate Ski Packing List
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Heading up for a weekend on the slopes? You’re going to want to dedicate some time to planning your packing list. We are here to help you with the ultimate ski packing list.

Skiing is a fun winter activity that involves spending hours out in the cold, wet outdoors, so it requires some extra gear and packing considerations. Don’t worry though! It’s nothing you can’t handle!

ski gear
What’s In This Ski Trip Packing Guide?
In this what to wear guide, we’re covering all the essentials you need to bring along for a fun and safe mountain adventure. From thermal base layers to soul-warming beverages, your ski resort packing list is guaranteed to keep you toasty inside and out. So get ready to be a skiing pro in no time!

Essential Ski Gear
Skiing is one of the most thrilling winter activities, but it does come with a bit of risk. Statistically speaking, serious skiing accidents are rare, with catastrophic injuries occurring at a rate of about .085 for every one million skiers. However, there are some important things you can do, such as wearing medical ID tags and choosing the right helmet, to diminish risk as you bask in the powder.

ski gear
A properly-fitting ski helmet. If you’re an avid skier, we recommend getting a helmet of your own rather than renting one. Be sure to get your helmet sized at a ski shop to ensure it’s the right fit.
Ski goggles. Your ski goggles not only protect your peepers from injury caused by snow or debris, but they’re also your main defense against sun damage. Be sure to grab a pair that features UV-blocking lenses to keep your eyes safe.
Snowboard or skis. If you own your own skis or snowboard, pack them inside your ski bag! Otherwise, make plans to rent equipment before your trip.
Ski poles. Same deal here. Pack the poles you have, or rent a pair from your local ski shop.
Ski boots. Make sure to bring your own boots, otherwise, grab a pair to rent from your local ski shop.
Waterproof ski jacket or hardshell. We all know that you’re only as warm as your best jacket, so don’t skimp here, either. Buying a quality ski jacket will protect you not only from the elements, but also falls and other accidents on the mountains. Look for a ski jacket with an integrated hood to keep your head warm, plus plenty of pockets for gloves, sunscreen, lip balm, etc.
Waterproof snow pants or bibs. Whether you’re sailing down a black diamond or the bunny hill, we all take the occasional tumble from time to time. Durable outer layers including waterproof pants will help seal out snow should you meet the snow.
Ski suit. If you are skiing with younger children, you can opt for separate jacket and ski bibs or go with a ski suit.

Travel Tip – If you’re going to be renting equipment, be sure to arrive early enough at the rental shop so that they have time to size you correctly and repair any damages from the use by other skiers/snowboarders.

woman in ski googles
Ski Safety Equipment
ID bracelets for the whole family. What’s just as important as your park passes? Your family’s medical alert bracelets! Have the whole family wear an ID bracelet with their name, emergency contact, allergies, medications, etc.
Foldable snow shovel. In case of emergencies, it’s smart to pack a foldable snow shovel in your bag. If someone gets caught in an avalanche or is buried under a pile of powder, being able to dig out will come in handy!
Avalanche beacon. If you haven’t heard of avalanche beacons, they are devices that send out an electronic signal which helps rescuers find people buried in the snow. You should definitely have one if you’re headed to a mountain where there could be avalanches, but it can also come in handy if you get lost in the woods or someone else does.

What to Wear On a Ski Trip
Layers Upon Layers

What you wear skiing can drastically affect how much you enjoy the trip. Who wants to spend their time on the slopes shivering or dealing with frozen fingers? Or, on the flipside, a nasty sunburn? When not on the slopes and enjoying aprés ski, dressing in layers is essential too.

The right skiing apparel helps contribute to your safety as well. Remember: Frostbite is a real risk in many skiing conditions, so don’t take dressing for the day lightly.

family skiing
Moisture-wicking base layers. Your base layer is your first line of defense against cold and heat, so make sure they wick away moisture and help regulate your body temp. Opt for a technical, synthetic fabrics or Merino wool for your base layers. Both do an excellent job wicking moisture while being lightweight. Yak wool is another excellent fabric but comes with a high price point. Base layer brands we love include Smartwool, Icebreaker, Nui Organics, and Ibex.
Waterproof ski jacket or hardshell. We all know that you’re only as warm as your best jacket, so don’t skimp here, either. Buying a quality ski jacket will protect you not only from the elements, but also falls and other accidents on the mountains. Look for a ski jacket with an integrated hood to keep your head warm, plus plenty of pockets for gloves, sunscreen, lip balm, etc.
Insulated winter jacket. I like to pack at least two jackets on a winter trip. My go-to for winter travel is always a down or bison fiber jacket that’s lightweight, packable, and warm! For the last year, this Bison Ultralight by United by Blue has been my go-to for a puffy jacket and my this North Face parka for really cold weather.
Sweaters. Wool and cashmere sweaters provide warmth, protect against the cold, and don’t become heavy or wet compared to other fabrics like cotton or polyester. They can also be worn for other activities such as aprés ski. You can find some great options at REI, United by Blue, and Kuhl.
Hat, earmuffs or balaclava. That downhill wind can be seriously wicked, so make sure you go heavy on the protection for your head and ears.
Face mask. Another great form of protection in the cold months is a face mask.
Neck gaiter or scarf. While many of the best ski jackets come with full-zip, wind-proof collars, you may still want to add a water-repellent scarf or neck warmers into the mix to prevent that ice-cold air from sneaking in.
Waterproof gloves and lightweight gloves. You should pack a few different styles of gloves for your ski trip, including one waterproof pair — perhaps a heated option if it’s super-cold — and one lightweight, thin pair for more active duties like unloading the car or running out for snacks.
Hand warmers. Be sure to pack a few hand warmers and store inside your gloves or jacket to keep your hands nice and toasty. You can opt for disposable hand warmers like these from Ignik or a rechargeable version like this one that I have from Celestron that doubles as a phone charger.
Waterproof snow boots. Of course, you’ll be wearing your ski boots down the hill, but when you’re not in your skiis, pack a pair of comfortable, warm, and waterproof winter boots.
Sneakers or hiking boots. If you’re not hitting the slopes, bring along a pair of comfortable sneakers or hiking boots to wear on your way to-and-from the resort.
Thick socks. Socks are clutch when you’re dealing with nippy, unpredictable weather, so make sure you choose carefully. A non-bulky, high-tech synthetic or wool fabric is best. I really like a pair that goes knee high to protect against the snow and cold.
Swimsuit. Many ski resorts have hot tubs, heated pools, and saunas to take the chill off in the evening, so don’t forget your swim gear so you can releax in the hot tub. For women, I love the athletic swimwear from Title Nine. They are perfect for active women like me and look great. For kids, Land’s End offers some great styles for all ages. For men, the swim trunks from Patagonia are my boys’ go-tos.
Pajamas. Make sure you pack comfy pajamas to slip into after a full day of fun in the snow.

For more on our favorite sustainable outdoor clothing brands and what I actually packed for a trip to Alaska, see this article on what to pack for a cold weather trip.

group skiing
Ski Trip Essentials and Extras
Besides the standard, there are some things you might want to toss in your pack to ensure that you’re comfortable while shredding the slopes and entertained when you’re back at the lodge après-ski.

Travel Insurance. We never go anywhere without travel insurance these days. Between the risk of having to cancel trips due to a positive covid test to flight delays and cancellations, I just don’t want to risk it. I have an annual plan because it is cheaper for me than single-trip coverage. I’ve submitted a few claims to Allianz Travel Insurance, so my coverage already pays for itself. For single trips though, I highly recommend using Squaremouth to shop around and find the best policy with Covid coverage to protect your travel investment.
Sunscreen. Hey, who says you can’t get sunburned when it’s snowing out? In fact, high-altitude sun is especially damaging because it reflects off snow and ice, which can cause sunburn. Don’t skip the sunscreen! I’ve been using mineral sunscreen for years and my favorite brand is Sun Bum for its effectiveness and how it goes on without the white streak.
Sunglasses. Ideally, your ski goggles will have UV-blocking lenses for on-slope protection, but you’ll still need shades when you’re out of your gear.
Toasty beverages. One of the best parts about a productive day on the slopes is cuddling up by the fire in the lodge or your villa afterwards. Make it even more enjoyable with some hot chocolate or spiked cider.
Slope-friendly snacks. Be sure to pack plenty of sustenance to snack on in between runs. Granola bars and protein bars are a great option!
Fun games for the lodge. Don’t forget to pack a deck of cards and your family’s favorite board games for some lodge fun at the end of the day. If it’s an adults-only trip, recruit the crew for a few fun winter drinking games.
Lip balm and lotion. The cold, dry air can really mess with your skin and lips, so make sure to keep the moisturizers on hand at all times.
So there you have it — an uncomplicated, comprehensive list of things to bring along the next time you head out for a ski trip. Whether this is your first time skiing or your hundredth, these essentials will help ensure that you’re able to post up and enjoy one of the best parts of winter without worry. Happy trails to you! Enjoy your next ski trip!

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