Hints and tips on what you need and don’t need on the ski slopes for Skiers and Snowboarders

If you are a beginner we recommended that you hire equipment (skis, boots, snowboards) in the resort. This enables you to swap/change during your holiday. Its usually better to consider buying your own equipment with the benefit of a little skiing experience and taking a few tips from your skiing friends and the experts you will meet on holiday. For beginners, hiring facilities in most European resorts are typically very good, and in America and Canada are usually excellent.

Stick to the basics
Good quality essentials. Keep your hands, head and feet warm and you won’t go far wrong.

Moon boots
Not really essential and somewhat old fashioned now although they can be useful when walking or playing in deep snow. Trainers with a good ridged sole are normally worn by people living and working in ski resorts. The current fashion of street hikers are ideal. Take a spare pair of trainers with you in case one pair gets wet.

Ski Suit or Jacket and Salopettes
You can Hire or Buy these items. On the slopes you will need to wear a ski suit or a pair of salopettes (ski trousers) together with a ski jacket. Both are designed for your comfort and are not expensive these days. Never be tempted to wear jeans or an unsuitable anorak on the slopes. You will soon become cold and wet.

Bob Cap or Ski Hat
Essential since most body heat is lost through the top of your head. There are plenty to choose from for around £10 and the wackier the better.

Essential. These must be either ski gloves or mitts with a snow proof outer layer. Choose a pair with longish cuffs which fit snugly to your wrists.

Essential to protect your eyes from the snow, wind and glare from the slopes. If the weather gets rough you will not be able to manage without goggles. Shatterproof sunglasses are preferable in very bright conditions.

Specially designed ski socks which are long, warm and lightweight are essential for keeping out the cold.

Thermals and Polo Necks
Under your ski suit you may need to wear thermals or a lightweight T shirt and polo neck and perhaps a scarf. You will need to keep your neck warm. Two or three thin layers are a far better insulator than a heavy jumper.

These are very useful garments – more practical than a scarf and warm since they’re made from micro fleece.

Sun Barrier Cream and Lip Salve
Even in winter you will need to protect your face and lips against the sun and wind. This is extremely important the nearer you get to Easter and the better weather.

Lift Pass holder
A cheap but essential gadget which secures your very valuable lift pass to your ski jacket.

Ski Tie
Another cheap but essential item which keeps your skis together while you carry or store them and can help you to identify your skis (very important).

Butt Protector
Available from snowboard shops (£15 to £70), but a DIY job made from a camping/mouse mat may suffice. DO NOT FORGET THIS!

Wrist Supports
Roller blading supports or bandages. Wrists are easily broken.

Decent Goggles
Yellow tint suits all conditions. They are likely to go flying off, so sunglasses are not ideal.

Better to get one or two pairs of good snowboard specific socks than cheap ski socks which can bunch up. Only wear one pair at a time.

Ideally robust waterproof gloves as they take a lot of hammer.

Snowboard or ski pants which are waterproof (re. sitting a lot) and allow plenty freedom of movement.

Knee Braces
If you have any knee trouble, supports are a good idea, and knee pads are useful for the first few days (but they are usually a bit bulky).

Snowboard Rentals
European snowboard rentals tend to be very dodgy (out of date and poor quality equipment), so it is probably worthwhile spending a bit extra to rent from somewhere reputable in this country. The downside is that you are not able to swap and change, but the staff should help you make the right choice (boots must be very snug, but not painful).

General items to remember

  • Passport, tickets and currency
  • Towel(s) – not always provided
  • Swimsuit/trunks – for sauna (will be very welcome)
  • Vaseline – to prevent blisters from boots
  • Strong sun cream – you can burn badly, even when cloudy

Other useful points

  • Wear layers that can be easily added/removed.
  • Brain is an optional extra and generally not recommended!
  • A thick skin will protect you from the razor-sharp wit of skiers, who maintain archaic views of any snowboarders.
  • A good sense of humour and determination is crucial for the first few days (and probably a high pain threshold), but given the right snow conditions (i.e. soft) rapid progress can be made.
  • Never stop and sit in the middle of a busy piste, and never under the brow of a hill where you can’t be seen.