Packing For The Slopes

Packing for a trip to the slopes can be a daunting thing, especially if you’ve never been before.
I mean sure you know to pack warm layers because there’s snow so of course it must be cold, but outside of that what do you take? What layers do you need? What equipments is a must? And most importantly where can you find it all? Well fear not my little wannabe snow-bunnies, I’m here to show you what to pack so that when the time comes to hit the slopes you’ll know exactly what you need!

HELMET

Safety is key when you’re on the slopes.
Helmets may not be the coolest looking things but Natasha Richardson, Michael Schumacher and my job as an International Assistance Coordinator (separate post on that coming soon!) have shown me that a helmet can be the difference between life and death. You can rent a helmet from your resort’s ski shop, or if you know you’ll be going skiing regularly it’s worth investing in your own. There are various companies which sell helmets, but when you’re looking you’ll need to pick a style that fits well because lets face it, a helmet that doesn’t fit is about as useful as a chocolate teapot.

What do I use?

I wear a Bern Watts EPS in Matte Black.
Not only do their helmets fit me well and comply with all of the safety standards, but they’re the only brand I have found that doesn’t leave me looking like a total egg. In addition to this it has vents on the top (I get a hot head) and super warm ear covers that not only protect my lobes from that snowy chill, but have built-in audio so my helmet basically doubles as super-safe headphones, which means I can glide my way down the mountain whilst listening to Eminem. Win!

GOGGLES

Googles are a never ending way to spend your money. There’s so many different shapes and shades to choose from it can be nerve-wracking knowing where to start. I know this because when it came to choosing mine I didn’t have a clue. Luckily S has been skiing/boarding (he does both – over achiever) forever, and he bought me a pair for Christmas a few years back, which meant the decision was out of my hands. Thankfully! Different lenses achieve different outcomes and so the conditions will be predominant in which you choose.

If it’s bright and sunny then you’ll need a dark coloured lens.
(Grey, dark brown, black/silver mirrored or blue)
Darker lenses mean less light will come into your googles enabling you to see more which is great because the more visibility you have the better you’ll be at judging distance, which is definitely a requirement. Snow-blindness is a real thing and there’s nothing worse than not being able to see where the dips and bumps are when racing down a black run!

For foggy or poor conditions you’ll need a light coloured lens.
(Pink, red, yellow, amber, gold or green)
Lighter lenses means that more light comes into your googles, which helps enable you to assess depth perception, contrast and the ability to see shapes and objects in darker areas (which is really quite handy if you ever get stuck in a white out!).

What do I use?

I wear Oakley’s Stockholm Goggles with a lightly mirrored lens.
I tend to take both my goggles and sunglasses with me in my backpack, but which ones I wear will depend on the conditions. If it’s bright, sunny and not snowing then I’ll wear my sunglasses. But if it’s snowing, foggy or, well cold, then I’ll use my goggles.

COAT

This one is kind of self explanatory!
You’ll want a coat that’s waterproof but the thickness will depend on your personal preference. You’ll see people on the slopes wrapped up in coats that resemble duvets but you’ll also see boarders whizzing past you in nothing but a waterproof shell, so the thickness you choose is down to how hot you get and whether you want something tight, or loose. My only recommendation is to ensure it stops quite low, because getting snow up your back when you fall is just as cold as it sounds!

What do I use?

I wear a DC Exotex coat which I cannot for the life of me find a link to! It’s a lightweight waterproof jacket that has an inner pocket for my phone with a headphone cable hole, a snow catcher so that I can tighten the bottom to ensure I don’t get a snowy back when I fall (and lets face it, we all know I’m going to fall!) and it keeps more warm whilst ensuring I don’t get too hot. It’s my dreamboat snowcoat and even though it’s however many years old I still absolutely adore it.

SALOPETTES

Salopettes are sold literally everywhere. You can get them direct from brand’s websites, you can find them on various retailers or you can pop into your local TK Maxx and find some there too. I’m a total DC fan when it comes to snow gear because I love the way their styles fit me. They’re baggy without swamping me, they’re warm, and they’re comfortable. But the thing with salopettes is there are multiple styles. You can buy them tight, baggy, high waisted, low waisted, long or calf length. There’s literally a style and pattern for everyone.

What do I use?

I wear DC Ace salopettes in Harbor Blue. My current pair are last seasons and were a total steal from TK Maxx, costing me just half the price of what they retail for. There’s multiple pockets for you to fill with all the Maoam and Curly Wurly’s, and have a few zips which you can open for breathability. I have black, orange, green and blue salopettes but I love these so much I pretty much only take them whenever I go away.

THERMALS:

Thermals, base layers, whatever you want to call them, they’re like pyjamas which you get to wear all day. They’re comfortable, keep you warm and are totally acceptable to wear around the chalet after a day out on the slopes when you can’t be bothered to change. Base layers are available everywhere but in my opinion it’s worth investing because a good pair of base layers will last you years, but a cheap pair wear-out very quickly.

What do I use?

I use a combination of different brands. If the sun’s out I pretty much just ski in thermals, salopettes and my coat and because I tend to get so warm I wear Helly Hansen dry layers. But on days where it’s cold I’ll wear Under Armour… And probably a jumper and fleece and scarf and duvet too.

BUFF:

A scarf/headwear which can be worn 13 different ways. For me it’s vital in keeping the chill off my neck or if it’s a total whiteout thenI’m probably going to wear my entire head in it so that my hair doesn’t freeze. A small but simple item of clothing with so many different uses and by far one of my favourite products!

What do I use?

I use a windproof neck-warmer buff which is half Goretex and half fleece. It’s warm. It’s snug. It’s easy to pull up and protect my nose and mouth when I’m stuck on a chairlift because someone’s fallen off the chairlift whilst attempting to get on!

SOCKS:

A simple one but one that can really affect how much you love or hate skiing.
I have strong leg muscles and because my calf muscles are quite prominent, I can’t wear thick socks.
Or I can, but it means that I’ll be in a whole great deal of pain because the ski boot will squeeze the ever-loving life out of my baby cows. (I have legit been brought to tears mid-run by this!) If you’re snowboarding it doesn’t matter so much, but if you’re skiing your boots will need to be tight so I recommend warm knee high socks that are reasonably thin.

What do I use?

Sam’s socks.
I wish I was kidding but I’m totally not.
I’ve bought multiple pairs of socks from various different brands from high-street to luxury but nothing makes my toes and legs happier than stealing Sam’s Salomon socks.

GLOVES:

An obvious choice but one that’s hard to get right. Gloves or mittens? Tight or lose fit? Thick or thin?
Again this one is down to personal preference!

What do I use?

I used to ride with a beautiful pair of quilted white gloves made by Barts.
They were like 6 years old but I adored them. Unfortunately when we went away last month I sort of kind of accidentally turned them inside out and neither me, nor five other people could get the material back into the shell and so I gave up. Obviously I couldn’t ski without gloves so on a little night-time trip to La Plagne, I picked up a pair of gloves by a French brand called Racer. Despite the name they did nothing to help my racing abilities, but they did keep my hands warm, so yano, that’s good.

SNOW BOOTS:

Ahh snow boots, the multi purpose shoe of joy.
You were built for all terrains, from pratting about on the slopes, to dancing all night as you apes-ski. You pretty much won’t need any other shoe because, well, ice, so when you’re picking a snow boot/shoe you’ll want something that’s comfy.

What do I use?

I currently use the O’Neill Meribel boot. They’re comfortable, waterproof and have good grip. Unfortunately despite the lace-ups they don’t remain tight around my legs and so this year was my last year wearing my beloved moon-boots, and next time I’ll be getting a pair of these bad boys from Sorel.

BACKPACK?

A backpack isn’t a necessity. You probably have enough pockets in your jacket and your salopettes for all of your secret snacks, but if you like having the option of somewhere to store your layers then a backpack is your best bet. There are a variety of options on backpacks but you’ll want one with a either a chest or waist strap as nothing ruins a great run like a backpack flailing about behind you.

What do I use?

I don’t normally ski with a backpack because if I’m honest it’s a right pain in the arse for me having to lug stuff around, but this year I wanted to take my DSLR out to play and so S and I went on the prowl for a backpack. We ended up finding this beauty from Lowepro and it was everything  I wanted from a backpack and more. Not only does the Transit Sling have a a snug layout perfect for my camera, but it has seat-belt style straps that ensures the pack stays close to your back. In addition to this it’s a sling style pack which means that when you undo one of the straps you can swing the pack around to your front making it super convenient when you want to whip out your camera or sit on a chair lift in comfort.

And last not but least…

TO SKI OR TO SNOWBOARD?

Ahh the everlasting debate.
There is no option which is better than the other, only which one you prefer. I’ve been skiing for 5 years and whilst I ski, it’s only because that’s what I learnt first. I actually have issues with skiing because no matter which brand of boots I buy (or how many times I have had them stretched) because I have calf muscles the boots always dig in. I’m currently transitioning over to snowboarding because I actually love it a whole lot more, but as with any new thing – it takes time. My recommendation is to try both and see which feels right to you. It could be both, it could be neither, but until you try you’ll never know!

What about you guys?
What do you throw in your suitcase when packing for the slopes?
Anything I’ve missed? Let me know in the comments!