WHAT TO PACK?

IN ORDER OF HEAD TO TOE

Helmet
If you don’t want to wear one make sure you pack your long thin skis and fluro boots because you’re going to look like the last time you skied was 1986. Everyone wears helmets these days, from speed-racers to beginners and everyone in between. Rent one or buy one. They keep you warm and safe.

Goggles
Preferably a good brand with the ability to switch your lenses as the conditions change.  Bright lens in blizzard/ dark conditions, darker lens on sunnier days. See the local ski store, they can help you out with this. Keep your goggles in the goggle bag it came in so you don’t get massive scratches across them. You’ll think they’re snow snakes slithering along the snow, it’s very disconcerting.

Balaclava
I’m not going to make the obvious joke here, as there was a case in Aspen a year or two ago where an Australian was caught holding up a bank. Balaclavas can be worn under your helmet or used as a neck warmer or kept in your pocket.

Neck warmer  
I can’t stand having a cold neck, neck warmers/ balaclavas are key to having a comfortable day and protecting against snow down your neck. They don’t take up much space and can be pulled right up over the nose when you want to stay out as long as possible as it’s freezing.

Gloves
Leather gloves. Expensive but necessary. They stay dry and they’re warm and cosy. Take a peek at the crowds drying their gloves under bathroom hand dryers and they’re mostly the synthetics. Glove liners are an extra but great for when you’re walking to the gondola or need to undo your jacket zipper on a chairlift with freezing all your fingers off. I now use leather mittens on the advice of my talented (Thanks Tennille!) Deer Valley instructor extraordinare mate who swears by them. Mittens take a while to get used to. You do feel like making a snowball with a carrot nose.

Jacket
Get a good one. Get either a shell and inner system or a good quality one. This is an item you can wear on the slopes and out at night around the resort. Don’t do what I do and buy white unless you have an intimate relationship with your drycleaner.

Under Layers
The key is layering. Skins first, then (depending on weather)  Second skin or skivvy, or long shirt and tee shirt. Note – the skivvy is STILL ok on the ski slopes but THAT’S WHERE IT STAYS. Some people freak out about what to wear under a ski jacket. I worked on a glacier in Austria where the norm was minus 20 degrees Celcius. Everybody just layered their unders then took a layer off when they got too warm. You can fold a layer into your jacket pocket if need be or revise for the following day.

Ski pants
Get a good quality pair. Amazingly you can get great deals on good quality pants so quality doesn’t have to mean great expense. Look out for end-of-season specials. Again, don’t do what I do and wear a lighter coloured pants if you’re skiing for weeks on end unless you like looking like a grubby homeless person. Grease stains from chairlifts and hot chocolate marks are not attractive.

One piece suits
Are still ok in a ski resort although beware of the style. Usually it’s the material and the fabric that give the game away. Some skiers think it’s ok to wear the same one piece ski suit all the way through from 1970 to now. Do what you like, just don’t ski under the chairlift unless you plan on entertaining everyone.

Stockings
Secret cross-dressers come out!! It’s ok to wear stockings (tights, the ones with the crotch and feet) skiing. You can also layer these and wear two pairs in extreme cold (minus 20 degrees Celcius) or take a pair off if you get too hot. I prefer to get hot and take layers off than to shiver and be cold all day. This is an item that is easily rolled up in your pocket. Best materials are wool or thick synthetics.

Socks
Buy a good quality pair from a local ski store. Socks are key (if you’re not wearing stockings) to the comfort of your boots. Technology has advanced in this area to the point that your boots can be dry and warm with just one pair of these. Don’t be tempted to wear think socks, this is pre-technology thinking. This is not 1970 this is 2011. Socks are an investment. My ski wardrobe includes about 5 pairs of Surefoot brand woolen socks. They are amazing.

Backpack
Don’t wear one. The lifties are cracking down on them each year and they’ll make you take them off. And if you’re like me and attempt to take a thermos of coffee in your backpack and have a stack, the thermos imprint between your shoulder blades is not cool.

Boots
This is the item that will determine whether you stay out all day or come in early with pinched or cold toes. Get a good quality pair as per your foot shape. Get fitted like you would for a pair of running shoes. My husband used to work in the ski industry as a boot fitter, he knows all about people hobbling in wearing their friends boots, or the wrong boot for their rolled in ankles and all manner of other problems. There is amazing boot technology out there these days, foaming, boot warmers are just a couple. Take advantage of the technology and get the most out of your ski ticket.

Extras:
Handwarmers are handy for carrying in the pocket on really cold days or when skiing with kids. Beanies are good for the pocket to put on when walking to the gondola or out at night or walking around the resort. Hydration packs worn on the back are great for keeping you out skiing longer.

Apres ski
A ski resort is a place to rug up not to wear high heels and show lots of midrift or thigh flesh, in general. Get yourself some boots with a good grip on the base (even from Walmart or a cheap chain store), wear jeans and a ski jacket or other warm winter jacket. I used to take a lot of apres clothes, going-out tops and changes of clothes. These days I’ve brought it all right back to basics. I’d rather have the space in my luggage to bring home cool stuff I saw in a particular resort than lug around stuff from home that i may not wear. It is very ok to wear ski jacket, jeans and (all styles of) shirts to ski resort restaurants, clubs and cafes, even if you’re used to dressing up at home. Cobbled streets, icy streets, slippery steps. Do you want to look amazing and possibly twist your ankle or do you want to ski the whole holiday?
       

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