A quick stop into any local ski shop could quickly leave you completely overwhelmed and your wallet looking a bit thin. With ALL THE GEAR that you need for skiing, it can be difficult to know what’s great, what’s overpriced, and what details you should be looking for in good ski gear.
Lucky for you, we’ve just gone through the entire process of outfitting our family of 7 for ski season. It’s no small process, but we’ve learned a ton that I can’t wait to share with you. We’ve gone through our gear to see what still fits and works great, decided what we needed to replace, and headed out for some ski shopping. Through it all, we’ve learned that high prices don’t always mean great quality. But know that there are pieces of gear that are absolutely worth splurging on. Here we’ll show you exactly what to look for in some of the top pieces of ski equipment.
Choosing the Best Ski Gloves
When you’re looking for good ski gloves (or mittens), the number one thing that you should be looking for is a waterproof pair. This is one item where you don’t want to settle for water resistant.
For years, I fell into the trap of getting everyone in the family a new pair of $25 gloves at a big box store, so proud of the great deal I’d found. Then every February, the water resistance would start to wear off and our hands would be left wet and cold. In the end, we spent significantly more money on gloves by buying lots of cheap pairs than we would have if we had just purchased a really great glove from the beginning.
When you’re looking for a great pair of ski gloves, consider getting a longer pair of gloves that goes higher up the arm and can cinch up as well. This will allow you a customized fit and will be one of the best ways of keeping your hands warm and dry, especially on a powder day!
While there are plenty of amazing gloves for adults out there, great kids’ gloves can be harder to find. If you need specific recommendations on the best gloves and mittens that we’ve found for kids, check out my review where we tested the best waterproof gloves and mittens for kids.
Choosing the Best Ski Helmet
Choosing a good ski helmet is one of the most important ski gear choices that you will make. While looks are nice, the most important factor when choosing a ski helmet is getting the proper fit so it will protect your head correctly. A well-fitting ski helmet can mean the difference between an inconsequential fall and a trip to the emergency room.
When you’re choosing a ski helmet, it’s essential that you try it on for size. First of all, check and make sure it’s comfortable. Next, make sure that when you wiggle your head around and from side to side, that the helmet doesn’t move around. Finally, make sure that the helmet isn’t more than 2 fingers above your eyebrows, a sure sign that the helmet is too small.
When buying a new ski helmet, look for one with an adjustable dial in the back to give you a more custom fit. For extra protection, you can buy a ski helmet with the MIPS safety system. If you have an especially round head and can’t find a helmet that fits you, consider purchasing an Asian fit helmet.
Choosing the Best Ski Goggles
When shopping around for ski goggles, there are a few things that you absolutely need to look for to make sure you get the best pair. A good-fitting pair of ski goggles will fit snug against your face and not have any large gaps on the sides or at your nose. Also, good goggles will be wide enough that you have good view from your peripheral vision, and shouldn’t extend below your cheekbones.
Here are a few other things to look for when choosing good ski goggles:
First, make sure that your goggles fit well WITH your helmet on. Not all helmet and goggle combinations work well together, so make sure to try them both on before you buy. To keep you warm and dry, make sure that the top of your goggles comes close to the bottom of your ski helmet.
Next, make sure that your ski goggles have 100% UV protection. The sun is harsh in the mountains, and you need to keep your eyes protected!
Finally, make sure that your goggles have double-layered lenses so that your lenses will stay clear and have a smaller chance of fogging up. Some goggles also have an anti-fog coating which is especially helpful if your face sweats a lot when you ski.
Choosing the Best Base Layers for Skiing
Base layers may be the most overlooked piece of ski gear on the entire mountain, but they are one of the most important. Your base layer is your first line of defense to make sure you stay warm, you don’t overheat, and moisture is wicked away from your body.
Long gone are the waffle-weave cotton thermals of my youth, replaced by snug-fitting base layers designed to help you stay outside all day long.
Material fiber content is incredibly important when buying base layers, so look for pieces that are made of wool, bamboo, or synthetic material (not cotton). All of these materials do a great job at insulating, and helping to regulate body heat and moisture. Merino wool and bamboo are often a bit more expensive, but you can plan on them lasting for years and years. Synthetic materials like polyester and polypropylene are good budget base layer options, and with new brushed finishes, many of them are incredibly soft.
Base layers come in different weights, so if you typically run hot, you’ll want a lightweight base layer. If you’re like me and always seem to be cold, grab a thicker or expedition-weight base layer.
If you need help choosing kid-specific base layers, check out my review of the best kids’ base layers where I share the best brands and styles.
Choosing the Best Ski Socks
I’m often asked if people really need to buy special socks just for skiing, and I always answer YES! Ski socks are designed to go up near your knees and have padding throughout the foot and shins, making the entire ski experience so much more comfortable. While wool ski socks are our family favorite, there are many great ski socks that are made of bamboo and synthetic materials. Considering that you can buy a great pair of ski socks for about $20, it’s worth splurging on a pair of ski socks that you really love.
While the initial investment of buying ski gear can seem a bit daunting, the good news is that most of this ski gear will last for years and years if it’s well cared for. If you can’t get everything you want right now, I’d start with a great pair of gloves and ski socks and add a new piece of gear that you really love each season.
If you’re getting ski gear for kids and have multiple kids, I highly recommend making sure that you get high-quality ski gear for your oldest so it can be passed down to younger kids as well. We’ve done this in our family and the investment in good gear for our oldest child has more than paid off as we have been able to use the same gear for all five of our kids.