Winter is upon us, the ski slopes are laden with snow and it’s time for the yearly snow-sport holiday. To get the best out of your time on the slopes you need to know what to pack for a ski trip.

Layering

When you’re actually our skiing or snowboarding you need to consider two things: the cold (obviously!) and, the ironic fact that you’re very likely to be too hot at certain times during the day.

Sitting on the chairlifts or waiting in queues, when your body isn’t producing extra heat, are times when you’re going to feel cold. On top of the mountain in bad weather is also another (miserably) cold period.

When the sun’s out and you’re blasting down a blue run, you’re almost certainly going to feel too hot.

The way to combat these changes in temperature is to dress in layers which you can add or take off to suit your activity level. For example, two or three thin under-layers are far more flexible than one chunky jumper. By keeping the layering principle in mind you’ll stay comfortable on the slopes.

What You’ll Need in the Snow

Whether you’re skiing or snowboarding, you’ll need a basic array of clothing designed to keep you warm and dry. Below is a standard list of snow gear which you should pack for every ski trip.

Goggles

Protect your eyes with UV-filtering goggles. Double lensed varieties are best as they are more resistant to fogging. Amber and orange are lens colours that will suit a wide range of light conditions.

Gloves

Don’t think you need to spend heaps on a pair of leather gloves – nylon gloves are nearly always a far better choice. However, make sure your gloves are water proof, have adequate insulation, and that they can “breathe”. Breathe-ability is an important consideration in all ski clothing as it allows the moisture your body produces to move away from the surface of your skin and evaporate, thereby preventing you becoming damp inside your clothing.

Socks

Once upon a time two thick layers of socks was the standard recommendation, now it’s just the opposite. Your boots, if they fit properly, will do the job of keeping your feet warm, your socks are there to “wick’ moisture away from your feet and to keep your feet comfortable inside the boot. Pack socks that are thin, without prominent seems, and that are long enough to extend well beyond the top of your boot. If you have the top of the sock somewhere inside the collar of your boot your shin will quickly become chafed.

Choose “wicking” material like polypropylene or wool, definitely not cotton (which holds moisture against the skin) Socks designed for skiing/snowboarding may cost a little extra, but are well worth the expense.

Hat

The body loses a lot of heat through the top of the head. Your ears, too need protection on windy or very cold days. Pack a woollen or synthetic beanie-style hat that fits snugly and covers your ears.

Thermal Underwear

Long-johns and a long-sleeved skivvy top are the base of your ski clothing. These should be thin and close fitting and made from polypropylene or, if you can afford it, superfine merino wool (again, never cotton). When choosing long-johns bear in mind that you won’t be wearing them tucked inside your boots (see socks above). For cold conditions you’ll need two or more tops for layering.

Mid-layer

For wearing on top of your thermal underwear you’ll need a heavier top – a mid-weight fleece is ideal. “Fleeces” are generally made from polypropylene and are light, very warm and wick moisture away from the body. They also dry very quickly if you get them wet. Try to chose a fleece that can be fully or partially unzipped as this will give you greater temperature control. Collars that can be closed around your neck will give greater protection in cold conditions.

Outer-layer

This is your frontline defence against the elements. A pair of ski/snowboard pants and a jacket. Chose outer-layer garments that are waterproof, windproof and which can breathe. Look for clothing which is “seem sealed” as this means the seems have been treated so that they will not admit water or wind.

Your pants should be constructed with insulating material (you’ve only got your long-johns on underneath, remember) and should be tough enough to survive the occasional (hopefully!) fall.

Jackets that are not padded are generally more versatile for New Zealand conditions. Think of it this way; your jacket should protect you from wind and water, the layers you wear underneath the jacket should be what keep you warm. If you’re wearing a heavy padded jacket there’s not much you can do with it if you get too hot. On the other hand, you can easily slip off one of your under-layers…

Backpack

While it’s not essential, a small, closefitting backpack is very useful if you want to avoid frequent trips to the lockers. You can carry food, water and an extra top and stay out on the slopes longer – not to mention avoid paying ski slope prices for your lunch!

Pack for Success

By paying attention to the points above and considering the range of conditions you might face, you’ll be able to successfully pack for your ski trip and enjoy the best the slopes have to offer, without worrying that you’re going to get wet, too hot or too cold.

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