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A Beginner's Guide to Ski Gear: what to wear on your NZ ski holiday!

Family ski holiday in New Zealand

I’m going to start with the #1 tip for any winter sport EVER:

Avoid cotton at all costs!

Cotton absorbs moisture, that means anything wet will cling to your cotton clothing like a bad smell -sweat, water, snow, anything! When skiing, it’s cold. Wet clothes in the cold make for gross discomfort.

So, if you take nothing else away from this article, make it this…

DON’T WEAR COTTON WHEN YOU'RE SKIING

Now we have that out of the way, let’s work up from the bottom, starting with our poor, oft-neglected, feet.

1. Socks

Thin, warm, long socks made from wool are the best option for skiing and snowboarding. Ski/snowboard boots are designed to keep your feet warm and well insulated, so big thick socks aren’t necessary. Be sure your socks fit well and aren’t going to fall and wrinkle in your boot as this can lead to blisters.

  • Hot Tip #1: If your feet are getting cold it’s often because your boots are a fraction too tight. Try giving your feet a tiny bit more wiggle room and it should help with foot chill.

Ski socks, beginner's guide to ski gear

2. Base Layers

Your winter base layer is super important, a good, moisture wicking base layer makes a world of difference in the snow. Again, wool or a synthetic fibre is the best option – you’ll want a thin pants layer and a long-sleeved top layer.

  • Hot Tip #2: If you feel really feel the cold, consider doubling up on your top base layer (you can always take the extra layer off if you get too warm).

3. Mid Layer

Your mid layer is your second layer of defence against the cold. A fleece layer is the best option for your mid layer – very warm, light, breathable and comfortable. Consider a jacket with a zip so you can undo it if you start to get too warm.

4. Outer Layers

You will want a waterproof outer layer for both your jacket and pants. Most ski fields have an option to hire these which is a great way to keep the cost down! Look for jackets with lots of pockets to hold your gear and a hood for those cold snowy days.

Be sure your outer pants are insulated and waterproof, there’s a good chance you’ll be spending a fair bit of time on your bum so the extra insulation will help to keep out the cold.

  • Hot Tip #3: DO NOT wear jeans. They will get wet, they will get heavy, they will get cold. So unless you fancy resembling a sodden overgrown sloth, leave your jeans at home.

Get a good ski jacket, ski New Zealand

5. Gloves

Gloves are a must - frostbite is a real threat if you don’t wear gloves. Go for a thin glove liner underneath a thick Gore-tex or leather glove. Gore-tex is the cheaper option if this is your first time on the snow.

6. Goggles

Snow is bright, and snow blindness is not a joke, get some goggles. No need to spend a fortune, goggles start at around $40 NZD for adults and they are well worth it. If it’s a warm, sunny day, a good pair of sunglasses will do the trick as well.

Ski gear, New Zealand ski holiday

7. Helmet

Notice how your head cover has been referred to as a ‘helmet’, not a ‘hat’. That’s because skiing and snowboarding are sports and they come with risks. If you’re a beginner - you are going to fall over.

99% of the time you won’t hurt yourself when you fall because you don’t have far to go and the snow is generally nice and soft. Protect your head against that 1% and wear a helmet. These can be hired from any ski field for as low as $10 a day – well worth it to protect your noggin from any potential harm!

8. Extra Bits

  • Sunscreen: snow is basically one giant reflector so layer up on the sunscreen to avoid getting burnt.

  • Neckwarmer: on cold days a neckwarmer will do wonders in keeping you toasty. Wind chill can make your face very cold very fast – a neckwarmer pulled over your face is a lifesaver.

  • Beanie: If you get cold easily or the weather is a bit rough, add a thin beanie under your helmet to keep your head nice and warm (nothing with big fancy pom-poms though - not comfortable under a helmet).

BONUS TIPS

  • Carry a backpack so you can add or take away layers when you’re too hot or cold.

  • Bring a water bottle and snacks in your backpack – that way you won’t need to stop for as many breaks!

  • Carry a spare lens if you have goggles with interchangeable lenses. Different lenses make seeing easier in varying weather conditions.

Last but not least

HAVE FUN! Yes there are a few things to think about leading up to your first ski adventure, but if you are prepared and excited, you will have the time of your life.

A word of warning - skiing is addictive and I you will get hooked, so be ready to spend a lot more time on the snow!

Backpack on ski trip