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  1. #1
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    Question What to wear while skiing?

    Hello, long time reader and first time poster here. I'm about to go on my very first ski trip with my girlfriend and some of her friends. My question is as follows: What do I wear/bring with me to the slopes? Any and all advice would be much appreciated!

    Thanks in advance,
    Rd27

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    It -really- depends what the temperature and weather is going to be like where you are going out. Also, I would say a lot depends on where you are going skiing - the weather can change a lot faster and be way more unpredictable in the mountains that say if you skiing on a hill in the Midwest.

    Another question I would have for you is if this is your first time skiing or just your first time going out skiing on a trip like this. There can be a massive difference temperature wise from the top of the mountain versus the bottom and if you are going to be on the lower elevation beginner slopes all day you will likely not need to dress as warm.

    Without know the situation very much, the best things I can recommend are these:
    1) Good snow pants. Especially if you are a beginner and are going to be falling a lot, you are going to get wet, and if you get wet you are going to get colder way faster.
    2) Long underwear. A good pair of merino wool underwear is a godsend and both keeping you warm and pulling away the moisture from your skin when you get hot.
    3) A Helmet. Rent one or buy one, but just make sure you have one. You aren't cool if you don't wear one, they are surprisingly comfortable and warm, and in the case of you wrecking yourself (or someone wrecking themselves in to you), you are going to be happy you had it.
    4) Layering. A good insulated jacket is nice, but you can get away with something with way less if you just are smart about layering.
    5) Ski socks. Ski boots suck and a good pair of ski socks can go a long way to making you feet feel less shitty.

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    Super Moderator LesserBlackDog's Avatar
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    Varies depending on conditions. But generally you need a base layer (merino wool is best), an insulating midlayer (fleece, down, etc) and a weatherproof outer shell like Gore-Tex. If you’re skiing in cold, dry conditions it probably doesn’t need to be super waterproof. A lot of brands like The North Face and Columbia make “3-in-1” style coats that have an outer shell and an inner insulating layer that zips or snaps in. If you are skiing in pow you probably want a coat with a powder skirt that snaps into your pants and keeps snow from coming up the inside of your jacket.

    For pants you will want specific ski pants that have an internal gaiter that tucks into your boot to keep snow from coming up your pants. These pants are sometimes insulated and sometimes not so again, depending on your conditions, you may need an insulating layer.

    Socks - generally you will want something knee high but not too thick, since ski boots do a pretty good job keeping your feet warm.

    Gloves - just depends on how cold it is. Kinco pigskin gloves treated with Sno Seal are cheap and effective and were de rigueur among lift techs and ski patrol the last time I did much skiing.

    Balaclava or other face protection is a good idea if it’s going to be really frigid.

    Helmet - yes.

    Goggles - yes.

    Remember to clip your toenails. And wear sunscreen on your face.
    Ben

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    Hello again and thank you for the quick replies.

    This will be my first time skiing (I've been water-skiing before, but I'm sure it's different). From what I know so far, the trip will be in the mountains of West Virginia in January.

    What sorts of boots/shoes will I need for this?

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    Quote Originally Posted by rd27 View Post
    What sorts of boots/shoes will I need for this?
    You just pray to god that the rental place you go to has a good boot fitter.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rd27 View Post
    Hello again and thank you for the quick replies.

    This will be my first time skiing (I've been water-skiing before, but I'm sure it's different). From what I know so far, the trip will be in the mountains of West Virginia in January.

    What sorts of boots/shoes will I need for this?
    If you're going to Snowshoe, WV, then I have some recommendations for you. I've taken my family (wife and two teenagers) to Snowshoe once a year for the past 8 years, so obviously I really like it there. I know your question is about clothes for skiing, but you mention that you haven't skied before, so I want to put my two cents in and strongly suggest that you take ski lessons at the resort. They have excellent ski schools for kids and adults. Back when my wife and I took our first lessons at Snowshoe, they had a deal where we'd pay a one-time flat rate of like $75 and they'd give you unlimited adult lessons during the entire stay. And we needed all of it! But by the third day, we could handle the greens (bunny slopes). I think without lessons, you run the risk of hurting yourself (or others). Anyway, I don't think they still have that ski guarantee deal, but even so, taking a lesson or two will make the rest of the trip more enjoyable. Also, I should mention that Snowshoe has two separate ski areas, the main one (near Expedition station) and the older part called Silvercreek where a shuttle bus will take you (unless you're already staying in the Silvercreek area). If you're learning to ski, Silvercreek is easier. The bunny slopes over there are a bit wider and have less of an incline compared to the main ski location at Expedition. Plus, there's usually less people at Silvercreek, and they offer night skiiing until like 9 or 10 pm, which is neat. Oh yeah, one more tip for a beginner: when you ride up the ski lift to the top of the slope, motion to the control booth with a "thumbs down" signal, which they know means you want to slow down the lift as you approach. That should help you with getting off the lift without falling over. They have a few "high speed" lifts, and it can get a bit tricky getting off the lift when they're at full speed.

    Okay, back to clothes. Like others have said, if the family you're going with has ski clothes, or if you have friends nearby who will lend you stuff, then that's the first option. Snowshoe rents out helmets for something like $10 a day. Of course, they also rent out skis, snowboards, boots, etc., basically everything you need to ski. They sell goggles, gloves and glove warmers, and other things and generally the prices are fair. You won't get Black Friday deals, but they won't gouge you either. In January, assuming nothing out of the ordinary, it should hoover around 20-25 degrees during the day, but if you go night skiing, then it will drop quite a bit, so I recommend lots of layers. The first time we went, it was during a Christmas week and the temps we close to 5 degrees. After day 1, and frustrated with not yet knowing how to stand up on skis, we almost packed up and left mid-vacation! Other times we've gone, it's been 30-35 degrees, and with the sun out, we go away with a light jacket and ski pants/snow bibs.

    As for other recommendations: I'd recommend sunscreen. Yes, it's freezing out, but you don't realize you're exposing yourself to direct sunlight for 7-8 hours and before you know it you're sunburned! The resort condos/restaurants are located at the top of the mountain (unlike most ski resorts), so you will have to drive up a twisty road to get there, meaning having 4 wheel drive will help. Unless they get an unusual amount of snow, expect 50% or more of the snow to be machine made. It's not going to be powdery like out west, and if it melts during the day and then freezes over at night, expect the snow to be slick in the morning.

    Anyway, have fun! They have dedicated snow boarding parks and moguls for the more aggressive skiers, so if you stay on the main slopes, you should be surrounded by mostly avid skiers and families.

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    Super Moderator LesserBlackDog's Avatar
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    Regardless of whether you are doing downhill/Alpine or cross-country/Nordic, you'll have to get ski boots as part of a rental package when you get your skis and poles. These are activity-specific boots that are designed to clip into the ski bindings and, in the case of downhill skis, keep your ankles immobilized to reduce the risk of injury.



    Ben

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    All of this is good advice. On socks...they make special socks for downhill ski boots. The reason is that you put a lot of pressure on your shins when you're downhill skiing - the only way those boots will flex is forward, but it's a fairly stiff flex so you have to really push your shin into the front of the boot to get the flexion that is necessary for the motion used to initiate turns. All that pressure means that socks with ribbing on the calves (most socks made for hiking and other athletic pursuits have such ribbing) can get pretty irritating pretty quickly, so they make socks with no ribbing in the calves. Also, they don't have a toe seam as your downhill boots should be pretty snug for optimal control over your skis.

    They make ski pants with an elastic around the ankle - this is a substitute with the ones with built in gaiters as the elastic fits snugly enough around your boot to keep out snow. I would wear some sort of performance wicking base layer top and bottom, followed by an insulating layer (for the bottom a pair of sweat pants will probably do if you don't have something with a more performance oriented fabric) and then a shell. May want slightly more insulation up top on your torso.

    This is probably a downhill ski trip as when most people refer to ski trips that is what they're going for...but if you are going to be nordic (AKA cross country) skiing wear what you'd wear for a run/jog in similar conditions. Nordic skiing is a completely different animal than downhill as far as cardiovascular effort is concerned, and if you dress the same way as you do for downhill while nordic skiing you'll get waaaay overheated and sweat buckets.
    “Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.” – Mark Twain

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    To be clear, this is going to be a lot less about style than it is about the skiing. WV in January is going to be pretty cold.

    Layers:

    Outerwear - You will want the most wind/waterproof outer layers that you can find while still having breathability. Successfully getting both is very expensive (Goretex and similar) otherwise you are usually sacrificing one for the other. You will need a jacket or shell and snow pants as well.
    Mid-layer - Up top, this is usually a very breathable sweatshirt or light jacket material that is about warmth and, again, breathability. This is not an important layer to have water resistance so don't worry about that.
    Sub layers - Good wicking/breathing long underwear options, almost always wool of some kind. You will want bottoms and a top.
    Socks - Get ski specific socks. They are key as the number one reason people quit/go in for the day is due to cold toes which is most often the result of sweaty feet that freeze over.

    Other items:
    Gloves/mittens
    Helmet/hat
    Goggles
    Face covering

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    Super Moderator LesserBlackDog's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dtbleu View Post
    To be clear, this is going to be a lot less about style than it is about the skiing
    Unless he really wants it to be about the style, in which case, deffo bundle up in some flannel-lined jeans and a shawl cardigan and slip-on Bean boots and settle in at the ski lodge with some hot chocolates and IPAs while your friends are out freezing their butts off on the slopes

    Ben

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