Thinking about hitting the slopes this winter, but not sure where to start? If you’re a first-time skier or snowboarder, you’ll want to be prepared with the right gear to stay warm while being active in the cold. Here’s some tips on how to nail the perfect ski outfit before heading out on the slopes.
We sat down with Canadian ski and snowboard expert Kate Rutledge to discuss how to nail the perfect ski outfit. What started out as a high school hobby for Kate turned into a career, teaching skiing and snowboarding during university. Today, Kate is a freelance writer in Canada where several sports magazines publish her work, including SBC Skier Magazine, Snowboard Canada Magazine and Mountain Life Resort Guide Magazine. From essentials to trends, Kate breaks down the ins and outs of ski and snowboard outfits.
How do ski vs. snowboard outfits differ
Ski and snowboard outfits are pretty similar with one main difference: a snow skirt. “Snowboarders tend to sit down to do up the bindings on their snowboard,” says Kate. This makes having a snow skirt an essential item for any snowboard outfit. “It’s built into the jacket with dome snaps to prevent snow and cold air from hitting exposure skin. A lot of brands are now making jackets and pants which use dome snaps to attach the 2 pieces together.” It’s the perfect way to protect your skin from being exposed to the harsh winter elements.
You’ll also want to purchase your ski outfit from a good company. Kate says, “Some brands focus on appealing specifically to skiers and others to just snowboarders. Burton is great for both ski and snowboard audiences. For skiing specifically, check out Arteryx and Patagonia for unisex high-quality material. For snowboarding, try Canadian company, Nikita for woman’s snowboarding gear and Billabong or Volcom for men’s gear.”
Essential must-have pieces
“People are willing to spend more money on their jackets to keep their torso warm while they are in the cold weather,” explains Kate. “Secondary would be ski goggles. There are drastic differences between the technology on your goggles. Oakley has goggles that can show you the elevation while you’re on the slopes. Having a good pair of goggles will dramatically improve the experience you have on the slopes.” Plus, it’s a great way to protect your eyes from the UV light.
“Finally, having a helmet is important for your safety and can be a statement piece. Try matching it with your goggles to stand out more. Most resorts will recommend or make helmets mandatory to keep people safe. It’s part of the reason why more people consider it with their ensemble.”
Often overlooked is a good base layer. It can get really cold in Canada and having a good base layer can make all the difference when you’re on the slopes. “Base layers help to contain the heat and make for more of a pleasant experience on the hill.” There are also a ton of different fabrics you may want to consider when purchasing. “Merino wool is one of my personal favourites,” says Kate. “Once you find something that works, stick with it. My merino wool ninja suit by Airblaster is a great find!” And don’t forget, having more than one base layer is a great way to prepare for hitting the slopes the next day.
How to style with the on-hill trends
Kate shares the know-how on style trends she’s observed. “As a passionate skier, I see the trends throughout the seasons. It’s always a solid colour up top and crazy with the pants – i.e lots of loud fun patterns and colour. Your jacket acts as the anchor piece as a more subtle solid colour, and then you use accessories as accent pieces.”
When you’re purchasing gear for your ski outfit, think about the details and what you want. Kate advises, “Consider waterproofing, pockets, durability and advancements in technology and products. You want a piece that will have usability for your needs. For example, something to accommodate holding your ski googles without scratching them.” Skiers and snowboarders are getting smart to this, says Kate. “So this is pushing companies to think about their designs more.”
After the slopes with après-ski
Your ski outfit has to also work for when you’re off the hills. Change into a pair of snow boots and head into the village for some après-ski. “Having a taller pair of snow boots will help to protect your legs from the wind and snow. People tend to keep their snow pants on and take the jackets off to expose a warm sweater. Then they swap a helmet for a toque,” Kate shares. Just remember to dress in layers to accommodate for any outdoor heaters you may encounter.
Ski outfit tips and tricks
Be sure to bring a good pair of socks. Two to three pairs should do the trick. “If you’re doing consecutive days, a good tip is to pull out the liners from your boots to help them dry out each day. You can even try tucking newspaper into your liners and boots, to help them dry quicker.” Top tip: keep it smelling fresh by adding a little baking soda to your boots!
“There are also ways to reinforce the waterproofing of your ski outfit. Nikwax is an example of a product that can be added to the washing machine with your outerwear. This will help the material to make your outerwear last longer.”
“Ski outfits are an investment and they can last you a few seasons,” says Kate. Plus, they are multi-purpose and can be used for more outdoor winter activities, such as snowshoeing, dog sledding and snow tubing. Just take all of these tips into consideration and you’ll be sure to nail the perfect ski outfit.
So, are you ready to book your next ski adventure? Check out Contiki’s ski and snowboard trips and get ready to pack the most stylish ski outfit for your trip.