Let me tell you, I’ve come a long way since my first European ski trip last season. I had no clothes for snow sports, and I didn’t want to spend the money on expensive gear. I didn’t even really know if I liked skiing yet! I wish I knew then that you didn’t have to spend a ton on snow gear to stay warm on the slopes. This season I have a solid set of clothes that keeps me warm and comfy while we’re out on the mountain all day. Here’s a before and after:
In the first picture I’m wearing a rain jacket and waterproof pants with basically every warming layer I could fit underneath! We went to the Dolomites in Italy and it was such a great trip, but I was cold practically the whole time. The only real ski gear I wore was the gloves, which were my dad’s when he skiied somewhere over 30 years ago! Needless to say, they were too big and I had little icicle fingers.
This year, I actually have real snow pants and a jacket, as well as gloves that fit! And I didn’t break the bank. Let me take you through layer by layer as I put together my snow gear.
1. Base Layer
Thermal base layers can be expensive. Notable brands like SmartWool and Patagonia can cost over $100 each for a top and bottom – yikes! This is one part of your snow attire that you probably don’t need to actually buy anything new. The important thing is that your base layer is made of an athletic fabric that will wick away your sweat and prevent cold, wet fabrics from laying against your skin.
Grab your normal workout leggings and a pullover to do the trick. Temperatures at Hintertux during our latest trip were in the teens and low twenties, and my activewear worked out great as a base layer.
If you decide you are really into winter sports, then go ahead and splurge on a thermal base layer set.
2. Snow Pants
I decided to take a chance on this well-priced snow bib two years ago, half thinking that it would turn out to be crap. But it has been such a champ! I’ve worn it for several ski trips, snowshoeing, and winter walking with Rascal and it has always kept me warm.
One note on sizing: I went up a size in the bib for a medium and it fits perfectly.
I do have a critique of this bib, and it’s that it isn’t 100% waterproof. It’s water repellent, but if you sit down in the snow for a while you will have water soak through.
3. Snow Jacket
The advice that you usually hear in regards to snow jackets is to wait until the end of the season to buy that year’s models on discount. That is great advice, and to try and do that now at the beginning of the season, you need to go to surplus sites like Overstock or 6pm.
You can usually find options under $150, and my favorites are the printed and colorful ones from Roxy.
- Gloves– Normal gloves, scarves, and socks just don’t cut it for snow sports. I bought my gloves on the mountain last season when I just couldn’t take my ill-fitting ones any longer, and I saved about $5 from buying an XL in the children’s section instead of the same brand in the adult section.
- Scarf – Instead of wrapping a crappy wool scarf around my neck like last year, I bought a Buff and it’s seriously a mountain staple! It’s like a very skinny infinity scarf that sits above your jacket and keeps your neck warm. Buffs are extra wide, so you can bring them up over your nose and mouth, which warms the air up as you breathe. You can see my thicker buff in the above photo, but they also come in thinner versions (that are usually cheaper) and several fun colorways.
- Socks – It seems that if anything is advertised as being specially made for skiing, it is more expensive. That is definitely the case with socks, where ‘skiing socks’ can cost you over $30. You want a thicker, wool sock that will do exactly what your base layer does, wick away the sweat and keep in the heat. Hiking and military boot socks fall into this category, and aren’t as expensive. I really like Fox River socks, and if you want to spend a little more then Thorlos.
Does anyone else have tried and true methods for getting ready for the slopes?