Men's Life Today: Expert Q+A
I’ve been invited on a ski trip. I’ve never skied before, and I don’t want to invest in a bunch of clothing and equipment I may never use again if I don’t like it. What’s the minimum I can get away with buying?
If you’re a total beginner, you’re going to want to rent skis, poles and boots. Often, they can be part of a bargain package at a resort, where you may also get some training. (After that experience, if you want to keep skiing, you should buy your own boots, at the very least -- your skiing won’t be nearly as efficient or athletic without properly fitting boots.)
Good equipment is one thing, but staying warm on the slopes is paramount to having fun. Remember, there are likely to be long periods of time on the ski lift when your body is not skiing -- and therefore not generating heat -- and can be exposed to cold winds.
Start with outdoor long underwear that wicks away moisture and regulates temperature (such as Capilene by Patagonia) along with a thin but warm alpine skiing sock (try Eurosock). For a less expensive option, go to Campmor or Sierra Trading Club on the Web and search for performance socks and long underwear. Make sure they’re both performance-grade -- standard socks and long underwear can make you feel damp and cold after sweating, which you will definitely be doing a lot of.
Follow that with an inner down or fleece layer (fleece is cheaper) and an outer layer (pants and ski coat) made of GORE-TEX. Yes, GORE-TEX will cost more, but is generally worth the investment because it’s snowproof and windproof, and it regulates temperature well. Patagonia, The North Face, Marker, Cloudveil and others all make excellent ski wear. If GORE-TEX is simply too much for your budget, you can try HyVent from The North Face, which may halve the price. Other options are Triple Point and eVent. If you’re on a serious budget, you can make do with a water-resistant nylon jacket.
Finally, you’ll need gloves with an inner liner and a waterproof outer (again, GORE-TEX is best), or even a ski mitten with fingers inside and a mitten outside for extra warmth. For your head, rent a helmet (now mandatory on most slopes) that comes not only lined, but also with goggles. You may also want to buy a ski beanie for when you’re not wearing your helmet.