Thinking of doing a ski/snowboard season this winter? Or have already signed up and getting super excited? This article will give you everything you need to know to help make the most of your time on the slopes.
Firstly ski seasons are for everyone, not just for experienced skiers. Whether you ski, snowboard or are completely new to snowy mountain sports, there is truly something for everyone. In resort there are endless ways to fill your free time, as well as skiing and snowboarding. Activities range from husky rides to paragliding; or wining and dining in town to simply catching some rays in a deck chair. Being surrounded by like minded people and stunning mountain views, you will be hooked to seasonaire life in no time.
Wondering what to take? Here is a winter season checklist with all the essentials you’ll need…
When planning a trip to the mountains for a whole winter it is essential to have the right gear. Getting cold or wet on the slopes can easily turn a super fun day into a shivering nightmare. So if you are going to spend money on only one thing I would definitely suggest treating yourself to some good technical outerwear. To keep yourself dry, it’s a good idea to buy snow jacket and pants which are minimum 10k waterproof and breathability. 20k is preferable to guarantee yourself a dry day even in really wet conditions, but this higher tech gear will no doubt have a higher price point. Keeping warm is also a necessity for mountain life. For this you can buy a highly insulated jacket and be super toasty year round. Although, the potential down side to only having a thick jacket is you could be too hot and sweaty riding in spring. For many seasonaires with limited funds, buying multiple jackets for different temperatures is not often an option. Therefore if you buy a thinner jacket you have the option to layer up in the depths of winter (mid layers and down jackets are great for this) or simply wear a t-shirt/baselayer underneath for warm spring days. This type of jacket will also be more suitable for when you are back in the UK, giving you more use out of it, therefore better value for money.
There are many snow brands which do great outerwear. A standout brand is Picture Organic Clothing. They have something for everyone, whether you ski or snowboard. Their bold asymmetrical designs perfectly match mountain life, their most technical wear ‘Expedition Line’ is mostly 20k waterproof and breathability, and more importantly they are eco-friendly. Incredibly their entire range is made from a minimum of 50% recycled plastic bottles, they have a mid layer which is completely biodegrable and all of their products are PFC free. They also have an ‘Adventure Line’ which has a lower price point and is perfectly suited for seasonaire life, with a more streetwear design. What more could you ask for?
Ski and Snowboard Boots
After buying good technical wear, boots are definitely the next thing to consider. Comfort whilst riding is vital to get maximum enjoyment out of your day. There is nothing worse than having to cut your day short due to being in pain from poorly fitting boots. Snowboarders tend to have less problems with this, but it is a known issue with skiers. When buying boots, comfort and a good fit should definitely be priority over colour and style. But with many brands making different sizes and styles you should easily be able to find the perfect boots for you; however we suggest going to a proper boot fitter. Also the bonus of buying your own is most shops will do custom refits if the boots become uncomfortable. Plus you won’t have to wear some old stinky rentals.
Skis and Snowboard
When you have the potential to ski or snowboard most days of the week for five whole months, having your own equipment is a huge bonus. By working with knowledgable shop staff before you leave for the mountains you can find a ski or snowboard to suit your own personal needs. Whether that’s park riding, backcountry skiing, shredding powder or if you want something that’s perfect for carving on the pistes. Having good equipment can really help improve your skills, style and even take you to new places. If you are unsure what exactly you want, a good all-mountain variant will take you comfortably off-piste, in the park and glide nicely on groomed pistes.
If you do buy your own skis/board my advice would be to get a ski lock, especially in bigger more well-known resorts, theft unfortunately isn’t unheard of.
Helmet Goggles and Gloves
Helmets are not just for kids. Helmets are obviously for safety and designed for everyone of all ages and abilities. Further benefits include keeping your head dry and warm. Also for cruising at speed, helmets are a more secure option rather than losing your bobble hat in the wind. The good news, as well, is helmets have become more fashionable with new google-helmet style combinations.
Goggles are essential if you want to ski or snowboard in all conditions. Most come with changeable lens to adapt for low-light snowy days and bright sunny days. It’s worth spending a bit more on a good pair to avoid misting up. A good tip is to try on your goggles and helmet together in the shop before purchase, as with all the different shapes and sizes around, its good to see if they fit or look good together.
A good quality pair of gloves or mitts again is a must. To keep going until the chairlift closes you will need warm and dry fingers. Mitts tend to be warmer if you are a cold person and gloves tend to have more dexterity. For snowboarders who tend to touch the snow a lot, highly waterproof gloves will be your friend.
Specifically designed ski snowboard socks are where it’s at. They may seem pricey at times but a cotton sock will be round your ankles in no time and blisters are no fun at all. For something you will wear everyday you will definitely get your money’s worth.
Baselayers are great for wicking moisture away from the skin, to the outer clothing, to help keep you warm and dry. Its the foundation of the essential layering system that will keep you warm, comfortable and dry on the mountain.
Durable Water Repellent (DWR) hoody. Great for park riding on sunny Spring days, the coating make them water-resistant (or hydrophobic). And you’ll look cool!
A sensible pair of footwear will be your everyday friend for town life i.e waterproof with good grip.
A beanie or bobble hat again will be an everyday item for walking between pubs or for lunch stops on the slopes.
When you are not wearing goggles you should be wearing sunglasses to protect your eyes (snowblindness is a real thing!).
Lastly you will want decent bags for all your gear. Ski snowboard bags with wheels are great for convenience but remember they add a lot of weight if you are ever thinking of taking them on a plane. They are also more bulky so will take up more space in your staff accommodation (which are not always the most spacious rooms). Dakine bags are perfect.
There are specialist items to think about. If you’re thinking lots of park time, some additional protection such as pads or back protectors; and if yo’re thinking back country avalanche kit – but know how to use it because its useless otherwise. We recommend attending practice courses!
Now is the time to get excited with winter on our doorstep!
So head to a professional ski snowboard shop, make sure to try on all the gear and get a feel for comfort and size. Remember to think practical as well as style. Then you will be well on your way to an incredible winter season.by