So you've made the choice to go skiing/snowboarding. Congratulations! When done right, a day of skiing/snowboarding can be one of your most pleasurable and memorable experiences. But planning is a key step, and what to wear skiing/snowboarding is a key element to your pleasure factor for the day. Perhaps you are an experienced skier or maybe this will be your first time. No matter the temperatures or conditions, you can be comfortable when you wear the right thing.
The good news is that you probably already have most of what you need for a day out on the slopes. What you don't have is usually easily borrowed from friends or family. (If you buy anything, it should be a pair of waterproof shell pants and warm long underwear.) Follow our guidelines for what to wear to help make your experience skiing or snowboarding a comfortable one, from head to toe.
I. HEAD & FACE
HATS are a definite must, to keep you warm! Look for hats that are waterproof and windproof for maximum comfort.
SUNGLASSES and GOGGLES are optional, but can make you more comfortable by reducing sun glare and keeping any natural snow out of your eyes. Look for 100 percent UV protection in sunglasses, and make sure that they fit snugly behind your ears. Goggles should form an uninterrupted seal on your face; watch for gaps, especially around your nose and extend above your eyebrows and below your cheekbones.
Ultimately, the choice of whether to wear a HELMET on the slopes is one of personal and/or parental choice. It's up to you to educate yourself about their benefits and limitations. NSAA, the trade association for ski areas across the country, has set up a good informational website called Lids on Kids. If you do decide to wear a helmet, make sure that you wear one specifically designed for winter sports! For more information on helmet usage and FAQs, visit lidsonkids.org.
Don't forget SUNSCREEN! Snow is reflective, and magnifies the sun's rays the same way that water in a pool or the ocean does. Putting on sunscreen at least a half hour before you hit the slopes is a great way to protect your skin.
II. CLOTHES / LAYERS
Layering up gives you the flexibility to add or remove layers as needed, depending on the weather and your activity. Follow a three-layer system for the best results:
WICKING LAYER: This is the layer worn next to your skin. It should fit snugly (but not tightly) in order to keep moisture away from your skin. Avoid wearing cotton in this layer, as it will absorb sweat and snow, and make you cold! Turtleneck shirts, long underwear, footless tights, etc, work well in this layer.
INSULATING LAYER: This is the middle layer(s) that help keep heat in and cold out. On a warm, sunny day you may not need an insulating layer... but bring one anyway, just in case. (It's better to be prepared, and you can store any unnecessary layers in one of our token-operated lockers.) Make sure that your insulating layer is loose enough to trap air between layers, but not so bulky that you have trouble moving. Comfort is key, and either fleece or wool sweaters work well in this layer.
PROTECTIVE LAYER: This is your outermost layer. Your jacket and pants which guard against the elements should be water resistant/water proof and wind resistant. It should always fit comfortably and never restrict your range of motion. Don't wear jeans or street pants! Denim is not waterproof, so water will soak into the fabric and you will end up being cold, wet and miserable.
III. HANDS & FEET
Don't buy GLOVES or mittens that are too tight. There should be a little air space at the tips of your fingers, which acts as additional insulation. Future snowboarders may want to wear wrist guards as well, to help protect hands in a fall.
Wool or acrylic SOCKS are better than cotton/athletic socks again, because cotton soaks up water and holds it close to your skin. Ski and snowboard boots are designed to be warm, so you only need to wear one, thin pair of socks. Multiple layers of socks, or one pair that is too thick, will only give you blisters. Multiple pairs of socks may also restrict your circulation and cause your feet to be colder.