Insider's Guide: A Beginner’s Guide to What to Wear Skiing

In partnership with Snow+Rock

Your first ski holiday is a life-changing experience. The first exposure to the rush of the slopes, the breath-taking scenery, the après ski scene… it’s often the start of a lifelong obsession!

Hitting the slopes requires some preparation, though, which can be daunting for first-time skiers. But don’t fear, our experts have been on the mountains for over 35 years and are proud to bring you unrivalled knowledge born from this passion.

Getting packed and ready to go couldn’t be easier with this handy ski holiday kit list…

Base layers

The best way to keep warm is by layering. The concept of layering works by trapping air that has been warmed by your body: the more layers, the more trapped air. It’s important to remember that the number and types of layers you need will depend heavily on the destination, the time of year, and your level of activity.

The base layer is a crucial foundation of this layering system. Snow+Rock recommend merino wool base layers, as they offer superior heat retention and moisture wicking, and have antimicrobial properties which protect against odours. A base layer should be close-fitting to trap heat effectively, and can be just a top, or a top and bottoms set.


The type(s) of mid-layer you go for will depend heavily on the factors mentioned above. A fleece mid-layer will provide crucial warmth in colder climates and times of year, whilst a soft-shell jacket is a lighter option for skiing holidays later in the season (March/April). For very cold environments, you may choose to opt for both a fleece and soft-shell.

Ski Jacket

Getting your ski jacket right is an absolute must, and there are plenty of factors to consider when choosing the perfect one.

When shopping for a ski jacket, it’s important to look for one which is insulating to keep out the chilly alpine temperatures, and breathable to allow heat and moisture from your body to escape. Different jackets may do one better than the other, but the goal is a jacket which performs in both areas. Ski jackets may feature a powder skirt, or a snow skirt, inside to help stop snow getting inside should you fall, and others may have the feature to be joined to your ski pants for extra protection.

You could also choose to layer your jackets. An insulated jacket, such as a down jacket, will be necessary in early- to mid-ski season, because they provide far superior warmth. However, they can occasionally prove too warm when exerting yourself on the slopes! A hard-shell jacket is a waterproof outer layer, which provides essential protection against the snow, and can be worn over an insulated jacket or your mid-layer depending on the conditions.

Additional features to look out for are a helmet-compatible hood, and pockets – many ski jackets will have a sleeve pocket for your lift pass, and internal pockets to keep valuables dry and protected, but always ensure the jacket has enough pockets to hold everything you will need quick access to. Bear in mind, also, that ski jackets and snowboarding jackets are very different in form. Ski jackets are typically a slimmer fit than snowboard jackets, but it comes down to personal preference when choosing which style to go for.

Ski pants & salopettes

Ski pants or salopettes, also have key technical features you should consider. The most versatile ski pants are uninsulated shells with a lining for warmth, although if you feel the cold maybe consider buying a pair of base layer bottoms. Waterproof ski pants or salopettes are a must no matter what the time of year or destination, as we’re all prone to the occasional fall, and we recommend checking they have snow gaiters to prevent snow from getting in! Also look out for thigh vents, as they help with air circulation and temperature regulation. Material composition is also an important factor: some ski pants are reinforced in areas to prevent damage from boots and rips, and many salopettes will incorporate stretch materials to increase range of movement and flexibility.


A decent pair of ski goggles is an essential ski accessory. You’ll need them for protection, as the combination of high altitude and snow reflection can be very damaging for your eyes, and to keep the wind out while you’re skiing. You don’t need to spend a fortune; entry level googles can cost around £50 and will be more than adequate for your first few ski trips. The more expensive pairs will have additional features and better quality lenses for improved visibility.


You may have planned to hire a ski helmet, but Snow+Rock recommends bringing your own for key safety reasons. Not only is it more comfortable, but when you rent a helmet, you can’t be sure how old it is, how many knocks it’s taken, and how serious the knocks have been. Having your own means that you know its story, and as a result, how safe you are wearing it on the slopes. Plus, wearing a helmet that’s been on many other sweaty heads is not the most hygienic option!

Ski Socks

Far more important than they’re given credit for, ski socks have the potential to make or break a skiing holiday. Technical ski socks are crafted for a superior fit (no scrunching up inside ski boots), and to ensure your feet stay warm without the need for extra thick socks, which can compromise your control over your skis. Make sure the socks you choose have moisture wicking properties to control odour and moisture. If possible, it’s a good idea to try them on with the ski boots you’ll be using on your ski holiday.

Gloves or mittens

Waterproof gloves or mittens are an essential to keep your hands dry, warm and comfortable on the slopes. Mittens generally tend to be warmer than gloves, but gloves allow for a slightly better hold on your ski poles. Those who really feel the cold may choose to use glove liners for extra insulation. Look for DWR (Durable Water Repellent) treated outer shells, and GORE-TEX composition, as these are indicators of waterproofing and durability.

Hat and scarf

You’ll need to keep even warmer off-piste than you will skiing, so it’s a good idea to have a warm hat and scarf with you to keep out the chill. You may also choose to wear a scarf, or a lighter weight neck warmer, while skiing.

Snow boots

Snow boots are the ideal footwear choice when you’re not on the slopes skiing. Warm, water-resistant and with plenty of grip, snow boots are perfect for getting around the ski resort and ensuring you enjoy the après ski in style.


As mentioned with ski goggles, protecting your eyes on the mountains is hugely important, but don’t forget protection for off the slopes! Sunglasses will make sure you’re comfortable and don’t damage your eyes around the resort, or when stopping for lunch on the slopes.


Make sure the rucksack you choose for your first ski holiday is big enough for all your essentials (water, SPF, snacks, spare hat and gloves), and has a waist strap to keep it securely in place as you carve up the piste. Other technical features to look out for include helmet storage, hydration compatibility, waterproof or rain cover, integrated emergency whistle – to name just a few!

Next steps


After your first ski trip, we know you’ll be counting the days until the next! Once you know you’ll be hitting the slopes again and again, Snow+Rock recommends investing in your own ski boots and skis. Comfortable, well-fitting ski boots are an essential component. Nobody wants footwear which rubs and leaves painful blisters, but in the case of skiing, poorly fitting boots can hugely impact your safety, how well you control your skis, and generally how much you enjoy your holiday! Because every foot is unique, the only way to get the ideal fit is by having your ski boots fitted by a professional. Snow+Rock’s in-store experts will not only be able to match you with your perfect pair; they can also make subtle amends to boots if there are points of pressure, free of charge. Snow+Rock also offer custom insoles, moulded to your foot shape for the ultimate in comfort and support. Having your own skis offers a great advantage when you’re learning more advanced techniques and want to improve your performance. The selection of skis can be overwhelming, but a Snow+Rock expert will be able to advise on which skis you’ll need for your experience level and skiing style.

For all your ski-wear needs, visit

And if you’re still feeling unsure about what to get for your first ski holiday, visit your local Snow+Rock store. The in-store experts can advise on exactly what you’ll need, and get you kitted out in no time.

Plus, you’ll get a 15% discount* at Snow+Rock when you book your ski holiday with Inghams!

Find your local Snow+Rock store:

*Full T&Cs apply. Offer expires 31.10.19.

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