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Equipment checklist for the first time skier or boarder

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What clothing and equipment do I need as a beginner? A first timer’s guide and checklist. It may seem daunting, but with this guide you will feel comfortable and ready for your first lesson!


Happy skiers

Let’s start from the inside and work our way out.

1. Ski socks are essential, they are expensive for socks but worth the investment. A good pair will keep you warm, wick the sweat away, and allow your feet to move slightly inside your boots. Thicker is not better. The right pair of socks will be warm but also allow your feet to move slightly in your boot so that the blood circulates and keeps you warm. Don’t wear multiple pairs of socks to compensate for not having invested in the right pair, it is not a good substitute.

2. Sports underwear will keep you comfortable as you move. Next to your skin wear thermal ski layers. Natural fibres have come a long way in the last 20 years and are usually most comfortable but there are also some good manmade alternatives. You will usually need leggings and a long sleeved thermal top.

3. On top of that most people wear a fleece or mid layer that is warm but not waterproof. Breathable is better. It shouldn’t be too bulky, as remember you will have another layer on top and need to be able to move, but on a cold day a puffer layer can be the best solution.


A good quality mid layer can double up for skiing and other mountain activities such as winter walking!

4. On top of this wear a waterproof and windproof outer layer. As ski instructors, we prefer a good quality goretex outer layer as it is waterproof and breathable.

5. On your hands, you will need waterproof gloves and on a cold day a pair of thin undergloves can keep you warm to the tips of your fingers. Waterproof mittens can also work, but are generally better for snowboarders as skiers need to be able to hold ski poles and this can be trickier with mittens.
Skis or snowboard and boots.

6. Boots. There’s no need to go out and buy boots for your first time. Getting a good pair of boots new off the shelf can be costly and time consuming. Head to a trusty rental shop and get fitted properly. The boots should be snug but not cutting off your circulation. You should be able to wiggle your toes when flexed in the boot but have no heel lift, this can affect your performance on snow.

7. We recommend renting for your first time on the snow and work with trusted partners in our resorts. We recommend Mountain Air in Verbier, Glacier Sport in Zermatt and Premier Alpine Centre in Nendaz.

Glacier Sport Zermatt t

Their staff have a great range of kit and are experts, and you can trust them to help you find the best equipment for your needs. Ask their advice and take it! They have a good range of quality kit and will help you to find the best fit for your first day. If you find it isn’t working out for you, they are also happy to help you change to another choice until you find the best solution.

8. Give yourself time. Usually allow about half an hour to get kitted out if you plan to do this on the first morning of your holiday.

9. Pre book. If you are travelling in a busy week, do book ahead and try to pick up your kit the evening before you start on the snow to avoid stress.

10. Poles or no poles? Beginner adult skiers should take skis, boots and ski poles. For beginner children, poles are not needed on the first day. Beginner snowboarders need snowboard and boots.

Other kit
11. On your head, wear a helmet. It should fit snugly so that it doesn’t move, but not rub or press. Our ski school policy is that all our instructors should wear helmets to set an example. It is not cool to be unsafe 😊


The European Snowsport Instructor look

12. And then goggles. In fog, yellow or orange lenses give better visibility. Sunglasses are less good as they don’t protect as well from glare or wind, and wearing them inside a helmet can be uncomfortable. You do need eye protection as the glare and reflection are intense in a snowy environment.
Your goggles go on after the helmet with the strap on the outside of the helmet.

13. It is a good idea to have a face protector, buff or scarf in your pocket that you can wrap up in if the wind picks up or temperature drops.


Instructor Lee wrapped up for high speeds!

14. Sunscreen is also essential; don’t be caught out on a (rare) cloudy day thinking you won’t get burnt, you will! And sunburn is not a good look at après.

So there you have it, our checklist for the first time skier.

Also check out our piece on 5 essentials to keep in your pockets
And for children, our top tips for taking kids skiing
5 common fears of first time skiers

If you would like to find out more or book a lesson contact us here on the ES website. See you on the slopes!

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