Must-Have Ski Gear Essentials

Learn what gear is needed for skiing, including clothing, equipment, and safety essentials. Find must-have ski gear for novices, kids, and everyone else here.

Family Walks Through the Keystone Resort Village with Their Gear

The Essential Gear You'll Need for Skiing


Setting off on a winter trip to the mountains is always exhilarating, but it also requires meticulous planning and the right gear to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience. Knowing what gear you need for skiing can be challenging for any less experienced snow sports enthusiast, and having the right skiing essentials is paramount. From must-have ski gear for novices to must-get ski gear for kids, this guide aims to equip you with everything you need for an unforgettable winter adventure on the slopes. 


What Gear Do You Need for Skiing? 


There are several essentials that every skier needs to be well prepared and make the most of time on the mountain. Experienced skiers know their equipment well and have favorites for the best winter clothing for various conditions. Novices, newcomers, and anyone unfamiliar should run through the sections below for all the on-snow must-haves.


Clothing Essentials


  • Ski Jacket and Pants: Choose a waterproof, insulated ski jacket and pants to keep you warm and dry on the mountain. Look for breathable fabrics to prevent overheating while skiing hard, and ensure these outer layers are in good condition and fully sealed, and free of holes that let cold air in and allow body heat to escape. 
  • Base Layers: Invest in moisture-wicking thermal base layers to regulate body temperature and keep you dry. Merino wool or synthetic materials work well here; cotton is a no-go. 
  • Mid-Layers: Pack fleece or insulated mid-layers for added warmth. These versatile pieces can be adjusted based on temperature or conditions to help you stay comfortable throughout the day or season. Synthetic materials are a good option here, or an old-school wool sweater also does the trick. 
  • Ski Socks: A single pair of moisture-wicking and warm ski socks is a must. Avoid doubling up on socks as it won’t keep your feet much warmer and can cause discomfort in ski boots. Bringing an extra pair is a good idea if your feet get wet or sweaty during the ski day and you want to swap them out. 
  • Gloves or Mittens: Opt for waterproof and insulated gloves or mittens to protect your hands from the cold. Mittens are generally better for extreme cold, while gloves offer added dexterity. Hand warmers in a dedicated glove pocket or right against your skin can benefit anyone with really cold hands. 
  • Goggles: Quality ski goggles with UV protection are critical on the mountain. Choose goggles with anti-fog features and consider bringing a spare lens for varying light conditions to help you see as clearly as possible.


Ski Equipment


  • Skis, Bindings, and Poles: Bring your own skis, bindings, and poles, or rent them at the resort. Always ensure your bindings are properly adjusted to your skill level and weight. Having your own skis and bindings is recommended if you ski often.
  • Ski Boots: Well-fitted ski boots are crucial for control and performance on the slopes. A skilled boot fitter or rental shop tech will help you find the best option for your feet. Always try on boots before skiing with them, and consider heat-molded liners and form-fitting inserts for optimal fit. And know that comfort doesn’t always equate to exceptional performance.


Safety Gear: 


  • Helmet: Helmets are a modern necessity for every skier. Invest in a well-fitting helmet to protect your head in case of falls or collisions. Helmets with adjustable vents offer temperature control, and some come with built-in Bluetooth headphones and offer other useful features.
  • Sunscreen and Lip Balm: The combination of high-altitude sun exposure and reflection off the snow can lead to sunburn. Pack high SPF sunscreen and lip balm with UV protection. 
  • Emergency Whistle: A loud whistle can be a valuable tool in signaling for help in case of an emergency. Attach it to your jacket or backpack for easy access. This is a small and effective safety measure. 
  • Avalanche Safety Equipment (For Backcountry): If you are skiing in the backcountry or anywhere prone to avalanches, carry an avalanche beacon, probe, and shovel. Ensure you know how to use this equipment before venturing into avalanche terrain. You typically don’t need this equipment within bounds at a ski resort. 


Comfort and Convenience: 


  • Backpack: A small, waterproof backpack is handy for carrying essentials or extras around the mountain. This isn’t a necessity but can be useful to bring water, snacks, or an extra layer. Keep the pack snug on your body and ensure all straps are fastened to avoid getting stuck in the chairlifts. 
  • Hydration System: A water bottle or hydration pack will give you extra liquids as you ski. Dehydration can impact your performance and increase the risk of altitude-related issues. Small, collapsible water bags can fit in a jacket pocket. Use an insulated tube with a hydration pack to prevent freezing. 
  • Snacks: Pack energy-rich snacks like granola bars, nuts, and dried fruits to keep your energy levels up during ski sessions. Anything small, nutritious, and calorie-packed can help you stay fueled up and warmer in the snow. 
  • Multi-Tool or Ski Tool: A compact multi-tool or ski-specific tool can be useful for making quick adjustments to your equipment on the go. Be sure it’s packed in a carrying case to avoid injuries if you fall.  
  • Camera: Capture all of your adventures and skiing skills with a good digital camera, smartphone, or GoPro. Ensure your devices are waterproof and securely attached to avoid damage and loss.


Must Get Ski Gear for Kids: 


Nearly all of the above essentials also apply to kids, but you shouldn’t weigh them down with a backpack or hydration system if they are really small. Making sure that the little ones are warm, well-fed, and adequately hydrated goes a long way toward helping them have an amazing and memorable time in the snow. Always have them wear a helmet while skiing and double-check that their clothing and equipment fit properly and are set up correctly. 


Final Thoughts


A successful ski trip begins with a bit of preparation right alongside the essentials you see here. By packing thoughtfully and ensuring you have all the necessary gear, you can fully enjoy your days on the mountain while staying safe and comfortable along the way. Remember to check weather conditions and any resort-specific requirements before your trip and adjust your packing accordingly if needed. Being overprepared is better than being unprepared, so use this guide as a checklist to help you get out on the slopes and enjoy it!