First Time Buying Winter Apparel

Before You Buy:
Questions beginning skiers and boarders should ask before buying

So, you’ve decided to hit the slopes for the first time, but you don’t have any real idea what you need? Don’t despair. Today’s dizzying array of ski and snowboarding options even can confound the pros. The trick is to keep it simple by focusing on the core elements you’ll need mountainside, no matter what your level of skill or experience level.

Things to think about: warmth, weather and wear & tear

Warmth: Although it may seem obvious, one important question to ask a salesperson about apparel is whether it’s warm? Moreover, is it wind and waterproof? This is especially important for first-timer skiers who will undoubtedly spend a lot of time falling down in the snow. This goes double for beginning snowboarders, who don’t have the luxury of poles to help mitigate spills on hands, feet and all-fours.

Wind & Water: Speaking of hands and feet, don’t forget the importance of keeping your extremities warm. When you’re browsing through the retail aisles, be sure to ask about a garment’s waterproof & wicking ability (the action of drawing moisture away from your body, which is critical in cold weather). For instance, socks made out of cotton, which absorbs moisture, are a great choice for the gym, but horrible for the slopes. However, garments that feature Gore-Tex are always a good option. Again, tell your salesperson where you’re going and what you’ll be doing, so together you can select the right pieces for your trip.

All Types of Terrain: Ask yourself, how does the terrain at my destination impact my experience and buying options? For instance, if you’re planning to ski in the eastern United States, a salesperson should direct you to apparel that has significant waterproofing capabilities, as conditions are often wetter in the East than the powder-predominant Western slopes.

All Day Insulation: If you haven’t considered it, ask yourself how you can ensure all-day insulation? (Layering is the answer you’re looking for.) A good salesperson will help you evaluate layering options, from fiber choice to fabric weight grade, so that your final purchases will be well suited for your particular activity and locale.

Renting vs. Buying: Should I buy or rent my gear? For beginners, the answer to that question is usually, rent gear. Buying skis, boots and poles is generally not a good idea for first-timers. The better bet is to rent: either from a local retailer (if they offer the service) or through the resort where you’ll be staying. Renting allows you to check out different products without committing to any one brand. If you’re determined to buy, boots are your most important purchase; buying a properly fitted pair of boots is key to a pleasant experience on the snow.

Finally, a note about fashion. If snow apparel has one fashion rule, it’s that there are no rules, which can be a bit confounding for newbies looking to fit in. Once a garment meets your specific requirements for usage (are you skiing or snowboarding?) and terrain (powder vs. ice), it’s up to you to select a style that suits your personality. In the past decade, fashion has truly found a place on the slopes with everything from urban-inspired silhouettes to feminine tailoring and luxury details. One fashion edict that doesn’t translate from the catwalks to the lifts is the notion that you must suffer for your style. On the mountain, function reigns supreme. If a jacket or pair of pants looks good, but is too loose or tight fitting, ditch it and opt for apparel with better maneuverability. That way, when you’re feeling good, you’ll always be looking good.

Another simple way to get your questions answered is to visit your local Sun & Ski Sports or call us at our online store to get expert advice and guidance.

Content courtesy of SnowSports Industries America | SIA and

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