I'm preparing for a skiing trip in the Alps with my colleagues (around one week). I have very little experience in this, so I wonder what equipment you should bring. While I understand that you can rent the actual skis, I was thinking more along the lines of basic equipment like clothes. I only have normal street wear, so I think I will have to buy at least the following:

  • snow shoes
  • a warm jacket
  • maybe some special pants?

Additional items I must pack:

  • Passport
  • id card (German Personalausweis)

What else would you suggest? Do you have any other suggestions? My list is definitely not complete, right?


6 Answers 6


Special pants are a must. I'd start looking at sites like REI to get an idea. One thing that I would very much suggest is if you have any avid ski enthusiast friends talk to them because they would give you pointers on what is good and where to get it. But a short list for what you need is:

  • Warm socks
  • Pants
  • Warm boots.
  • Ski Gloves
  • Ski Jacket (Simple warm or even down jacket won't do)
  • Helmet (Essential for new skiers)

I am sure I am missing something on this list but this will be a good start.

  • I would not advise "warm socks" but rather a couple of pairs of specialised ski socks. On the other hand, pretty much any warm and waterproof gloves and jacket would be okay.
    – phoog
    Commented Dec 14, 2019 at 12:37
  • 1
    @phoog Ski jackets offer things like zippable pockets (you don't want to loose your car keys) and a way to tighten them around the waist (which comes in handy if you take a dive into the snow :-)).
    – nohillside
    Commented Dec 15, 2019 at 10:02
  • Helmets are easily rentable. No need to buy one. Commented Dec 14, 2020 at 16:46
  • @DJClayworth Sure. Except your own is much more comfortable and as some people keep pointing out to me: "You don't know where it's been". :)
    – Karlson
    Commented Dec 14, 2020 at 16:55
  • Comfortable, but not essential. Especially as it's an expensive thing that you won't need again if you never ski a second time. Commented Dec 14, 2020 at 16:58

I'm going to combine all the good points into a single answer. Feel free to edit if something else comes up.

You will absolutely need:

  • A ski jacket or other warm, waterproof, breathable jacket. Make sure at least one of the pockets can be zipped shut, so your car keys can't go flying down the hill when you fall.
  • Ski pants or other waterproof, breathable pants
  • Ski gloves or similar warm, waterproof gloves
  • Warm boots suitable for walking in the snow
  • Ski socks
  • Enough clothing so that you can dress in layers under your outerwear. You will be cold when you are sitting on a lift, but hot when you are actually skiing
  • plenty of t-shirts as you will get sweaty
  • Sunglasses. Ski goggles are also necessary for cold days, but you can rent them
  • lip balm and sunscreen
  • warm hat. Even if you use a helmet you will need the hat for when you are not skiing
  • travel documents as needed

Consider also:

  • Something to protect your neck. A scarf works as long as it's always tucked in (getting a loose scarf end caught in something can be ugly). A turtle-neck sweater or a ski neck-protector is probably better.
  • Your resort may have a hot tub, in which case bring a bathing suit.
  • Something to do in case you can't ski one day
  • A camera - but don't ski with an expensive one unless you are confident

Technically you might get away with a one-piece ski suit instead of the jacket and pants, but usually that only works if you are an extremely good skier or extremely good looking. :-)

Other essential equipment includes skis, poles and boots; and there are also helmets, which are increasingly recommended but not actually required for adults. All of these can be easily rented, and it is best to do so for your first ski trip, as they are expensive and will be no use to you if you decide you don't like skiing and never go again. Skis and boots are definitely best bought after you have skied a few times, and preferably somewhere that you can try them out.

  • A lot of modern lifts have heated seats and something like a hood or cover that you can pull down to prevent against cold winds. Commented Jan 3, 2012 at 18:45
  • 2
    a neck-protector isn't against jacket rubbing (trust me, I wear a warm coat for months) but against the cold - when you're going fast your neck needs to be kept warm. Scarves are a little dangerous when ski-ing, so the little tube that just wraps your throat is just the ticket to keep out the bitter wind there. Commented Jan 5, 2012 at 13:52
  • 1
    @RoflcoptrException I've never encountered heated seats. Where would one find them?
    – phoog
    Commented Dec 14, 2019 at 12:41
  • Please add a helmet to this list Commented Dec 15, 2019 at 3:58
  • Buy sunscreen and lip balm in you country before you go, and try it. Some people get redness and itching with the newest products; you may need old-fashioned sunscreen that uses titanium dioxide and/or zinc oxide. Commented Dec 15, 2019 at 16:27

You will be spending time outside and it will be cold. So hat, waterproof gloves, and a scarf are all important. Warm boots to wear until the point where you put on the ski boots. Possibly a balaclava (aka ski mask) if you're really feeling the cold. Also lip balm and sunscreen. Since you haven't skied before, you're likely to fall down, and if you're not experienced at choosing and arranging winter clothing, this may mean getting snow up your back or your pants leg. Taking slightly more clothes than usual will give you a chance to change into something warm and dry when you come off the slopes, for a more comfortable evening. Finally, make sure you bring a camera and pause for a minute at the top of the hill to take some amazing pictures. Most people get off the lift and immediately work on going down - enjoy the top for a bit, not everyone gets there.


In addition to the answers provided so far:

You will absolutely need to bring ski goggles. If it's sunny, you can use normal sunglasses, but if it snows you will need the goggles to keep the snow out of your eyes.

You'll be sweating quite a bit, since you're not that experienced yet. So, you'll need plenty of t-shirts.

The actual ski boots you can rent along with your skis, but you'll need a pair of reasonable sturdy shoes to walk around town. Furthermore, you also need special ski socks. These are far thicker and longer than regular socks. Count on two pairs at least, as you'll be alternating every day.

The main reasons you need a ski jacket is for the RFID slope card, which goes in the sleeve of your jacket, and the snow barriers around your waist and wrists (so you can quickly shake the snow out when you fall ;) )

A separate ID card isn't needed; a passport is already sufficient.

  • Many places will rent you goggles at the same time they are renting you a helmet. Commented Jan 2, 2012 at 21:57
  • Not every ski jacket has a sleeve pocket. Fortunately, the cards work if they're kept in any other pocket, and not every resort uses them.
    – phoog
    Commented Dec 14, 2019 at 12:47

I think the most important items are already mentioned, but I want to add some more, in my opinion almost the most important:

Don't forget to protect yourself. At least a helmet is really necessary in my opinion. Even if you're a beginner and you only drive very slow, there are also others that can crash into you. I life in a ski resort and most scary accidents that I've seen were caused by a skier that was driving too fast and crashed into another one. So I would definitively protect my head. If you plan to go skiing regular in the future I would also think about a back protector. Broken vertebrae can literally ruin your life. I have two friend which both broke their back during skiing/snow boarding.

Besides that I'll just list what others have already mentioned and will add a little bit of information:

  • Pants: I would invest in a good one. There are very cheap pants but those pants aren't waterproofed and it is really a bad feeling if you have to go skiing the whole day with a wet boxer shorts
  • Jacket: Obviously you need a warm, wind resistant and water-proofed jacket.
  • Sunglasses/Snow goggles
  • Gloves: If you want warm gloves I would choose mittens.
  • Socks: Don't use socks that are too thick and warm. Then you can't move anymore your toes and you will feel even colder than with very thin socks.
  • 1
    I wear a helmet, but I assume it'll only protect me from concussion, not from getting killed by skiing into a tree. Do all skiers need a back protector, or only the more extreme ones?
    – Golden Cuy
    Commented Jan 29, 2012 at 0:08

People tend to forget to bring the items they need for apres ski, or if they are unfortunate to get sick or a case of a sprained ankle. Ski resorts can be REALLY boring if you are not able to ski.

Depending on your group you should also consider bringing: boardgames, films, books, contraceptives, etc.

If you drive to your skiing destination, you could also consider bringing pasta, rice, etc That is if you don't want to spent much on buying food there.

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