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First time skiing - help clothe me
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Ian Schumann

Locale: Central TX
First time skiing - help clothe me on 03/13/2014 13:49:23 MDT Print View

Because of a lucky windfall at work, I get to go spend 3-4 days at Jackson Hole with my company, in about a week. Totally neat.

Trouble is, I've never been skiing before.

So, I'm trying to see if what I have in my closet, and what I can borrow from a couple friends, will be adequate to keep me protected out there, for the 1-2 days of skiing I'll be doing. This will likely be on bunny slopes and *maybe* some more fun stuff if I happen to surprise myself with the learning curve. Lift-served, resort-style, front-country ... not at all hardcore.

I'm curious if I have what I need. Here's what I have ...

Base layers
... think I've got this covered ...

  • lightweight merino and poly top(s)

  • lightweight poly tights

  • MH powerstretch tights

  • MB Thermawrap BC jacket

  • MB Mirage parka

  • Uniqlo lightweight down jacket

  • Cheap 1/4 zip 200-wt fleece

Water / wind resistant things
  • Rab Boreas

  • Montane Mountain Star jacket

  • Old well-used patty rain jacket (might be Torrentshell, can't remember)

  • Arc'teryx Palisade pant

  • OR ferrosi pant

  • Borrowed actual 100% waterproof ski pants (unsure of brand)

Hands / Head
  • Manzella ultralight windstopper n2s gloves

  • REI warm happy generic dumb mitts -- lightweight, synth leather palm, midweight insulation

  • several synth light- and mid-weight beanies

  • warm happy Turtle Fur fleece beanie

  • several lightweight trail-runners (Inov-8, Merrell, etc.)

  • typical lightweight merino blend trail running socks

  • midweight Eddie Bauer crew length merino socks

The main question is: what's missing?

For backpacking and hiking, I can make sense of what I need based on considering heating and cooling via exertion / rest cycles. But I don't know how that works for skiing. Someone educate me, give me a grid for this.


Brian Lindahl
(lindahlb) - MLife

Locale: Colorado Rockies
Re: First time skiing - help clothe me on 03/13/2014 14:14:00 MDT Print View

For resort skiing, there's very few times I want a breathable top. You'll want 100% waterproof and windproof shells for both top and bottom. This might change, however, since you might be spending all your time on the lower part of the hill and out of the wind? Bring your Montane as backup.

I'd go with your Torrentshell and the borrowed ski pants. Your baselayers look good. You'll want to bring the 1/4-zip fleece and the Thermawrap BC. The REI mitts sound good - they're waterproof and durable, right? Bring all of your beanies.

The only thing that I see missing is full-length ski socks. The thinner the better - boots have tons of insulation in the form of a foam liner. If your REI gloves aren't durable and waterproof, then you'll also need ski gloves/mitts.

Have fun! Jackson Hole is an awesome place.

Edited by lindahlb on 03/13/2014 14:15:29 MDT.

Ian Schumann

Locale: Central TX
Re: Re: First time skiing - help clothe me on 03/13/2014 14:17:54 MDT Print View

Thanks Brian, that's very helpful. So you've never needed a breathable top for resort skiing because ..... you don't really get exertion high enough, since the lift is doing the ascent for you? Aka resort style downhill skiing at a novice level is unlikely to substantially raise my body temperature? Just trying to get the idea, is all.

Also sounds like you omitted my down layers entirely -- I should stick to the synthetics simply because they're more durable and tolerant of abuse / moisture buildup and such?

I can certainly get some socks! If that's really all I need, then that is awesome. I wasn't expecting such encouraging feedback.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
Re: First time skiing - help clothe me on 03/13/2014 14:28:42 MDT Print View

You'll want waterproof jacket and pants because you'll be spending a lot of time flailing down in the snow. ;)

Bring most of your synthetic layers. Temps at JHMR can fluctuate wildly. If it's sunny and no wind things could be well above freezing, or it could be -20 with the wind chill. Layering can be tough because you will build up some good heat skiing, but you'll want your coat zipped up to keep out the wind. Riding the lift can be very cold, though as mentioned while learning this is less of an issue.

If you have thinner feet it's a good idea to bring a couple pairs of the socks the first day. I could never get rental boots to fit my feet otherwise.

Have fun.

Ian Schumann

Locale: Central TX
Re: Re: First time skiing - help clothe me on 03/13/2014 14:34:41 MDT Print View

Haha, yes ... flailing indeed.

So, a very innocent n00b question ...
Does anybody at a resort bring a small backpack with layers? It seems like an obvious circumstance where you might want to add or subtract layers between downhill and lift. Do normal people not do this for some reason?

I feel like a little kid asking this question :-)

Stephen M
(stephenm) - MLife

Locale: Mind your own business
Re: Re: Re: First time skiing - help clothe me on 03/13/2014 15:01:07 MDT Print View

I normally bring a small pack with drinks/snacks and a puffy for when on the lifts or for hanging around.

Gary Dunckel
(Zia-Grill-Guy) - MLife

Locale: Boulder
Backpack on 03/13/2014 15:14:52 MDT Print View

I've occasionally taken a day pack while alpine skiing. It's good for what you're thinking--having another layer handy, or a place to stash others it it gets warmer than you planned, and dressed, for. Good place to stash a lunch or maybe a couple of beers, or a thermos of hot chocolate or coffee. Make sure you have at least a sternum strap, but I like a waist belt too, to keep it from moving around.

As for flailing and falling, I never take the blame when I do a face-plant. It's those white, perfectly camouflaged snow snakes. They like to hide in the trees, and then race out onto the ski run and trip skiers. It's how they get their kicks. But don't worry, they never bite.

Have some good fun in Jackson. Downhill skiing is a hoot, no matter how good you are at it.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Backpack on 03/13/2014 15:29:33 MDT Print View

"perfectly camouflaged snow snakes"

A.K.A. the alpine viper.

Normally they operate by wrapping themselves around one ski to trip the skier. But then they disappear into the snow again.


David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
Re: Re: Re: First time skiing - help clothe me on 03/13/2014 15:35:21 MDT Print View

On the rare occasions I ride lifts I often bring a small pack. A thin one you can keep on while sitting on the chair is preferred.

Sometimes your stash is too fat to fit in a coat pocket.

Ben Smith

Locale: Epping Forest
first time skiing on 03/13/2014 15:38:02 MDT Print View

You'll spend plenty of time on the ground so waterproof top and pants is necessary, as others have mentioned. Something hard wearing is good too - you wouldn't want to take a fall on an icy slope in a UL wind shirt!

Running packs make for good ski packs for the reasons mentioned above (low profile etc).
My jacket pockets can usually house enough snacks to keep me going on a typical lazy day on the slopes. I usually save taking a pack for powder days when I'll need to carry some food, a spare layer and plenty of water (no such thing as friends on powder days).

You'll spend a few days learning on a "nursery slope" learning the basics and won't want to have a pack on for that, you'd get sick of the extra weight pretty fast.
If you start getting cold, tell your instructor, I'm sure they'll find a "fun" way to get warm.

Layer up under your main gloves, makes it much more comfortable when taking photos (take lots).

Ski socks?

Drinking money?

Hip flask?

Edited by bsmith_90 on 03/13/2014 15:46:11 MDT.

Charles P
(mediauras) - F

Locale: Terra
Re: First time skiing - help clothe me on 03/13/2014 16:01:46 MDT Print View

Awesome, have fun!

I don't see beer and ibuprofen on your gear list though. :)

Jeremy and Angela
(requiem) - F

Locale: Northern California
Re: Re: Re: First time skiing - help clothe me on 03/13/2014 18:20:29 MDT Print View

Regarding packs, I've found little need to access them on the slopes. What I do want in accessible (which may mean in a locker at the base of the lift, if available) are:
1. Spare gloves, for when your first pair wets out.
2. A warm fleece balaclava or buff (one I wear, the other in the pack).
3. (optional) An additional insulating layer.
4. (more optional) A pair of shoes to change into at the end of the day.

If the resort is well-equipped with hot chocolate and Li├Ęge waffles, little else is needed.

Looking at the weather in the 25F-45F range and expecting falls, I'd agree with using waterproofs. On your legs, an R1-type bottom is probably as warm as you'd want to go. Cap3 might be a better weight. For the top, a thin baselayer and an R2 would probably work.

The only reason to significantly bundle would be a large temperature drop or heavy winds. Between that and the durability issue, save the down garments for when you're done skiing. Boot fit is important; for control you'll want them nice and tight, yet too tight and you risk cold feet (insufficient blood flow). I agree with the recommendation for thinner ski socks, but you are somewhat at the mercy of the rental inventory.

Finally, see if you can book an instructor for at least a few days of the week, if not the entire week. It should be well-worth the cost, especially if you can split it with others. If you won't have more than a couple hours of instruction, I'll recommend the reading I did when teaching myself to ski.

Dave Marcus
(Djrez4) - F

Locale: Rocky Mountains
Re: Re: First time skiing - help clothe me on 03/13/2014 19:34:03 MDT Print View

Definitely ski socks (I like SmartWool PhD).

Also, do not forget eyewear! I'm a proponent of full time goggles.

Ross Bleakney
(rossbleakney) - MLife

Locale: Cascades
Re: Re: Re: First time skiing - help clothe me on 03/14/2014 17:05:03 MDT Print View

>> Does anybody at a resort bring a small backpack with layers?

Yes, absolutely, especially if they are like you, and came from a hiking background. I would consider a fanny pack, as well, if you can fit everything in there. You can always tie your jacket around your waist. The advantage of a fanny pack is that it is less likely to throw off your weight as much as a regular pack. I ski almost exclusively with a pack on (I don't do lift skiing) and on the rare occasions where I don't have a pack on, I notice how much easier it is immediately.

It doesn't hurt to bring a bunch of stuff, and then ask the other guys (who probably know the area better than you) what they think. You can always stash stuff in the car (or lodge, which is even more convenient, but requires getting a locker).