Everything You Need to Know Before Hitting the Slopes

New to skiing but ready to try? We've got you covered in this short guide to the clothing and equipment you need to start skiing. 

Everything You Need to Know Before Hitting the Slopes
Let’s start with apparel:

Apparel Checklist:
  • Baselayer
  • Socks
  • Mittens or gloves
  • Mid-layer
  • Outerwear 

Starting with base layers, it’s important to find a base layer that is comfortable and allows for easy movement on the slopes, but also will keep you warm and dry throughout the day. Merino wool, for example, is a great fabric because it’s breathable and allows for natural movement. It also dries quickly if you were to break a sweat on the slopes. Not to mention, it will keep you very warm. Ski socks range in thickness and finding the right sock is key. Make sure you’re selecting socks that say they are designed for skiing. You want them to fit around your foot snuggly, but if your socks are too thick, you could end up with cold toes and tight feeling boots. Pro tip: If you plan on putting your ski boots on at the mountain, wear a different pair of socks traveling and change into your ski socks upon arrival. You may not realize it but your feet can sweat while traveling and you will save yourself cold feet at the start of the day. Don’t forget to also have gloves or mittens to keep your hands warm.

Next you’ll need a jacket and pants that keep the snow out and your body warm. When you’re just starting out, an insulated ski jacket and pants are a smart choice. This type of outerwear will provide extra warmth. If you are someone who runs warm, you might want to consider a non-insulated jacket or pants (often referred to as a shell). A non-insulated jacket is thinner, but nonetheless waterproof. You can add more layers under the shell on a particularly cold day. Depending on where you are skiing, having a jacket that is waterproof is essential. Be sure to check the forecast before going skiing and adjust your layers and outerwear accordingly.

Now moving to equipment: 
Equipment Checklist:
  • Boots
  • Skis
  • Poles
  • Helmet
  • Goggles

When selecting ski boots, you’ll see different flex numbers (such as 80, 90, 100). This refers to how difficult it is to flex the boot forward or in other words, their stiffness. For beginner skiers, it’s common to ski a 80 or 90 flex ski boot. You’ll also want to take into consideration your height and weight when selecting the proper flex. If you plan on skiing on groomers only, consider an on piste ski boot - designed to have a more comfortable feel. If you want to try bumps, wind buff or plan on skiing powder, a freeride ski boot is for you. Be sure to check size guides or reach out to customer service if you are unsure what size and flex boot to buy.

Selecting skis may seem overwhelming, but first and foremost you want to make sure your skis are the right length - determined by your height and ski ability. While it can vary, a good point of reference is having your ski tips be somewhere between your chin and top of head. It’s important to keep in mind, a shorter ski can be easier to maneuver, therefore more suited for a beginner skier, whereas more advanced skiers might prefer a longer ski. If you’re new to skiing, you’ll likely want to look for a more flexible, shorter radius ski to allow for easier turns. From there, the width of the ski you choose should be based on the type of terrain you plan on skiing. On piste skis are typically narrower and perfect for carving on groomers. Freeride skis are wider, making them more versatile for many types of terrain, including powder, bumps, any anything “off piste”. There’s a lot to consider when choosing a ski, so don’t be afraid to ask a Decathlon teammate for help!

There’s no need to complicate things with ski poles as a beginner. The important thing to focus on is the length of the ski pole. If you’re trying different ski pole lengths in person, there’s an easy trick to finding the right height. Turn the ski pole upside down and hold the ski pole right under the basket. The perfect height is when your forearm is at a 90 degree angle. If you’re shopping online, you can measure that distance and find a pole length closest to your measurement.

Safety is always a priority on the slopes, so be sure to also pick out a helmet and goggles that fits you comfortably.

It can feel like a lot of gear to think about before hitting the slopes, but if you make a checklist ahead of your trip, you’ll be sure to not forget anything. Share pictures of your next ski vacation with us on Instagram! Tag us @DecathlonUSA 


Shop Now

Explore Our Playbook