A Beginner’s Guide to Ski Clothing + Ski Holiday Packing List

by | Oct 10, 2022 | Luggage & Packing | 6 comments

Guide to Ski Clothing for Your Ski Holiday


If you are similar to me and grown up near a beach you may not have thought about going skiing or snowboarding. And definitely not thought about ski clothing. Then in the midst of winter a friend suggests a holiday in the snow. This sounded like a great idea at the time, until you find yourself stuck outside in sub-zero temperatures freezing your ass off because you packed unsuitable clothing. Lucky for you, I learnt from my very first trip to snow. Now, I pass on my wisdom in this beginner’s guide to ski clothing so you will know how to dress for skiing and snowboarding. To ensure you stay warm and dry allowing you to focus on having fun in the snow.


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What Should I Wear Skiing or Snowboarding?


What I have learnt is that a good ski outfit boils down to these two things: layers and appropriate accessories. You will need while skiing or snowboarding a minimum of three layers – a base layer, a mid layer and a waterproof layer. Then add accessories of ski socks, gloves, headwear and eyewear and you will be all set to have fun in the snow, even on the coldest of days.


Three Layers of Dress for Skiing or Snowboarding


1st Layer – Base Layer – Layer Closest to Your Body


The first piece of clothing you will want for your ski trip is a good set of base layers. You may be thinking thermal underwear will do, but they won’t. Thermal underwear is made to keep you warm but what you really need is a base layer that will keep you dry, and keeping dry will in turn, keep you warm. The base layer you need for a holiday in the snow will be made of either synthetic materials such as polyester o of natural fibres like merino wool. Both these materials are great wicking materials. Basically, they transport sweat off your skin so it can evaporate unlike materials such as cotton as it absorbs sweat and allows it to sit on your skin and then you will start to freeze. So choose a base layer of synthetic or natural fibres.

The natural fibres like bamboo and merino are more expensive than their polyester relatives however, to keep you comfortable so you enjoy your holiday in the snow will be well worth the extra dollars spent.

Tip: Check if you already own a base layer in your wardrobe, you may be surprised. I often wear my long yoga leggings to the snow. Friends who run, have worn their running leggings.


2nd Layer


Most only wear a mid-layer on the top half of their body. This is due to your legs doing most of the work while skiing and snowboarding and thus being warmer than the top half. Therefore, a base layer and top waterproof area on your legs should keep you dry and warm on the bottom half of your body. But you need to keep the top half warm also so on top of your base layer you will want to add a thin fleece or wool jumper. Best to be thin, as thin layers trap air between them keeping you warmer than a thick jumper. Once again, it is best to avoid cotton made clothing but choose a good wicking material mid-layer.

On very cold days some skiers and snowboarders wear a puffer vest or jacket for extra warmth. Best they are made from either synthetic filling or down. I must say, I have a puffer jacket which I mostly wear when I’m just walking around the village.


3rd Layer – Outer Layer


Lastly, you need a weatherproof outer layer over your base and middle layers to keep the elements out. Have a good quality ski jacket and salopettes – aka ski pants or trousers. These will keep the snow, sleet, rain and wind out and help to keep you warm. When choosing your outer layer you will come across waterproofing and breathability terminology. Whether you opt for a shell jacket or a jacket with some insulation, ensure this outer layer has a minimum of 5,000 (5K) of both breathability and waterproofing. You can get outer layer clothing with 10,000 (10k) and upwards which will provide even better weatherproofing from the elements. I have found people who spend a lot of time in the snow, unlike myself who might go for 1-2 weeks per year, often prefer the higher rating for their outer wear.

Tip: Your trouser leg and gaiters should go over the cuff of your ski boot to keep the snow out. Have a jacket with lots of pockets to put things you may need for the day – phone, tissues, finger warmers, water bottle, money.



Mens Snowboarding Pants

Woman Snow Pants

Men’s Bib

Snowboard Jacket

Snowboard Jacket

Ski Bib

Ski Jacket

Ski Jacket

Ski and Snowboard Accessories


To add to your three layers of ski clothing, there are some other essential accessories that should be included. Let’s start from the top.


Headwear – A Beanie or a Helmet


There was a time when wearing a helmet was a big controversy. But like when riding a bike, helmets can play a big safety part by providing protection during falls and accidents. I’m not saying you will ski into a tree or fall on a rock, but knowing you have that protection can help you against serious injury. If you decide that a helmet isn’t for you, then a beanie will keep your head nice and warm. There are plenty of beanies to choose from and is a personal choice. If you do decide to wear a helmet you can hire one when you rent skis, ski boots and / o snowboard from the ski rental at the resort.


Eyewear – Goggles and Sunglasses


If you are new to skiing and won’t be going very fast then sunglasses will probably do the job. However, ski goggles are made with special lenses to help you see on ‘low-light’ days plus have straps so the goggles sit comfortably against your face. Therefore, you don’t have to adjust them like you might with your sunglasses. And this will keep your hands free. Some ski hire shops will rent goggles if you don’t want to buy your own.


Gloves and Mittens


Gloves and / or mittens are needed to keep your hands warm. Without them, your hands can seize up and you can end up with chill blains, so definitely have a pair of waterproof gloves. I do prefer gloves over mittens as I find gloves are more versatile. I can still use my fingers to do Important things like unzip and zip up zippers to go to the toilet. Or to fix bindings, etc. or to help someone else who may need help with their equipment.


Hip and Bum Protection


Moving on down your body I come to the mid-section, or bum and hips. Bum and Hip protection isn’t absolutely necessary for your ski and snowboard gear but if you plan on doing plenty of jumping and going fast which may lead to falls, then having hip and bum protection may be very useful.




The only other important item in your ski or snowboard wardrobe should be your socks. Not any old sock will do when you are skiing or snowboarding, but socks designed to go under boots. 

Tip: Don’t wear really thick or cotton socks as they can absorb sweat and give you cold and heavy feet. really thick, or wearing two pairs of socks can cause a lot of friction in your boot and give you blisters. Best to stick to ski socks.


What Ski Clothing Do I Need to Buy?


As a newbie skier or snowboarder I suggest you only buy your base layer and socks. Nobody will want to wear somebody else’s socks or base layer! And nobody would lend them either! All the other layers and accessories you could borrow or rent. After your first trip you will have a better idea of exactly what you need and can buy accordingly. 


Where to Buy Ski and Snowboard Clothing?


I wouldn’t suggest you buy any clothing or accessories in the resorts unless you really have to because they will be very expensive. There are many stores off-mountain where you could purchase clothing. Brick and mortar stores like TK Maxx, Aldi (each year in Australia Aldi have their big ski sale) and don’t forget online through Amazon.


Ski Trip Packing List

Ski Clothes Laid Out On The Floo.

Lay out all you ski clothes on the floor to see what you have


Whether it is your first time skiing or snowboarding or you have been hitting the slopes for years, you will need to pack for your trip. Whether it be for a week of fun or a work and ski season in the snow, you will need some essential items to pack. So here is my guide as to what to pack for a ski trip. 


Overview of Ski and Snowboard Gear


For Skiers


  • Skis, Poles, and Bindings. If you do not own or lease skis, you will need to rent them from the resort.
  • Boots. You can rent ski boots at the resort, but this is not recommended. 
  • Helmet. 
  • Jacket and Ski Pants. 
  • Base and Mid Layers. 
  • Gloves / Mittens. 
  • Ski Socks. 
  • Goggles.

For Snowboarders


  • Snowboard and Bindings. If you do not own a snowboard or bindings, you will need to rent these from the resort. 
  • Boots. 
  • Socks. 
  • Helmet. 
  • Jacket and Pants. 
  • Base and Mid Layers.
  • Gloves. 
  • Goggles.

Ski Clothing Essentials


Waterproof ski jacket (minimum waterproof rating 10.000mm)
Waterproof ski pants/Board pants (minimum waterproof rating 10.000mm) 
Mid layer shirt: long sleeve sweatshirt, woollen sweater, lightweight down jacket 
Thermal tops/ Base layers (non-cotton) 
Thermal pants (non-cotton) 
Neck warmer/Gaiter 
Wool ski socks
Fleece jacket 

TIP: As with ski and snowboarding gear, you can rent the waterproof jacket and pants


Ski and Snowboard Accessories


Waterproof and insulated ski gloves or mittens with inner layer 

TIP: If you are knew to skiing and / or snowboarding you might want to take some protective gear such as wrist guards, knee pads and protective shorts/bum pads – just in case you fall and land on these areas.


Optional extras


Pocket sized sunscreen 
Lip balm 
Pocket tissues 
Goggles wiper 
Hand warmers 
Water bottle or hydration pack 
Small backpack to carry all your items


Apres Ski and Off the Slopes Clothing


Winter jacket 
Casual tops 
Jeans/Long pants 
Winter hat 
Bathing suit – yes, many resorts have indoor pools, hot spas or thermal pools nearby 
Flip flops / thongs which are great to wear to shower blocks
Waterproof non-slip shoes or boots 




Toothbrush &Toothpaste 
Floss and mouthwash 
Cleanser & Moisturizer 
Comb, brush and other hair accessories 
Shampoo and conditioner
Personal hygiene items 
Soap / shower wash
Shaving gel & Razor 
Cosmetics and makeup remover 
Nail clippers and nail file 
First aid kit 
Muscle relief cream 
Any medicals




Ski Tickets/ Passes 
Identification/Driver’s license 
Accommodation, Transport & ski hire details and confirmation
Travel insurance details 




Mobile phone and charger 
Travel adapter 
Camera/GoPro and charger 




Travel pillow 
Day Pack/Purse 
Laundry bag 
Luggage lock and tag 


What Luggage is best for a trip to the Snow?


Wheels don’t roll in the snow so your luggage should be easy to carry through the snow. 


And just like that, You Are Packed For a Holiday in the Snow


Now you have all the gear, all you need are some lessons and where the best apres ski is. See you on the slopes, or by the fireplace! I’d love to hear your thoughts on this post in the comments following.


What to wear Skiing or Snowboarding PIN.

Thanks for sharing!

Useful Travel Resources for Your Next Adventure!


Accommodation: Where Will You Sleep Tonight? If you want a bed in a hostel dorm find a great deal with HostelWorld. I mostly stay in hotels now, Booking.com is my favourite site for booking hotels from budget to ‘I feel like splurging’. For something completely different I house and pet sitting through Trusted Housesitters – this has saved me thousands on accommodation, no joke!

Flights: I always head to Skyscanner first to find a cheap and flexible flight.

Car Rental: When I need to rent a car I turn to RentalCars.

Train Travel: I love riding the train rails and get the best value from raileurope. And Japan has a great one too – JapanRail Pass.

Bus Travel: Check out Busbud for bus tickets.

Pre-organised Tours: I’ve been on a few in my time with Contiki being my first and favourite. if you are 18-35 years of age you should check them out.

Jump-the-queue entrance tickets: I don’t enjoy standing in long queues which is why I book my entrance tickets and day trips in advance. My favourite website to book them in advance is GetYourGuide.

Travel Insurance. There are a number of reasons why travel insurance is important and I never travel without having bought a policy as you never know when something might happen. SafetyWing is great digital nomads and long-term travellers.


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  1. Lisa

    Thanks for this informative list. I grew up somewhere where it doesn’t snow, so I’m clueless with this kinda stuff!

  2. Lanie

    You really thought of it all! I love the bum protection. Skiing really does require a lot of packing. Once I packed so many things but forgot my pants!

    • Sharyn McCullum

      Having grown up at the beach I am not the best on skiis so i thought the bum protection was brilliant!

  3. Linda Jane

    A helpful guide for skiing novices like me who always feel the cold. Thank you!

  4. Brittany

    This post is really helpful! I have never been skiing before, so I will definitely refer back to this post when I finally go. Thanks for sharing!

  5. cass

    This is a great post, I love that you explained the different layers (base layers etc) as I think that can trip people up when they’re not used to cold weather.And it makes such a big difference!


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