Now I appreciate most people who use Igluski are regular skiers, but for those who are either new to the sport, are forgetful or wonder why they are always cold, no matter how big their jackets are, here is our ski holiday checklist, to make packing that little bit easier.
Whether skiing or snowboarding, the vast majority of your 'software' will be the same, brands apart. Where it differs is down to personal preference, the weather and the type of skiing or snowboarding you plan to undertake — for example you don't really want a shovel on your back and an expensive transceiver on if you are hitting the park.
Don't be left feeling like something's missing.
So to help you be prepared for every occasion, here are a few essential items to make sure are in your suitcase and ski bag before you leave the house:
- Thermals: thermals keep you warm and dry, they are breathable and keep moisture away from the body, but don't have to be expensive.
- Gloves: ski gloves, not woolly gloves, as they are waterproof, windproof and warm.
- Goggles & sunglasses: Goggles are for skiing in, sunglasses are for wearing at lunch. Most goggles come with spare lenses which are always worth taking too.
- Sun cream, lip balm and after sun: you are several hundred metres close to the sun, surrounded by a white reflective surface, you've been warned!
- Beanie or headband: remember the old adage that you loose 70% of you heat through your head? Well keep it in. Headbands are for skiers only!
- Water bottle: simple, you're doing exercise, so keep hydrated. There are loads of different types from camelpacks to thermos bottles you can use.
- Ski jacket: a proper outdoor jacket is needed, they are water/snow proof, breathable and keep you warm, ski jackets also have garters to prevent you getting snow everywhere.
- Salopets: again, proper ski salopets or board pants will keep you warm and dry. Skiing in jeans won't!
- Ski socks: you don't need expensive ones, but you need proper ski socks are as opposed to thick socks or football socks, which won't keep you warm at -5°c.
- Helmet: would you ride a motorbike without one? Thought not. Your head's pretty important, keep it safe.
- Travel insurance details: make sure you are covered for winter sports and in an emergency you know where you've put it. Also take emergency contact details with you.
- Phone: pay for a roaming package as you'll be surprised to how many times people take 'the other left' on the mountain.
- Rucksack: whether carrying a hip flask or packing your kids off to ski school for the day, rucksacks are essential.
- Labels: if you are skiing with your family, label EVERYTHING. You'll be surprised how helpful it is at ski school the following morning when little Johnny gets his gloves back.
You've probably heard all this before, but it's all about layering when skiing and wearing the correct layers. Just because something is heavy, doesn't mean it's going to keep you warm, and that goes for everything from your socks to your jacket.
Whether you are on your first lesson, a seasoned skier or hiking the Vallée Blanche, wearing the correct layers is essential. Remember it's easier to cool down then to warm up. As basic guide to layers is:
- Thermals: in all weather it's good to wear a thermal top, they keep you warm when it's cold and cool when it warm. If you feel the cold or it's particularly chilly one day, thermal long johns or leggings will help keep you warm, I even know ski instructors (male may I add) who wear tights as well.
- T-shirt: short sleeve or long sleeve depending on the weather and comfort.
- Fleece, hoody or jumper: try and pack at least one 100 weight and one 200 weight fleece or hoody, so you can dress for the weather.
- Ski jacket and salopets: I prefer a Gore tex shell most of the time and have a big down jacket for those -20°c powder days.
Off Piste & Ski Touring
If you are planning on doing some off piste skiing or back country hiking here are a few more essentials to pack for the mountain:
- Helipack: for piste skiing a comfortable backpack is enough, but when backcountry skiing you need a rucksack designed to carry all your kit, including your skis.
- Avalanche transceiver: these things are literally a life saver, but don't just carry one, learn to use it first.
- Shovel: from digging out buried friends to building a kicker, shovels are an essential piece of kit.
- Probe: you can use your probe to test the snow depth, or to find buried friends, a very helpful piece of kit.
- Spare goggles and gloves: there's nothing worse than cold hands or snow-filled goggles miles from home.
- Water and snacks: you may find yourself further from a mountain restaurant than usual, so essential to keep you going. I personally go for Mars and Snickers.
- Walkie talkie: you may not have phone coverage and will want to keep in contact with your buddies either in front or behind you.
- Avalanche whistle:; not essential, but a helpful tool so your friends can find you.
- Spare batteries: you don't want your transceiver or walkie talkie running out of juice on the mountain.
Everyone has their own idea what to pack a trip to the slopes, some people like hand warmers, others need a good bottle or brandy or single malt for their hip flask. Forgetting the essentials can cost you a fortune in resort and even ruin your holiday. So as Robert Baden Powell would say: "be prepared".