If your new to skiing and taken a few lessons and like it, it’s time to get your own gear. Skiing can be a very expensive sport but buying ski gear doesn’t have to break the bank. As a beginner, you don’t need top end equipment to enjoy skiing and progress. More expensive, high performance skis will make it harder for you to advance. Let’s take a look at ski gear for beginners. What should you get and how much will it cost.
- Ski gear for beginners. What is necesary
- Renting vs buying ski gear for beginners
- New vs used ski gear for beginners
- Salomon Arctic Poles, 110, Blue
- Helmet and goggles
- Ski outfit basics
- Ski jacket
- Ski pants
- Base layer
- Ski socks
- Ski sweater
- Ski gloves or mittens
- Ski hat
- Ski lock
- Where to buy cheap beginner ski gear
- Have fun skiing
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Ski gear for beginners. What is necesary
Let’s have a look at what the bare minimum equipment you need to go skiing is. The below list is all the items you will need to get to have your own set of ski gear.
- Skis – $200-$300
- Boots – $150-250
- Poles – $25-50
- Helmet – $60
- Goggles – $25
- Ski jacket – $80 – $150
- Ski pants – $30 – $100
- Base layers – $30 – $80
- Ski socks – $20 – $40
- Ski sweater – $20 – $100
- Ski lock – $15
- Total for the cheapest options $655
You can get an entire set of ski gear for less than $700 buying all new gear. If you buy used for the skis you might be able to shave a little off. If you can find second hand for some of the clothing items you might be able to save a little more. If your thinking of buying a set of ski gear for beginners from scratch you should budget $700.
Renting vs buying ski gear for beginners
For the first few times skiing, you should absolutely rent or borrow as much gear as you can. Rent skis and borrow clothing if you don’t have anything suitable. There is no point in investing in a pair of skis until you’ve done it enough times. It takes a few trips to the hill to know if you enjoy it or not.
After your first couple of trips then it’s time to start considering getting your own gear. Rentals typically run near the cost of a lift ticket. It can double your cost per day of skiing if you need to rent gear every time. Renting gear takes time that could be spent skiing. Rental ski boots will never feel good. The padding has been broken in to many foot shapes. They are the very softest, low performance boots out there.
For your first day skiing, you need short skis to wedge or snowplow with. After a few days of skiing, you’ll start learning to parallel turn. Parallel turns do not need super short skis.
You will want to buy your own skis and boots after the first few days both to save money and have better fitting gear.
New vs used ski gear for beginners
There are some excellent deals to be had buying used gear. There is also a lot of overpriced junk out there. To help sort through what is available find a ski friend who can help. If you don’t have any skier friends then you can still buy used. You will need to do some research to be successful.
If you choose to shop for used ski gear look for reviews online for anything you are considering. If it’s so old there are no reviews pass it. If it’s gear meant for expert skiers pass on it. As a beginner, you’re looking for a set of parabolic carving skis. You do not want a set of fat or mid-fat all-mountain skis yet. The sections below will give you an idea of what to look for.
A new pair of beginner skis with bindings will run between $200 and $300. You might be able to find something cheaper on a clearance sale somewhere. Otherwise plan to spend about that much.
As a beginner, you want skis that are easy to turn so you can learn to parallel turn. You want shaped or parabolic carving skis. These are sometimes referred to as front side skis as well. These have narrow waists with wide tips and tails. The waist width should be in the range of 70-85mm.
These skis typically have integrated bindings that can adjust to any boot size. You still should have a ski shop set up the bindings to your weight and size. You want bindings that will release when you fall so you don’t get an injury learning to ski.
Your ski length is based on your height. The below table shows what length your skis should be for your height for beginner skiers.
The below video has some tips for choosing ski size.
Ski boots are the most difficult piece of ski equipment to buy. Most ski shops do not know how to size boots correctly. You will most likely leave the ski shop with ski boots that are a size or 2 too large. Ski boots don’t feel great when you are trying them on. Most ski shop employees don’t have the knowledge to know how to fit boots. If you buy boots online make sure you buy from somewhere with a good return policy in case they don’t fit well.
A pair of beginner ski boots will run between $150 and $250. This is the one place I recommend you don’t even think about buying used. Used ski boots are like rental ski boots. The liners have been broken in to someone else’s foot shape. They will never feel comfortable for your feet because they are broken in to a different shape.
Different boot manufacturers make their boots for different shaped feet. A size 10 ski boot from one boot make can feel very different from a boot from another maker. It’s difficult to find what is right for you without trying on a lot of boots.
If you try on a ski boot and you have to put any of the buckles on their last or second to last notch they are too big. Ski boot liners will break in a lot and you will need your buckles 2 to 3 notches tighter after they are broke in.
When you try on a set of ski boots you should pull the liner out and put your foot in the shell. You should be able to fit no more than 1-2 fingers between your heel and the back of the shell. If you can fit anything more they are too big. If you are at a ski shop and they don’t do this check walk away and buy your boots somewhere else.
Beginner boots will have a stiffness between 60 and 80. Anything stiffer than 80 will be too stiff and you’ll have a hard time flexing your ankles. Boots rated 100 and up are for advanced skiers will strong developed turn technique. They are not for learning. The below video has some tips for buying trying on and buying ski boots.
When you become a more advanced skier it’s recommended to go to a boot fitting shop and get a pair of custom fit boots. These are not cheap. It will cost $500-600 for a set of fitted boots at somewhere like Surefoot. The only places that have boot fitting shops are near large ski resorts. If you live far away from one your out of luck unless you can go on a trip.
- Relaxed Fit – Relaxed Fit features a 104mm last with wider forefoot, toe box, and ankle areas for comfort and support
- Reduced Weight, Full Power – Engineered Sensor Matrix shell design reduces boot weight
- Easy Entry – Softer plastic around the instep allows for easier opening of the boot overlap for smooth entry
Ski poles are the easiest piece of ski equipment to buy. Any pair of aluminum poles that are the correct length will do. There is no need to get anything fancier unless you just feel like it. Many advanced skiers are still using basic aluminum ski poles. There are plenty of poles available for $20-$50.
The traditional method of choosing the correct length ski poles is to hold the ski poles upside down. Hole them with your hands below the basket. Your arms should be at 90 degree angles with your upper arms at your side. Ski shops can cut down poles that are a little too long.
Helmet and goggles
Helmets are very important and you should wear one skiing. Most ski resorts will rent helmets along with skis, boots, and poles. Get one and wear it. One of my close ski friends got a concussion standing around at the bottom of the mountain by the ski lift. An out of control skier ran him down. Accidents happen and you never know when.
Ski goggles will keep your face much warmer than a pair of sunglasses and block the sun, wind, snow, and ice. It can get pretty windy on a chair lift and more face protection is better. You will be much more comfortable wearing goggles on a cold day.
Ski helmets and ski goggles are designed to work together. Helmets have vents that direct air over the goggle face to keep them from fogging up. You need goggles that fit the shape of the helmet with little or no gap for this to work. Different helmets fit different shaped heads better. You should try on several helmets to find one that fits your head well. Then find goggles that work with that helmet.
For foggy days or night skiing, you want a goggle lens that isn’t too dark. If you’re buying a pair of goggles with a fixed lens you want something in the mid range of darkness. If you spend a little more you can get goggles with interchangeable lenses. In that case, buy goggles that include a light and dark lens. Here in Michigan, it tends to be cloudy in the winter a lot. I rarely use my dark lens. When I go skiing out west there tends to be a lot more sun. I use the dark lens a lot more in those situations.
If you buy goggles that don’t fit your helmet well you will have a big goggle gap. This is something that advanced skiers and ski snobs will make fun of and refer to as gapers. There is a lot of ski culture centered around gapers such as gaper days. A lot of ski resorts have gaper days. Usually the last open day or a random day in the spring.
Please see our complete ski goggle guide here.
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Ski outfit basics
Your goal with your ski outfit is to stay warm and dry. Layering is the key to staying comfortable. Add more for colder days. Wear less for warmer days. The below video has some tips on what to wear skiing.
Below is a table of what layers to wear for different temperatures.
To learn more see our guide for what to wear skiing.
Once you have made the commitment to learn to ski you should look for a dedicated ski jacket. It should be waterproof. As a new skier, you’re going to be spending some amount of time rolling around in the snow trying to get up. You don’t want anything that will soak up snow into the material. Breathable material is also desirable. You won’t stay warm if your sweat turns your jacket into a rain forest inside.
3 in 1 jackets are good when your not sure what you want or need. 3 in 1 jackets have a zip in insulating layer that can be removed on warmer days. They can be worn as a shell or fully insulated jacket.
Here is a shopping hint for ski jackets. Jackets with better construction and more quality materials will use better zippers. The zipper has been the first thing to fail on every ski jacket I have ever owned.
Better zippers are very easily identified. If a jacket has a better waterproof zipper it will not have a button or snapped flat to cover the zipper. It will have an exposed zipper with no flap or other material to cover it. These jackets will cost more but they will last longer too. You might be able to find a good deal on clearance if you look around online.
- Waterproof: Water-repellent rain jacket can work under over 10000mm pressure head. Keep your body always dry
- Windproof: Adjustable hook & loop fastener cuffs and stretchable glove with thumb hole help seal in warmth
- Multi Pockets: 2 zippered hand pockets, 1 zippered chest pocket (passport or cards stowed), 1 internal pocket
If you want to enjoy skiing, you will want to wear some kind of insulated snow pants. Can’t I just ski wearing jeans? Skiing in jeans is one of the worst, cold, miserable experiences you can have. As a beginner skier, you’re going to fall. You are going to fall a lot and often.
When you fall wearing jeans or anything else made of cotton, they are going to immediately soak up a bunch of snow. The snow is going to freeze inside the jean material. Your legs and butt are going to be cold for the rest of the day. Any pair of ski pants should be at least water proof.
You have the option of regular pants and bib pants. You can find very inexpensive ski pants in both styles. Bibs have many advantages. They block wind from blowing up your jacket on the chair lift. They keep snow from going down your pants when you fall. They are warmer. They are not as stylish or good looking when you wear them around for apres. They can make you too hot on warm spring days.
Base layers or long johns or long underwear are the first layer to put on. Look for something made of synthetic material and not cotton. Wicking and breathable materials are preferred. base layers are available in a variety of weights. I tend to go medium to heavyweight here. You can always remove mid and outer layers when you’re getting warm on a warmer day. On a cooler day, a lighter base layer isn’t a lot of good.
On a really cold day, you can double or triple up on base layers. One heavy weight base layer is warm enough most days. If you plan on skiing on a -20F day you need all the layers you can get.
The first thing to consider is what is going on your feet. I prefer medium to heavyweight ski socks. I never find that my feet have any tendency to feel too hot. They do tend to feel cold sometime.
Good socks are important. You will notice that they don’t have seems around the toes. Seems are pressure points. Pressure points cut your circulation off quickly once you clamp your boots down. Don’t go for any kind of cotton sock or any sock with a seam. Seams going over the top of your toes will get pinched by your ski boot and cause your toes to go numb.
You should never double up on ski socks. You will inevitably get a wrinkle somewhere in the overlap that will have the same effect as a seam. If it’s cold wear a pair of heavyweight ski socks and then you can add toe warmers into your boots if you need them.
A good wool sweater or heavy fleece works well as an outer layer. They will keep you warm on a cold day. Avoid a pure cotton sweater or cotton sweatshirt. Once you start sweating, anything made of cotton will turn into a sweaty, spongy cold mess. The last thing you want on your first day skiing is to be miserable and cold after your first hour on the snow.
Ski gloves or mittens
You will want to find some warm mittens or gloves that are also waterproof. You’ll be pushing off the snow to get up several times on your first ski outing. Mittens are warmer than gloves if you tend to have cold hands in the winter. You really don’t need finger dexterity while skiing. Holding poles isn’t difficult. You’ll need to take your hands out of your gloves to use your phone or anything like that.
I find that gloves that go over my jacket sleeves are warmer and better at keeping snow out of my sleeves. Other people go the opposite way and like their coat sleeves over their gloves. I find every time I fall snow gets rammed up my sleeve that way. It’s a personal preference thing and you’ll figure out what you like best.
I personally always wear a hat while skiing. Some people find that the helmet is enough insulation on its own. The earmuffs built into helmets give me headaches from pressure on my ears so I always have to remove them. I have tried several helmets and always get them. On a subzero cold day, the helmet may not be enough to keep you warm so it’s a good idea to have a hat in your pocket just in case.
For a ski hat, it is important to choose something that works under a helmet. This means no big fluff balls or other features. The hat needs to be tight fitting and I prefer it covers my ears. Hats with big thick stitching or a loose fit will bunch up under a ski helmet and be uncomfortable. They will prevent your helmet from sitting on your head right.
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A ski lock is a good cheap way to keep your skis from going skiing without you. It may be rare but ski theft does happen at ski resorts. I have lost one pair of skis to theft so I know for a fact it does occur. Cable ski locks are cheap and effective. There are so many unlocked pairs of skis on every ski lock that even a small weak lock is enough of a deterrent. Spend a few dollars and keep one in your ski jacket at all times. You can get a ski lock for $15 to $20.
Where to buy cheap beginner ski gear
There are a few really good places to shop online for discount and clearance ski gear. Evo.com and Levelninesports.com are 2 of the best places. Both have deep discounted clearance items. They also have package deals available for beginner ski gear. I have personally tested the return policy at both places several times for items that didn’t fit. They have always been hassle free and quick. Sierra.com and Backcountry.com are also good places to look. Amazon has some deals as well if you shop around.
Have fun skiing
With the right gear skiing is the most fun way possible to spend a winter day. I hope you have a great time skiing.
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- The Best Ski Goggles Under $50 Helpful Guide
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About the author
My name is Doug Ryan. I am an adventure sports fan and an avid skier, sailor, mountain biker who also enjoys paddle boarding, kayaking, wakeboarding, waterskiing, and travel. I take any chance I can get to get out in the snow or water. I actively run an adventure sports meetup where I get asked many questions. I decided to start Gear Craver as a way to share my knowledge and enthusiasm for adventure sports their gear.