Before I left for my very first winter snow sports trip – snowboarding in Montreal, Canada – I stressed about purchasing adequate clothing. For many people, looking good on the slopes is as important as the time spent getting down them.
But what if you are new to skiing and snowboarding, or someone who doesn’t regularly go on this type of holiday? How do you go about finding ski clothing without the hefty price tag?
As a person who climbs mountains, wanders dusty cities and generally roughs it around the world in basic clothing, I admit I knew very little about how to go about this snowy adventure. I only knew that I didn’t want to spend a ridiculous amount of money and since this would be my first attempt at the sport, I was reluctant to invest a lot of money on gear if I was potentially not going to use it again.
My experience? Ski / Snowboarding clothing ISN’T that expensive when you look hard enough, and if you are not too vain.
I may not have been the funkiest, edgy and cool snowboarder out there, but I managed to get the basic gear – a waterproof ski jacket and waterproof ski trousers – for £100, which even included a bobble hat to match!
It all came down to finding brands that are known for a budget offering while retaining durability. At the time, I had been shopping at the Mountain Warehouse store in Covent Garden, London, for years – an outlet for travel clothing and equipment aimed at the more budget conscious – so I naturally gravitated back there to source a bargain. Using their online catalogue to browse through a wider selection, they kindly let me test out three of their items.
Staple Item One: Ski / Snowboarding Jacket
While I initially leant towards my favourite shade of navy blue, I chose a bright colour in order to get into the spirit… and be seen! This Gora Extreme waterproof jacket was a great fit (with handy thumb loop sleeves), kept me warm, was waterproof and folded down to a good size without taking up too much space in my backpack. It also featured lots of zipped pockets, especially tucked away ones which were handy for protecting my iPhone.
I liked it so much that I used it a lot during my two weeks in Canada, outside of the ski resort, where I battled daily with the minus temperatures! Therefore, choose your jacket wisely, because this was the one item you will no doubt use over and over again. I have this packed away for future cold spells, even in England.
Staple Item Two: Ski / Snowboarding Trousers
My first choice of colour for ski pants was another bold colour like pink or purple, except with colour came a lack of practicality – they were not waterproof. As a beginner, where you are likely to fall over a lot, waterproof is the better option and so I chose the Homewood Ski Pants in white.
A friend told me that white trousers were all the rage in the early 2000s, but being current in the trends of ski fashion was the least of my worries. Besides, I liked how the white contrasted with the bright colour of the ski jacket and matched my cute knitted bobble hat.
The warm fleece inner-lining and the handy ankle zips, which made getting the snowboarding shoes on and off a lot easier, was an added bonus, but like most of my gripes with trousers, these were not the most flattering fit and were slightly bulky because of the waterproof layer. However, no one is looking that closely and nor do you wear these out in the evening. They did the job and for £40, you can’t really complain, especially when you are wearing them out more quickly as a beginner.
Other Ski Clothing and Gear
The Must-Haves: Thermals and Fleece
Invest in great thermal layers (including socks), a decent fleece and ski gloves. I have a long-sleeved thermal vest and leggings, which have lasted for four years to date, enduring all kinds of mountain treks and other adventures.
I never thought I would use a fleece as much as I do on my travels, but it’s become one of my must-pack items, especially for those slightly chilly evenings and public transport which blasts out the air conditioning!
These are all investments you can use outside of ski and snowboarding trips, making them better value for money.
Check What You Can Rent At Ski Resorts
When I was at the ski resort I borrowed snowboarding shoes, a flat hat for under my helmet and goggles. Check to see what you can hire at your chosen resort before you leave, in order to help conserve your funds.
Budget Ski Clothing: Takeaways
I soon learnt that budget ski clothing doesn’t mean bad ski clothing, and for three days learning how to snowboard, my staple clothing items were ideal.
You may not look like a true pro, but you can still look stylish. And for those who haven’t ruled out the possibility but who have no immediate plans to return to the slopes, this is an investment that won’t hurt your pocket.