How to choose the right ski outfit?

In winter, the call of the snowy slopes is strong. For the best possible experience, in addition to practice, the secret is to choose the right ski clothing.

Whether you’re a veteran skier or a beginner, it’s vital that your ski clothing is adapted to you and your sport. There are standards, but they’re not for everyone. Here are a few tips to help you choose the right ski outfit.

What is good ski clothing?

Qu'est ce qu'une bonne tenue de ski ?

Photo credit: Shutterstock / Lucky Business

Waterproofing and breathability

Waterproofing refers to the garment’s ability to keep you dry, while breathability ensures that your body doesn’t suffocate from the heat it releases. These are the two main criteria you’ll find indicated on labels. They are determined by numbers, for example: 8,000/10,000. The first reflects waterproofing and the second breathability. In both cases, we advise you to opt for ratings of 10,000 or higher.

Several membranes have been patented, including Gore-Tex® and PrimaLoft®. These two technologies enhance the waterproofing, breathability and resistance of fabrics equipped with them. More expensive, they also guarantee superior quality and durability.

Pockets and ventilation zips

Choose garments with pockets (including the famous ski pass pocket on the left sleeve), and make sure they have ventilation zips. These will keep you cool when you take a break from skiing, or when you’re on the chairlift. When you think skiing, you think cold. But we don’t always realize that skiing is hot – after all, it’s a sport!

The RECCO® System

The RECCO® system is essential for choosing the right ski clothing, because it’s what will help you to be found in the event of an accident or avalanche. It’s a must-have feature on jackets, pants, helmets and wetsuits.

Hat or helmet, goggles or mask?

Helmets are recommended for beginners who haven’t yet fully mastered the sport, but even very good skiers shouldn’t go without one: in the event of a fall or collision, a helmet will protect you more than a beanie. The latter only protects you from the cold and the sun’s rays.

As for the question of goggles or face mask, it’s up to you. The goggle has a stronger hold on the face, and provides better overall protection from the rays and brightness of the mountains.

Which outfit for which level of skiing?

Without going into too much technical detail, it’s a question of finding the perfect combination of waterproofing, breathability and resistance for your clothing, depending on your activity and the region (temperatures are not the same everywhere).

Downhill skiing

If you’re a « piste » skier, who skis to the top of the slopes via the lifts, skis down and skis up again, then your gliding time is less than your « waiting » time. That’s why we recommend three distinct layers, each with its own properties for maximum comfort.

Off-piste skiing

Are you more into intensive off-piste activities? Then you can have just two layers, just as protective but less warm, because the body produces a lot of heat during long physical effort.

How to choose children’s skiwear?

Tenue de ski pour enfant : comment choisir ?

Photo credit: Shutterstock / Tomsickova Tatyana

For children, there are two choices: the wetsuit or the jacket/pants/strap duo. Some will opt for the wetsuit, as it’s more practical, holds in place and doesn’t let snow through in the event of a fall. But it’s more restrictive when it comes to going to the toilet. This is in contrast to the jacket/trouser/strap duo, which makes for easier undressing, especially in the sometimes narrow cabins. In most cases, gaiters are fitted to keep snow out. From an economic point of view, you can also look for adjustable jackets and pants (stretch sleeves or legs), so you don’t have to buy new equipment every year.

Whether you opt for a wetsuit or a jacket/pant duo, you’ll need to respect the three-layer rule: the under-suit, the pullover and the technical jacket. Helmets and goggles are highly recommended, as are mittens and a neck warmer.

How much money should you spend on ski clothing?

For a complete new ski outfit, you should be able to spend between 100 and 300 euros. If you opt for a top-of-the-range outfit, expect to spend a little more(900 euros). It’s worth noting, however, that entry-level products are still quite well designed, even if they are de facto of lower quality than top-of-the-range products.

When should you change your equipment?

It’s all about feeling. If you feel a little cramped, it’s because it’s too small (washing machine joke or too much squeegee?). It’s also possible that a garment’s waterproofing or resistance is subject to wear and tear. If you’re feeling cold or damp, it’s time to renew your skiwear.

Where to buy ski outfit components?

Où acheter sa tenue de ski ?

Photo credit: Shutterstock / Dmitry Chulov

You have several choices: in-store, where the advice of sales staff is invaluable, or online, with authorized, specialized retailers. Don’t buy from just any website, preferring those dedicated to skiing, as they are more selective about the products they sell.

You can also wait until you get to the resort to visit one of the rental/sale stores, where you’ll find articles to help you choose the right ski outfit. Take time to compare, especially on the Internet!

Ski boots: buy or rent?

To find the ski boot that’s right for you, go into a rental/sales store and let the staff try on several.

Then it’s up to you to decide: do you prefer to rent a pair of ski boots for the day, or go straight to purchase? It all depends on your budget, but also on how often you ski. Even if you only go to the resort once a year and stay for 3 days, it may still be worthwhile to buy (product durability).

In some stores, you can buy a second-hand pair from among those available for rental. In this way, you can test your -future?- purchase for a day or two.

Now you know how to choose the right ski outfit. Let’s hit the slopes!