What to wear skiing and snowboarding

Our snow sports experts
Written by , resident snow specialist
Reviewed by Michael Costanzo, intermediate snowboarder

Slightly different from the standard holiday kit list, going on a ski or snowboarding trip requires a few specific items that are designed to keep you comfortable on the mountain, so you can stay warm, dry, and enjoy the snow.

If you’re going skiing or snowboarding for the first time, gathering a kit list together may seem like a daunting task. That’s why we’ve created this handy guide that covers everything you need to know from what clothes to wear skiing or snowboarding, what to wear under your jacket and all the essentials you need to pack.  

Your ski or snowboarding trip shopping list

  • Snow jacket (One jacket will take you from the mountains, to après and around town)
  • Snow pants (Just the one pair for now)
  • Fleece and an extra mid-layer (A hoodie makes a great spare layer)
  • Base layer/thermal tops (Take at least two with you. These get sweaty, but you can alternate them and wash them)
  • Base layer/thermal bottoms (These can get smelly after a week so it’s best to pack two pairs)
  • Ski socks (Take a minimum of two pairs. These get smelly, especially in rental boots)
  • Ski gloves or mittens (So your fingers don’t freeze)
  • Casual gloves (These will keep your hands warm at après a.k.a. after-ski drinks and around the resort)
  • Ski goggles (No, not swimming goggles)
  • Neck gaiter or balaclava (To keep your neck and face warm on colder days)
  • Beanie, hat or headband (To catch sweat, stop your hair from freezing and keep your ears warm)
  • Sunglasses (These come in handy when having lunch on the mountain and après)

What to hire at the resort

  • Safety is super important, so wear a helmet (Renting a helmet in the resort is quick and easy. You can buy your own if you want a brand new one, but it’s not completely necessary on your first trip)
  • Ski boots or snowboarding boots (Don’t leave this until the morning if you have lessons booked, as finding the right boots can take a while. Once you invest in your own pair of boots you will see the difference in comfort and performance)
  • Skis or snowboards (In peak seasons, it’s best to pre-book your rental. Invest in your own equipment when you’re a regular on the slopes)

Don’t wait until you get to the resort to buy any of this stuff. It’s always crazy expensive so it’s best to start shopping now – don’t wait until the last minute or you’ll get caught out in the cold (pun totally intended!)

Try to not over-pack! It can be very tempting to pack every warm piece of clothing you own – but be warned – dragging a heavy suitcase through snow and ice ain’t fun. Use this handy interactive ski trip packing list so you don’t forget to bring anything.

Did you know that layering is essential for skiing and snowboarding?

From beginners through the mountain yetis, everyone can follow this simple three-stage layering system:

  • Base layers
  • Mid-layers
  • Outer layers

This layering system is highly versatile, allowing you to easily pack for your trip with the versatility to suit a range of weather conditions and temperatures.

What layers should you pack?

Base layers

Base layers are an essential piece of clothing, sitting against your skin base layers wick moisture away from your skin to keep you dry, warm and comfortable whilst being active. Most commonly made with either synthetics or merino wool, these pieces have anti-microbial properties to reduce odour, meaning you only need to pack a few for your trip.

Base layers come in a range of thicknesses to suit varied temperatures, lightweight for warm days, midweight for cool and heavyweight for cold days.


Next up on the packing list, mid-layers! This layer is there for additional insulation whilst the base layer is doing the hard work of moisture management. Ranging from a versatile lightweight fleece to a compact insulated jacket for the coldest temperatures, this layer is the one you will change around the most to adapt to different temperatures. These mid-layers are breathable and trap air to help generate warmth with minimal weight.

Hoodies can be a good extra spare mid-layer to carry around, but these are rarely made with breathable materials so we’d always recommend getting a proper fleece.


Probably the most important piece of clothing to invest in, a ski jacket is designed to protect you from the elements. With a DWR (Durable water repellent) treatment on the external fabric, ski jackets are highly water resistant, allowing snow to brush right off and it doesn’t wet out. Waterproof ratings range from 5K to 20K, the higher the number the more waterproof the fabric. Whilst some of the high-end jackets use a Gore-Tex membrane for maximum weather protection.

We know you aren’t expecting rain in the mountain, however snow will melt onto your clothing. So it’s best to be waterproof.

Insulated jackets are the most popular options, providing instant warmth from the moment you put it on. Filled with either synthetic insulation or natural down, this jacket will keep you warm on the exposed chairlifts, whilst skiing or boarding and walking around resort. If you are going spring skiing or want a jacket that is more versatile to double up as a rain jacket, opt of a shell design but remember they have no insulation.

Still stuck on what jacket to get, explore more features and facts with our jacket buying guide.


Part of being on the mountain is sometimes falling over, so it’s important to wear trousers that are both waterproof and warm. Snow trousers have lighter insulation compared to your jacket as your legs are working a lot harder. Most snow pants feature articulated knees for comfort, boot gaiters to prevent snow from entering the leg and a ventilation zip to help regulate your temperature.

Grab a pair of salopettes which include braces to keep your trousers up, check out the classic bibs that have a great retro look or shop standard snow pants that are quick and easy to put on.

Heading out spring skiing? Shell pants could be a good option, lightweight and waterproof these trousers a popular with experienced skiers but they have no insulation.

Still confused between your different options? Read our snow pants guide for some extra information.

What to wear in different weather conditions

Here is a rough guide to the layers you might need depending on the temperatures. Remember that winds and your temperament to the cold can effect the layers your need.

Mild & dry conditions

These are the sunny spring days with temperatures -2 degrees Celsius and above, creating a bit of slush.

  • Light base layer top
  • Softshell jacket with a DWR coating
  • Light base layer leggings
  • Shell trousers

Cold & dry conditions

These are considered the perfect conditions, with temperatures between -3 and -8 degrees Celsius.

  • Base layer top
  • Fleece mid-layer or hoodie
  • Insulated snow jacket
  • Base layer leggings
  • Insulated snow pants

Cold & snow conditions

These conditions mean snow on your clothes, so you will feel colder with temperatures between -5 and -9 degrees Celsius.

  • Base layer top
  • Fleece mid-layer or hoodie
  • Insulated snow jacket with a good waterproof rating
  • Base layer leggings
  • Insulated snow pants

Cold & heavy snow conditions

With heavy snow and temperatures under -10 degrees Celsius, it’s best to wrap up warm and wear waterproof clothing.

  • Heavy weight base layer top
  • Insulated mid layer
  • Insulated snow jacket with a good waterproof rating
  • Heavy-weight base layer leggings
  • Insulated snow pants


Even snow outfits need accessories.

Small but essential, accessories can make or break your trip. Often overlooked on the kit list, having these accessories to hand means you are always prepared on the mountain.

Gloves and mittens

There is nothing worse than getting cold hands on the mountain, so having the right pair of gloves or mittens is a must. Compared to your regular winter gloves, ski gloves are much tougher to withstand sharp edges whilst carrying equipment. Filled with synthetic insulation, these gloves keep the tips of your fingers warm. If you suffer with cold hands, wear a glove liner underneath to maximise warmth plus you can insert hand warmers.

Ski gloves have a waterproof exterior to keep your hands dry and are windproof to keep the chill off. Some key features to note are nose wipes, articulated fingers, level of insulation, wrist straps (so you don’t lose them) and rolled fingertips.

The great debate of gloves vs mittens…

There is no correct answer here, it is completely your preference, however, each has its own benefits. Mittens cover four fingers in one area, whereas gloves cover each finger individually.

Mittens are often more popular with boarders, providing additional warmth, and are quick and easy to slip on but make it harder to grab things and for beginners can sometimes make strapping up your bindings a bit more tedious. Gloves provide better dexterity and are therefore more popular with skiers. The debate continues on our glove buying guide where you can learn about insulation, features and materials.


Do you really need special socks? Yes you do. Don’t just grab football socks or long winter socks.

Ski socks sit over the top of your calf, this is necessary because ski boots and snowboard boots finish in the centre of your lower leg. A longer sock prevents pressure points or irritation when wearing the boots. Ski and snowboard socks have specific padding placements to maximise your comfort, for example, ski socks focus padding along the shin.

You get different weight options, lightweight, midweight and heavyweight. Midweight socks are the most common however if you are a complete beginner a heavyweight sock will provide maximum cushioning. We recommend that you wear your intended socks when trying on ski or snowboard boots to get the right fit.

Key features to look out for include flatlock toe seam, reinforced heel, antimicrobial treatment (No one wants stinky socks), built-in arch support and ventilation panels. Want to delve into the world of ski socks? Check out our ski socks buying guide for more info.

Neck gaiter or balaclava

No one wants to be stuck on a chair lift getting battered by the wind and snow, so grab yourself a balaclava or neck gaiter. We promise you won’t regret it.

These versatile pieces can be made with either synthetics or merino wool, designed to wick moisture off of your skin whilst providing protection from the elements. Neck gaiters pull over your head and sit around your neck whilst a balaclava covers your face and neck, which is ideal for extremely cold days. Lightweight and quick drying, this is an accessory you don’t want to leave the chalet without.

Safety is no.1 on the mountain, therefore wearing some hardware is super important, even if you don’t like having helmet hair or a goggle tan.



A pair of sunglasses won’t make the cut whilst carving down the mountain. Snow goggles physically protect your eyes during impact, are highly shatter resistant and block UV rays. Snow goggles also make it much easier to see whilst skiing, making bumps, ice and details clearer so you can move over the snow with more confidence. Ski goggles lenses come with different tints to suit different environments, so if you want to learn more, check out our snow lens tint guide.

Your goggles should sit comfortably on your face, just in front of your temples with the foam sitting flush against your skin. It’s always good to try your goggles on with your helmet to make sure they fit together seamlessly. To learn more about all the different goggle options, fits, frames and features, check out our snow goggle guide.


If it’s your first time skiing or boarding, you will probably rent a helmet along with the rest of your equipment. Helmets protect your head during impact whilst falling, but also protect you from others on the mountain, rogue branches and chair lift bars. Make sure the helmet fits your head properly without a beanie underneath. The downside to hiring a helmet is you don’t know what impacts it has already taken, so take a minute to look over the helmet on the outside and inside before wearing it on the mountain.

Helmets come in a range of sizes, try and get a helmet that has an adjustable dial to easily customise the fit. In the market to purchase your own? Find out everything you need to know with our helmet buying guide.

Tips and tricks

  • You only need the one set of ski outer wear for a week trip. We know that it’s fun to switch up your looks, however when skiing or snowboarding one jacket and one pair of pants will be fine for the week.
  • To make your kit last longer and maximise performance, wash the outerwear clothing using a technical wash that doesn’t damage the water repellent coating.
  • To make sure you are comfortable on the mountain, replicated the layering system before choosing your jacket, ensuring you have enough room.
  • It can take time to gather a whole kit list from scratch, give yourself plenty of time before your trip to organise your suitcase.
  • Don’t fit your helmet whilst wearing a thick beanie.
  • You can wear socks more than once, take 3 pairs for 6 days on the mountain.


For your first ever trip it is easier to rent a helmet along with the rest of your equipment. If you decide you like skiing/boarding you would invest in your own helmet.

Completely up to you, get a pair of gloves if you want maximum dexterity and better grip on your poles. Wear a pair of mittens if you want additional warmth but less movement.

For one week skiing or boarding, you can get away with three base layer tops and two base layer bottoms. You can take more if you want, but anti microbial fabrics mean base layers don’t smell as quickly as a regular activewear.

For boarding, it’s great to have a jacket with a little extra length. This isn’t to just look cool but you will spend quite a bit of time sitting in the snow. It’s also handy to wear a jacket that is fully waterproof, insulated and has key features such as a snow skirt and lift pass pocket.

The best jackets for skiing are those that sit around your hips as this is were you hinge from. Most people need a insulated jacket that is waterproof to keep you warm and dry on the mountain.

You can wear as many as you like, however the general rule is 3. Start with a base layer to wicks moisture away from your skin, then a versatile mid-layer which can be a fleece or lightly insulated jacket and then finish with a ski jacket to protect you from the elements.

If you get cold, take spare layers with you so you can easily add additional pieces. Choose thick socks for your feet, take essentials accessories such as a neck gaiter, glove liners and hand warmers.

You can hire your skis/ board, poles, ski/ board boots and a helmet in resort. During peak seasons we recommend that you pre book your equipment. If you forget any accessories, most resorts are well stocked with shops but they can be pricy.

You only need one jacket for a week in the mountains, it’s very common for people to wear their ski jacket as a regular jacket for walking around resort in the evening. Thanks to a good base layer your jacket shouldn’t smell after a day on the slopes.

Ready to shop?

Now that you have a kit list together, shop our range of ski clothing and snowboard clothing. Don’t forget to pick up the smaller snow accessories that are essential to your trip.

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