Know Before You Go: A First Time Skier’s Guide

Take a deep breath – you’re going to have so much fun with friends in the outdoors! Here’s a quick first-timer’s guide to hitting the slopes. From base layers to boots, this is everything I’d tell my friends. Plus, there’s some options you can work with your first time that will be OK if you don’t have the budget for more technically specific clothing.


My favorite mid-layers consist of neck gaiters and quarter zip fleeces.

One of the most important pieces of advice I have is to take a lesson! I know it’s pricey, but if its your first time, it’s going to pay dividends to have that first lesson with a pro. I realize your friends will want to teach you! But if they haven’t taught before, they most likely don’t know what they’re in for, either. I’ve had someone get so frustrated with my first day on a snowboard that they told me to go get skis after just 1 run. Not fun.

In previous years, it was very easy to find plenty of beginner-oriented deals, usually in the form of Lift, Lesson & Rental packages. In fact, January is “learn to ski and snowboard month,” and resorts would offer deals as low as $49 for the entire package! Unfortunately, with 2021 pandemic restrictions in order to keep us all safe, resorts aren’t giving beginner specials out so often. Keep your eyes peeled, and do your research!


Columbia Sportswear carries up to 3X in women’s baselayer sizes!

Layers, layers and MORE layers! The best thing about layers is that you can take them off if you get too warm and put them on if it’s too cold. I will say this: I personally tend to get hot if it’s over 32 degrees so I have base layers and outerwear. Remember, you are exercising! But if it’s below freezing, I’m usually pretty cold.

  • Base Layers – base layers are closest to your skin and are moisture wicking. Aka “Long Underwear.” It is OK if the only thing you have are leggings and a stretchy long-sleeve, but consider upgrading if you decide you want to ski or ride multiple times. Just try to stay away from cotton items because it will absorb your sweat (yes, even in the cold) and make life pretty uncomfortable.
  • Mid-Layers – fleece, a comfortable zip-up or sweat shirts are fine options in my opinion, but there are more technical layers such as down jackets as seen in the video below.
  • Outerwear – the goal for your outermost layer is to try to get these things as waterproof and wind resistant as possible! Please stay away from jeans, sweats or hoodies as your top piece, especially if it’s your first time. They will get very wet and you’ll be very cold after your first fall.
  • Coverings for Head, Face & Hands – Keep them all covered! A helmet is best and highly recommended – you can rent these, too, but any winter hat is fine. Make sure your ears are covered. You will thank me later if you get a buff or fleece layer for your neck and to pull up over your mouth and nose, especially if it’s under 32 degrees (and beyond Covid times). Googles will also seem bulky and unnecessary, but once you really start skiing or riding with speed, you will need these for optimum vision. There are plenty of cost-effective options, and I recommend purchasing new to avoid scratches. Finally, you really should get yourself a nice pair of gloves or mittens – again, try to stay away from cotton or knit – the snow will stick, melt, and ultimately make your fingers turn to ice, too!

*You CAN wear mittens if you’re skiing – you’ll still be able to hold your poles. I enjoy mittens on cold and windy days.

Check the video below. Their clothing might seem a little intimidating to the novice winter-adventurer, and that is OK! If you don’t have these, do your best with what you have unless you have the funds. I do not wear a ton of mid-layers based on personal preference. I enjoy a base layer and a fleece – unless it’s very cold and windy I only wear a base layer under my ski pants.


Wear 1 pair of smooth socks! Two pairs of socks or very thick socks are a no-go. Doing this will actually make you colder by restricting circulation once those boots are snapped in place. A smooth sock with no ridges or ripples that will be inside the boot will be most comfortable.

Don’t wear jeans – or tuck them in to your boots! More explained in layering, above. Plus, jeans are not comfortable in every day life, either. #LeggingLife

If you have snow pants, there will be a liner with a stretchy ankle part and most likely a button. Please do not tuck these in your boots, either. Your boots will be very snug and anything – including that metal button – will feel like a rock. Think princess and the pea – but a boulder in your sock.

This is a great video for a first time skier, and it gives a nice visualization on putting on your boots and your skis!

All in all – be comfortable, be warm, and ENJOY! I am always here if you have questions about skiing – DM me on the gram and I’ll try to help you!

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