Gear Shed

Q:

What should I wear while skiing?

I spent last Saturday at REI looking at ski gear and got a bit overwhelmed. I was told until I really want to invest in all the "stuff" for skiing, that all I should buy right now is a good hat, gloves and ski pants. What are your thoughts? Joan Redmond, WA

Taku Pants     Photo: courtesy, REI

Taku Pants

A:That’s an interesting question, Joan. As you no doubt already noticed, it’s easy to get enormously confused by all the choices. So it pays to not rush into things.

On the other hand, you also want to be comfortable and feel like you "belong." So I guess I say, shop around and find some good buys, then after you’ve skied a year or so and figured out what works, consider some upgrades.

And I must say I’m not sure who is giving you advice. Hat, gloves, pants? That’s it? Sure, you can drag a few things out of your closet, but will it work?

So do this: Get the pants, gloves, hat. But also buy a jacket and whatever else you need. Here’s my short list ():
you also can read my recent blog post • Jacket: Years ago, when I first started downhill skiing, I bought a jacket from a still-small Oregon company called Columbia Sportswear. It worked well for years. Columbia Sportswear is a big outfit now, but they still make stuff that really is good value. The Whirlibird Jacket ($180) is a great buy because it combines a good outer shell with a removable polyester-fill insulating liner. The liner can be zipped out; wear both the liner and the jacket on cold days, then pick what works best for spring skiing.
• Pants: The Fly Insulated Pants ($139) from Burton would complement the Whirlibird nicely. Personally, I prefer layering to a single insulated piece, so I’d also suggest a pair of REI’s Midweight MTS Bottoms ($30) along with a pair of REI Taku Pants ($159). You can always wear heavier or lighter long underwear depending on conditions. And I’d get the matching MTS top for a base layer.
• Gloves: Millions of gloves out there. Spend $40 to $50 on a pair that fit well, are waterproof, and offer good insulation. Black Diamond’s Women’s Element ($40) is a good starting point.
• Hat…or helmet? Lot of people wear helmets these days. They’re warm, comfortable, and protective. Giro’s G9 is a good buy at $99. In a traditional ski hat, the Turtle Fur Lady Fairisle ($42) is a good choice.

I know—it DOES add up. But this gets you off on a good start without completely breaking the bank. Have fun!

Get the goods on the rest of the ideal ski kit by checking out our annual Winter Buyer Guide.

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