Your first day on skis, you probably got outfitted in some ancient rental gear or hand-me-down skis and boots, which smelled like a musty attic and didn’t fit right. It’s no wonder the sport seemed hard at first—old, used, or ill-fitting gear can put you at a disadvantage from the start. Once you’ve conquered the green circle runs and you’re determined to stick with the sport of skiing, it’s time to invest in proper equipment.
Here are eight must-own items of gear that will not only help you become a better skier, but help you look smart and feel good in the process:
Atomic Nomad Smoke Ti Skis and XTO 12 Bindings ($600)
For your first ski setup, choose a ski and binding system (meaning bindings are sold with the skis), to simplify the process. We like Atomic’s Nomad Smoke Ti, a forgiving, 76-millimeter-waisted ski built for mellow cruising on groomers, which comes with Atomic’s XTO 12 bindings. This ski won’t hold you back on the bunny slopes. Its soft foam core comes stacked with two sheets of metal for ideal durability and a subtle tip rocker helps the ski float in soft snow.
Dalbello Aspect 80 Boot ($250)
The most important piece of equipment you’ll buy is the boot, so make sure it fits right. Dalbello’s Aspect 80 comes with a high-comfort foam liner that can be heat-molded for a custom fit. With only three buckles instead of the standard four, the boot’s shell feels lightweight and not overly stiff, making it perfect for new skiers on the rise. Flip into walk mode for an easier time tromping through the parking lot.
Scott 720 Ski Pole ($75)
The qualities you want in a ski pole: lightweight, durable, and nothing fancy. The Scott 720 is exactly that, thanks to an aluminum alloy shaft that’s as light as a pencil but won’t break when you click your pole against the chairlift. Rubber grips provide a secure hold, and big, 3.6-inch pole baskets won’t sink in deep snow. Check a pole size chart to find the right length for your height.
Giro Nine.10 Helmet and Focus Goggles ($100 and $40)
Avoid the dreaded goggle gap—that patch of exposed forehead between your goggles and helmet, a true sign of a rookie skier—by purchasing goggles and a helmet from the same brand, so they fit seamlessly together. The Giro Nine.10, a sleek helmet that’ll protect your head without draining your wallet, has an adjustable fit and ample venting, and the no-frills Giro Focus goggles come with an anti-fog coating on the lens.
Mountain Hardwear Sluice Jacket ($235)
A warm, waterproof ski jacket is an integral part of staying out on the slopes longer, which you’ll want to do if you plan on advancing to those expert runs. Try Mountain Hardwear’s Sluice jacket, a two-layer nylon shell built for out-all-day skiing. Ultra waterproof and breathable exterior fabric keeps you dry, while plenty of zippered pockets store your phone and other gadgets. A slim fit means you may want to bump up a size if you plan on layering underneath.
The North Face Freedom Pants ($140)
You want stretchy, high-mobility ski pants that won’t feel restrictive when you’re learning to carve a turn. The North Face’s Freedom pants have a relaxed fit and adjustable waist tabs if you eat too many chicken wings at après ski. Waterproof, two-layer exterior nylon and fully taped seams keep you dry in a storm and a zippered cargo pocket on the thigh stores a trail map so you won’t get lost. Working up a sweat? Mesh-lined inner thigh vents prevent overheating.
Pow XG Long Glove ($45)
Cold hands are a skier’s worst enemy, so invest in a warm pair of gloves. Like Pow’s XG Long glove, an affordable nylon glove with a micro-fleece liner and 100 grams of toasty Thinsulate insulation. The glove’s gauntlet wraps over your jacket’s cuffs to keep snow out and the outer fabric is pre-treated with a durable water repellent to keep your digits dry. Bonus: The thumb comes outfitted with a plastic squeegee for wiping your goggles clear of snow and sleet.