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How to ski | Packing list for your first ski day

How to ski 10 min read

Are you excited for your first day of skiing? YES, and so are we. But preparing for such a day, especially as a beginner, can be overwhelming. The endless amount of different ski gear and special ski equipment stresses the hell out of beginners, even before they started their winter break. What to pack for a ski holiday is a question the internet or friends might not answer as concrete as we would wish for. Therefore, here you go, we explain every item a beginner needs for their first ski day and suggestions where you should get it from. Plus find a free packing list for your first ski day to download and print attached to the end of this article.

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Packing list for your first ski day | Ski outfit Nina

Packing list for your first ski day: The right ski outfit

The first thing you might consider before going skiing in the winter outfit you should wear. And you are completely right thinking that way because when you get up in the morning and want to prepare for your first ski lesson ski clothing is the first thing you start with.

Well, let's start bottom-up:

Ski socks and ski underwear

Ski socks and ski underwear are essential basics you put on first thing in the morning of your first ski day. Proper ski socks are that important because they do not only keep you warm in your ski boots, but they also make sure that your ski boot fits perfectly. Ensure that you pull them as high as possible so that they won't wrinkle up in your shoe. A wrinkle in your socks might hurt during skiing, so pull them up completely, they usually end just below your knee.

Ski underwear might seem a bit odd to ski beginners. Ski underwear usually comprises a pair of trousers, a long-sleeved shirt, and a jacket or pullover. Most of the time you can buy the shirt and trousers pairwise. Please notice that you do not need to buy the fanciest ski clothing as a beginner. Still, ski socks and underwear are total essentials you should definitely buy. If you do not want to buy a jacket or pullover feel free to grab a sports jacket from your home and wear it above your ski underwear shirt. But please notice that this jacket needs to be functional. Otherwise - let's say with a regular hoodie - you will sweat and maybe catch a cold.

Ski jacket and ski trousers

Do Not Ski in Jeans - Amen. You do not need the most expensive, top-notch ski clothing, but you cannot go skiing wearing your regular winter outfit. Jeans will not only make you look like a fool, but you will also feel like one when you fall. They will make you freeze and won't be protected from any injuries. Therefore, investing in proper ski clothing (even in cheap ones) will not be any mistake.

We advise you to buy your first ski clothing in a sports shop in your ski destination. There you will get the best advice from experts who go skiing too, and they know their ski gear. If you tell them that you are a beginner who wants to have a jacket you could wear for rainy days at home, they will find the best option for you. Another advance of buying in-store is that they always have cheap options from last year's collections. Online you will only find the expensive new in winter collections of each brand. But last year's ski jackets and ski pants are just as good and way cheaper.

When putting on your ski jacket and ski trousers, make sure you close your jacket's zipper and put the ends of your ski pants above the ski boots.

Ski gloves

We love ski gloves! There is nothing more important than the right pair of gloves. You'll find them in various kinds and shapes: mittens, full-fingered, three-fingered. No matter which ones you choose - choose some! Having warm, dry hands is something that will make you the happiest during a winter ski day. They have an extraordinary place on our packing list for your first ski day.

A neck warmer or scarf

Neck warmers are a skier's best friend on cold days. They protect you from cold wind and can be pulled up to protect your face when needed. Personally, I wear them no matter the weather, and children should always wear some too. Many destinations sell them as a souvenir with their name on it. But if you think you can live without then, you absolutely can. If you choose to use a scarf you have at home, please make sure you opt for a short one that can not become entangled anywhere and hurt you. Rather buy a cheap neck warmer instead.

Ski helmet

Ski helmets are life-savers - literally. Even if you are a beginner, who won't go down any dangerous pistes. A ski helmet keeps you safe from any injury if you fall and keep your head and ears warm. Some people fear that these huge ski helmets will interfere with their hearing but let us be clear here - these are just rumours, they do not. A ski helmet is one of the most important items on the packing list for your first ski day. If you do not want to buy a ski helmet as a beginner, just ask in the local stores of your destinations - they usually rent some. However, I do not recommend doing so, because even if they do their job, they tend to lose protection features over time.

Ski goggles

Ski goggles are an essential part of understanding too. They protect your eyes from an actual sunburn and help you see better in snowy "dark" weather cases. Most beginners do not know that there exist two types of glasses - one pair for sunny days and one pair for cloudy days. Most of the time ski goggles come with the two types of lenses, and you can easily switch them with clicking into the frame. Consultation from shop assistants in sports shops is key here. Also, go for 100 % UVA and UVB protection and get lenses with some anti-fog features.

Packing list for your first ski day: What ski equipment do I need

This question is an easy one. As soon as you are equipped with the perfect ski outfit, only three things are missing: ski boots, skis, and ski poles.


As a beginner, you should not worry too much about skis, simply because there are many different types and sizes. Just go to the local sports shop at your destination and rent a pair of skis there. Shop assistants will determine the perfect length and size of the ski for you. If you want to buy a skis pair, you can, but it is not very clever. Beginners need a special type of skis. They are usually shorter with a narrow waist. If you fall in love with skiing during your first winter holidays and you become better as you go skiing more often you might need to buy a new pair of skis within a shorter period of time. Just because beginner skis won't fit anymore.

ski rental shop in Pettneu
Packing list for your first ski day | Skis | Sportmatt Pettneu am Arlberg

Ski poles

Ski poles are another one of the items we recommend to rent, just because it is cheaper. If you are really fond of buying a pair, then do so.

Ski boots

Ski boots are another essential part of ski gear. They should fit 100% otherwise you'll torture yourself the whole day of skiing. Make sure that you walk some steps when trying them on for the very first time. Tell the clerk every little discomfort if you feel some. If communication works, they'll find the best fitting ski boot for you. When you put them on start closing them from the bottom up and make sure you have enough space to bend your knees (which is an important skiing movement). This means that the upper buckles should be closed more loosely than the bottom ones.

When you take them off after a ski day, make sure that your close every buckle very lightly. This will make sure that the shoe won't lose its shape in the long run.

Read the following article about ski boots: How to ski | Find boots that fit!

If you are a beginner, consider renting ski boots. Just because buying a good pair is rather expensive and you should be sure that you love skiing and that you'll go more often before you buy a pair fitted to your feet.

ski boot fitting at the Arlberg
Packing list for your first ski day | Ski boot fitting | Sportmatt Pettneu am Arlberg

Special protection gear

Protection gear is something that depends on personal preference. Basically, there exists gear to protect your back, your wrist, and knees. As a beginner, you won't go completely crazy on the pistes, and therefore it is just a question of how much protection you wish for. If you want to go with any of these options, please ask the clerk at the store to find the most convenient and safe version of protection gear. Therefore, you will find the protective gear as an optional part of your first ski day on your packing list.

Must-haves for a ski day

There are a few things left on your packing list for your first ski day. For example, your ski pass. If you leave your hotel without it, there won't be any chance to use any sort of lift or gondola. Another thing you might consider on cold days would be hand warmers. They are tiny bags you can put into your gloves that will warm your hands for a couple of hours. Most of the time they are also available for your ski boots.

Another must-have for a successful ski day is sunscreen for your face and lips. Even if it is winter, the sun is doing its job and snow reflects it so that you are endangered to get a sunburn in every part of your face. Luckily there are special winter sunscreens available in sports shops that protect you from sun, wind, and the cold. This kind of face-cream is necessary for your winter holidays.

One more thing I suggest you take with you (or pack your children) would be a small snack like an energy bar, especially if you are not accustomed to cold temperatures. Of course, you will go eating in some mountain restaurant, and you can take as many breaks as you want, but sometimes it makes sense to take a bite when you sit on a ski lift. Our body uses 15 % of the input calories for thermogenesis (the body's process of regulation temperature). If your body has to heat up against the cold on some days and is not accustomed to it, it has to burn a lot of energy.

Online Shopping

Now, as you know about everything you need, you are probably eager to make a check on every item on the list before going on a ski holiday. Online shopping will probably be the first idea that comes to your mind. But as you might have recognized reading this article - online shopping as a beginner is a bad idea. Ski gear is very sophisticated and equipped with endless functions. If you shop online, you will probably end up with things that do not fit your needs. Believe me, I have seen it over a thousand times. Rather buy in stores in your destination.

Packing list for your first ski day | Sport Shop Ski Destination | Sportmatt Pettneu am Arlberg

Packing list for Sport Shop Ski Destination | Sportmatt Pettneu am Arlberg

I know it is a lot to think about. But in the end, it is less than you think. Please have a look at our free Packing List to download. Feel free to print it and make a check on every item on your first ski day. But most importantly have fun skiing - with this list you will be definitely ready for a perfect ski day!

Free Packing List to Download:

Free Packing List for a first ski day

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