An absolute beginner’s guide to winter sports equipment

With the Winter Olympics in Sochi having drawn to a close and the stunning exploits of the professionals on the ski slopes now confined to memory, maybe it’s time to take the plunge and think about trying out some winter sports. The professionals may make it look easy as they glide their way down the pistes in their designer ski kits and equipment, but for absolute beginners there are a number of things that need to be considered before taking those first cautious steps onto the snow.

Prepare with care

If money were no object then it would be easy to go to a winter sports shop and buy everything that is needed for skiing or snowboarding, but when just starting out it may be better to hire some of the basic equipment just in case the sport is not as appealing as it once seemed.

That said, there aren’t many people who have tasted the thrill of skiing who don’t want to do it again and again, but it’s worth taking the advice of experienced winter sports enthusiasts before taking decisions. Getting the right ski gear and equipment is crucial to having an enjoyable time on the mountain so careful preparation is essential.

Ski gear

The right clothing is particularly important when taking to the slopes for the first time. Warmth is essential, especially when the ambient temperature drops sharply, so start with a thermal vest and leggings, a long-sleeved t-shirt and a fleece top. Over these go a waterproof jacket and salopettes, preferably of breathable material to give sweat the chance to evaporate. Good ski socks are also essential, and wear a woollen hat to help keep the head and ears warm. Ensure that gloves are well-insulated and waterproof. Stylish ski jackets are easily available for those wanting to make a fashion statement on the mountainside.

Ski equipment

The most important item of ski equipment is the boot. It is vital that each boot fits well, allowing a little wriggle room for the toes (otherwise the feet can get really cold) but otherwise holding the feet firmly so they can’t move from side to side. As a beginner it makes sense to wear a well-fitting helmet, as there will be a lot of falling over – mostly unplanned. A helmet will help protect the head when it collides with the ground, as it is likely to do so from time to time. A boot dryer for ski boots can also be a good investment, as this will enable you to enjoy warm dry boots every day of your skiing adventure,

Some beginners may prefer to start out with sunglasses but they are not much use when it snows, so investing in a decent pair of goggles is a good idea.

Choosing appropriate skis is the final step towards getting kitted out for the first adventure in the snow. Skis are made for different skill levels so there is no point in trying a pair that are aimed at experienced skiers. These are stiffer than those for beginners, which are softer and make it easier to turn at lower speeds, helping to build up the muscle strength needed to develop better control.

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