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Everything you need for your first big skiing trip

Sarah grew up in Monterey, CA and now lives in Los Angeles. When she's not writing, you can find her enjoying a good book, fine wine, sunflowers and long walks on the beach.

The proper gear will turn you from snow bunny to skiing expert in no time

Bringing the right supplies can make or break a ski trip — but if you've never spent time doing physical activity in freezing cold climates, how the heck are you supposed to know what to bring?

More: How to plan an affordable luxury skiing holiday in the Alps

We're walking you through a packing list, so you can focus on getting your skills to black diamond level — instead of shivering in the cold and smacking your horribly chapped lips because you showed up to the mountain under-prepared.

Here are our recommendations on what you should bring for your first big skiing/snowboarding trip, followed by a checklist of everything you need.

Essentials for the elements

When you're up on that mountain, you're exposed to conditions you're not used to functioning in — and if you're not ready to face the elements, you could be entering a world of pain. Make sure you don't forget these essentials.

  • Lip balm with SPF
  • Moisturizing sunscreen
  • Hand cream (for after)
  • Moisturizer (for after)
  • Body cream (for after)
Tons of skiers swear by Burt's Bees products to both prepare for and recover from a day out in the cold, wind and sun. Their Res-Q lip balm is petroleum free and comes in packs of four (Amazon, $15), and Burt's Bees' hand salve is a miracle worker for dry, cracked hands (Amazon, $9).

Don't forget to double down on a sunscreen that packs an extra moisture punch so you don't feel super dry on the slopes. We love Josie Maran's SPF 47 argan oil daily moisturizer (Sephora, $32), and Original Ski Balm also makes an amazing product with wind protection and SPF (Amazon, $9).

You're also going to want to bring a super-lush moisturizer to pile on when you get back indoors. Pratima skincare's rejuvenating pearl cream is thick — but won't clog your pores — and it smells like a dream (Pratima skincare, $45).

Even if you don't normally slather your whole body with cream after a shower, you're going to want to in the dry mountain air. Jason's softening cocoa butter hand and body lotion is nice and thick (Amazon, $6).

Gear

Although it's tempting to buy a bunch of cool new gear for your first big trip, it's really better to rent your first time out. That way, a pro on the mountain can help fit you with everything, and you can decide if you even like the activity. Almost all big skiing resorts have a plethora of gear available to rent.

Skiing and snowboarding gear is not cheap, but if you decide it's something you love, you can always stock up on boots, poles, skiis or a snowboard later. If you are planning to go on snow trips multiple times in a season, then it is a good idea to invest in your own stuff.

Clothing

A photo posted by Kari Traa (@karitraa) on

No matter what any smooth talking retail associate tries to tell you, fancy clothing marketed especially to skiers and snowboarders is not necessary — the same kind of clothes can be worn for all activities in the snow.

That being said, you do need to bring an arsenal of layers — or you'll be hating life.

  • Beanie
  • Gloves (waterproof is best)
  • Neckwarmer
  • Ski jacket and pants
  • Goggles
  • Waterproof shoes
  • Thick socks (look for moisture-wicking socks so your feet will stay warm and dry)
  • Sunglasses
  • Thermals (if it's really cold, go for polyester, nylon, silk or wool)

You don't need to spend a fortune, but good quality thermals and snow socks will make all the difference on a cold day up the hill. Kari Traa's crew top is super cute — and it will totally help keep you warm (Amazon, $75). We also love Dakine's Larkspur base layer pants to keep your legs warm and limber as you learn to navigate your way around on skis or a board (Dakine, $45).

When it comes to jackets and pants, you can't go wrong with REI. Sure, some of their jackets are upwards of $600, but you can also find great insulated jackets for under $200 — like Columbia's Alpine Action insulated jacket (REI, $170).

Ski goggles can get pricey (we're talking hundreds of dollars, here) but you can find great goggles deeply discounted — like this $30 pair at House Outdoor gear.

Après–ski

It's totally acceptable to wander into the lodge in full-on ski gear, but you also might want to pack some fashionable outfits for drinks later on in the day/evening.

Here's a little fashion inspo.

The proper gear will turn you from snow bunny to skiing expert in no time
Image: Pinterest
The proper gear will turn you from snow bunny to skiing expert in no time
Image: Pinterest
The proper gear will turn you from snow bunny to skiing expert in no time
Image: Pinterest

The proper gear will turn you from snow bunny to skiing expert in no time
Image: Pinterest

Let's review

Here are all our suggested essentials in one place. Print it out and check off what you've gathered!

Personal care items

  • Lip balm with SPF
  • Moisturizing sunscreen
  • Hand cream
  • Face moisturizer
  • Body cream

Clothing and gear

  • Beanie
  • Waterproof gloves
  • Neckwarmer
  • Ski jacket and pants
  • Goggles
  • Waterproof shoes
  • Thick socks
  • Sunglasses
  • Thermals

More: How to travel when you are on a seriously tight budget

Originally published July 2013. Updated January 2017.

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