What First-Time Skiers Should Know: Gear

So you’re finally taking the plunge and getting on skis this season! Get excited; instead of dreading the cold days ahead, this sport will have you loving winter and wishing for lots of snow — that is, at least, if you do it right your first time. The reasons people don’t give skiing a second try can usually be avoided with some easy prep. The following is the final part of our four-part series of how to help ensure maximum fun without the blues (except those that are on the run).

So far we’ve covered clothing that keeps you warm, getting fit for the slopes, and how to accessorize for skiing. Now it’s time to get your gear.

You might be tempted to snag equipment from your buddy’s gear closet, but unless you are the same size and skill level, doing so might not only make learning to ski vastly more difficult but could easily lead to injury.

Ski Boots

As the most important piece in your setup, a properly fitted boot gives you better control of your skis and keeps your feet happy on the hill. When trying on boots, look for a snug fit that keeps your heel locked down, has some flex when pressuring against the cuff of the boot, a bit of wiggle room in the toes, and no pressure points.

Ski poles

Wondering about poles? Lucky you — you can forget about them for a while. Poles are for skiers who are making turns steadily down the hill — which will come in time. For now, you’ve got enough to coordinate between skis and snow without having to worry about holding on to something in your hands. If you do decide to bring them on your first day, you’ll likely find they really will be just an accessory — one that complicate getting off the lift.

These do come in handy when trying to get across flat areas and for getting back up after a fall. If you decide to get poles, flip the pole upside down so you are holding it right under the plastic piece at the bottom (called a “basket”). Your elbows should be roughly 90º with your forearm parallel to the floor.


Generally, the shorter the ski, the easier it is to maneuver. As a first-time adult skier, look for something that comes to roughly your nose (children’s skis should come to about chin height). In general, skis have a thinner mid-section than their tips and tails. This shape makes turning a bit easier; the more shape a ski features, the more readily it will turn. Stay away from old “straight” skis (skis that have no shape to them) as these are vastly more difficult to turn.

Geared up and ready to go? The last piece of advice is to take a lesson from a certified ski instructor. There are some things you just shouldn’t let your best friend or significant other teach you. Now go get out on the hill! 


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Although she’s a Florida girl, exploration called her away after the final bell of her high school career. Leaving home to journey westward alone, she chased the sun to Utah. Over the years, she was consumed with skiing, climbing, kayaking, mountain biking and getting lost on back roads. But exploration continued to call. After closing her bakery — which funded college courses and adventure — she stored her possessions and hit the road again, on a quest to reach the distant places of North America. For three years she lived in her little Mazda 3 and skied the backcountry of Alaska, slept under the northern lights in the Yukon Territory, ice climbed Colorado's frozen canyons and rock climbed across the continent, photographed Nova Scotia’s coves, backpacked in southern US wildernesses and munched on sugared tamarindo in the jungles of Mexico. But living in a car started to feel limiting, so after seeing the many glories this continent had to offer, she chose the only place fitting for an explorer to spend a lifetime of wild wonder: British Columbia. Dual citizenship in hand, she settled along the Powder Highway in the Selkirks and is now making her home between four walls and deeply wooded mountains. When she's not playing the part of a photojournalist, Gina can be found collaborating with women worldwide through her nonprofit, Outdoor Women's Alliance, and working to improve her outdoor skills and wilderness safety certifications.


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