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First Day on the Slopes - What to Take

November 2016

If you are heading off on your first ski holiday this winter, then you might be forgiven for overlooking certain suitcase necessities in favour of your favourite evening wear.

However careful planning (write a list!) will ensure that you have a safe and enjoyable time on the slopes. Here’s our list of the ten essentials.


Warm Clothing



It goes without saying that you’ll need a good waterproof pair of ski pants and a warm jacket, but make sure you also take plenty of layering tops, such as breathable base layers (non-cotton) and fleeces. Temperatures can fluctuate wildly in the mountains, especially as you gain altitude, so always make sure that you have an additional layer that can be carried in your backpack.

Add to that a pair of insulated gloves or mittens, and a stylish beenie, and you’ll ensure that you keep your body heat locked in for the day.




Safety concerns have never been more at the forefront of the industry, and this is highlighted by the ever growing number of helmet-wearers on the slopes. To match this demand, manufacturers such as Bolle, Smith Optics and POC continue to expand their ranges to appeal to the mass market. You can pick up a basic but adequate model from £50, or splash out into the hundreds if your budget allows.

If in doubt about the necessity of helmets on the slopes, check out this article - Wearing a Helmet on the Piste




It really comes down to personal preference whether you choose to take goggles or sunglasses (or a pair of each) up the mountain with you. Both definitely have their advantages and drawbacks, but our advice would be, for all months other than in late season, goggles will provide you with better protection and visibility in variable weather conditions.


Travel sized sunscreen/Lip Balm


Ok, you’re probably not thinking about lying out in the snow with the vague hope of catching some colour, when preparing for a ski trip. But you’d be surprised just how easy it is to get sun (or wind) burn to the face at high altitude, where the sun’s rays are stronger. If you are taking a late season break it's also possible that temperatures can reach 25 celsius plus at this time of year.

So make sure you are prepared for all weather variations, and have a discreet tube of sunblock tucked away in a pocket somewhere at all times.


Phone/Walkie Talkie


For most (young-ish) people the thought of not having their mobile within 6 inches of their grasp is a horrifying prospect. Nevertheless, forgetting Facebook checking or Emoji texting, it is essential that you have some method of communication should you become split off from your group or lost whilst up in the mountains.

Some people also take a set of walkie talkies, for which you don't need a network signal or roaming minutes, and will allow for instant communication between a group.




What’s a ski holiday without being able to share your experiences on the slopes afterwards, even if you’ve spent a good deal of time hitting the deck! Make sure you pack a small hand held camera so that you can relive your ski time back in the hotel and then after you've returned home.

Loading up old holiday snaps will guarantee to inspire you to get the next trip booked as soon as possible!




As with any other sport, exercising your body will build up a healthy appetite. But don’t wait until your day’s over to fuel up - it’s essential that you always have a chocolate bar, packet of nuts or some fruit to hand, should you need them.

The nature of skiing means you will be likely be travelling over a large area, and you may often find that your meal times are disrupted, despite the most proficient planning. Opting to pack some sandwiches each day, rather than relying on the mountain restaurants for your lunch will give you more flexibility.

To keep hydrated throughout the day always make sure you carry a couple of bottles of water as well. Many backpacks are now designed with built in water pouches to make this a little easier.




If you are using any kind of medication, then make this a definite priority when heading out to resort and then before the start of each day. Trekking back to the hotel because you’ve forgotten it can be a time-consuming pain in the butt, and also disrupts the day’s plans for your group.

What’s more, should you become ill or have an accident, you may not be in the position to communicate to medical staff that you need certain treatment. So make sure that somebody else in your party knows the essential details, whether it’s painkillers for migraines, insulin for diabetes or anything else that may affect your wellbeing.


EHIC Card/Insurance Details


Nobody sets out thinking of the worst, but should you have an accident then your Health Insurance card (if skiing in Europe) and Insurance details are vital in order to receive any treatment required immediately. If you don’t have these to hand you may be required to make an initial payment by credit card.


Piste Map


Ski resorts can be notoriously difficult to navigate, especially in many European resorts, where a multitude of lifts will test your orientation skills as though you were back in the scouts. Most groups usually have a self-appointed leader, someone who likes the route-planning job, but don’t let that stop you from popping a copy of the local piste map in your jacket pocket. 

Or if you prefer, download an electronic version to your phone. All resorts on our website here have updated PDF versions attached - just head to our resorts section and search for your destination there.


And lastly, whatever you do, don't forget your skis or board!




Matt Jones
SRA Editor

Matt is a qualified BASI Ski Instructor and Editor of the Ski Resort Advisor magazine. With many years experience in the snow sports industry his love of the sport is infectious.

He's also partial to a bit of motor sport!

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