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So your flights are booked, your chalet planned, you’ve got a few tips for the best watering holes, and your best mate has put a tenner on you chickening out of the un-pisted black on the dodgy side of the mountain (which you’re convinced you will manage, despite never having skied before). But what do you actually need to wear?

As with many outdoor pursuits, the key to being comfortable is layering, and this is as much about trapping multiple layers of insulating air as it is about being able to remove clothes on those warm days when you’re carving through slush. Don’t forget the techie gear, though: your helmet needs to be safe, warm and ventilated; your goggles need to protect you and give great snow definition; and your gloves need to give you dexterity, warmth, and protection.

We put our test team, and all their kit, out onto the slopes of the glorious Grand Valira and Vallnord ski resorts in Andorra, and though one reviewer did manage to wrap himself around a tree, everyone survived to give us their feedback. After an extreme week of testing (and enjoying the après ski in Soldeu), we can confidently say that these are our favourite items.

Helmets

For men: Sandbox 2.0 Classic
The Classic is intended for snowboarders, but its effortless style can’t be overlooked. It’s light and comfortable and, although it has fewer vents than a nerve gas laboratory, it didn’t leave us feeling overheated in testing. Most importantly of all, when the reviewer face-planted inadvertently into snow drifts and other obstacles, it kept his skull nicely intact.
For women: Salomon Icon 4D
Salomon is a mountain sport stalwart, and this extra-safe, stylish and comfortable offering should not be overlooked by any serious skier. The helmet looks pleasingly feminine but is packed with enough safety tech and clever ideas to keep the neurosurgeon testing it more than happy for the week. Removable ear flaps are a smart addition to any helmet (especially for those warmer days), and the Icon doesn’t disappoint.

Goggles

For men: Sandbox Boss
These are, without doubt, a decent set of all-rounders. The chromed, spherical lenses give a near perfect visual field, they have 100% UV protection, and the low profile frame not only looks good (and is designed to fit beneath the Sandbox 2.0 Classic, see above) but can be changed quickly and easily, even when you’re gloved and jammed onto a swinging lift. Sandbox even offers a photochromic lens upgrade to keep you on the slopes for the whole day.
For women: Julbo Luna with Chameleon lenses
Julbo’s photochromic ladies’ goggles certainly look gorgeous. Fitting easily under the Sandbox Legend Snow helmet (which was also on trial, though not covered in this article), the goggles’ sophisticated, minimalist frames allow a great field of vision, and the adaptive, polarising Chameleon lenses gave perfect snow definition. Our only criticism was that you need to keep an eye out for the lenses loosening at the edges after impacts and goggle changes. 

Jackets

For men: Jack Wolfskin Svalbard II
Although it’s better-known for hiking and general outdoor clothing, Jack Wolfskin is a serious brand for serious skiers, and so you’ll notice that their products feature heavily in this article: we loved their gear, and their items performed superbly against the competition. The Svalbard II comes in a really cheery cherry red, so you’ll stand out from the other men on the slopes. It’s gloriously warm, and the hood is a great touch when you’re stuck on a windy chair lift. The down packs down small and is very light. Just don’t get it wet.
For women: Jack Wolfskin Revelstoke Textapore II
Cut to be as comfortable and good-looking as George Clooney in a bath robe, the Revelstoke Jacket doesn’t compromise on tech or practicality. The jacket has a number of useful features, including elasticated cuff liners with thumb holes to keep the snow out of your sleeves, ties to pull tight the hood in the wind, and plentiful pockets, which are generally a rarity on women’s clothing.

Base layers
Never underestimate the value of a good base layer: it’s the single most important layer after your outer shell. Choose the right one and you will be warm, dry and mobile. Get it wrong, however, and your sweat will collect on your skin, and the seams will rub your armpits raw. Ouch.
For men: SmartWool NTS 250
It’s made from natural merino wool, so gloriously soft, but it’s been designed with sport in mind, so has flat seams and extra UV protection for those warmer days. What’s not to love?
For women: Icebreaker Merino Zone LS HZ [My base layers]
Another merino wool product, the Zone base layer integrates additional ventilation to keep you cool when you’re working hard. It’s cut well for a woman’s body shape, and is long enough to tuck into your salopettes without riding up.

Salopettes
Good salopettes should allow free movement and be breathable. Don’t be fooled by the amount of snow on the ground: skiing can be hot and sweaty. My first pair of salopettes (not recommended here) left me drenched by the end of the day.
For men: Ice Peak Micol (Pants only)
Ice Peak’s a Finnish brand, and the Finns certainly know to keep you warm. The Micol pants aren’t the most stylish, but they maintain your legs at a good temperature, and are breathable. They’re a comfortable fit, and not too bulky. There’s ample width in the leg to cover your ski boot, and they’re a good length too.
For women: Jack Wolfskin Revelstoke Textapore II Pants
These women’s salopettes are designed to match the Revelstoke Textapore II jacket (see above). The contrasting colour is a good look, the fabric is completely waterproof, and though they are a slim fit, there is just enough room to wear base layer tights underneath. You can adjust both the lining and the outer to ensure a tight fit around your boots.  

Socks
A few good pairs of Ski socks are essential for a comfortable week on the slopes. Like any good sports kit, it’s vital that they wick sweat away from your skin to keep you warm and dry. This is particularly important for your feet because wet skin at pressure areas rubs and blisters, leaving you unable to give the slopes your all.
For men: Icebreaker Merino Skier+ Mid OTC (Men's)
For women: Icebreaker Merino Skier+ Mid OTC (Women's)
Both versions of Icebreaker’s offering have great wicking properties, are made of about 80% merino wool (which is great for warmth and also for wicking), and have strategically-sited pads to protect your pressure areas. Combine this with Icebreaker’s inbuilt support technology, and you’ll smiling on the slopes all week.

Gloves
Hands are often overlooked when you’re skiing, and you wouldn’t be the first skier to turn up on the slopes without gloves. But if you do it once, you’ll never do it again. Your hands are the first part of your body to get cold in the wind, and the last to warm up. You need waterproof, windproof gloves with good thermal properties and sufficient grip to hang onto a rope pull as you’re dragged up yet another hill.
For men: Baffin Gauntlet
For women: Outdoor Research Luminary Sensor 

Accessories

For men: Outdoor Research Sonic Balaclava
Getting off-piste and into the powder can get seriously cold on an exposed mountain face, and the same is true if you’re sat a while on a chair lift. Outdoor Research have made this balaclava with function in mind. Sitting under a helmet and across the face like a ski mask, the Sonic has been developed to be windproof, warm, and to allow perfect hearing with a specially constructed ear panel. Don’t get up high without one.
For women: Custom Bob Hat
Having developed a cult following amongst climbers and mountaineers, Bob make a limited number of unique hats to order. Each hat is handmade by a climber, often at the foot of a rock face or balanced on a slackline, giving each one its own story. Made of super thick, crocheted wool, the hats are exceptionally warm and will add a striking touch to your slope-side outfit when you haven’t got your helmet on.

Backpacks
Though not actually an item of clothing, you’ll need a small rucksack to wear whilst you’re skiing. You want a low-profile bag so as not to affect your balance, but it should be large enough for an extra layer, a bottle of water, some sun cream, your wallet, etc. Of all the versions we tried, for both male and female skiers, the best options were (in size order) the Jack Wolfskin Rock Surfer 18.5, the Vaude Tacora 26, and the Lowe Alpine Eclipse 35.

 


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What to wear: skiing
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