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Group of friends enjoying the winter on a mountain, drinking tea

To buy or to borrow? If you’re heading off on your first-ever ski holiday this winter, then we’re here to help you pack! Do you want to know what’s worth buying, borrowing from a friend, and what you need to rent once you’re in the resort? We’ll point you in the right direction on what to buy for your first ski holiday.

What to buy for your first ski trip

Learning a new sport can be an exciting yet daunting task. There are always things you wish you’d been told beforehand or other items you might have forgotten. We’re here to help you prepare for your first ski holiday.

We’ll cover the basics of what you’ll need to buy for your first trip in terms of clothing, equipment, lessons, passes and more.

Buying, borrowing and renting.

Buying everything new for your first trip can be expensive. But you don’t actually need to buy everything! We’d highly recommend purchasing a few essential clothing items, renting all of the ski equipment and borrowing (if you can) some of the more expensive outer layers of ski clothing to save yourself some dosh.

Many of the critical items you’ll need may seem expensive, but a good quality kit will last a long time and can cross over to other sports or can generally be worn in the winter at home.

Many ski instructors use their ski jacket shells for water sports in the summer or hiking. Many of us also wear our puffa (down) jackets on camping trips, and hats and gloves are always useful for dog walks or visiting a Christmas market!

skiing parallel

Clothing for your first ski holiday

What do I need for skiing?

Ski jacket

A ski jacket is one of the more expensive pieces of clothing needed for ski holidays. But the good news is that a good quality jacket will last a long time. It is always worth asking a friend or family member to see if you can borrow a coat if you’re not ready to fully invest.

Ski pants

Similarly, with the ski jacket, if you can borrow or rent these to save some money on buying a pair for your first week, then that could be your best option. But if you want to be comfortable and buy your own pair, then we’d recommend a good quality pair with pockets and snow gaiters around the ankles to stop any snow from getting in!

There is a wide variety of brands, but our favourites include the North Face, Norrona, Arctyrx, Peak Performance and Patagonia. These are pricier options, but they’re well-made and will last forever. If you know any experienced skiers, ask them what they recommend too. You’ll likely hear the same brands being mentioned.

Ski trousers from Ellis Brigham


How to choose ski gloves

Gloves or mittens

You’ll need to buy either gloves or mittens to keep your hands toasty for your first-week skiing. Having cold hands can ruin your mood – so invest in a durable and preferably waterproof pair.

It may be worth investing in a thin pair that you can wear around the resort, and a thicker pair, made of Gore-Tex, leather or tough polyester for the slopes. If you need help choosing the right pair of gloves to look good and keep your hands toasty, read more here.

Our favourite glove brands are Hestra and Black Diamond. Both brands are available at Ellis Brigham.

Fleeces or a mid-layer 

You’d wear these between your thermals and your ski jacket. Another layer of warmth to keep you toasty whilst skiing. If you’re a sporty person, these layers may already exist in your wardrobe, so have a look at home before buying anything unnecessarily.

A fleece or thicker jumper will do the trick. Remember that something closer-fitting over baggy will always keep you warmer. Expert skiers usually wear multiple thin layers that they can take off or add more to, as the weather can change quickly on the mountain. Having the most suitable kit is essential, so make sure you’ve got a cosy mid-layer to put on or take off.

Our instructors live in the fluffy North Face fleeces. Mountain Equipment makes a similar soft fleece, which you can buy here. View other fleeces and mid-layers.

Thermals (base layers)

Wear underneath your outer jacket and ski pants to help regulate your temperature. These base layers are usually long-sleeved and close-fitting to trap the heat between your body and the material.

Merino wool or polyester are suitable materials to go for. Avoid cotton, as you’ll want the thermal to keep you warm and dry. You’ll find us wearing thermals from Ice Breaker, North Face, Under Amour, Helly Hansen, or Mons Royale.

View the best selection of base layers and thermals

Ski socks 

It’s worth investing in a few pairs to last you for the trip. It’s a total myth that ski socks need to be super thick.

Your feet need to breathe, and the thinner the sock – often the warmer your feet! Typically, ski socks are long and have extra cushioning on the toe and shin to protect against boot pressure.

Our top brands for ski socks are SmartWool, Falke, Stance and Ice Breaker. Smartwool socks are available from Ellis Brigham.

If you feel the cold, and money is no object, you could pull out all the stops and buy a pair of heated socks. They come with a detachable battery pack and keep your toes and the soles of your feet toasty all day long. Our instructors swear by them on cold days! They recommend buying from either Therm-ic or Lenz.


If you’ve a friend you can borrow a pair of goggles from, that’s a good option. But if you’re keen to buy your own and want a pair that will last and protect your eyes, we recommend Oakley, Smith or POC.

Browse some of this year’s goggles on Ellis Brigham, or read about how to choose the best pair of goggles for your face shape.

Other items of clothing for around the ski resort:

  • A pair of boots with a grippy sole (Timberlands, Sorels, Vans etc.)
  • A bag or backpack for carrying snacks, a water bottle, or any spare clothing items.
  • A warm hat or headband to keep your ears toasty.
  • A buff or scarf to protect your face from the cold chill.

Ski Tips for Beginners

How to choose suitable ski wear

Ski Equipment

We’d recommend renting all of your ski gear for your first ski holiday. We have a promo code that you’re welcome to use as a friend of ours here at New Generation ski school. Visit our ski hire page and select the country you plan to visit.

The link will take you through Ski Set in France, Hervis in Austria or Ski Service in Verbier. Please make the most of the code and enjoy our discounted ski hire!

Ski helmet

For your first holiday, you won’t need to buy a helmet. You can rent one from the ski rental shop for a small price. Although it’s always nicer to have your own, they take up a lot of space in your luggage, so our advice for your first-time skiing would be to rent if you can.

Skis or snowboard

Renting skis or a snowboard is standard, and most people choose this option. Of course, some people have their own skis, but again they put up the price of your luggage to transport them, and as a beginner, you won’t benefit from the shape and performance of the ski.

Ski rental shops have new stock every year and are very good at looking after their equipment. They will ask you questions and find the best skis for your ability, weight and height.

Ski boots

They can be clunky and robotic to walk in, but it will all be worth it! We promise! After a few ski trips, you might want to consider buying your own boots, as you can get the liners moulded to your foot shape, which adds to the comfort. But for your first ski trip, renting ski boots is perfectly normal.

Your feet will be measured, and the shop will put you in the best boots depending on your foot shape and size. The boots might be uncomfy, but they should never hurt, so if they’re causing you pain after the first day, head back to the shop, and they can offer good advice on a different pair for you.

Man with ski helmet and goggles on with mountains behind

Top tips for beginners on their first ski trip

Ski poles

You’ll only need ski poles if you’re skiing. Snowboarders don’t need poles. They help your balance and give you another point of contact with the snow. They’re also helpful for pushing yourself along on flat sections of terrain, allowing you to click your skis off or to point at iconic peaks whilst posing for a photo(!)

You can rent ski poles as part of your skis and boots package in the ski resort. The ski rental shop will measure the distance from the floor to your hand whilst your elbow is at a right angle to your bicep. That’s how they will find the correct height ski poles for you. We wouldn’t recommend buying your own poles just yet.

2 skiers learning how to ski

How many lessons do beginners need?

Ski Lessons

Once you’ve sorted your clothing and equipment, you can begin to think about lessons. Signing yourself or your family up for ski school can be a game changer for ski holidays. We’d recommend booking ski lessons as far in advance as you can.

Most ski resorts have multiple ski schools that you can choose between. Typically, most ski schools have group lessons and private ski lessons. Private lessons are more expensive than group lessons, but you get a more intensive one-to-one session. Group sessions are sociable, and you learn with others of the same level and ability, making it more enjoyable.

1 ski instructor and 2 skiers having a lesson

What to expect in adult group lessons

Ski school for kids is fun and friendly. They will be excited to return each day. It’s normal for them to be nervous on the first day, but help them by talking about what they can expect and showing them how excited you’re too.

We’re based in over 20 resorts across the Alps and cater to all abilities and ages. Look at our group lessons for adultsgroup lessons for kids and private lessons.

Smiling boy in ski school with green helmet

The importance of ski lessons for kids

Lift Passes

You’ll need a pass for the ski lifts. You can buy a lift pass before you reach the ski resort, but our recommendation would be to buy one once you arrive at the resort.

Some ski resorts offer free beginner lifts or free access to the easy slopes. You might only want a lift pass for a specific area or nursery slopes instead of the whole valley lift pass, so you could save yourself money by not jumping into a pass too soon.

Best ski resorts for beginners

Ready to start planning your first ski trip?

So there you have it. You should now have all the gear, but no idea. And that’s okay! Everyone was a beginner once, embrace it and take it all in!

We hope you found this article useful, and hopefully, it will minimise all the fuss once you arrive at the resort! Happy skiing!