How to prepare for a day of skiing

Snow Sports
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Skiing essentials

To get the most out of your time on the mountain, you should think through each part of your adventure — equipment, clothing, food, and travel. The more prepared you are, the more time you can spend on the slopes.

Even if you went skiing last year and haven’t replaced any of your equipment, you should still do an inventory check before packing your car. Having a healthy lunch and a few snacks can keep you alert on the mountain and save you the hefty price of lodge food. Don’t forget to check the forecast and the number of trails open on the mountain.

Any day of skiing takes a decent amount of planning, but if you are fully prepared, the hardest decision you may make while on the slopes is which trail to hit next.

Skiing equipment

Your skiing equipment — composed of your skis, poles, bindings, helmet, and goggles — should be checked over, and possibly tuned up, before you pack your bags for the mountain.

Even if you didn’t ski much last winter, your skis always need a fresh layer of wax for the season to keep them slick and easy to turn. The fiberglass or plastic bottom surface can become dehydrated over the course of several months. In fact, it’s a good idea to wax your skis a few times a season if you ski regularly.

Sharpening skis is just as important, though you only need to sharpen your skis once at the beginning of the season. Your skis will handle better on ice and turns if your edges are recently sharpened. If your edges have any burrs, having your skis detuned will take care of this and ensure no snags happen.

Having your bindings tested to ensure they will release properly and give you the right amount of control on the mountain can be a key factor in keeping you safe. You should know what your DIN number is to have your bindings properly tested. The DIN number corresponds to your weight and ability, and it determines how much force is required to release your boots from the bindings. Your ski shop should be able to test your bindings and wax and sharpen your skis.

If you are taking your skis onto the slope for the very first time, they should already be tuned and sharpened, but they may need a fresh wax.

Inspecting your boots to make sure they still fit properly and are free of any remnants of insects or mice — a lot can find its way into your boots over the course of a year.

Check to see if your goggles have any severe scratches or are bent out of shape, and put them on with your helmet to see that they still fit comfortably and offer a wide field of view.

Skiing clothing

Your jacket and snowpants should be properly fitting and recently cleaned. And the night before a day of skiing is a great time to finally snip off all of those ski tickets you’ve been collecting.

Make sure your gloves are in good shape and offer a balance of dexterity, comfort, and insulation.

You should also set out the clothes you will wear before heading to the mountain. Microfleece is a great material for a shirt, and long underwear goes a long way in keeping your legs warm and comfortable.

Don’t forget extra items like warm socks, neck warmers, and ski masks.

Skiing food

Anyone who has ever purchased lunch at the ski lodge knows just how expensive — and underwhelming — it can be. Packing your own lunch saves you money and gets you back on the slopes faster. You should either choose items that won’t require refrigeration or bring a lunch bag with insulated compartments.

While bringing a bottle of water with you on the mountain isn’t recommended, you should bring plenty of fluids to drink on breaks between runs.

Skiing travel and planning

Know your way to the mountain before you hit the road, and consider writing down directions if you know you’re heading into areas with spotty service.

Purchasing tickets online can save you a bit of time and possibly a few dollars. At the mountain, you should choose a designated meeting place in case the group becomes separated — a spot near the main lift often works well.

Don’t forget to take additional costs into consideration, such as locker fees, gas, and snacks.

Ski mountains vary in their difficulty and number of trails, so it’s always a good idea to take a glance at the trail map before heading to a mountain you aren’t familiar with.

Check the forecast and current conditions of the mountain. Many ski resorts will have live updates on the number of open trails and lifts, and they may even have regularly updated photos or videos of conditions on the trails.

The skier’s shopping list

Before you head to the snowy peaks, here’s a quick checklist:


Your ski equipment, including skis, helmet, poles, boots, and goggles (if you plan to rent, you should check your measurements and DIN number beforehand).

ski bags

Additional items like boot bags and ski bags.

ski jacket

Clothing, including your jacket, snow pants, socks, and gloves.

water bottle

An insulated lunch bag, water bottle, and snack


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Peter McPherson writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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