Flurries at high elevations and the airy whistle of snow-making guns at resorts mean that ski season is just a few short weeks away. It’s time to gear up. But before you do, you might want to consider where you’ll be skiing this year — that’s what should determine the gear you buy. Whether you’ll be spending your time at the resort, in the terrain park, or the backcountry, here’s what you need.
The Resort Skier
Lift-accessible terrain is great; it doesn’t require a ton of effort, and it gets you a lot of runs in a single day. But there is some downtime on the chairlift, and on crowded days you might end up standing in line for a while. You’ll want to prioritize warmth for those colder days.
Montreal-based Orage has a line of high-performance outerwear designed for everyday riding that functions on the street when the lifts stop spinning. Both the Alaskan jacket and Exodus pant accommodate a full range of motion while providing high-quality 20K/20K waterproofing and breathability. The Hybrid Vest is a lightweight Primaloft piece that can be thrown on when the winds pick up, and your hands will be nice and toasty inside Flylow’s pigskin Master Mitts. Scott LCG goggles have a quick lens-change system for adjusting to changing light, and the Symbol Helmet with an adjustable fit system is equipped with MIPS to protect your noggin.
The Park Skier
In the park, style is less important than your trick quiver — but look good, feel good, right? Dakine decks out professionals, including Eric Pollard, in outerwear like the Wyeast Jacket, which has a street-inspired cut that works apres. When matched with the Wyeast Bib and the Team Pacer Glove, the kit becomes fully waterproof, ready for natural features beyond the terrain park. Beneath it all, the Tucker Hoodie is a nice upper-body layer perfect for wearing solo when spring kicks in. Anon partnered with Black Scale to add sharp graphics to their m3 goggles, which have a magnetic lens system and full face mask. And while the stylishness of helmets is up for debate, it’s always a good idea to protect your skull from hard landings. Sweet Protection’s Grimnir Helmet is constructed with prepreg carbon fiber and certified for use with POV cameras — and yes, it includes MIPS to meet the highest safety standards.
The Backcountry Skier
Mother Nature is certainly beautiful, but she can be a fickle companion during a backcountry mission, jumping from bluebird to socked-in with little warning. Flylow’s Lab Coat is built for the backcountry, with ample vents for the uphill and waterproofing all around. The Baker Bibs were designed with ski mountaineering in mind and feature Cordura reinforcements to avoid tears and chest pockets to keep maps and other essentials close at hand. Fleece is light and keeps you warm even when it’s wet, so it’s always a good layer to have on hand; Flylow’s iteration is appropriately retro. Black Diamond’s Guide Finger Mittens allow you to regulate temperature on the ascent and descent with a removable PrimaLoft liner and a Gore-Tex insert. The NFX2 goggles by Dragon provide 100 percent protection from UV rays and feature fast-change lens system for when the light fails at the summit. K2’s Diversion helmet is set with active and passive ventilation for the hike and won’t be extra weight at only 430 grams.
In addition to these items, don’t forget to watch the avalanche reports and always bring a shovel, probe, beacon and, most importantly, a buddy.