From base layers to ski pants, ski jackets to gloves… Which ones to choose and why some are better than others.
Plus our tips for teachers on how to avoid ski mix-ups, and some essential extra items for your school ski trip kit list that you will thankful you packed!
The Starting Point
A good starting point for any school ski trip kit list is to remember that being warm and dry are the most essential ingredients in the success of the trip.
The mountain environment presents its very own challenges and when you are physically active but in subzero temperatures your body can go from hot to cold in a very short period.
Like all sports, skiing and snowboarding places particular requirements on the clothing involved. So the art of packing for your trip is to figure out which items are the most important and worth spending a little bit more on, and which ones are just gimmicks.
1. Base layers
If your students don’t pack the right gear they may not be able to make the most of this fabulous experience. The emphasis should always be on layers and start with a decent base layer. This insulated layer helps to keep you dry and in this case staying dry also means staying warm.
Clothing has changed a great deal in the last ten years and technical advances mean that the fibres can help you to manage your temperature. The structure of the clothing means that moisture can be moved away from the body and dispersed over a greater area for evaporation. This is why the base layer has become the most important when you are active.
School ski trips generally contain large numbers of novice skiers who are having to come to terms with managing a whole ‘boat load’ of new skills. Do you remember what it was like when you were learning to ski? Yes it is great fun, but it can be physically demanding, especially when your skis have a mind of their own. Good base layers work in harmony with your body when you are working at high intensity. They provide maximum comfort so they’re an absolutely essential item to include on your school ski trip kit list.
2. Ski Pants
On school ski trips you can make the most of your time by staying warm and dry in the snowy and cold climate. Your ski pants or salopettes should to be thermally insulated and waterproof. Salopettes are traditionally have a high waist and a bib to which braces can be secured. Ski pants have a slightly different fit with a regular waist but they can equally include adjustable braces.
Ski pants need to be comfortable because whilst you are in the mountains you are going to be wearing them all day. They should not be so tight that they restrict your movement but on the same token they should not be so loose that you need to be pulling them up frequently. Ideally you need freedom of movement but with a fit that is close enough to retain heat.
Good ski pants will have reinforced knee areas which will be forgiving for beginners; they should have scuff guards at the bottom and snow gaiters to prevent snow from riding up the leg. Secure pockets to hold piste maps or put lift passes in are a must…
3. Ski Jacket
A ski jacket isn’t just a fashion item, it is one of the most important pieces of clothing on your ski kit list. It is designed to protect you from the elements in harsher climates as well as fitting well enough to be able to exert yourself whilst on the snow.
Ski jackets look different from other waterproof clothing for a reason, they need to account for your sporting pursuit as well as keeping you warm and dry. You’ll find a pocket to house your ski pass, a hood designed to be compatible with your helmet and zipped air vents in the side to aid cooling when required.
Down jackets would seem a natural option given the advantage they have when keeping you warm in the cold weather. However, you need ventilation and breathability because without these you will overheat when active and become uncomfortable. You may find a down jacket to be a disadvantage in the wet because it can become saturated and unable to produce heat. This is because the down sticks together and loses its insulation properties.
There are synthetic alternatives to down which can be cheaper and more efficient at warming without the bulk of a down jacket. Not only does this make it easier to pack but it is also more breathable than down which makes it ideal for skiing and being active.
A ski jacket doesn’t need to be a fashion statement but remember that louder colours are much easier to spot. Small details can become important, such as a hood and a snowskirt to prevent the snow from riding right up the jacket. Lots of pockets help to keep the ski pass and snacks safe and dry while ventilation zips can help to help to control temperature.
Extremities are the first areas to feel the cold so ski gloves and socks are important inclusions on your school ski trip kit list.
Keep your hands dry and warm with ski gloves made of technical materials just like pants and jackets. Your decision on the type of gloves that suit you best is down to preference, do you prefer gloves or mittens. Basically, gloves give you dexterity and mittens give you warmth.
If you like to be able to access your pockets, phone or iPod without removing your hand then gloves may be your best bet. The downside to this is that in the vast majority of cases gloves do not keep your hands as warm as mittens. This is because your fingers are separate and don’t generate as much body heat. Mittens need to be removed if you want to do anything that involves more intricate dexterity but having your fingers together helps you keep them warm.
5. Ski Socks
Ski socks are specifically designed for snow sports. Wool and organic materials tend to keep the feet warmer whilst synthetic fibres wick away the sweat more effectively. Most socks are a combination of these materials so should be bought to suit individual preference, but make sure that the fit is good and that they will stretch up beyond the height of the ski boot.
More great little tips…
- Some resorts (particularly in the USA) may give all of your students identical skis. To combat the problem of ending up with someone else’s skis, you’ll need to label them. Attach some tape to each ski, and write the students’ initials on them with indelible pen. They can then easily recognise their own pair. It doesn’t take up much time to do during the ski fit. It takes certainly less time than hunting through a dozen pairs of skis when after return from a lunch stop.
- Take a rucksack with you and keep a few essential items that can keep everybody enjoying the snow. Great things to include are; a bottle of water as young skiers often become dehydrated from the exertion.
- Pack a chocolate bar too in case energy levels are flagging, or a sugar rush is called for. A piste map so that you know where you are whilst you are on the mountain.
- An extra pair of gloves. Useful in case a student loses a pair or even forgets to bring them with them out of the hotel.
- Suncream is another essential which is all too often forgotten. Your students may assume that as they aren’t going to the beach so they don’t need sun protection. Remember that you are very exposed to the sun’s rays at high altitude. This also reflects off the snow so doubles the exposure. So a nice high factor will stop any sunburn issues.
- A spare pair of goggles might be handy. You maybe ned them to come to someone’s rescue if theirs get lost on the mountain.
- Take a camera or a video camera with you or even better a GoPro camera. There is nothing better than reliving the adventures either whilst you are in resort or when you return home. Get the next set of students excited about going on a school ski trip in the future.
Tips on giving out general Information in a trip handbook
Give out the information on the school ski trip kit list as part of the trip handbook. This is given out to parents at their pre-departure presentation evening. It’s an ideal opportunity to discuss the merits of what to pack. It’s also an opportunity to highlight other packing themes such as the weight of luggage allowed.
On the night of the parents’ presentation evening it used to be traditional to provide skiwear hiring opportunities. However, in recent times it has become just as cost effective to purchase rather than hire. Luckily for us large retailers have entered the market recently and brought down prices.
A ski trip isn’t just about what kit you take with you. Give a little consideration to what makes your group comfortable and it will make the whole vacation much more user-friendly.
Do you have your own ski trip essentials? Let us know below.