Preparing for your first ski trip

Leave extra time to get rental gear. Equipment is individually calibrated for each person, so it can take a while. Photo credit: Bill Russ

Preparing for your first ski trip can be overwhelming. In the South, flip flops are year-round footwear and coats come optional, so you can understand why many southerners give up on snow skiing before they even get to the mountain.  They just don’t know how to deal with all the stuff.

That’s a shame, because there’s no better way to enjoy winter than out on the slopes. To help the novice skier have a fun day on the mountain, here’s a simple guide to preparing for your first ski trip.

Where to Find Ski Clothing


Most southerners don’t own ski bibs or even a warm winter coat. Purchasing these items for a one time event is a bit expensive. If borrowing doesn’t work, see if the ski resort rents clothing. At Beech Mountain in North Carolina you can rent waterproof jackets and pants. The ski shop also sells hats and gloves, but it’s probably more economical to purchase those from Walmart or Target before your trip.

Rent or Buy Skis, Boots and Poles?

Preparing for your first ski trip. Photo credit:

Preparing for your first ski trip. Photo credit: Bill Russ

All ski resorts rent equipment, which is a much better option than borrowing from a friend. Rental equipment is fitted and adjusted for you on the spot. If something is too tight or too loose, they’ll exchange it until you have the right fit. Equipment in good condition with the right fit is essential to a safe and comfortable outing.

What Types of Skis Do I Need?

Rental skis must be fitted to the boots. Once you find the right fit for your boots, give one to the ski rental folks so they can adjust the bindings on the skis to fit you. Skis come in different sizes. If you aren’t sure what size is right for you, ask the ski fitter what they think. Shorter skis are better for beginners.

Tips for Walking in Ski Boots

If you’ve never worn ski boots, it’s an odd feeling. They are designed with a slant at the back to keep you leaning forward, the stance you’ll need going down the slope. They are also very rigid to protect your ankles. To walk in ski boots, bend your knees slightly and walk heel to toe. When you are going down steps, turn sideways, keep a hold of the railing and walk toe to heel. Walking in ski boots is like walking in heels, once you get the hang of it, it’s not too bad.

Walking with Skis

Skis are big, bulky and a little unwieldy. To make it easier to carry, lock them together by the brakes, hoist them up on your shoulder with your shoulder between the bindings, and point the tips down slightly. Always remember, your skis are longer than you, so before turning around, make sure you aren’t going to clock someone behind you. For younger kids, lock the skis together and have them carry the skis in front of them.

Take Your Time

Getting fitted for gear can take a while, especially on busy days. Each set of skis has to be calibrated to the individual, so it’s a personalized fit every time. Allow at least an hour to get your gear and get fitted. That means if you plan to be on the slopes skiing at 10 am, you’ll need to arrive at the mountain no later than 9 am to keep your schedule.