Trust us. Before you hit the slopes this season, you’ll want to rifle through your boxes of winter gear and ditch the worn-out pieces. Because while your go-to cotton long johns and questionably-waterproof jacket might appear to suit your needs, all it’s going to take is one run down the mountain to convince you that quality matters. Period.
So don’t be that guy. (You know, the one who ends up back at the lodge well before lunchtime.) We’ve done the research for you and found the 10 essential pieces of clothing you’ll need for the slopes this season. From natural merino wool insulation to specialized venting systems, these items will keep you warm, dry, and comfortable while you play in the snow.
Now all you’ve got to do is take to the hill, pick your line, and repeat.
With their rockstar Enigma jacket, Helly Hansen takes the standard hard shell—waterproof and breathable—and bolsters insulation and air flow by lining the interior with natural down pillows designed to create space between the jacket and your body.
Chest and back zips also help to adjust ventilation, and sewn-in stretch cuffs with thumb holes keep snow out of your sleeves if you fall. Plus the Enigma’s built-in RECCO reflector transmits a signal to help rescuers pinpoint your location. ($700, shop.hellyhansen.com)
Marmot’s Freerider has just about everything you need in ski pants: two-layer Gore-Tex fabric to keep you dry, several seam-taped pockets for stashing your goods, and leg vents to cool you down when things heat up.
Plus, articulated knees make sure you have enough room for unrestricted movements on snow, and a zip-in gasket lets you zip your pants to your jacket to keep snow away from your skin on that tough ride. ($395, marmot.com)
Flannel is always appropriate.
Case in point: the Odin Insulated Shirt from Helly Hansen. A hundred grams of WarmCore Primaloft insulation keeps you toasty on cold days, while the pure cotton flannel keeps you looking sharp. This uber-comfortable shirt can even ride solo on warm spring skiing days. Go ahead and cater to your inner lumberjack. ($120, shop.hellyhansen.com)
BASE LAYER TOP
Icebreaker’s Oasis Longsleeve Crewe is made from pure merino wool sourced in New Zealand, the company’s home base. Naturally soft, breathable, and odor resistant, merino will hold in the heat even when you sweat, and Icebreaker ups the comfort and ease of movement with anti-chafe flatlock stitching and raglan sleeves. ($80, us.icebreaker.com)
BASE LAYER BOTTOM
Patagonia’s Merino 3 Midweight Boot-tops are a comfortable bottom made with a proprietary blend of merino wool, recycled polyester, and spandex, giving them extra stretch and durability. Its merino wool complex resists odor, while the polyester wicks away moisture. And, best of all, these bottoms are cut to mid-calf to avoid bunching in ski boots. ($90, patagonia.com)
Traditional is back in style with Coal Headwear’s Isles Flap beanie, a chunky, hand-knit, Nordic-style wool hat with earflaps and a thick cuff band over the forehead. Warm and cozy, the Isles Flap keeps the wind out, unlike many knit caps, and hugs your head to stay in place. Do what you will—this beanie isn’t going anywhere. ($40, coalheadwear.com)
No more fumbling with laces or boot straps. Black Diamond knows that dexterity is key, particularly in the backcountry, so it infused its new Super Rambla glove with a proprietary 3D patterning that reduces glove bulk for better control of your fingers while maximizing warmth for cold days. Meanwhile, a Gore-Tex insert keeps hands dry, and a gauntlet cuff and with drawcord shields against snow. ($160, blackdiamondequipment.com)
You can ski in just about any tall sock, but that doesn’t mean you should. SmartWool’s PhD Ski Mediums are designed for skiers: multi-density cushioning in the shin where boots tend to rub, contour cushioning to protect the ankle without added bulk, and strategically placed mesh ventilation zones to keep your feet from overheating. Two elastics keep the sock in place, and— because they’re merino—they won’t stink after a long day on the hill. ($26, smartwool.com)
A bitter wind won’t keep the hardcore indoors, but you’ll need full-face protection if you do venture out. And with windproof fabric on the face and soft fleece on the back of the neck, OR’s Helmetclava gives you exactly that. It’s built to fit under your helmet, so there’s no compromise in safety, and a laser die-cut port releases hot breath at the mouth to help you avoid foggy goggles. What’s more: thermodynamic fabric at the ears improves hearing. So, yeah. It may be cold—but now you’ve got no excuses. ($38, outdoorresearch.com)
Whether you’re on the slope or enjoying aprés ski beers at the resort, a good pair of sunglasses is key. No need to get too fancy, though. Keep it simple and stylish with Smith’s Lockwood, a comfortable but sporty set of polarized carbonic lenses that are highly impact resistant. Tapered lenses also ensure zero distortion, so your vision is precise when it matters. ($119, smithoptics.com)