What Gear Do You Really Need For Snowsports

Our 'what do you really need' series of protips is designed to help you get outside & save money. We talk honestly & frankly about the purpose that different items are designed to fulfill, as well as help you evaluate your needs, which there isn't always a good formula for, every body is different! Our goal is that you don't feel like you have to spend $100s before every trip buying all new gear, especially when many existing items may work (and for everything else, you can always rent outdoor gear from us)! On our individual gear guides, we also have specific info on alternatives you can use. If you're looking to buy, check out our calculator first to see if it's a good deal!

Activity gear

Really this will depend on your trip. For eaxample, if you're backcountry skiing for multi-days, you may need some backpacking gear). For the majority of our customers who are skiing or snowboarding for a day or weekend at a resort, you basically need at least a set of snowsports outer layers.

Essential outer layers for resort skiing or snowboarding

snow jacket
Snow jacket
snow pants
Snow pants
mittens or gloves
Mittens or gloves

Snow-specific outer layers generally will feature key characteristics such as waterproofing or insulation. That said, we know people will wonder (especially given the hefty price tag of snow-specific clothes that you'll only use for these activities) if they can't just use, for example, a thick jacket or a rain coat they already own. To make these decisions safely, you must first understand what the function of an outer layer is and how alternatives may or may not suit you. That's why we have a much more detailed guide to outdoor clothing in general. That guide will also help answer questions around what to wear underneath the outer layers, which we don't mention here because most people will, in fact, have items that can be reused from their existing closets! If you don't have time for the detailed guide, you can consult a shorter FAQ based on said guide in our general snow clothes page. Lastly, remember you can always rent a jacket, rent snow pants, or rent mittens or gloves for just a one-off trip, without having to worry about price tags!

Protective gear

Once you've gotten your activity gear figured out depending on your trip, what's left is protective gear, since snowsports can be incredibly dangerous, whether you're downhill skiing at a resort, or navigating the backcountry.

Essential protective gear for any trip


We believe you should always wear a helmet if your activity has one. Remember, even if you're confident in your abilities, there may be crowds of other people less skilled than you. Combined with speed, and this can be dangerous. For example, even average skiers can reach speeds up to 60mph going downhill (97kmh), over 3 times faster that the top range of average commute speeds on a bike & as fast as highway speeds for vehicles (at least you need a license to drive)! Read more about how to choose & what we carry in our dedicated guide to helmet, and remember you can always rent helmets to save money.


Snow reflects so much sunlight that it can cause snow blindness. Sunglasses still allow light at the periphery. Moreover, when you're skiing quickly, the wind can blow snow or ice in your face (not to mention if it's actively precipitating!). Just like jogging in the rain even with glasses is pretty annoying, skiing with sunglasses can be the same Read more about how to choose & what we carry in our dedicated guide to goggles, and remember you can always rent goggles to save money.

Optional protective gear

There is pretty much every kind of protective gear you can imagine, from butt, knee, and wrist guards, to reinforced/ armored vests or pants (impact clothing). Most people will not need these. Of these, the most commonly used are wrist guards. A lot of people instinctively will put their hands out when falling (especially in snowboarding, where most injuries come from this type of impact). Guards in these cases can help prevent broken or sprained wrists.