Planning a Ski Trip This Winter? Read This First.

There’s a chill in the air; winter is fast approaching, and we all know what that means: ski season! These days, many ski resorts are open as early as the beginning of November, and you can keep skiing and snowboarding all the way through March and April. If you’re planning a ski trip, you probably already have a cozy jacket, pants, and a cool beanie to wear. But there are a few other items that you’re going to need. Here are 4 essentials you won’t want to be without, and where to find them for cheap.

Helmet

But helmets are for biking! You might think this, but in fact, a helmet is an important part of your skiing or snowboarding ensemble. Some people think that helmets are only necessary if you’re snowboarding, but in fact, they’re important for everyone – especially children. According to the AAOS, almost half of the yearly head injuries related to skiing and snowboarding could have been prevented by helmet use. If you’re not worried about looking silly, a regular bike helmet will do just fine. For those who are more concerned about style on the slopes, you can find special snowboarding and ski helmets all over the internet, including sites like REI and Amazon.com. It shouldn’t be hard to find a decent helmet for less than $30.

Goggles

Ever notice how professional skiers and snowboarders tend to have tans on their faces that are reminiscent of raccoons? That’s because every good skier and snowboarder knows the importance of wearing goggles. When you’re up there on the snowy slopes, the sun will be shining down and reflecting off the snow, right into your eyes. Besides being uncomfortable, reflected sunlight can actually damage your eyes. Goggles, while perhaps a little goofy looking, will protect your eyes from sun, wind, and snow. Some goggles can get pretty pricey, but it’s actually not hard to find a good deal on good-quality ski goggles. If you branch out beyond the sporting goods store, you can find cheap ski goggles at sites like LightintheBox.com. Try looking for a coupon for goggles, too – online stores will often offer discounts.

Hot Hands & Hot Feet

On the fateful day that I snapped skis on for the first time, I was woefully underprepared. In my thin gloves, my fingers got so frozen I thought they would just fall off. So the next time I went skiing, I wised up: I brought Hot Hands and Hot Feet packs. These are little packets that heat up when exposed to oxygen. All you have to do is open them up, slip them into your gloves and socks, and enjoy hours of toasty fingers and toes. You can find Hot Hands at any sporting goods store, and at Walmart, too. They’re very cheap as well (a dollar or less per packet), so there’s no reason not to stock up!

Rental Gear

If you’re anything like me, you love to go skiing but only actually go about once a year, maybe even every couple of years. Maybe you’ve thought about buying your own ski or snowboard set, but I say: not yet. Unless you’re sure you’ll be skiing or snowboarding every winter for the next few years, and for more than just a few days here and there, then buying your own gear is just not worth it. Instead, try renting. Most ski resorts offer full set rentals (snowboard and boots; skis, boots, & poles) at affordable rates – usually $20-$30 per day. Renting at the resort also means you won’t even have to lug your gear along with you. If the resort you’re headed to doesn’t offer rentals, sporting goods stores in your area will. I’ve rented skis from Sport Chalet and it was quick, easy, and cheap.

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