(Two Minute Read)
5 Equipment Essentials you Need to have Before your Snow Trip in Australia from our Resident Ski and Snowboarding Instructor, Michael
A really common question we get on the ski-fields is ``Can I use my hiking gear at the snow?” The Short Answer is YES, but it depends on what hiking gear you have! In summary it’s mostly good news! A lot of the gear you might already have can be used at the snow, here’s a little guide with some do’s and don’ts.
Jacket: We have written before about the different types of materials used in Jackets and the truth is, high quality hiking jackets like the Cactus - Mountain Jacket are extremely competitive with ski specific Jackets.
What you are essentially looking for is a shell, with at least a 5k waterproof rating with the inclusion of wrist cuffs and a collar to keep the snow and wind out.
Sturdy rain jackets with these features ,combined with correct layering can work in most conditions.
The bottom line, durable hiking jackets perform well in a variety of activities (dog walking for example) while a ski specific jacket will often be self insulated and have features that make it inappropriate for any other activity other than skiing.
So save money and some space in your wardrobe before running out and buying that ski specific jacket.
Midlayer and Baselayer:
The shift away from insulated jackets (finally) means outer layers can protect you from wind and rain, while being much less bulky. It means now that what goes on underneath the Jacket matters more than ever!
High quality mid and base layers are incredibly important as these layers need to be breathable when active when being sufficiently warm in cold conditions. This is especially important in Australia as there is usually a large temperature range meaning the ability to actively manage layers and use of vents is extra important.
See here our page on A Material Difference – Tegere Outdoors for our analysis of good mid and base layers and how it affects your outdoor activities.
This is the point of difference compared to other outdoor activities. Pants, especially if you are snowboarding, is one of the most important pieces of gear. A beginner will inevitably spend a lot of time on their butt, and in Australia, especially when it is a warm day the snow will be WET! And when you get wet you will soon get very cold.
Intermediate and expert skiers are not exempt as chairlift seats can be quite wet on warmer days with precipitation even if it still is snowing. Good quality ski/snowboard pants are definitely something worth spending a bit of extra money on.
If you are only going for a FEW days, I have seen quality rain pants with a good base layers work. But for goodness sake, DON’T JUST wear jeans or tracksuit pants, or jeans with tracksuit pants on underneath (I've seen it all, trust me). (the golden rule in wet and cold - don't wear cotton including denim).
It is possible to use hiking socks in Snowboard boots as long as they come at least half way up your foot.
For ski boots long thinner socks are a must, so it is well worth considering getting a pair. On ski boots fit is everything so a smaller sock with a well fitting boot is key. A thick sock may look like it gives you padding, however it will allow for more movement in the boot reducing control and greatly increasing the chance of blisters or bunions.
The last two points are something to be prepared for as I have lost count of the number of times I have heard about someone complaining of pain or having to take a day off due to avoidable foot issues.
There are some excellent Australian high quality sock options right here.
And if you are looking for socks specifically designed for the ski-field/snow adventure have a serious look at these alpine options.
This is one of those pieces of gear that you will probably have to buy. Alpine/mountaineering gloves can work well, though are a bit bulking for a casual day and have a big price tag. Generally speaking you get what you pay for. You can get away with warm synthetic gloves if you avoid touching the snow too much (harder said than done).
After roughly the $100 mark you are paying for water resistance which is useful if you are spending lots of days in them. Be warned however - here is your instructor saying “no glove is truly waterproof”, especially in Australia, as continued touching of snow in very wet conditions will cause the gloves to get wet. I have seen an exception to the rule, when a few instructors brought dishwashing gloves with warm liners put inside, it works like a treat but it certainly stands out!
Snacks! Okay, it's not technically equipment but trail mix, bars and even sandwiches can fit inside those jacket pockets. All that exercise on the hill works up a big appetite and snacks on the hill are priced at a premium so it pays to pack lunch the day before!
Don't forget your skis or board (it happens!) or your helmet.
Make sure everyone has a pre-loaded pass and that it's on them. Jacket pocket is okay but the best is a lanyard.
And don't forget your phone, transport, tickets or chains, snacks, lunch.
Now get out there and enjoy.