Downhill skiers require skis, ski bindings, ski boots, and ski poles. Many skiers also wear a ski helmet, goggles, a jacket, pants, gloves, and socks for warmth and safety.
Here's a list of the equipment you will need for downhill skiing, plus advice how to choose the best ski gear.
List of Downhill Skiing Equipment
Skis: Unlike cross-country skis, downhill skis have heel and toe bindings. Downhill skis can vary in material, length, and general structure. The type of skis you buy depend on the type of skiing you prefer to do. Those who ski on fresh powder benefit from wider skis. Longer skis also help with turning while skiing fast, as in racing. Shorter skis help one to change direction and curve at slower speeds. Shorter skis are therefore recommended for new and/or cautious skiers.
Ski Bindings: Bindings attach your boot to the ski, so getting the right bindings is essential for safety. Some skis come with factory installed "rails" which allow only certain bindings to attach, but other skis are sold "flat" or without mountain rails and you will have to buy bindings separately. Ask a retailer for assistance before purchasing ski bindings.
Ski Boots: Ski boots have a rigid outside and a soft interior; they attach to ski bindings at the toe and heel. When purchasing a pair of ski boots, select a pair that fit snugly; over time, the foam interior will "pack out" and give your feet more room. Ski boots are measured using the Mondopoint system; if you are unsure of size, ask a retailer to assist you.
Ski Poles: Skiers use ski poles to improve balance and help control speed. When buying alpine ski poles, hold the poles upside-down, and hold each pole by the point and above the basket (the circular object towards the end of the pole). If the poles fit, your elbow should form a 90 degree angle.
Ski Goggles: Goggles are essential for protecting your eyes from the sun, snow, and ice, and for improving visibility. Different lens colors provide different levels of protection and ranges of vision, so make sure to select a pair of goggles that is ideal for the weather and type of skiing you are doing.
Ski Helmet: Increasingly, skiers choose to wear helmets to protect against head trauma. Helmets are particularly valuable when skiing in a rocky or wooded area.
Ski Gloves: Waterproof gloves (or mittens) protect your hands from the cold and snow. You may choose to buy gloves with a removable lining for warmer weather.
Ski Pants: Waterproof ski pants protect you from wind and snow. Make sure your pants will fit snugly over your boots.
Ski Hat: A ski hat (a beanie, headband, or other covering) keeps your head warm and dry on the slopes. When choosing a hat, be sure to get a helmet liner to wera under your helmet and save the fashionable hat for when you're taking a break or for apres-ski.
Ski Jacket: A waterproof jacket protects you from wind and snow. You may choose to buy a jacket with a removable liner for warm-weather skiing.
Ski Socks: Purchase ski socks to keep your feet comfortable and dry, and to give your feet the ability to feel the balance of your ski boots and bindings.