Do You Really Need Ski Pants & Jacket when skiing?

by Simon Naylor | Updated: October 27th, 2022 |  Skiing Articles

There are a few questions that loom large in every new skier’s mind: “How do I get off the lift?” “How do I turn?” And “Do I really need a special outfit when I go skiing?” The answers to those first two questions involve some gentle explaining, and plenty of practice, but when it comes to ski-slope-attire, it can be hard to convince new skiers that it’s worth investing in a special pair of pants and jacket just to enjoy this hobby. After all, we’re all pretty budget-conscious, we all own other clothing, why shell out for something that you’ll only wear when you’re skiing?

Well, there are a few answers to that: First of all, YES! Yes, you really should pick up a decent pair of ski pants and a good ski jacket, along with a few other accessories, to go skiing. Having the right clothes will help you enjoy skiing more, you’ll stay warmer and safer, you’ll be more comfortable, and they’re a great investment that you’ll be thankful for years down the road.

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What Even Are “Ski Clothes”?

Before we convince you that it’s worth buying ski clothes, it might be a good idea to make sure we’re all on the same page about what that even means. So we’ll break down what a good ski outfit consists of, and what to be looking for when you shop.

A ski outfit is usually broken into three “layers” each with a separate purpose and task. The base layer is your next to skin layer, and it keeps you warm, and comfortable, and wicks any sweat away from your body. The insulating layer sits over the base layer and keeps you warm. And finally, the shell layer goes over everything else and keeps snow and wind out. 

Most folks have some sort of base and mid layers already. If you have a good set of long underwear and a puffy jacket, you’re set on that front. Just make sure none of it is made of cotton since cotton won’t dry out fast and will keep you cold if it gets wet.

The real magic, and investment comes with the shell layer. This is where ski-specific gear will massively outperform that old windbreaker and wool pants you were planning on using. So you’ll be looking for a ski or snowboard specific pair of pants, and a jacket. The biggest task of ski outerwear is to keep you dry. So you’re going to want to look for gear that has Gore Tex or a similar waterproof material integrated into the shell. 

Beyond that, there are a few accessories like ski gloves or mittens, a ski-specific mask, and good ski socks that are pretty affordable and make a huge difference. So shop around for gear that fits you well, with an aesthetic you like. Why? Well, now that you understand what ski gear does, we’ll explain why you need it.

The Right Outfit Will Help You Enjoy Skiing More

The number one reason to buy ski gear is that it makes your ski days so much more fun. At its core, skiing is a challenging pastime, we’re venturing onto steep, snow-covered slopes in the dead of winter after all. And to make that sort of extreme weather experience enjoyable, you need to make sure you’re dressed appropriately. Sure, you might have some massive fur coat that keeps you toasty warm as you walk from the restaurant back to your car, but on the ski hill, it’s going to have some drawbacks.

That’s because when we’re skiing, we’re not just hanging out, trying to stay warm in the weather, we’re alternating between a very hard physical activity, and sitting on a slow-moving chairlift. So we need clothing that moves with us as we stretch and flex to turn our skis, that stays dry even when we fall down into wet snow a lot, and doesn’t get so hot that we overheat and sweat in it. So if you actually want to enjoy your time skiing, it’s worth investing in the right clothes.

Ski Clothes Keep You Warm, Safe, and Comfortable


Ski clothes make skiing more fun, and they also help keep you warm, safe, and comfortable. There are plenty of hazards out there on the ski hill, branches will tear at your clothing, and the ever-present cold threatens to seep into your bones.

Ski clothes are built to be more durable than typical winter gear. They won’t tear and allow branches or your ski edges to cut your skin. And they help keep you safe and warm over a long day of skiing. With inadequate clothing you can feel fine in the lodge, and during your first few runs, but as you start to get colder, bad clothing will let you down and lose its insulation as you get wet, so you can end up stranded far from the car with gear that’s not doing anything to protect you from the elements. Good ski clothes are designed to keep you safe all day long.

Skiing is a challenging sport to learn, and if you’re uncomfortable and fighting your clothing the whole time, it’s even harder. Feel good, ski good. Get comfortable and your life will be better.

Ski Clothes Are a Good Investment

Finally, it might seem like a stretch to justify buying a new outfit just for skiing. But that’s really not what you’re doing. Instead, when you buy ski pants and a jacket, you’re treating yourself to a nice set of winter gear that can be used in a whole range of situations and will last you years. Those snow pants will come in handy sledding with your kids, and that nice ski jacket will keep you warm and toasty on that romantic winter sleigh ride.

Buying ski clothes isn’t a fashion flex or a redundant purchase, they fill an important place in any wardrobe and are a smart investment you’ll appreciate for years.