Ski instructors' 5 most important bits of kit
Ski and snowboard instructors deserve a lot of respect. They multi-task between scooping up toddlers, schmoozing fussy parents, reigning-in energetic racing kids, and talking down over-confident businessmen. They also must find their own time to enjoy the slopes and, of course, allocate some time to generally wandering around town or propping up the bar looking Adonis-like.
Ok, maybe that’s not all true, but one undebatable thing is that they spend a lot of time on the hill. And, for this reason, we do respect their opinions on gear. Each year, waves of new kit and technology is wheeled out and marketed by big brands. With a lot of choice, and a lot of influencers luring us towards a purchase, it’s hard to know what we should actually be investing in.
To find out, the team at SnowSkool asked a bunch of ski and snowboard instructors what their most important and favourite bits of kit were. No one received any kind of bribery, payment or sponsorship for any of their answers (much too stingy for that!), so the answers and brands you’re reading about are genuine recommendations. Of course, there are the essential bits of kit: skis, boots, jacket etc, but this selection the five things that instructors value the most. Their five favourite bits of kit.
Number five: socks
Sports socks, specifically ski socks, come in a big range. You can pick up a pair for £1 or for over £100. This makes it really difficult to know what’s actually worth it or not. It’s tempting to go for cheap socks – they take a bit of a beating, get washed a lot, end up stinky and are frequently replaced! However, it seems ski instructors opt for the power of natural fibres, as wool socks were high up the list. Spending hours on your feet, in all conditions, is a prerequisite of their job and socks made of wool and bamboo were something instructors don’t mind investing in. If you buy quality, it seems you’ll be able to spread the cost anyway – Tommy, who teaches in Banff, Canada, claims his trusty Smartwool ski socks are still going after 13 years!
Number four: sun cream
The goggle-tan is a real badge of honour in the instructor (and Seasonnaire) world. Sunburn, however, is proper punter behaviour. A specialist sun cream isn’t glamourous (neither are socks to be honest!) but, instructors ranked it at four on the list. Sweat, snow and taking on and off goggles will make light work of your average
sun cream, so opt for something waterproof, or sport-specific. Sam, teaching in Cardrona, New Zealand rates P20. “I find that you don’t have to top it up as much other stuff; just one layer in the morning and you’re good. Don’t get it in your eyes though, it burns!!” An additional word of warning, don’t get sun cream on your goggle either – your lenses won’t thank you for the chemicals.
Number three: fleece or midlayer
With item number three you can afford to be a bit more stylish. A much-loved midlayer came high on our list for two reasons a) essential warmth that you can put under a shell in spring, or under your main jacket in the cold; and b) it’s what you’re wearing when you take off your jacket – so you can choose something that looks good. We knew instructors couldn’t only be about the practical solutions! Chris, who is teaching in Val D’Isère in France, loves his Patagonia fleece “because it makes me look hot and feel hot”. We can’t argue with a dual-purpose item like that – practical and fashionable.
Number two: goggles
Our favourite topic! And, so it would seem, nearly the most favoured item among ski and snowboard instructors. Similar to socks, you’ll find a wide price range on goggles and some mind-boggling technical terms and features. Declan, who teaches in Canada’s Big White, told us he enjoys car-windscreen-style, heated goggles that stop his hot head from fogging them up! This feature isn’t for everybody, but something to definitely consider is if you can switch up the lenses. The instructors we spoke to have to be out in all weather and light conditions, so having options for which lenses they choose is ideal. Being able to buy separate lenses also means your goggles will last much longer, as you won’t have to replace the whole thing.
Number one: mittens or gloves
What’s ski and snowboard instructors’ most important bit of kit? Glove! Or
mittens, actually. While the jury is divided on gloves vs. mittens (or those weird trotter-style ones…), one thing everyone agrees on it that cold hands SUCK and great gloves are worth investing in. Some styles will certainly be an investment, costing hundreds of pounds, but if you look after them (treating leather, fixing stitching etc), you could have a pair for life. Katy, in the Three Valleys, France, bit the bullet and bought some Hestra gloves: “I’ve had them for years but I struggled with cold hands for so long before I took the plunge and invested. They’re expensive but worth it.” Any guesses why Chris from Val D’Isère loves his Hestra mitts… “because they make me look hot and feel hot”… of course! Gloves and mittens made from leather and wool or down seem to work really well, but if you want a non-animal-product alternative, there are lots of high-tech synthetic ones on the market too.
So, there you have it, you might not have the skills of a mighty ski instructor, but at least now you can assemble you ski kit like one!