11 Off-Piste Ways To Get Your Ski Kit On a Budget

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Enjoying the heady atmosphere of an Alpine resort doesn’t have to leave you broke. Getting your mountain essentials on eBay can help you save money and get your trip going downhill in the right way. 

1. Jacket And Salopettes

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The most important purchases for any ski trip, your jackets and salopettes are the hardest working items on your holiday. Keeping you warm, dry and carrying all your stuff, they should be waterproof and insulated with either down or synthetic materials. Opting for last season’s colourways or pre-worn options can help you save on cost, but whichever you choose, there are a few essential attributes to look out for:

Ski jackets need elasticated cuffs, to stop snow spraying up your sleeves, and a snow skirt, to stop it going up your back or (worse) down your trusty salopettes! A helmet-compatible hood is also useful for Alpine squalls, while zipped ventilation offers cooling when the going gets tough – or the sun comes out.

Ski pants should have waterproof gaiters, which stop snow falling into your boots, multiple pockets and a fleece lining to ensure your legs keep warm while you’re flailing about. Zipped ventilation again makes sure you won’t overheat. And for those who want added security, some salopettes come with over the shoulder braces…

2. Base Layers

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Layering is key for combating the elements and keeping comfortable all day. Good base layers wick away sweat, retain heat and provide an effective barrier to surprise winds.

Base layers come in synthetic fabrics (providing warmth up to around –10º with wind chill) and Merino wool, which offers double the warmth – but will also remove twice as much of your dough. If you’re looking to save money, then two synthetic base layers are more than enough to get you through a particularly hard week of button lifts and multiple falls, so buy in your usual size. You’ll soon forget about unflattering lines when you’re toasty on a gondola.

3. Socks



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Whether you’re a skier or a snowboarder, your feet will take a pounding, and the last thing you’ll want is boot pain delaying your aprés salvation. Don’t skimp on thermal socks – your usual winter footwear just won’t cut it. Look for options that are padded on the sole, the bridge of your foot and your shins, as these are the areas you’re most likely to get rubbing or pain.

Avoid 'one size fits all' tube socks, as these can cause problems including slippage inside snow or ski boots, and opt for ergonomic synthetic materials available in full and half sizes. If you want to make savings, opt for less popular shades – the only colours you should be concerned with are the ratings of the slopes you’re throwing yourself down. 

4. Gloves And Mittens



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There’s nothing worse than freezing fingers, so it’s worth paying a bit more for decent gloves and mittens. Whatever your budget, the key things to look for are material, insulation, membrane and cuff length. Gloves with a waterproof Gore-Tex lining stops water permeating and freezing your hands, while insulation such as Thinsulate or PrimaLoft will ensure your hands remain toasty.

Leather options are hard-wearing, but some synthetic materials are just as adaptable. Cuff length depends on your preference: Ski mittens have a shorter cuff which can be tucked in, while gauntlets go up and over your sleeve. Ultimately, it depends on whether you want to hold your mulled wine in the claw of your mitten or a normal hand. 

5. Helmet

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No matter what your competency level is, you never know exactly what’s under your skis. A good quality helmet is not an area to scrimp on. It keeps your head warm (and cool, if you can snare one with rider-operated vents) and in some resorts, helmets for kids are now compulsory.

If you don’t want to splash out, you can rent a helmet from most good ski shops in the resort, but whether you buy or rent, there are a few key points to look for. Many helmets now feature a Multi-Directional Impact Protection System (MIPS), technology which comes at a price but offers greater protection. Your lid should fit snuggly on your head without feeling tight, and you should also try it on before committing to purchasing if possible – and test if it’s compatible with your goggles.

6. Goggles



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Flat light, normal light, bluebird… Snow goggles have to adapt to any given weather condition, and with most people only able to afford one pair, you could be stuck with an iridium lens on a day you can’t see your hand in front of your face. Venting is important, with most manufacturers now including foam which prevents the inner lenses from fogging. But if you can stretch to it, certain makes, such as Smith I/O, feature a quick change system – and come with a change of lens which can be performed while you’re zooming up a chairlift. 

7. Buff



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When the wind is biting and the snow is whipping all around you, you’ll be thankful for remembering to pack your ski buff (or snood) for men or for women.

A cheap but invaluable accessory, choose a microfibre one which has wicking abilities, allowing you to breathe normally without sweat and saliva freezing to your face. They add no bulk, and you can look as smug as a bug in a rug when you’re stranded on a chairlift and everyone is cowering into their ski jackets.

8. Rucksack



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Mountain restaurants charge a pretty penny for hot food, rustic charm and iffy table service, so taking your own lunch onto the slopes is a much cheaper option. Tuck a ham and cheese baguette into a piste-friendly rucksack and not only will you save a few Euros, you may even be able to afford a beer in El Expensivos.

A bag will also allow you to take water with you to keep hydrated, and some extra layers in case the weather takes an unexpected turn. Make sure the bag straps to keep it tight to your body (and you’ll have to wear it on your front on lifts), but also beware: You may become your group’s pack(ed lunch) mule.

9. Helmet Cam



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What’s the point in enjoying your winter holiday if you can’t rub it in the faces of all those chumps slaving over a desk? Although the latest GoPro will cost you the same as a small car, it is the market leader for a reason. You can also save up to 50% by buying a refurbished option – one which has been returned to the seller, refurbished, checked and tested and comes with a 12-month warranty when purchased on eBay.

There are also plenty of alternative action cameras at affordable prices, featuring specs such as touchscreens and Wi-Fi connectivity, with a variety of mounting options to ensure that mega tumble on the green nursery slope is enjoyed by everyone. Perhaps a little too much… 

10. Sunscreen/Lip Balm



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If the Snow Gods smile on you (or, as is more likely, they don’t), mountain weather, sunshine, cold and wind can lead to chapped lips, wind burn and sunburn. A portable combination of high-factor sunscreen and lip balm is easy to stow away, and if you purchase before you travel, you won’t have to shell out for the higher price of protection in the resort.

Apply lip balm before you depart in the morning, and you’ll be free to enjoy your lunch on a sun terrace without adding the unwanted taste of Factor 30 – or looking like a panda. 

11. Touchscreen Gloves



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You’ve played hard, nailed that red run and now you want to celebrate. Beer in hand, coat done up to your chin, bobble hat rocking to the beat of your favourite song, it’s tough to take that one aprés photo to illicit Instagram-envy in the –2º chill.

They may not be an essential, but touchscreen sensitive gloves are less bulky than your on-mountain mittens or gauntlets, and will get you from chalet to pub in toasty warmth – and allow you to populate your photo album without losing a fingertip.

Looking for More Essential Activewear This Winter?



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