Where to save & splurge on Snow Gear
As recreational pursuits go, it's fair to say that skiing and snow gear are at the pricier end of the scale. With this in mind, it's important to know where it's best to splurge and where you can save when it comes to buying your snow gear.
Whether you plan on making the snowfields a regular part of your winter or you just want the kids to experience a day at the snow, remember this: cotton has no place in the snow other than as your underwear. Wool, down and synthetics specifically designed to keep you dry and warm - like polypropylene and GORE-TEX - are the order of the day.
Bearing this in mind, let's run through the details.
Where To Splurge
Like camping, hiking and fishing, you can spend too little or too much when you're starting out, especially if you haven't done your research. With snow clothing, though, that's probably where the similarities end. Snow gear and equipment is purpose-made for very harsh and demanding conditions so, in general, it's worthwhile splurging, especially if you know that regular snow-going is on your agenda.
The most important thing: it's essential your gear keeps you warm, dry and comfortable.
Ironically, when it comes to snow clothing, it's the beginners who really need to spend more to get the better gear. Why? Because the unavoidable reality is, until you develop your skills, there's going to be a lot of falling! While this shouldn't deter you from getting out there and enjoying the snow, you'll need to consider things like higher waterproof ratings and fully taped seams on pants, so your ski experience isn't dampened by wet skin.
The most effective way to dress for the snow is in layers: a base layer, middle layer - often referred to as your insulating layers - and then your outer layers. Each of these layers serves a dedicated purpose in keeping you warm, dry, safe and comfortable.
Good base layer clothing - like thermal underwear - ensures your skin remains dry by drawing sweat and moisture away from your body. Good thermal underwear also prevents chafing and blisters. In terms of fit, thermals should sit close to your skin, enabling this layer of clothing to repel moisture and retaining heat appropriately.
Good middle layer clothing acts as insulation, trapping heat that may have escaped your thermals. The middle layer includes beanies, jumpers, fleeces, vests and tights. Good mid-layer clothing also offers excellent warmth for its weight ratio, so look for gear made from lightweight fleece, merino or down.
Outer layer clothing refers to ski pants, jackets and gloves - consider it the gear that keeps wind, rain and snow out. Splurge on your outer layers. No matter what your budget, look for clothing that has high waterproofing and breathability ratings, so that sweat can get out and water can't get in, maximising your ability to stay warm and dry.
Check that your outer layer clothing also has fully taped seams to prevent water seeping in through the stitching holes. In snow wear, a critically taped seam means the clothing is only seam-sealed in the places where snow/water is most likely to come through. Full-taped will, therefore, give you greater water insulation and maximise your comfort.
Splurge on footwear too. Look for footwear that's purpose-designed - waterproof, breathable, proper foot support and information about temperature rating. Temperature rating tells you how warm the boots will be while you're in the snow.
Where To Save
If you're a novice or you only envisage the odd daytrip to the snow, buying gear that can keep you dry, warm and comfortable is still the name of the game. By shopping smart, though, you don't necessarily have to compromise on quality either - your snow gear can service you in other ways too.
Take some time to think about the type of weather you'll encounter and what activities you plan on doing while at the snow. If you're planning an activity-laden day with the family, look at investing in layers made from materials that do a good job of wicking away moisture and keeping you warm and dry.
Likewise, when it comes to outer layers, consider clothing and equipment that can also be used away from the snowfields so you're getting more bang from your buck. Brands like 37 Degrees South offer a range of snow jackets that are also great for going to the footy or wearing in winter when you want extra warmth and waterproofing, while still being tough enough to handle a day on the slopes.
Some snow gear is also designed to function as middle and outer in one. Brands like Chute offer a range of ski pants and jackets that serve both functions - another way to save you money without having to compromise on quality or comfort.
As for the really pricey stuff, most resorts and towns en route to places like Thredbo, Mt Hotham and Falls Creek hire out equipment including tyre chains, toboggans, snowboards, skiis, binders and poles. So not having that type of equipment in your garage or storage space shouldn't deter you from experiencing the fun of a day at the snow.
In A Nutshell
There's a time to splurge and a time to save when it comes to snow gear.
Invest wisely while you're learning about the ins and outs of spending time in the snow. There are plenty of quality options available for you that won't break the bank, meaning you can spend a little more on things like lift tickets, treating the kids to a skiing lesson or enjoying a long lunch in front of ab open fire with that special someone in your life.
If you decide that you were born to ski and can't get enough of it, knowing the crud from the powder when it comes to snow gear (if you will!) will ensure that you splurge where you should without wasting your hard-earned cash.