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Before this trip, I hadn’t been skiing since middle school. It’s a pricey endeavor for those of us who don’t live out West, so my family waited until after we all went through college to prioritize it. This year, we finally headed to Deer Valley Resort in Park City, Utah to take a much-needed ski vacation.
But I faced a significant problem: I’d outgrown any gear I’d collected as a kid.
I set off on a mission to balance price with quality, determining which pieces to invest in and which to save on. Through my extensive research (and the recs of other TQE Editors), I compiled everything you need to know, whether you’re entry-level or simply scouting out new brands on the scene.
How I Bundled Up: Ski Jackets & Pants
First priority: secure warm and comfortable outerwear.
Enter Halfdays, the sunny female-founded ski apparel brand aiming to make snow sports less of a boys’ club. The brand’s pieces are functional and stylish, with thought-out details like a phone leash (to avoid chairlift mishaps) and a built-in goggle wipe (to keep your vision clear.) As a bonus, they’re also 100% vegan and crafted from recycled materials. Halfdays was founded by Ariana Ferwerda, Karelle Golda, and Kiley McKinnon, the last of whom is a winter Olympian -- so you know this gear is meant to last.
Halfdays was kind enough to allow me to test the Lawrence Jacket ($365) and Alessandra Pants ($225) in Espresso. Online, the set is a beautifully ambiguous burgundy, and I wondered whether it would lean towards red or brown. In person, the color is the best of both (depends on your goggles and Instagram filter!) which makes me very happy.
While I personally have no qualms about looking like the Michelin Man, the set is slim and attractive; I wasn’t waddling around the lodge, and I got so many compliments. On the slopes, I felt confident; off them, the jacket is so stunning that it will undoubtedly be a new staple in my winter wardrobe. Most importantly, it’s cozy-warm, and I’m a wimp when it comes to cold weather.
While the Lawrence Jacket has a snow skirt to keep your base and midlayers from getting damp, I also wanted to see how I felt about the extra protection of a bib.
DopeSnow is a cult-favorite brand with a staggering following. While new to the scene, DopeSnow captured the attention of the über cool snow/skate/surf crowd with its sleek silhouettes, patterns, and a functionality that says, “I just rolled out of bed and onto a mountain, and I’m still better at skiing than you are.” My DopeSnow Notorious B.I.B. ($209) has major cool-girl energy.
My bib was super warm, weatherproof, and the black-on-black detailing had me swooning. I opted for the bib because of its loose, comfy fit and insane amount of storage, which I fully used. I am such an overpacker on the slopes, and I felt great about being able to stuff everything into its various compartments.
Essential Ski Base and Mid Layers
Because Halfdays’ newly-released Espresso base layers very unfortunately wouldn’t arrive in time for my trip, I opted for the La Montaña Fleece Zip-T ($75) and La Montaña Fleece Bottoms ($90) from Hot Chillys, which we’ve had floating in our ski trunk for about fifteen years. They did the job, but with less flair.
For mid-layers, I love the Katarina Sweater by Alp N Rock ($328). It has bold stripes that are both timeless and attractive. Better yet, the rayon and polyester blend has a satisfying weight to it that insulates without feeling sweltering. Cruelty-free and comfy, I know I’ll be carting around this pullover for years to come.
Finally, my little secret: this ski boot cover set ($88) from Chamonix-based brand SNÜX-- crafted with thermal technology designed to eliminate cold feet. I tested my boot covers in the coral shade, and relished the extra warmth. If you tend to struggle with temperature, these boot covers are an excellent addition to your repertoire.
Technical Gear For The Slopes
For technical gear, I brought the Frost Ultimate Snow Goggles ($50) from Italic, along with the Women’s Ski Gloves ($30). Italic’s quality-at-cost model worked perfectly for my needs. While I’ve had good luck with Italic’s bedding, skincare, and other categories, I was admittedly nervous about its ski gear in relation to other brands like Oakley and Smith. After my first week skiing, I was absolutely shocked by the Italic gear; it’s an absolute steal for the quality.
I also love the Classic Give’r Gloves ($44), a friend’s recommendation. Seeing my Jackson Hole friends all climbing, skiing, and generally out in the wilderness all the time in Give’r gear, I was pretty confident they’d stand up to their “work hard and play harder” motto. They’re sturdy, lined, and thinner while still being warm. You can also personalize them with initials -- making them an ideal gift for any adventurer.
The Extras I Carried In My Pockets
I didn’t plan on being on my phone often, but wanted to be reachable (and snap a few pics). To ensure it, I tried the Phoozy, which partnered with the official organization for pro ski and snowboard instructors this year. The brand’s go-to product is a thermal phone sleeve that keeps your phone battery from dying. It’s relatively straightforward -- drop-proof, climate-proof, sink-proof, anything-proof…
The newest variety, the XP3 ($49.99), didn’t mesh well with my phone (probably due to my iPhone 6s’s ancient battery), but I switched to the Apollo II + Antimicrobial ($39.99) which worked perfectly to maintain the juice in both my phone and headphones. There was a stark difference in how quickly the power dropped when I was using the Phoozy versus when I wasn’t.
To complement it, I used Clutch Charger ($49.99) which I found on our Quality Makers Gift Guide. The “world’s thinnest power bank,” the Clutch fits perfectly into my tiny wallet and I don’t need to carry around an extra cord; the Lightning charger pops out from the square and is ready to plug in. This little gadget saved me on multiple occasions. I’m convinced I need to buy ten and just store them in various go-to spots like my car and gym bag.
I included a few packets of Liquid IV for extra hydration. This much-loved electrolyte drink mix ($24.47 for a 16-pack) is ideal for this kind of physical exertion. Skiing is a perfect storm for dehydration: dry air, high elevation, and cold that suppresses your thirst. Often, we didn’t realize how weak we felt until we gathered for meals, so Liquid IV was the real MVP.
On That Note, Here’s What I Used For Recovery
Until this trip, we’d forgotten how physically demanding skiing was. We were all there for leisure, not training, and pretty athletic. But our bodies were in fight-or-flight mode for most of the time we spent hurtling down the mountainside.
Our lifesaver? The Vyper 2.0 vibrating foam roller (now $119) from Hyperice. Oh. My. God. Its three speeds, convenient size, and high-intensity power helps so much in rehabbing tight and painful muscles. At any given moment, there is likely a member of my family using it. (Good: they all love it. Bad: I want it back.)
Another way we treated our bodies was by using beam dream powder to wind down in the evenings. Since it’s December, we’ve been opting for festivity with the limited edition white chocolate peppermint dream powder ($76 with subscription) mixed into hot milk. Its sleep-promoting compounds (CBD, magnesium, reishi, and other organics) coaxed me to sleep while leaving me light and refreshed the next morning. It’s quite the cozy nightcap.
So…Can We Talk About Après Ski Now?
I wanted to be boujee about après ski this year: puffy boots, stylish sweaters, cute beanies. Top off with a hot tub and/or champagne and I’m in heaven.
Both Alp N Rock and Give’r generously included beanies in their packages, which I wasted no time in putting on once I gave up my helmet for the day. They’re both branded yet adorable. The Give’r Classic Beanie ($30) has a relaxed design with a Teton-patterned brim and adjustable wear; it’s colorful, playful, and cheery in the snow. The iconic Alp N Rock Beanie ($98) is black with white lettering. It’s subtle and more elegant than I’d expected -- and it is all cotton, so I could wear it forever without getting itchy.
I was outfit hunting when I fell in love with Alp N Rock for both the brand’s morals and aesthetic. Alp N Rock’s designs are sporty and traditional while still radiating an effortless chic. The company donates up to 10% of its profits to girls’ education, and backs it up with a goal to send 1000+ girls to school. The Après Logo Sweater ($298) is my current favorite item of clothing: funky, festive, and cozy. I’m literally wearing it as I type this.
Another après option is the Lauren Set in Black ($415) from Kilte Collection, consisting of the Lauren Turtleneck ($200) and Lauren Joggers ($275). The washable cashmere set instantly makes me feel polished but also like I’m secretly in pajamas. Even cooler, the entire Kilte Collection team is made of moms leaving high-powered careers who needed flexible hours and a family-focused workspace, so each set is named after one of their moms.
For shoes, I slipped into the pillowy and divine LIMA ($350) booties from Oncept’s FW21 edit of elevated essentials. I was pleasantly surprised by how durable these booties were in the snow. I clomped around in these throughout my whole vacation. (They also run narrow, so keep that in mind if you have wide feet.) Dressing up for dinner in Park City, I’d switch to the VIENNA boot ($450): an elegant mid-calf black boot that goes with absolutely everything.
Warm, Safe, and Ready To Do It Again.
Starting out, my goal was just to stay warm and safe. I waded through an overwhelming landscape of ski products, and ended up confident in the clothing and gear I collected for my trip. Whether you’re a seasoned expert or just as rusty as me, these picks are a great start to making your next ski excursion easier (and hold up for plenty of use in the future.) But hey, if you’re planning one…take me with you?