Ski equipment can be purchased online, at a sporting goods store, or at a ski shop, and it's important to have the right equipment if you want to enjoy a rewarding experience on the slopes. While the skis themselves are important, they aren't the only things worth paying special attention to. There's also the ski boots, and you won't want to venture out into the cold without the proper jacket or gloves. Other things that can help you stay safe and get the most out of your skiing experience include goggles and helmets. These days, most ski instructors will tell you that wearing a helmet is a good idea, as the most serious ski accidents are those that involve head injuries. As for goggles, they are especially handy on snowy days and powder days. One thing is for sure. You won't want to forget to wear goggles or at least sunglasses on sunny days, and sunblock is also recommended for any ski vacation.
Ski equipment isn't exactly cheap, though these days, deals are pretty easy to come by. Thanks to technology, cheaper skis often perform very well, so you might opt for a more affordable set when starting out. Many ski shops offer big time sales from time to time, which is also worth keeping in mind, and it's often easy to get good deals on last year's products. If you aren't quite ready to buy ski equipment, most ski resorts have rental shops where you can get everything that you will need. At some places, this includes more than just your skis, your ski boots, and your poles. It is also possible to rent things like helmets, ski jackets, and even gloves at some resorts. Even the smaller, Midwestern ski resorts, such as Wisconsin's Alpine Valley and Ohio's Boston Mills, offer complete rental equipment options, so there is no need to rush when looking to purchase your own gear. If you are ready to buy your own gear, purchasing skis that are basically as tall as you are is generally the way to go.
Many skiers will tell you that ski boots are the most important things when it comes equipment. Having boots that fit properly is key. If the boots are too big, you will find it harder to make turns and to manipulate the skis in general, while boots that are too tight will result in painful skiing and maybe even some very cold toes due to circulation being cut off. In general, you want your ski boot to fit tightly. You might wear a relatively thin performance-level sock that is designed to help ski boots fit better. These kinds of socks also help to keep your feet warm. Should you have some trouble keeping your feet warm in general while skiing, you can loosen the clamps on your boots before you get on the lift. This will allow for better circulation to the foot while you're not skiing. Once you get off the lift, you can re-tighten your clamps and head down the mountain. This can be especially beneficial at larger resorts with long lifts, such as Colorado's Vail Resort and British Columbia's Whistler.
Moving on to ski jackets, there is definitely no shortage of options to choose from. Whether your jacket budget is big or small, getting something that suits your needs shouldn't be an issue. In general, a waterproof, lightweight jacket is the way to go. These days, you don't have to get a bulky jacket to keep warm. On colder days, you can put some layers on underneath your jacket. A fleece liner can be an especially valuable thing to wear under your jacket when it gets especially cold. Some of the more expensive ski jackets come with their own liners and layers, and it's worth spending a little extra for your jacket if you have a full season planned. That being said, you won't likely need a jacket when doing some spring skiing at western resorts such as Breckenridge and Park City, as the sun is often very warm when it's not blocked by clouds.
Rounding out the most important things when it comes to ski equipment are the pants, the gloves, and the poles. As is true of ski jackets, ski pants that are waterproof or at least water resistant are recommended. Some ski pants are lined and can be more appropriate for colder days, while others are merely a shell that can keep your legs dry on warmer days. Moving on to the gloves, buying a good pair is recommended, as chronically cold hands can put a big damper on things. Once again, a waterproof exterior is key, and should you plan on doing a lot of skiing, buying gloves that are sturdy is arguably the way to go, as you won't likely have to replace them mid-season.
As for the ski poles, you basically want to buy ones that come up to your elbow. This allows for more comfortable skiing, as you will have optimal control over the poles. As a side note, if you really want to sharpen your skiing skills, you can try skiing without your poles. This is an excellent way to get your footwork and weight distribution down, which is the most important thing. Whether you are tackling the ski runs in France, Switzerland, Vermont, California, or any other number of destinations, you will often see kids racing down the slopes without poles while taking ski lessons, as this helps to instill the proper technique from the start.