First Time Skiers: What to Wear for Skiing?

I’ve written two informative posts on how to layer your clothing for the different temperatures in winter: How To Layer Clothes for Winter? (Part 1) and Layering Clothes for Winter (Part 2). I’m sensitive to the cold, so what works for me should would for you too! But what to wear for skiing, especially if it’s your first time? There are a few other things to take note. Read on if you’re planning to do winter sports like skiing and snowboarding!

Our virgin skiing trip was at Niseko, an awesome place for skiing because of its powder snow. Everyone I met, from the leisure skiers who skied in Italy and Korea to the ski instructor who had skied everywhere she could, they all agreed that Niseko was the best place to ski! What a blessing we had. :) The weather was about -7 to 2°C with sun while we were there.

Niseko Ski Trip 11 -

If you’re beginners like us, don’t under-dress! I know you’ll be exercising under the sun and might think it’s fine to wear any clothing under the ski suit. But truth is, we beginners use more energy than experienced skiers with all the falling and getting up. This translates to novice skiers getting all wet and sweaty on the inside, and then feeling the cold from the sweat when queuing in lift lines and sitting on the chairlift.

Other than sweat, there’s the snow! Whether you are doing snow sports or playing with snow, you will find snow sticking to your clothing. And as your body heat or the sun melts the snow, you will get wet and then cold!

General rule of thumb, get wet and you’ll be cold, so be dry! Let’s get into the details on how to best layer your clothes from the inside out.



Wear a beanie and cover your head. If you’re still cold, use your hoodie from your outerwear to cover over it. (More about head and beanie during winter.)


Even though it’s winter, the sun’s UV rays reflecting off the snow is double the strength and certainly more dangerous than when you’re on the beach. Moreover, ski slopes are on high altitudes and that means you are closer to the sun!

If you are walking around the ski town, put on your sunglasses. And wear your goggles before you hit the slopes! If you don’t but instead wear the goggles on your head or hold it in your hands, it will easily fog up on the inside.

What Did We Wear? 

  • Wife and Hubby:
    • Rented ski goggles from the rental shop (Grand Hirafu Rentals Gondola Shop).
    • Rented beanies. A normal beanie will do, but it was in our full rental set, so we wore theirs. (Full rental set: Skis/snowboard, boots, skiwear, beanie, goggle, gloves)

Other than ski wear, don’t forget to apply your sunblock/sunscreen. Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher* to all exposed skin. Apply it at least 30 minutes before hitting the slopes and reapply every two hours. To get the full SPF of a sunscreen, you need to apply 1 oz, which is about a shot glass.

*More information on sunscreen: A broad-spectrum sunscreen protects against both UVA and UVB rays –UVA rays penetrate the skin more deeply, associated with wrinkling, leathering, sagging, etc, while UVB is the chief culprit behind sunburn. SPF 15 filters out ~93% of incoming UVB rays, SPF 30 keeps out 97% and SPF 50 keeps out 98%. Studies show that most people apply only half to a quarter of 1oz, which means the actual SPF they have on their body is lower than advertised. (Source of Sunscreen Information)

Base Layer (Top and Bottom)



Start with a tight base layer in merino wool or polyester. The close fitting layer will trap a thin layer of warm air against your skin and such material wicks away any moisture from perspiration or snow. Avoid regular cotton T-shirt. Cotton doesn’t wick and you will stay wet and thus cold (more info).

What Did We Wear? 

  • The Wife: 
    • I wore a sports attire which I usually wear in Singapore — running sleeve top and 3/4 sports leggings. This outfit usually wicked away sweat when I exercised in Singapore.
    • Thereafter, I wore a merino wool hoodie and leggings (Icebreaker brand). Merino wool is a premium wear made from a special breed of sheep with finer fibers that make it softer and thus not itchy as compared to regular woolen long johns. It is also warmer than synthetic material, dries quickly, does not absorb odors and has antibacterial qualities.
  • The Hubby: 
    • 1 set of Uniqlo Heattech thermal wear (normal series)
    • 1 sports top (Man U shirt)

Do I really need to wear long johns (thermal underwear)? Also, more on merino wool and Uniqlo Heattech.

Middle Layer

Over your base top, wear a looser layer such as a sweater, fleece jacket or a turtleneck. You may want to consider one with zip, so that you can unzip if you are sweating too much from the exercise on the slopes.

What Did We Wear? 

  • The Wife: Uniqlo’s Fleece Jacket – Long Sleeve and Full-Zip (100% Polyester)
  • The Hubby: Uniqlo’s Lounge Wear (72% Polyester, 28% Cotton); it’s meant for sleeping but it was perfect for him as mid layer!)

Outerwear and Hands

As mentioned, keep dry, so make sure your outerwear is waterproof. And because you will be on higher altitudes at the ski slopes, make sure the outermost layer is windproof as well.

What Did We Wear? 

  • Wife and Hubby:
    • Rented ski jacket
    • Rented ski gloves

How To Layer Clothes for Winter and Skiing -



As mentioned above, wear a base layer of merino wool or polyester, than wear an insulating pants under your waterproof ski pants. Heed the cotton warning for pants as well. Don’t wear jeans! It’s a material that’s hard to dry and that means once it’s wet, you will constantly be cold.


Rent a pair of boots that fit your feet but not so tight. Your toes must be able to wriggle for a bit.

A quick tip in dressing up. Don’t tuck your pants into the ski boots. You need the boots to be as close fitting to your legs as possible, so to get better control when skiing. We learned that from experience!

What Did We Wear? 

  • The Wife: 
    • Base Layer:  3/4 sports leggings (sweat wicking)*
    • 2nd Base Layer: Merino Wool Leggings
    • Mid-Layer: Uniqlo’s Pile Lined Sweatpants (a fluffy fleece lining; 68% Polyester, 32% Cotton)
    • Outerwear: Rented Ski Pants
    • Feet: 1 pair of heattech socks and rented ski boots
  • The Hubby: 
    • Base Layer: Uniqlo Heattech thermal wear (normal series)
    • Mid-Layer: Uniqlo’s Lounge Wear pants
    • Outerwear: Rented Ski Pants
    • Feet: 1 pair of heattech socks and rented ski boots

One last tip before I end, ‘Is heat pack necessary?’ The heat was in my pocket the whole time, but I didn’t really use it until we stopped moving. Like when we videoed ourselves skiing and while sitting on the chairlift. Like I said in Part 1, good to have but not necessary. :) Have fun skiing or snowboarding!

If you have other questions or suggestions, comment below or on our Facebook Page or Instagram. Bookmark this page: Overview Itinerary: Hokkaido and Tokyo (Winter/Spring 2016)

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