Tip No. 1: Clothing
Shopping for jackets, boots, gloves and more is the fun part until you go to the checkout at your ski shop in Texas and realize how much this week of clothing that you won’t likely use the rest of the year will cost (yes, I know this firsthand). Think function first! Utah locals can pick out the tourists — they’re wearing expensive, insulated jackets trimmed with faux fur (very pretty, not very functional). Every article written in the past 20 years about playing outdoors tells you that it’s all about layering: base layer (long underwear), insulating layer (puffy), wind/waterproof layer (Gore-Tex). Translation: That cute faux fur feels wet and nasty next to your face if it snows, and the wind blows through that expensive insulated jacket that will sit in the back of your closet in Houston or San Diego.
Instead, wear a base layer, but not necessarily ski-specific. I’ve been known to use my workout tops and leggings which wick sweat just as well and are usable off the slopes (yes I just gave you permission to buy Lululemon). Heck, my kids prefer to wear long underwear-style pajamas under their ski gear (the littles seldom break a sweat skiing, which is what chills them).
The insulating layers are more important. Notice, I said layers. Most people own or received a fleece jacket from their aunt at some point (fleece is fleece, it’s warm and it’s underneath everything if your aunt has bad taste). However, unless you’re spring skiing, you’ll need another insulating layer like a puffy, down-type layer. Recently, these have magically become thinner and warmer simultaneously making them more functional (you can wear it back in Dallas during a February morning jog and brag about your amazing vacation).
The wind/waterproof layer is, typically, the pricey piece, but you’ll be able to use it afterward in the rain or cold when the dog insists on going out or you’re stuck at the soccer field. Layered with a base and puffy, the shell keeps you toasty on the worst day (or while plopped on the snow during your snowboard lesson). A “shell” is more than a simple raincoat, but there are choices for just about any budget (here’s a deal on a combined shell/puffy). Find a cute color (hard to see white jacket in snow) that specifically indicates it’s wind and waterproof. Bottom Line: Stay warm, save money, use at home. No faux fur, matchy-matchy optional. #shreddingskittles
Pants come in insulated and pricier, shell-type varieties. Either are fine, but definitely look for deals. Jeans and stretchy pants — even if they say they’re ski pants — are not fine and not warm! Being conscious of your clothing budget is the first piece of planning a cheap ski trip. Bottom Line: Function first! (Read: "How to Pack for a Family Snow and Ski Trip in Utah")
Locals’ tip on clothing:
Visit consignment shops and warehouse retailers in Utah for deals on ski clothes. From Salt Lake City International Airport, you can stop at Costco (doesn’t sell wine, but has men’s ski pants for $29), Kid2Kid, a children's consignment store on 700 South in Salt Lake City just off I-80, or shop the Millcreek Mile on 3300 South off I-215 at the mouth of Parley’s Canyon, full of locals’ favorite haunts: Level Nine Sports consignment (even my hubby likes this place); REI; Savers, locals’ second-hand items; Milosport or Salty Peaks, retailers with great deals. If you’re in Park City, the Columbia Factory Store has what you need for a fraction of your hometown ski store.