Posted by in Gear Categories: Apparel and Outdoor & sports.

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For our July 2015 issue I travelled to Les Gets, France, in search of the cheapest European skiing holiday. With flights, accommodation, food, ski pass, gear hire and six, two-hour ski lessons (I’d never done this before!) it came in at around R19000 total – not bad for a week in the Alps!

Also see: Skiing France in photos

 

First Ascent Avalanche Ski Jacket and Slalom Ski Gloves.

First Ascent Avalanche Ski Jacket and Slalom Ski Gloves.


I couldn’t have been happier with my gear for this trip. We’re lucky to have some quality outdoor clothing manufacturers in South Africa and between them I found everything I needed. I was never cold, always comfortable, and – in my own mind at least – looked like a seasoned vet and not the total newbie I was. When your skis are heading one way and your butt the other, it’s a comfort to know that despite a terrible technique, at least you look the part.

Here’s what I took with me.

 

1. First Ascent Avalanche Ski Jacket

R2500 from First Ascent and Outdoor Warehouse.

First Ascent Avalanche Ski Jacket.

First Ascent Avalanche Ski Jacket.


If there’s one item to splash out on, it’s a good jacket. That, plus a good pair of socks and decent gloves, but I’ll get to them later. If your hands, feet and upper body are warm and dry, the whole experience is a pleasure. If not… well skiing can rapidly become a damp, icy nightmare.

Ski jackets are not just water and windproof, they’re packed with ski-specific features, and the First Ascent Avalanche Ski Jacket has them all.

The elasticated snow skirt stops snow going down your trousers, and the ski-pass pocket on the forearm means you can wave your arm to open the lift gates without fumbling for the card every time. Internal pockets can hold goggles, phone, hipflask… and the optional hood, detachable inner fleece and underarm zips meant I was never too warm. It can get surprisingly hot on the slopes when the sun comes out. I also found the non-slip ribbing on the shoulders useful – perfect for balancing skis over your shoulder while you walk to the lifts in the morning.

 

Features
  • Tape-sealed, waterproof, breathable Vapour-Tex outer fabric
  • Removable, volume adjustable hood
  • Zippered pockets and pit zips
  • Internal goggles and MP3 pocket
  • Zip secure ski-pass pocket on forearm for easy access to ski lifts
  • Removable snow skirt
  • Weight 1.3kg
  • Folds incredibly small for easy packing

R2500 from First Ascent and Outdoor Warehouse.

For women there’s also the Ladies Avalanche Ski Jacket, available for R1999 from First Ascent.

 

2. First Ascent Derma-Tec Seamless Top

R400 from First Ascent and Outdoor Warehouse.

Beneath the jacket, a First Ascent Derma-Tec Seamless Top kept me chafe free. It’s a snug, comforting kind of fit too – sort of made me feel invincible. On the coldest nights (about -5 0C in late March) the top and jacket were enough to keep me warm.

 

Features
  • 50% Polypropylene / 42% Nylon Derma-tec
  • Weight 120g
  • Custom jacquarding for additional movement and breathability
  • Zero seams = zero chafe

R400 from First Ascent and Outdoor Warehouse.

 

First Ascent Avalanche Ski Trousers and First Ascent Derma-Tec Seamless Top.

First Ascent Avalanche Ski Trousers and First Ascent Derma-Tec Seamless Top.

 

3. First Ascent Men’s Avalanche Ski Trousers

R1400 from Outdoor Warehouse, and R1499 from First Ascent.

A good pair of warm, waterproof pants is also essential for a comfortable ski trip. The First Ascent Men’s Avalanche Ski Trouser is completely waterproof and has padded Thermoshield insulation. The extra cushioning (especially on the rear) is a blessing, and the elasticated internal gaiters stopped the snow getting into my boots. I didn’t use the optional braces because the waist belt was already a comfortable fit, but they are easily removed. The two, deep, zipped pockets where also very useful, although my advice would be not to carry your cell phone in them – one massive fall and a smashed screen later. The jacket has an internal phone pocket that’s far safer.

 

Features
  • Thermo-Shield insulation is warm and padded
  • Articulated knees provide excellent range of movement
  • Internal Velcro and elastic gaiters that fit snugly over ski boots to keep snow out
  • Removable braces
  • Neoprene back so you can sit (or fall) on the snow without getting cold
  • Weight 890g

R1400 from Outdoor Warehouse, and R1499 from First Ascent. Also available in a ladies cut for R1400.

 

4. K-Way Fleece Beanie

R120 from Cape Union Mart.

My gear hire included a padded, insulated helmet which I snapped up. I wasn’t sure whether I’d see too many other skiiers in helmets, but it turns out even the more experienced tended to wear them. Maybe after Schumacher’s accident people are being a little more cautious. The helmet certainly saved my head in that one, spectacular, cell phone smashing wipe out. Wearing your helmet off the slopes is pretty uncool though and in the evenings a beanie is essential. K-Way have a range to choose from, but the good old fleece option worked for me.

R120 from Cape Union Mart.

 

UV Buff Bandana and K-Way Fleece Beanie.

UV Buff Bandana and K-Way Fleece Beanie.

 

5. UV Buff Bandana

R250 from Cape Union Mart.

My trusty UV Buff Bandana played the dual role of stopping the wind and, when I forgot my sunscreen on day two, saving me from a ridiculous goggles tan. It’s probably the more useful piece of outdoor clothing I own – even this thinner bandana version was absolutely adequate to keep the wind chill down and stop snow stinging my face. There are various other more rugged versions specifically designed for very cold conditions.

R250 from Cape Union Mart.

 

6. Bolle Emperor Goggles

R1199 from Cape Union Mart.

 

Bolle Emperor Goggles.

Bolle Emperor Goggles.


The Bolle Emperor Goggles were excellent. Their Anti-Fog technology and air vents worked flawlessly and visibility was good in both high-glare and flat, grey conditions. They fit comfortably and have a wide, almost 180-degree field of view. They’re out of stock online at the moment, but Cape Union Mart should be getting some more stock in soon.

R1199 from Cape Union Mart.

 

7. First Ascent Slalom Ski Gloves

R400 from First Ascent and Outdoor Warehouse.

 

First Ascent Slalom Ski Gloves..

First Ascent Slalom Ski Gloves.


I tried various ski gloves before leaving and found many quite difficult to get off and on. Considering the number of times you end up taking gloves off and on while skiing, a well-fitting and easily-removed pair is essential. For my hands, the First Ascent Slalom Ski Gloves were a great fit. They kept my hands warm, and didn’t stick to my fingers when I needed to remove them in a hurry.

R400 from First Ascent and Outdoor Warehouse.

 

8. Falke Ski Socks

R99 from Cape union Mart.

And then there were the socks. They’re easy to overlook, but might just be the most import item on this list. Cold feet are no fun, and ski boots as I discovered need to be very tight on the feet. These Falke Ski Socks were warm, but most importantly well-padded and non-slip, and I could tighten up my boots without them bunching or stopping circulation. The padding on the front, around the shin, is especially important for skiing. So much time is spent learning forward into the boots, the shins can take a real bruising. Any extra front padding is very, very welcome.

R99 from Cape union Mart.

 

Hi-Tec Altitude Pro Waterproof Boots and Falke Ski Socks.

Hi-Tec Altitude Pro Waterproof Boots and Falke Ski Socks.

 

9. Hi-Tec Men’s Altitude Pro Boots

R2599 from Hi-Tec.

Finally, a solid pair of warm, waterproof boots. Not for the slopes, but for hitting the après-ski in the evenings. Crunching through ice and snow is standard in any downtown ski resort and stepping in a dark puddle of melted snow is pretty much guaranteed. These Hi-Tec Men’s Altitude Pro waterproof boots were completely waterproof, comfortable from the moment I slipped them on, and the traction never let me down on the icy Les Gets streets.

 

Features
  • Waterproof full grain leather upper
  • Abrasion-resistant heel and toecap
  • Rustproof, metal lace eyelets
  • Firm, multi-zoned sole is comfortable from the first moment
  • Vibram® rubber outsole has excellent traction in icy conditions

R2599 from Hi-Tec.

 
 

This review first appeared in the July 2015 issue of Getaway magazine.

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Learn to ski in France for under R20000 all included. Pick up a copy of the July issue to find out how.