Downhill skiing is one of the most popular winter sports in the country. Every year, nearly seven million Americans hit the ski slopes. This dwarfs by a factor of three other winter sports such as cross country skiing and ice hockey. Only the ever increasing in popularity sport of snowboarding comes close with a little over six million snowboarders in the country.
Skiing is a great all around exercise. It's excellent for strengthening the upper leg muscles such as the thigh as well as the lower calf. A season of skiing will strengthen the shoulders and back and will help to trim your stomach. Skiing is also excellent aerobically. Experts estimate that an adult skiing with moderate effort, will burn anywhere from 300 to 500 calories an hour.
But in addition to its exercise benefits, Alpine skiing is also an exhilarating sport. Nothing quite compares to it. Olympic caliber skiers can top 80 miles per hour. But for a novice, even skiing at 5 miles per hours is a thrill.
So what are the wearing basics for alpine skiing? There are six essentials that every beginner should start with:
UV Rated Goggles or sunglasses – No, these are not just for style, although stylish sunglasses are always cool. You need sunglasses or goggles with a good UV protection rating. UV light can do real damage to the eyes ranging from simple sunblindness to major cataract problems. The best UV rated sunglasses are 100% UV protective and most are reliably inexpensive.
Hat – You can lose up to 80% of your body heat through your head. Most heat, as we know by now, escapes through the head. A good ski hat will keep you warm, even in the coldest of temperatures. Some of the nicer hats will even have ear protection.
Sunscreen – Skiing is a fun sport and you can easily spend an entire day on the slopes and in the sun without realizing it. Sunscreen serves the same purpose on a ski slope as it does on a beach. On an especially bright and sunny day, you can get a sunburn in as little as 20 minutes. A good sunscreen will protect you from the sun's UV radiation and from sunburn.
Gloves or mittens – to keep hands warm. If you want the best, you can pay well over $ 100 for a pair of ski gloves. You'll want gloves that breathe well, are flexible, with some water proofing, and that are warm. Mittens are generally warmer than gloves, but gloves are more stylish and will do fine in most cases. Pick whichever you are more comfortable with.
Jacket and pants – to keep warm and protect you from hypothermia. The main feature you want in a ski jacket and pants is that they are water proof. This usually means that you want ones with a good polytetrafluoro-ethylene or PTFE membrane. PTFE is often laminated to nylon and polyester materials giving them excellent water protection but still allowing them to breathe. Of course, you will want jackets and pants that are warm and stylish also.
These are the minimalist clothing basics that every skier should have in order to have the best experience possible on the mountains.