Powder 8s: Spring Skiing Essentials

How to gear up for good times ahead

The sun is shining, the birds are chirping, taxes are due, and the bumps are getting soft. Sure, winter might be over, but skiing isn’t. With sneaker-storms dropping 14 inches overnight in Aspen Highlands and Whistler getting gifted with more than 100 inches this month alone, the spring ski season is looking long and lovely. Sure, we’ll probably all end up straight-lining down to the slushed out base in jorts, a bikini, or a combination of the two at some point this season, to keep your spring sprung as long as possible, best to gear up in the good stuff.

1. Waterproof shell

Sunny skies equal softer snow. Which is good for your knees and your skis, but corn snow can also leave you sopping wet if you’re not wearing the right jacket. Helly Hansens’ Aurora jacket is a slim- and long-fitting shell that is super lightweight and waterproof (thanks to the brand’s nautical roots). Vents are a must, whatever jacket you choose. Heading to the backcountry? The Scott EXPLORAIR 3L provides all the waterproof/breathability of Gore-Tex without the hefty price tag.

2. Vented pants

Hopefully it’s been many, many years since you’ve been crawling around with wet pants (or just crawling around, for that matter). Don’t revert back to babyish ways this spring—stay high, stay dry with the right pair of spring ski pants. Patagonia’s waterproof/windproof Untracked pant allows for exceptional mobility for both hiking and aggressive skiing/après-ing. Mesh-lined thigh vents let in some serious airflow, which you’ll need this spring.

3. Base layers

Sure it’s warming up outside, but it’s still cold enough for there to be snow on the ground. Having a base layer that will help regulate your temperature while you’re swerving through slushy bumps is key to maximizing your springtime experience on the hill. Put away those thicker layers and opt for something breathable like the Icebreaker Bodyfit Zone Crew and Leggings. Made of lightweight 200-gram stretch merino from New Zealand, this undie kit has merino mesh panels in the armpits to dump heat. It will keep you cool on the slog up a mountain and warm and dry on the descent. Another option is the Smartwool NTS Mid 250 Crew and Boot Top Bottom. It’s fast drying for sweaty spring days and is one of few base layers that can be worn out in public; so you strip down to it for a sunny afternoon apres.

4. Sunscreen

Hopefully you’ve been slathering on the SPF all winter, regardless of the temps. Alpine sun is unforgiving and the last thing you need to is to roll into summer with a gaper goggle tan on your mug—not to mention more serious sun-related risks. Throw a tube in your car this spring and look for a waterproof option if you plan on competing in the first ever Pond Skimming World Cup this May. Or if you spill a lot of beer on your face doing this.

5. Sunnies

You’re in a pickle: it’s too hot for goggles, but there are too many golden rays beaming down to let your peepers go unprotected. Solution: you need a reliable pair of shades—something where you don’t have to sacrifice style for function, and isn’t too delicate. (Also the exact same qualities women want in a partner. Just ask Sweet Jane.) More than likely, the makers of your favorite goggs also crank out a rad pair of sunnies.

6. Vented helmet

Just because it’s 50 degrees out does not mean you’re allowed to ski without a helmet. Do you know what kind of out-of-control spring-breakers are out on the mountain this time of year? Better to be safe than unconscious. Anon slimmed down this year with the Helo 2.0 model, dropping the weight to just 370 grams, and changed the ventilation for maximum breeze. The Smith Pivot really nails the style points in addition to having good ventilation and light, not-too-hot padding.

7. Spring gloves

If you went all winter without a good pair of gloves that kept your digitis warm and dry, you’re probably praising the sun gods for the warmer weather. But as much as frozen fingers suck, sweaty palms do too. Scott’s MTN FREE GT PL has a Gore-Tex lining that wicks internal moisture away while still keeping the elements out. Or opt for a pair of spring-friend Mute Sensor gloves from Outdoor Research. The thinly-lined waterproof option promotes dexterity and is touch-screen compatible. Just don’t be the person on the chairlift who takes calls. No one likes that person.

8. Cold beer
Because beer is the best substitute for water, dinner, and social skills, and because it doesn’t get much better than cracking open a cold one at the end of the day while you sun your guns at the base of the mountain. Luckily, we’re not the only ones that think so and ski towns the world over are smattered with good breweries like these.

PHOTO: Courtesy of Mammoth Mountain