I am new to snowboard. I am not yet prepared to spend a lot of money on it. I know a special jacket for skiing is better but won't it suffice to just use normal urban jacket for skiing in the beginning?

Is a normal cheap non-specialized jacket that bad for this activity?

I'm going to a ski resort at about 1,600 meters. Last time I was there, it was unnaturally warm in Winter with about -1C temp. But I can't predict weather next time.

To answer one of the comments, I was going to go for a snowboard rather than ski, but itsn't there no difference? I have never heard of jackets made for ski or snowboard specifically.

  • 3
    This is not answerable with the information you provide: On a nice and warm Spring day you see people skiing in shorts and tshirts (don't do it :P ) - so this depends mostly on the conditions you ski/snowboard in and also on what this "non-specialized" jacket actually is. In the end you need to be warm enough - that's about it. In a resort, safety (regarding freezing) isn't really an issue as you can get to a warm place quickly.
    – imsodin
    Dec 7, 2017 at 12:59
  • What I should have made explicit: The above means that to get a helpful answer you should provide more information about the resort you will go and what conditions can be expected when you ski (you might not want to ski if its snowy/windy/freezing cold anyway) as well as some kind of description of your "normal" jacket.
    – imsodin
    Dec 7, 2017 at 14:30
  • I'm talking about ski resorts. Guides advice to use very expensive complex jackets with special anti-wetness, vent, sweat removal and flexibility capabilities. As well as a lot of other clothes for managing sweat, moist and air. It's very costly and I wonder if it's that necessary for a novice.
    – Gherman
    Dec 7, 2017 at 15:42
  • 1
    The way you formulate it, the answer is clearly no, you don't need that kind of fancy stuff - but that's my opinion (=bad). If you e.g. intend to go to a resort above 3000m asl and to ski in any conditions in a simple fleece jacket you probably will run for a warm place after the first lift ride. That's why I am asking for more details. You could also turn the question around and ask what minimal requirements a jacket needs to fulfill to get you through a pleasant day of skiing in conditions you need to give a rough description.
    – imsodin
    Dec 7, 2017 at 16:12
  • something like 1600m asl. Last time I was there it was unnaturally warm in Winter with about -1C temp. But I can't predict weather next time.
    – Gherman
    Dec 7, 2017 at 19:53

1 Answer 1


As for most outdoor activities, you can certainly get by with non-specialized clothing for skiing and snowboarding. As @imsodin points out in the comments, a ski resort is (compared to a lot of outdoor settings) a pretty safe place to make a mistake about clothing: if you find yourself too cold or wet, you can get indoors quickly; if you stay on-piste, your chances of death or serious injury from exposure are practically nil. Another advantage is that you're only skiing for, usually, a few hours per day; if your clothes get soaked, they have >12 hours to dry out overnight before you go back out.

Ski-field conditions can vary hugely in terms of sun, wind, air temperature, and precipitation -- even during the course of a day. Whatever you wear needs to be able to deal, to some extent, with any conditions you're likely to encounter. If there's a chance you'll hit freeze-thaw conditions, you'll want a jacket, and preferably trousers, that's reasonably waterproof. You're unlikely to find yourself skiing in pouring rain, so serious full-on waterproofing isn't essential, but your jacket should at least be able to handle a bit of sleet and wet snow without soaking through.

I skied for years without any specialist clothing, though admittedly only for a week or so per season. Initially I was using a cheap, sort-of-slightly-water-resistant jacket and overtrousers, sized fairly large, with as many layers of synthetic thermals and fleeces as required to keep me warm on the day. For my first time skiing or snowboarding, I definitely wouldn't invest in a specialized jacket. Even if you end up buying one later, you'll be able to make a better selection once you have some experience on the slopes. There's no question that a specialized skiing/snowboarding jacket makes life more pleasant, but it's by no means necessary.

As a slight aside, there are three things you will want to think about: gloves, goggles, and a helmet. Ski gloves are thicker than most everyday gloves, and layering is seldom effective: you can get away with a light glove liner and generously sized outer glove, but in general you risk reducing your circulation and making your hands colder if you try to stack up too many gloves (source: bitter experience). Goggles are also hard to substitute with everyday equivalents: in good conditions you can get by with a decent pair of wrap-around sunglasses, but even cheap goggles do a lot better as soon as you have wind, snow, or sweat to contend with. As for the helmet, you can probably hire one, but check the prices: often it doesn't take many days of rental charges to equal the purchase price.

  • For most purposes the difference is one of degree, not one of kind. Sep 15, 2022 at 3:04

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