I've been skiing for 16 years - here are the 8 essentials I'd recommend for any beginner

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  • I've been skiing for 16 years, and many of the essentials I use now are ones I used when I was a kid.
  • Whether you're a first-time skier or have done the bunny slopes twice, you'll need certain gear that you can't rent - though I'd definitely recommend renting skis and poles.
  • Here are eight essentials that all beginner skiers will need, like water-resistant pants, anti-fog goggles, a well-fitted helmet, and more.

I've been skiing for the past 16 years, and while my parents have stopped packing my bag for me, the essentials that I bring to the slopes are the same things that any beginner needs. The only difference is that now, I bring my own poles, boots, and skis.

As a beginner skier, you won't need to purchase your own skis and boots like I do as it's much easier to rent. You will, however, need basic skiing essentials like thin layers, pants, helmets, and goggles, and even smaller items that even seasoned skiers might forget like lip balm with SPF and hand warmers.

Here are eight essential items beginner skiers will want to have before venturing up the mountains:

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A snow helmet with MIPS protection

A snow helmet with MIPS protection
Men's Maze MIPS Snow Helmet, $140, available at Sun & Ski Sports Women's Allure MIPS Snow Helmet, $140, available at Sun & Ski Sports

As a new and beginning skier, you're going to fall. A lot.

That's why you need a quality helmet. You could spend as little as you want on everything else in this packing list, but you're going to fall more than you can imagine as a beginner, so a properly fitted helmet is imperative.

They're not the cheapest ones on the market, but Smith's snow helmets are super lightweight and have a low profile, making them great for beginners who aren't yet accustomed to wearing helmets.

This one also has MIPS protection, a system designed to help protect your head from smashing directly into the side of the helmet. You probably aren't ready for steep runs, back bowls, and moguls just yet, but you should wear a helmet even on green runs.

Anti-fog goggles

Anti-fog goggles
Scott Faze II Goggles, $79.95, available at Backcountry

It's difficult (and painful) to ski without goggles, especially if it's a snowy or windy day, but this essential is often underestimated.

Goggles obviously protect your eyes so you can see when you're going down the mountain, but they should also help block out harmful UV rays without fogging up. A lot of rental goggles are don't fit well and you run the risk of them fogging up, which can affect your vision.

These Scott Faze II Goggles feature rounded lenses for increased visibility and anti-fog treatment for clear vision. The goggles have double-layered foam for a secure and comfortable fit and a strip of silicone along the back strap to help prevent it from slipping off your helmet.

Base layers to keep you warm

Base layers to keep you warm
Smartwool Men's Baselayer Crew, $100, available at Backcountry Smartwool Men's Baselayer Bottom, $100, available at Backcountry Smartwool Women's Baselayer Crew, $100, available at Backcountry Smartwool Women's Baselayer Bottom, $100, available at Backcountry

I'm going to caveat this one by saying that I've never worn dedicated base layers when skiing, and my current base layer outfit is nothing more than leggings and a thin long-sleeve shirt. If it's really cold, I'll throw on a Norwegian wool sweater.

That being said, I'd still suggest them for beginner skiers because temperatures are often unpredictable and even falling can make you sweat up a storm, so thin layers will come in handy. These midweight shirts and pants from Smartwool are made with merino wool and easy to layer underneath jackets and ski pants.

Water-resistant ski pants

Water-resistant ski pants
Women's Arctix Snow Pants, $20-$59, available on Amazon Men's Arctix Snow Pants, $19.95-$79.99, available on Amazon

Unless you want to ski wet and half-frozen, a great pair of water-resistant snow pants are absolutely necessary. These Arctix snow pants are best sellers on Amazon, and are our top pick as the best snow pants because they're affordable, keep you dry, and are rated to keep you cozy even when temperatures drop down to -20 degrees Fahrenheit.

Check out all of our picks for the best men's, women's, and kid's snow pants here.

A warm ski jacket

A warm ski jacket
The North Face Men's Mountain Light Triclimate Jacket, $349, available at The North Face The North Face Women's Mountain Light Triclimate Jacket, $349, available at The North Face

This jacket has two parts — an outer shell with pockets and a hood, and a puffy goose-filled liner that can be removed.

The fabric of the outer shell is waterproof and 100% windproof, which is great for pizza-ing down the side of a mountain. Every possible opening from the pockets to the hood is fully adjustable and can be tightened for added protection against the elements.

Gloves that you can still use your phone with while wearing

Gloves that you can still use your phone with while wearing
Burton Women's Gore-Tex Gloves, $41.97 (originally $69.96), available at Backcountry [You save $27.98] Burton Men's Gore-Tex Gloves, $69.95, available at Backcountry

Burton's Gore-Tex Under Gloves will keep your hands dry and warm no matter what season you're skiing. These gloves have removable fleece liners for breathability during the spring, or you can keep them on for extra warmth during winter.

The gloves also have synthetic leather that makes it possible to access your phone's screen so you can take pictures without having to take off your gloves.

Tall socks specifically made for ski boots

Tall socks specifically made for ski boots
Men's PhD Pro Freeski Socks, $30.95, available at Amazon Women's PhD Pro Freeski Socks, $30.95, available at Smartwool

For years, Smartwool has been my favorite brand for ski socks.

These PhD Pro Freeski socks are high enough to cover your shins, making them perfect for ski boots. They also have light cushioning for comfort and mesh panels for breathability. These socks aren't the thickest, so if you're renting boots that feel a little too big, you may want to double up on these.

A super-soft neck warmer for cold days

A super-soft neck warmer for cold days
Turtle Fur Heavyweight Neck Warmer, $14.99, available at Amazon

You don't want a big, heavy scarf that'll get in your face as you're skiing, or worse, become loose. A neck warmer will get the job done without adding bulk or unraveling halfway down the mountain.

Turtle Fur makes the original fleece neck warmer, and I've personally accumulated multiple throughout the years. These are super soft and keep your neck warm on the coldest days.

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