Learn to ski this season without breaking the bank

Learning to ski is daunting. Where do you even start? Check out this post for must haves and how to rent and learn on the cheap. Point of view is from a Toronto girlie who took up skiing AND snowboarding when covid started.

First and foremost, yessss so glad you're looking to get on the slopes. I'm going to go through four topics in this blog post.

1. How to learn

2. Where to learn

3. Bare minimum gear you need to get started. Equipment and extras.

4. Some tips to get going.

How to learn

Let's start with the first topic. How do learn to snowboard or ski. This depends on whether you want guidance in person in the form of a formal lessons (pricey option) OR self taught on view Youtube (saves you lots but may result in some bad form).

The former option is a lot easier but comes at a cost. You can sign up at the local ski hills in your area and take a weekend or weeknight lesson. This will most likely cost you a few hundred dollars but you will have an instructor to guide you on learning proper technique. The latter option is Youtube university. This is personally how I learned how to get on both a snowboard and skis and proved to be pretty ok down the line. A few years after learning online (savings lots of $$$) and practicing on the hills, I'd say I'm pretty ok and can get down double blacks in the west coast with ease but there are some techniques and form that I do find I have to focus on fixing. If you have deep pockets, or are in your 'treat my self' era, I'd recommend taking lessons.

Where to practice

Now that we've decided on a learning style, where do we go to learn? All you need to get started at first is a slope and skis or a snowboard. If you can make it out west to the mountains and learn great but unfortunately, some of us live in the east coast and have to do our best with the hills the east side have to offer. If you live in Toronto/ GTA for example, there is a small hill (one lift and it's super short) in North York named Earl Bales park. The rates in CAD$ are posted below (as of Jan 9th, 2024) and is accessible by public transit as well.

Lift passes daily cost (as of Jan 9, 2024)


Equipment rentals daily (as of Jan 9, 2024)


If not a local park, you can search for local ski hills. This may require driving away from the city/ renting a car but some resorts may have shuttle buses from major stations.

Bare minimum gear to get you going

Most resorts/ parks/ facilities offer skis / snowboards, poles, boots and helmet that you can rent for the day. Below is a list of items you'll need to bring:

1. Goggles can be purchased on Amazon, Sportchek, SportingLife, etc. For your first pair, since you're new at this, don't get an expensive pair. You'll find that as you start skiing more, your preferences may change and knowledge on gear will increase so don't splurge on a beginner pair. Check out reviews online.

2. Gloves. I'd recommend a good pair of warm gloves for your day. If possible, I'd layer it up with a thin pair and thicker shell on top.

3. Neck warmer/ Buff/ Something to keep your neck warm. I wouldn't recommend a scarf here as I find that they are too bulky - if you don't have a neck warmer though, no worries, use your scarf. Try to find something like this below. As you get better and more experienced, you'll find merino wool and other wool products that you can buy but for starters, something like this works.

Zollen 1/3/4Pack Neck Warmer Fleece Windproof Neck Gaiter Snood for Men Women Face Tube Scarf Headwear

4. Warm socks. A good smartwool ski sock is perfect but not necessary.

5. Base layer, this can be a warm layer of leggings or workout long sleeve shirt.

6. Ski / Snowboard jacket and snow pants. If you don't have a ski jacket, a general insulated jacket will do (check out the pic below) but be wary that you may fall and damage your coat so don't wear expensive coats to the hill. If you don't have one and don't want to splurge or spend, I'd recommend checking out the local thrift shop for an old pair. Sometimes ski towns have the cutest vintage / retro finds if you get lucky. Same goes for snow pants.

Helly Hansen Alpha 4.0 Insulated Ski Jacket

Other tips

  • Snacks: You're going to get hungry so pack some cliff bars or chewy bars in your pocket.
  • Pocket and hand warmers: I don't use these but they are available if you run cold. They are portable hand warmers you can get at costco or any sports store.

Little Hotties Hand Warmers (Choose Quantity Below)

  • Pack a lunch - this is optional, most places have overpriced food you can buy.
  • If you have a thermos, pack some hot chocolate. Also optional, most places will have overpriced hot chocolate you can buy.
  • Pack a water bottle. You are technically working out and will get thirsty, stay hydrated.

That all about sums up how you can get started this season. Happy skiing and feel free to leave comments or questions!

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