Skiing isn’t always, frankly, easy. Cold weather, blowing and falling snow, and tough snow conditions mean you spend most of the time behind goggles and wrapped in layers.
Spring is time to let loose and enjoy the slopes in a whole new way. When the weather warms, the snow softens, and the sun comes out, whether you’re in the backcountry or at a resort, time in the mountains just gets easier. Wearing the same clothes, gloves, and accessories in the spring as you have all winter will result in you getting far too warm and uncomfortable. But you’re also not going to be taking advantage of the sun and enjoying the warmer temps like you can in the late season.
The spring opens up new terrain as dangerous mid-winter snow solidifies and becomes less avalanche-prone, the snow is very different, and the equipment that you need to ski successfully and explore is unique. So what are the best products for maximizing your fun during a day of spring skiing? I’m here to be your guide.
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In the springtime, a softshell material like the nylon/polyester/spandex fabric making up most of the Outdoor Research Trailbreaker II Pantsis plenty to keep you out of the elements while giving you a major boost in comfort, stretchiness, and breathability — especially when you’re touring in the backcountry. A more durable material just in the lower legs adds a little waterproofing for spring storms and big zips along the upper thighs let you vent even more heat when you’re trucking uphill through corn and spring sun. Pair them with some fleecy pants for apres ski.
Put the mittens away. The Hestra Ergo Grip Incline 5-finger Gloves strike the perfect middle ground for spring skiing, offering just enough insulation to cut the breeze and chill on the descent without letting your fingers get sweaty and gross. The incredibly supple leather on these makes them comfortable right out of the box (unlike other leather gloves) and they have more than enough dexterity to make buckling ski boots a breeze.
After a winter of scary avalanche conditions, the spring is finally when the snowpack gets safe enough to ski steep couloirs and chutes in the backcountry. The Petzl Irvis Hybrid Crampons will give you all the grip you need to boot up them, without taking up hardly any room in your pack. Most crampons are burly and heavy, but these are held together with an ultra-strong cord so they weigh only 20 ounces and pack only slightly larger than a softball. Strap them on and you’ll never realize what they’re made of.
During spring backcountry ski tours, the heavy, wet snow has a tendency to stick to the skins on the bottom of your skis, which creates nasty clumps of snow that make moving uphill difficult. Rubbing a skin wax like the Mountain Flow Skin Wax onto your skins can prevent that from happening. Plus, Mountain Flow’s products are plant-based so you’re not getting any (also nasty) chemicals found in many waxes into the watershed.
Spring is the time for goggle tans, yes, but it’s also a good time to ditch goggles altogether in favor of something with a little more comfort and style. Not only do the Smith Embark Sunglasses look good, but the removable side shields help keep out a lot of the light reflecting off the snow on bright days, keeping your eyes protected. Chroma Pop lenses almost make the world look better than normal, and the glasses come with a goggle-inspired retainer strap to keep them in place in the moguls.
With the transition to spring, the snow turns from shades of powder and ice to soft, slushy corn and a heavier, tougher ski will make your days on the slopes far more enjoyable. The Liberty Evolv 100 Ski can do it all, whether you’re ripping at the resort or skiing a volcano in the early summer. A stiff bamboo and poplar core can handle heavy snow, while carbon fiber keeps them light if you’re touring with them, and an early rising tip makes them fun to carve on groomers.
We get it, nobody enjoys constantly reapplying sunscreen during a day of skiing, but this super handy deodorant-like stick makes it incredibly easy and simple. The Every Man Jack SPF 50 Face Shield Stick is quick and easy to apply (rub on your face then rub it in) and works well enough for the sunniest environments like the snow-covered mountains. The cold makes it easy to forget that you still need sunscreen — don’t!
A good sun hoody is essentially the uniform of spring and summer mountain travel, and nobody has done it as well as Patagonia with the Tropic Comfort II. Loose fitting and flowy, it keeps the air moving while you’re skinning uphill and the big hood protects the back of your neck and ears from the sun. Not to mention the fabric is extremely comfortable and doesn’t get too stinky. Patagonia recently had to drop the shirt’s UPF 50+ rating for not holding up to standards, but the shirt still maintains a rating between UPF 17 and 45, which is plenty.
Don’t forget to hydrate, even at the resort. With the sun out, it's more important than ever to have water with you, layers are more likely to come on and off, and you can ski every second of the long days by carrying snacks and lunch in a low-profile backpack like the Osprey Glade 12. The pack includes a 2.5-liter reservoir and has minimal features on the outside to make getting on and off chairlifts while you’re wearing it safe and comfortable.