Little things make a big difference, especially for the comfort and safety of older skiers. Whether going for the day or taking an extended holiday in the hills, a few equipment decisions -- some of them surprisingly simple and inexpensive -- will improve your overall experience. They also make great stocking stuffers.
I consider these indispensable:
1. Accessories tote bag -- One bag per skier for all small gear -- goggles, powder cords, lip balm, gloves, warmers, etc. Use a separate zip pouch for season's pass, coupons, etc. Under $50.
2. Portable boot warmers -- Use them in the car on the way to the hill. They soften the shell, making it easier to get boots on, and pre-warming is a nice way to start the day. Choose the style that works best with your car's electrical system. Under $40.
3. Lightweight, folding chair -- It's the civilized way to get boots on and off. Best to avoid close-to-the-ground camping chairs. Opt for a full size unit. If the parking lot is snowy and wet, use one of the car's rubber mats for protection. Under $50.
4. Glove liners -- Don't know how people ski without them! They add warmth and comfort under a slightly overlarge glove or mitten and offer great protection when the gloves are off. I prefer merino wool equipped with the ability to touch the screen of a smart phone. Whatever the material, they're easy to wash. Under $30.
5. Balaclava -- Not just for bank robbers and terrorists, this snug-fitting head and face covering removes the sting on a really cold day. Opt for one with a poly face section and wash often. Under $30.
6. Small plastic water pouch -- Fits flat in your parka pocket and highly practical when it comes to remaining hydrated and more energetic. Wearable hydration packs may be good for backcountry, but I find them overkill for resort skiing. Conventional bottles are bulky. Most camping outfitters carry smaller plastic bladders with a nozzle cap. P.S. Not just for H20! Under $10.00. http://cascadedesigns.mediavalet.net/AssetViewer.aspx?code=3037bf89-3a91-4b9c-8489-d3ff20cbe043_261baca7-ef86-42c9-9207-a3eed71573
7. Emergency Whistle -- Most likely you'll never need to use it, but get into trouble, and you won't regret the investment. Under $10. http://www.seniorsskiing.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/whistle.jpg
8. Prescription goggles -- Early in my skiing career I realized that glasses and skiing are a poor combination. Glasses fog. Glasses break. A goggle that accommodates a prescription insert is a better alternative. They tend to be pricey and may fog when you overheat. Not all optometrists understand how to fit them. An alternative: contact lenses and conventional goggles. Rx goggles: Under $300.
9. Helmet -- I'm surprised to see older diehards relying on knitwear. Helmets are warm, comfortable and protective. If you hit a tree at 40 mph, nothing will protect you, but for the occasional brush with a branch or a slower fall, helmet is the way to go. Make sure it fits properly. Most skiers are happy with air vents and removable ear covers for warm spring days. Under $150.
10. Candy -- A few hard candies in your parka can overcome dry mouth in an instant. For me, SweeTarts work miracles. -Under $1.00 http://www.seniorsskiing.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/sweettarts.jpeg