Seems like many of you are already making bookings for the 2015/2016 winter season so here are some tips on buying ski/snowboard clothing in Singapore, as well as online.
Singapore being a tropical country is obviously not a good place to buy ski/snowboard gear. For the budget conscious or those who are still sitting on the fence about winter sports, I have provided some tips on how to cheat with normal winter gear in the basic FAQ post. Or if you are looking to buy normal winter apparel (non-ski), check out where I buy mine in Singapore and online.
New from 16 Jan 2016! Decathlon , a French mass market sports retailer just opened their first retail store in Singapore (at Chai Chee Technopark). They offer a small range of in-house brand ski apparel and accessories. Recommended for those on a budget or not sure if you are ready to invest. Read about my recce trip where I assembled an entire ski outfit for SGD245.
The basics: Jacket, pants, gloves, beanie, goggles
This post explains the technical features of ski/snowboard-specific clothing so you will understand why people still invest in “the real thing” (other than to look cool). I have also provided some examples of where to buy each item, but these are not exhaustive. Let me know if you find any great websites or shops in Singapore selling ski/snowboard gear (technical gear not winter clothing)! See also my Oct 2015 recce trip to Velocity to find ski/snowboard clothing (big time fail IMHO).
Buy buy buy in Tokyo, Japan (Jimbocho station)
Buying online (very important for tropical skiers/snowboarders!): Yes! Buy online! Some online retailers offer direct shipping to Singapore and the “all in” price including shipping should still be lower than buying in Singapore (assuming you can even find the item in Singapore). For those who don’t, you will have to use a freight forwarding service such as VPOST (yux), comgateway, borderlinx (I use this) or ezbuy (I use this). See step by step instructions for buying online from retailers that do not ship directly to Singapore. I have denoted websites that ship direct to Singapore with a **.
- Online ski/snowboard retailers such as Backcountry and Evo (USA): outerwear, accessories, equipment. For the brand-conscious 🙂
- Amazon/eBay (USA): New and used outerwear, accessories, equipment (may or may not ship direct to SG depending on seller)
- **Absolute Snow (UK): outerwear, accessories, equipment. They also refund GST.
- **STL (Korea): Outerwear from USD50. Takes about 1.5 weeks to arrive.
- **winterkids / winterwomen (USA): outerwear, accessories (women and kids only, sorry guys)
- Taobao (China): Have to ship via an agent but as you know, they have anything and everything. Those who are on moral high ground about buying fake stuff, don’t look here! (Here is a good blog post about buying ski clothes from taobao).
- **qoo10 (various): Outerwear, gloves, goggles, neck warmers/balaclavas (usually China-made)
- **dx (HK): gloves, goggles, neck warmers/balaclavas (usually China-made)
- **Carousell (SG): pre-loved items
Outerwear: Jacket + Pants
Why buy ski/snowboard outerwear: Higher degree of waterproofing, sturdier material/seams, and technical details such as :
- Wider/adjustable jacket wrist cuffs, wrist gaiters: Allows you to tuck bulky gloves into your cuffs. Wrist gaiters are additional inner layer that prevent snow getting in even if your sleeves slide up.
- Jacket powder skirt and leg gaiters: Powder skirts prevent snow from getting into your jacket from the bottom, for example when you fall into a big pile of snow or when riding powder and the snow sprays upwards. Leg gaiters are like an inner lining with an elastic cuff that you wrap over your boots to prevent snow from entering via the pant leg. Some have an boot hook or clip for you to fasten to your laces for extra security.
- Air vents with mesh (e.g. underarms, inner thighs): It can get very sweaty and hot when trying to dig yourself out after a wipeout. Unlike trekking jackets, ski/snowboard jacket vents have mesh to prevent snow from getting inside.
- Big zippers and velcro pockets: For easy access even when wearing gloves. No tiny button things or delicate zippers.
My Burton snowboard pants, bought in Jan 2008 from Whistler (A: Air vents; B: Zippered bottom; C:boot loop ; D: Inner leg gaiters)
My STL jacket: USD136 + USD20 shipping, Jan 2014 (A: Snow skirt; B: Lift pass holder; C: Wrist gaiter with thumbhole)
Main types: Either insulated or shell (i.e. only waterproofing without insulation). Insulation may be removable in some jackets for more flexibility (two-piece).
My preference: I have both types but on the whole, I prefer my shell jacket as I seldom use my snowboard gear for apres-ski (too sporty, not my look), and the shell is much smaller to pack. Guys or naturally cool and sporty-looking people might prefer an insulated jacket to use for skiing/snowboarding as well as apres-ski.
Additional tips: In general, boarders dress more baggily than skiers and tend to favour camouflage prints and/or clashing colours. Snowboard pants are baggier not just because snowboarders want to look cool, but also they have to fit around the bulkier snowboard boot.
Where to buy in Singapore (limited range compared to online): Columbia, Marmot, Northface, Planet Traveller, Ripcurl (winter sale- 1 or 2 choices only), Decathlon (1-2 ski jackets and pants, the rest are cold weather hiking jackets), Urban ski (selection of jackets).
Why buy goggles: Sunglasses are fine for first timers but as you progress you will probably want to buy goggles. Goggles provide wind as well as sun protection, are much sturdier, and can be attached securely to your head or helmet (won’t fly off in a downhill tumble and break/be lost forever).
Main types: Some goggle brands have Asian fit for flatter noses. There are many “technical” features such as interchangeable lenses/colors (for different light conditions) but I suspect that these are marketing gimmicks to some extent……
Additional tips: I have seen many older Japanese men wear goggles over their spectacles, although I am not sure how comfortable this is.
Additional tips (kid-friendly): Buy helmet with goggle strap. Otherwise goggles will go missing, FOR SURE.
Where to buy in Singapore: In Dec 2015 I saw some Julbo goggles (French sunglass brand) for sale at Northface (Ion Orchard branch) for SGD150-200. These sell on Amazon for USD50-100 depending on model (wider range online). Decathlon (2 models each for adults and kids). Urban ski.
Why buy ski/snowboard gloves: Higher degree of waterproofing and insulation as compared to normal winter gloves. Some also have elastic straps to loop over your wrist when not in use, to prevent you from dropping them into the abyss- yes, it WILL HAPPEN (you can observe a good number of glove carcasses when riding the chairlift).
Main types: Mitts (two piece) or gloves
My preference: I prefer mitts as these are generally warmer (fewer seams for the cold to seep through). Downside is that you cannot fiddle with zips or bindings with mitts.
Additional tips (kid-friendly): Buy some spares, these also tend to disappear mysteriously.
Where to buy in Singapore: (not great but usable for the price, about SGD20) Winter Time, Coldwear, Decathlon, Urban Ski.
My Burton snowboard mitts (two piece) with elastic loop
For insulation (to a lesser extent) and to prevent chafing. As ski/snowboard boots will reach mid-calf, you should get socks that cover your entire calf and do not slip down. You do not have to get a ski/snowboard-specific brand. Socks are not so much for insulation as ski and snowboard boots are already insulated.
Where to buy in Singapore: Any sports shop
Why buy a helmet: You lose a lot of heat through your head so you should wear a beanie as a minimum when skiing/snowboarding. Many places in Singapore sell beanies, even Daiso (SGD2). However, a helmet is an even better idea- keeps your head warm + your skull intact. Also great for mounting your GoPro. Attaching cameras to goggle straps is uncomfortable at best, and the cameras tend to move around due to the weight.
Main types: A ski/snowboard helmet is like a skate helmet with insulation inside, and has a strap outside to secure goggles. With/without air vents.
Additional tips: Goggles go outside your helmet or beanie so goggle strap should be long enough to circumvent your helmet.
Where to buy in Singapore: Decathlon, Urban Ski
Ski helmet on left vs. skate helmet on right (A: Goggle holder; B: Removable ear pads)
Ski helmet on left (more insulation inside) vs. skate helmet on right
Air vents can be closed or open (USD99 + USD8.50 shipping from Amazon, Jul 2013)
Snowboard/Skis and boots
Due to the bulky nature of these products I would not advise you to buy online (deadly shipping costs). Furthermore it is better to try them out as a good fit is very important.
Main types: Gazillions.
My preference: After evaluating all the technical details, just give up and buy my favourite color combi. I currently ride a Burton board, traditional camber (bought a boy’s youth model ‘cos I’m petite but I hate the girly graphics on girl’s/women’s boards).
Additional tips: Once you have purchased equipment, you will most probably have to fly airlines that do not have dimension restrictions, such as Cathay and SQ. Note that Japanese airlines have a dimension restriction of 203cm (length+breath+height) which is strictly enforced especially for the international leg. Very bizarre and arbitrary.
Where to buy in Singapore: N/A as far as I know although Wooden Boards in Suntec is supposedly going to sell Burton boards. Decathlon offers three models of adult ski boots from their in-house brand (uhmmm, whatevs). [Update May 2016] Urban ski has a very small selection of snowboard boots bindings and boards for sale.
My ride, all from Dogfunk/Backcountry (Nitro Boots: USD108; Burton TWC Smalls board: USD138, Flow Fuse-RS bindings: USD217)
Ski/snowboard shops in Tokyo, Japan (Jimbocho station)
If you are planning to fly with your ski or snowboard (which applies to all Singapore residents of course), you will need a bag to store it in. Do note that features like padding and roller wheels do add to your dimensions (see my comment above on dimension restrictions on certain airlines). It is almost impossible for boarders to meet dimension restrictions, and you may choose to just give up on bags altogether and simply use a neoprene sleeve (bindings need to be removed to prevent damage).
Main types: Roller or shoulder sling (or a combination). Padded or sleeve.
My preference: I would recommend a roller bag for two sets of equipment (too heavy to carry) and a shoulder bag for a single set of equipment (easier to navigate subway stairs and snowy paths).
Additional tips: For those of you who “sayang” your belongings a lot, you will want a padded bag to protect the edges of your board from damage. Or you can be cheapo and just wrap your jacket and pants around the edges. When desperate, masking tape helps reduce dimensions (yes not fashionable I know but it works).
Where to buy in Singapore: Decathlon (non-padded ski bag – one model only). [Update May 2016] Urban ski has one model of snowboard bag for sale (two colours).
Burton neoprene sleeves (camo and rainbow)
See other ski/snowboard tips:
- Skiing for Singaporeans (FAQs)
- 5 Tips to save money on ski trips
- See my must-have gadgets and accessories for snowboarding
- How to use Ta-Q-Bin to transport your ski equipment within Japan