For anyone hoping to find a new ski outfit at a bargain price, I have good news and bad. The bad news – for women – is that the offer of a ski jacket and trousers, marked down to £20 for both items, ended a couple of weeks ago. The good news is that between now and Christmas several high-street stores will be selling skiwear that is only slightly more expensive than that.
These are not sportswear retailers, and their stock includes none of the familiar skiwear labels such as Salomon and The North Face. The shops are Lidl and Aldi, Topshop, and H&M (but not Primark, this year); and they sell own-brand skiwear.
Topshop and H&M are at the higher end of this market: the former offers ski jackets and trousers at £90 and £70 respectively, the latter at £60 and £40. Sold in fashion stores, the outfits have a stylish flavour, and – like the rest of the stock – are available only for a brief "season" (though the £20 bargain outfit mentioned above, available last month on Topshop's website, was from its 2013 range).
10 best ski goggles
10 best ski goggles
1/10 Poc Iris Flow
These slick goggles from the Swedish company renowned for its premium ski accessories are comfy and have great anti-fog and anti-scratch properties. “Poc Iris are a good choice for both resort skiing and back-country touring,” says Rupert. £49.99, totalcycling.com
2/10 Smith Cascade
Snow sport expert Smith’s aggressively priced, classically styled goggle is “lightweight and helmet compatible, plus it comes in several bright colours”, says Rupert. £31.99, rxsport.co.uk
3/10 Adidas Originals prescription
Bad eyesight needn't be a barrier to going for it on the mountain. This slick-looking prescription pair has a minimalist frame, so you’ll have wide vision on the mountain. The price will depend on your prescription and treatment of the lenses. From £205.99, rxsport.co.uk
4/10 Anon Helix
Anon goggles are made by Burton Snowboards and are popular among boarders and skiers alike. “The Helix is their lower-end model but is probably the best goggle on the market at this price,” says Rupert. “And they fit really well with a helmet, too.” Available in a range of colours. £49.99, surfdome.com
5/10 Oakley Shaun White Airbrakes
Shaun White is tipped to take gold in the halfpipe contest in Sochi. This fluro pair with interchangeable lenses, a collaboration with Oakley, will serve you in a range of conditions, in and out of the snow park. Ideal for larger faces. £210, uk.oakley.com
6/10 Sinner Fierce Double lens goggles
The spherical lens in these ice cool-looking goggles mean you get a wide field of vision on the slopes. They’re a great fit with a helmet and you can change the lens if conditions take a turn for the worse- ideal for whiteouts. £55, johnlewis.com
7/10 Wed’ze Evo Snow OTG S2
Decathlon is known for stocking good-value sports kit that does its job well. These bargain goggles from the Mont Blanc-based brand are ideal for beginners – not flashy but they’ll serve novice skiers well on their first trip. £12.99, decathlon.co.uk
8/10 Roxy Sunset Art Mirror
Boarders know they can rely on Roxy to come up with funky, high-performing eyewear. The lenses in this pair have had anti-fog and scratch-resistant treatment and fit well with a helmet. £46.90, roxy-uk.co.uk
9/10 Salomon X-View
Wearing rimless goggles means you get an extra wide field of vision when you’re flying down the piste. This sleek pair have mirrored lenses that will block bright light and let you focus on the sport in hand. £65, cotswoldoutdoor.com
10/10 Smith – I/O Recon
“If you love your tech then you’ll like the I/O Recon,” says Rupert. “With an in-built computer display you can view stats such as speed, temperature, and GPS location, and link to your smartphone for calls, to read texts and track your friends.” £465.95, smartbuyglasses.co.uk
The Lidl and Aldi ranges are more "technical" in style, much broader (Lidl offers 18 different garments plus goggles, helmet and sunglasses), and much cheaper. You can buy a man's jacket and trousers from Lidl for just £18. Aldi charges more – a jacket and trousers costs from £37 – but its range is even more substantial: it contains 34 items of clothing for skiers of all ages, among them merino wool base-layers, Nordic-style knitwear, and a top-end range called "Pro" – all of which are new for this season, the 10th in which Aldi has offered skiwear. And boarders aren't left out: for the first time the company is offering a small selection of snowboarding gear for children, in January.
By that time the Lidl and Aldi ski clothing will be gone. Products fight for space in supermarkets, and Aldi's 2014 ski range – available from 4 December – isn't expected to be on the shelves for more than a few days in 2015. And Lidl reckons its stock will be exhausted just two weeks after the launch, which takes place on Thursday. Bargain hunters must move fast.
Given that it is a struggle to find a jacket-and-trousers combo for less than £400 in the specialist ski shops, you may well be wondering what bearing the phrase "You get what you pay for" has on all this. I did try out an Aldi outfit in Austria's Ski Amadé area last December; but of course when you want a blizzard, the sun comes out. It wasn't much of a test, but I was happy with the fit and finish of what were entry-level garments. The impressive new "Pro" range – which, like all Aldi ski products, wears the curious brand-name of "Crane" – is in a different league, and surely worth a bet. What have you got to lose? Only £65 for a jacket and trousers.
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