Snowplay is the activity of playing around, playing in, throwing, laying in, building with and even eating: snow.
This article is to help all those who just want to know what to prepare for the first time they or their kids go to the snow. This article is not about skiing or boarding.
The Basic Facts
There are a lot of things about the snow that you won't know the first time you go. There are a lot of misconceptions about it as well.
Getting to the Snow
There are many different ways to get to the snow. For a first timer they all need explaining. A good bit of advise is that nearly all ski resorts have a website with a page devoted to getting there. Also all the resort articles on this site have a part on getting there.
The most common way to get to the snow is driving. If you are driving you need chains, they are absolutely essential. If you are only going to the snow for a one off time it is a better idea to hire the chains, which you can find in most alpine towns.
Flying and Bus
You can fly into any major city near any ski resort and get a bus into the resort itself.
What to Bring
Below is a list of things you will need for Snowplay (not for if you are skiing or boarding).
It is not necessary to wear ten layers of clothes even on a really cold day.
Basic Snow Clothes
Parkers - A Parka is a type of jacket with multiple layers designed to withstand freezing conditions. The outer layer is a canvas-like material that is waterproof and windproof. The middle layer/s are like a padding that provides insulation. The inside layer was originally and sometimes still is made of fur. This layer is also for warmth but also comfort and is often now a synthetic silk-like material instead of fur.
Pants - By Pants I refer to ski-pants or snow-pants which are long pants similar to a parker in design. They are designed to withstand freezing conditions.
Both parkers and pants will rarely get cold and even low to mid-shelf range ones will keep warm and comfortable at the snow. It is not worth buying these unless you live at the snow or in an alpine town where you would go to the snow on a weekly or monthly basis, otherwise it is much more sensible to rent these items.
Gloves are the most inconsistent item of clothing and cause the most problems, especially for first timers due to the fact that gloves are not available for hire as a hygiene standard. Because of this first timers will usually buy the $15 pair of gloves at the rental store and will regret it tomorrow.
All gloves get wet. This is the inevitable. However when $15 gloves get wet they also get very cold and then your hands get very cold too. When your hands get very cold they get very painful.
Gloves completely depend of the situation and how long your staying for.
If you are at the snow for any more than a single day, good quality gloves are a must. Even when you aren't handling snow, gloves will still become wet and cold which then becomes wetter and colder and so on. When gloves get wet and cold so do your hands which will soon get so cold that they feel like they are burning.
This is the worst feeling, but fortunately usually only happens skiing and boarding, because when you are just playing you can go inside and warm up pretty fast. For Snowplay you also really need good quality gloves or a spare pair of gloves to change into, as they WILL get freezing cold and wet after only five minutes of making and throwing snowballs. This if fine and wont bother you until you stop and go inside
The other important thing is shoes. Sneakers will get soaking wet and your toes will become very painful. For Snowplay you must again have either proper snowshoes