My "gap year" in the Alps and my new favourite ski gear.

If I could tell my 12 year old self that in 7 years time I would be getting paid to ski as a qualified instructor having secured my place at a prestigious university, I would ask my genie for a million pounds because surely I have 1 wish left..

I’ve had several short-lived dreams in my life but returning home from one particular ski holiday many years ago, having spent every chair-lift ride up and every ski down watching or following the Ecole du Ski Français (ESF) instructors, my career had been determined for me. However following a lot of internet browsing and a determination to teach specifically in France it seemed my new dream was too far out of reach. Downhearted and surprisingly quick for my usual self to give up on something, I put my head in my books and drove my passion into my education, which one step at a time led to me acquiring an unconditional place at university. Therefore I would not be doing what I truly wanted to do but instead what I thought I should be doing, and what it seemed everyone else around me was doing. 

But that changed as I kick-started my “gap year” training to be a ski instructor in Verbier, Switzerland because following sixth form I was a burnt out, exhausted and uninspired individual who may have crashed and burned at university had I not found the opportunity to rediscover a 12 year old’s dream and find some passion again. But everyday since arriving in the mountains, I question myself as to whether this gap year will really end in September, or whether I could truly turn what was once a dream into a career. I do not want to put down the concept of university, here in the UK we are fortunate enough to have access to some of the best global educational services but I have recently discovered that doesn’t mean that everybody has to use them. 

They say things happen in 3’s. Following getting accepted onto my ski training program and then unexpectedly doing so well at sixth form, I was presented with the opportunity to work for this up and coming ski wear company who were just as excited as me for my own future. Having spent a week of most years of my life in some fantastic corner of The Alps I’ve experienced many different ski outfits, from zips breaking in -28 degreesC to ripped knees after my no longer old and trusted salopettes said no to a powder day. If this season has taught me anything so far, it’s that I can keep my dad’s vintage carving skis but I need to modernise my outfit!

Red 7 Skiwear has allowed that to happen, skiing in a one piece does not only allow you to face-plant hard and repeatedly whilst staying snow-free in the best powder The Alps have seen since I was born (which I wouldn’t understand at all of course), but it also provides you with true freedom of movement. I have never been able to ski in such cold temperatures but with so few layers on meaning that instead of being entirely bulked up but somehow still cold from the lack of movement of air, I am the warmest of all my colleagues. Furthermore there really are some places snow shouldn’t go, but no matter how hard you try in a jacket and pants combination, it still does; and whilst my roommate has to shake snow out from under her jacket whilst we learn to master so much powder, in my suit I could continue skiing warm and dry. 


Sophie Eckley, Verbier 2018


What I find particularly superb about this ski suit is the design of the hood which can still be worn up when wearing a helmet, a necessity in my opinion with the mountain at the busiest it’s ever been and keeping you protected and safe against any storms you may be faced with. This hood design also acts as another brilliant barrier against the very cold days. What might be the most surprising thing about the suit is that you do not over heat on the warmest days, the leg and arm ventilation allows fresh air to circulate around the suit keeping you cool, and you can simply add or takeaway a layer depending on the weather. 

The transition to a one piece was initially a little bit different, at après ski for example you can’t just take your jacket off and leave it in a corner but this also means your jacket cannot be left behind. The size and quantity of pockets on the suit also means that extra glove liners, balaclavas and hats can come with you during the day or be taken off at après, thus limiting the need for a rucksack and meaning nothing can be left behind. The suit is an all around fantastic piece of equipment which has transformed my experience on the mountain, especially with the quality and quantity of snow we have had during this freak season. It has certainly taken a primary place in my winter wardrobe and will be following me around the world as I discover different countries, conditions and mountains and I’m excited to have Red 7 Skiwear also join me along the way. 

Sophie Eckley
Follow Sophie on Instagram @sophieeckley  to see how she's getting on in Verbier and possibly even get your hands on a Red7 discount code.