iStock
(CNN) —  

With many Americans embracing the great outdoors this year, taking up roller-skating, biking and more, you may be wondering how you’re going to keep active — and keep your mental health on track — this winter. Good news: Ski season is just around the corner, and getting started isn’t that difficult.

First, says Dave Beckwith, director of snow sports at Killington Resort in Vermont, sign up for at least one day of instruction for beginners on the slopes. “It’s never been a better time to learn how to ski or ride because when we consider the technology advancements in snowmaking, grooming and equipment, it’s just an awesome time to learn,” he explains.

That, and it’s an outdoor activity you can do while safely socially distant from others. Ahead, we break down everything you’ll need to hit the slopes, with top-rated picks and expert favorites.

Ski helmets

Safety is key, not just for beginners but for everyone hitting the slopes. “Helmets are commonplace now,” says Beckwith. “In the industry, over 90% of participants are wearing them.”

Wildhorn Drift Snowboard & Ski Helmet ($79.99; amazon.com)

Wildhorn Drift Snowboard & Ski Helmet
Amazon
Wildhorn Drift Snowboard & Ski Helmet

It’s tough to go wrong with equipment favored by the US Ski Team, and these well-ventilated, comfortable helmets are available in 10 colorways.

TurboSke Ski Helmet (starting at $34.99; amazon.com)

TurboSke Ski Helmet
Amazon
TurboSke Ski Helmet

Available in five colorways, and ASTM safety-certified, this top-rated helmet is affordable and offers superior padding and protection around the head and ears.

Giro Adult Bevel Snow Helmet (starting at $65; dickssportinggoods.com)

Giro Adult Bevel Snow Helmet
Dicks Sporting Goods
Giro Adult Bevel Snow Helmet

“After a few rides down the slope, it was amazing to me that it was not too hot and did not ruin the experience,” writes a 5-star reviewer about this well-fitting piece.

Smith Vantage MIPS Snow Helmet (starting at $129.95; amazon.com)

Smith Vantage MIPS Snow Helmet
Amazon
Smith Vantage MIPS Snow Helmet

The Vantage offers a great blend of technology and style, including an engineered core designed for impact resistance. One 5-star reviewer explains the importance of protection, writing, “I am certain that if I was not wearing a helmet of this caliber, I could have been much more seriously injured.”

Smith Adult Holt Multiseason Helmet ($75; dickssportinggoods.com)

Smith Adult Holt Multiseason Helmet
Dicks Sporting Goods
Smith Adult Holt Multiseason Helmet

If you’re not completely committed to ski life yet, this multiseason helmet, which is also great for skateboarding and roller-skating, is the perfect investment.

Ski goggles

Good eye protection is extremely important, says Beckwith: “Typically, you’ll want a good pair of goggles that have a universal lens that’ll work well on flat light or on a bright day.”

Akaso OTG Ski Goggles ($42.99, originally $45.99; amazon.com)

Akaso OTG Ski Goggles
Amazon
Akaso OTG Ski Goggles

Offering a double-layer lens design and high-performance hydrophilic coating, these goggles minimize any chance of vision-obscuring fogging.

Alkai Ski Goggles (starting at $14.55; amazon.com)

Alkai Ski Goggles
Amazon
Alkai Ski Goggles

Promising 100% UV protection and distortion-free vision, these goggles have reviewers raving about their quality (despite the price tag) and ultra-comfortable fit.

Wildhorn Roca Snowboard & Ski Goggles ($59.99; amazon.com)

Wildhorn Roca Snowboard & Ski Goggles
Amazon
Wildhorn Roca Snowboard & Ski Goggles

These highly rated goggles have rare earth magnets, allowing for easy lens changes, not to mention they look exceedingly sleek.

Smith Riot ChromaPop Snow Goggles ($74.73, originally $100; rei.com)

Smith Riot ChromaPop Snow Goggles
REI
Smith Riot ChromaPop Snow Goggles

With durable hydrophobic lens coating that repels moisture, grease and grime, you’ll be able to see the slopes as you ski down them in these goggles that reviewers say are particularly great for small faces.

Ski jackets

For first-timers, it’s always good to bundle up and wear layers. As Beckwith explains, “We’ve seen our fair share of blue jeans and starter jackets out there and things, but I always may have been fond of the saying that ‘it’s not bad weather, it’s bad gear.’” Here’s how to bundle up.

Special Blend Women’s Olivia Snowboard/Ski Jacket (starting at $69.99; amazon.com)

Special Blend Women's Olivia Snowboard/Ski Jacket
Amazon
Special Blend Women's Olivia Snowboard/Ski Jacket

Get tons of utility on the slopes with this top-rated Special Blend jacket with an insulated hood, water- and windproof fabric and easy-access pockets.

Equick Men’s Waterproof Fleece Ski Jacket (starting at $49.99; amazon.com)

Equick Men's Waterproof Fleece Ski Jacket
Amazon
Equick Men's Waterproof Fleece Ski Jacket

As stylish as it is practical, this jacket is warm, lightweight and water-repellent. It’s one of the more affordable, quality ski jackets you can find, and we dig the relaxed style and that cozy hood with fuzzy lining.

Andorra Women’s Performance Insulated Ski Jacket With Zip-Off Hood (starting at $99.99; amazon.com)

Andorra Women's Performance Insulated Ski Jacket With Zip-Off Hood
Amazon
Andorra Women's Performance Insulated Ski Jacket With Zip-Off Hood

The moisture-wicking material inside this women’s jacket will keep you dry. Also, just check out all those gorgeous prints.

Men’s Carrabassett Ski Jacket ($169, originally $229; llbean.com)

Men's Carrabassett Ski Jacket
L.L.Bean
Men's Carrabassett Ski Jacket

The men’s jacket features handwarmer pockets and an interior ski pass clip, with a longer length for full coverage and a jacket-to-pant connecting system.

ZShow Men’s Waterproof Ski Jacket ($55.98; amazon.com)

ZShow Men's Waterproof Ski Jacket
Amazon
ZShow Men's Waterproof Ski Jacket

This windbreaker jacket will keep you warm all day with a stand collar, insulated storm hood and elastic cuffs, all designed to keep the weather out and heat in.

Patagonia Snowshot 3-in-1 Jacket ($198.83, originally $399.99; rei.com)

Patagonia Snowshot 3-in-1 Jacket
REI
Patagonia Snowshot 3-in-1 Jacket

This editor’s favorite jacket is very light and warm, zips up to cover the neck and is waterproof, keeping you toasty and dry.

Ski pants

Women’s Swix Universal Bekke Tech Pants ($129.95; llbean.com)

Women's Swix Universal Bekke Tech Pants
L.L.Bean
Women's Swix Universal Bekke Tech Pants

These women’s cross-country ski pants resist wind and water so you stay comfortable. They stretch for ease of movement, making them great for snowshoeing, cold-weather cycling and, of course, skiing.

Men’s Carrabassett Ski Pants ($159, originally $219; llbean.com)

Men's Carrabassett Ski Pants
L.L.Bean
Men's Carrabassett Ski Pants

These pants complement the Carrabasset ski jacket and are designed with extra padding and insulation in the seat and knees so that your wipeouts aren’t that cold. The women’s version is priced the same and offers the same features.

Women’s Craft Warm Train Tights ($59.99, originally $69.99; llbean.com)

Women's Craft Warm Train Tights
L.L.Bean
Women's Craft Warm Train Tights

If you don’t want to fully invest in ski pants, try these Warm Train Tights you can use to keep you warm during winter runs as well.

Salomon Chill Out Bib Pants ($206.73, originally $275; rei.com)

Salomon Chill Out Bib Pants
REI
Salomon Chill Out Bib Pants

Highly rated by REI shoppers, these suspender pants have a special stretch fabric with sealed seams that use AdvancedSkin Dry waterproofing to keep you dry, even in a snowstorm.

Ski boots

Beckwith recommends renting for your first few trips to the slopes. However, he says, “Once you get to that lower intermediate phase in life, and you realize, ‘OK, I want to make this a life sport,’ one of the best first investments you can make is into a properly fitting boot.”

Rossignol Evo 70 Ski Boots ($199.95; rei.com)

Rossignol Evo 70 Ski Boots
REI
Rossignol Evo 70 Ski Boots

One of the best new model boots for true beginners, according to Beckwith, Rossingnol offers a wider boot and toe bed to keep new skiers comfortable all day.

Rossignol Kelia 50 Ski Boots (starting at $181.95; amazon.com)

Rossignol Kelia 50 Ski Boots
Amazon
Rossignol Kelia 50 Ski Boots

What’s great about this Rossingol boot is the relaxed fit, which is perfect for recreational skiers whose priority is comfort on the slopes.

Lange RX 120 Ski Boots ($359.93, originally $599.95; rei.com)

Lange RX 120 Ski Boots
REI
Lange RX 120 Ski Boots

An editor favorite, this is a high-quality boot that’s responsive to minimal input from the skier and comes with swappable soles for hiking.

Skis

While it’s recommended you try a few rental packages to learn which skis are the best fit for you, we’ve rounded up a few favorites to get you started.

Dynastar Legend X96 Skis ($699.95; rei.com)

Dynastar Legend X96 Skis
REI
Dynastar Legend X96 Skis

One of REI’s top-selling men’s ski sets, these 5-star downhill skis are great on all terrains and have a lightweight wood core to keep you soaring.

Rossignol Experience 76 Ci/Xpress 10 Ski Package (starting at $299.95; amazon.com)

Rossignol Experience 76 Ci/Xpress 10 Ski Package Womens
Amazon
Rossignol Experience 76 Ci/Xpress 10 Ski Package Womens

This 5-star-rated ski set from trusted brand Rossignol earns raves from skiers, with one writing, “These are wonderful skis — I feel in control on the mountain.”

Coalition Snow La Nieve Skis ($638.93, originally $799; rei.com)

Coalition Snow La Nieve Skis
REI
Coalition Snow La Nieve Skis

Skis made by women for women, Coalition Snow’s goal is making skis for women that aren’t just smaller versions of men’s skis, and with this pair, they’ve nailed it, according to reviewers who have given it a solid 5-star rating.

Writes one reviewer, “The La Nieve fulfills all my needs of a ski being light, responsive, stiff and most of all fun! On top of that, they’ve withstood being tossed around in helicopter baskets, on the back or the cat, on European trains and handled quite recklessly. They still look almost new.”

Ski poles

Pick up a pair of poles to help with slowing down on the slopes and guiding your path downhill.

Zipline Ski Poles Graphite Carbon Composite ($79.99; amazon.com)

Zipline Ski Poles Graphite Carbon Composite
Amazon
Zipline Ski Poles Graphite Carbon Composite

For a step up, these highly rated US Ski Team Official poles deliver lightweight graphite-carbon technology and no-slip hand grips.

Rossignol FT 500 XC Ski Poles (starting at $24.99; amazon.com)

Rossignol FT 500 XC Ski Poles
Amazon
Rossignol FT 500 XC Ski Poles

For a spin around the park cross-country on cross-country skis, you’ll want these simple but effective poles from Rossignol to propel you forward.