When selecting snow skiing clothing it’s important to know how insulation works. A good example is your cat or dog’s winter coat. Fur closest to its body is short, thick, soft, and dense to retain body heat. Outer fur is coarser and longer. It traps air to keep cold out, and sheds water easily. Altogether, your pet’s insulation system keeps it warm and dry without unnecessary bulk. Layering snow skiing clothing lets you simulate insulation while putting the best fabric technologies to work for you.
Still, consider a couple of differences between animal insulation and human needs in skiing clothing.
- Animals don’t perspire like humans do. Your base layer of snow ski clothing needs to wick perspiration away from your body.
- Although too much bulk in skiing clothing will impede your freedom of movement, some bulk is good. Bulk provides padding that gives you protection during that inevitable spill!
Stay warm, dry, and well protected on the slopes by building your ski clothing wardrobe from inside to out and head to toe!
Ski headgear is essential. Consider that 15% to 25% of your body heat escapes out the top of your head before you hit the slopes with just an ear warmer for head protection. Practical skiing headgear also includes goggles, hats, and face masks. Choose skiing head gear according to your type of skiing, your skill level, and your comfort zone.
For extra protection during a fall, consider a ski helmet. Good ski helmets are air vented and equipped with wicking liners to keep your head warm and dry as well as safe.
Unlike sunglasses, ski goggles completely cover your eyes, affording you 180° peripheral vision. They block harmful sunrays, and also protect your eyes from wind and blowing snow. Choose those with lenses that offer 100% protection against UV rays.If you’re skiing in bitter cold for an extended period, consider purchasing a heat-exchange facemask.
A heat exchange facemask returns heat lost during exhaling back to your body as you inhale. Not only does a facemask protects your lungs from cold, it also keeps your face dry and helps the rest of you stay warm, from your body’s core to the tips of your fingers and toes.
Fondly known as “long johns”, base layers are the clothes closest to your skin. Choose non-absorbent fabrics like silk or micro-knitted fleece. These fabrics wick moisture away from your body. Avoid cotton. Very absorbent, cotton is slow drying and becomes heavy when wet.
Wool also makes a good base layer. However, if you have skin sensitivity to wool or wool blends, you may spend your entire day with an itch you can’t scratch!
Many base layers today are built with an eye to fashion as well as function. No longer like the red “union suit”, base layer skiing clothing frequently doubles as casual wear in the ski lodge. Brands like Five Season, Helly Hansen, and Trekmates, provide fashion as well as skiing clothing comfort.
Mid Layer Skiing Clothing
Mid-layer skiing clothes are the sweaters, sweatshirts, fleece shirts, and ski vests that you wear between your base layer and your ski jacket. They come in all types of styles from tank tops to hooded sweatshirts. Mid layer ski clothing provides the insulation and part of the padding that keeps you comfortable and safe.
Choose mid layer clothing that keeps you comfortable yet allows full freedom of movement.
The traditional leg covering for skiing is the salopette, an all-in-one garment designed with warmth as a #1 priority. Although salopettes are still popular skiing clothing, many skiers today favor trousers.
Unlike street trousers, ski trousers need to be both waterproof and weatherproof. They should fit snugly over your ski boots, yet allow you to bend easily at both the hip and knees. Look for features such as a wicking, lightweight lining, extra padding at joint areas, and a waterproof outer shell. Top brands include Columbia, Helly Hansen, North Face, and Spyder.
Gloves or Mittens?
While mittens are warmer, gloves usually give you a better grip and more finger mobility.
Both gloves and mittens should be loose enough to allow for good circulation in your fingers yet tight enough that you can get a firm grip on your poles. In addition, your gloves or mittens should have enough padding to offer protection for your hands during a fall.
Whether you choose gloves or mittens, waterproof styles provide extra protection from cold. Still, it’s always nice to have a spare pair! Special skiing hand wear from manufacturers like Burton, Marmot, and Kombi provide you with the insulation and flexibility you need in both skiing gloves and mittens.
Ski socks should be thick and stretchy, snuggly conforming to your foot without slipping or lumping.
Don’t layer socks. Your layers will bunch and cause blisters. Moreover, they’ll put extra bulk on your feet, impeding your ability to sense changes in the terrain as you ski. Special ski socks feature ready-built layers. Inner layers are made of lightweight, wicking fabrics that draw moisture into outer layers that quickly shed moisture and provide insulation. Many skiing socks feature extra padding for toes, heels, and shins, Look for brands like Thorlo, SmartWool, and Dalgren.
Next to your ski boots, your ski jacket may be the most important piece of your skiing clothing. It’s your first defense against wind, cold, and water. Hooded jackets keep the wind off your neck as well as your back. Although warm, a good ski jacket is also lightweight. Look for those with zip-out liners that let your ski in both the coldest and warmest conditions. Your ski jacket should also be large enough to accommodate thick, multi-layered clothing. Other features to look for include:
- Pockets that zip (to keep your ski pass, lip balm, etc. secure)
- Extra venting zippers
- Stowable jacket hood with drawstring closure.
- Drawstring or Velcro adjustable closures at bottom and cuffs
- Fleece lined collars
Does it sound like too much to ask? Check top manufacturers like Berghaus, Columbia, Mont Ski, and North Face to find the right ski jacket for you.
Looking for more help or want to discuss clothing? Go to Talk Ski’s ski forum.