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What to wear skiing

29. November 2023

Are you gearing up for an exhilarating day on the slopes? Whether you're a seasoned skier or hitting the mountains for the first time, knowing how to dress appropriately is key to a comfortable and enjoyable experience. In this comprehensive guide, we'll take you through the essential elements of ski attire, helping you stay warm, dry, and ready to carve those pristine runs.

How to layer for skiing and snowboarding

There are no one-solution-fits-all scenarios when it comes to dressing for the slopes. The temperature and weather conditions can differ greatly depending on your location. Additionally, your activity level will vary throughout the day. You might feel cold in the ski lift while sitting still, but going downhill will increase your heart rate and activity level, causing you to feel warm and sweaty. The key is to dress in layers. Then, you can regulate your body temperature during various conditions by adding and subtracting layers.

Base layer

The base layer provides warmth, but its primary function is to wick moisture away from the skin. We recommend merino or synthetic base layers for skiing. Synthetic base layers are more durable and have exceptional moisture-wicking properties, while wool is naturally odour-resistant and thermoregulating.

Choose the weight of the base layer depending on the temperature outside and how easily you feel cold or hot. Lightweight and midweight base layers are usually best for skiing.

Smart base layer features for skiing

  • Calf-length base layer bottoms to avoid excess fabric in your ski boots.

  • Integrated balaclava to prevent cold air from reaching your skin at the neck.

  • Half-zip at the neck for better ventilation when you feel hot and sweaty.

Mid layer

The mid layer insulates and helps keep you warm during cold days. We recommend a fleece and/or a lightweight insulated vest under your ski jacket. They have a high warmth-to-weight ratio, meaning they are warm without adding too much bulk. If you have an insulated ski jacket, a mid layer might not be needed.

Smart mid layer features for skiing

  • A full zipper allows for effortless layer changes throughout the day.

  • A hoodless high neck seals out chilly air and layers smoothly under your ski jacket.

Outer layers

There are two different types of outer layers for skiing: shell clothing and insulated clothing. When it comes to ski clothing, insulated options provide built-in warmth and simplicity but can be bulkier and less breathable. On the other hand, shell clothing offers versatility, breathability, and customisation but requires effective layering for warmth. Your choice depends on your preference for warmth and flexibility on the slopes.

What to look for in a ski or snowboard jacket

  • Ski-pass pocket: Gives you easy access to your ski pass when at the lift. No need to remove your gloves or mittens!

  • Inner cuffs with thumbholes: Soft inner cuffs with thumbholes are easy to wear inside your gloves and mittens and prevent cold air or snow from getting inside your jacket.

  • Mesh pocket for gloves or mittens: A big mesh pocket on the inside of your jacket is a convenient and breathable way to store your gloves or mittens when you take a break. The mesh allows wet or damp gloves to dry out more effectively and does not trap snow or moisture inside the pocket.

  • Powder skirt: A powder skirt, or snow skirt, acts as a barrier around your waist and prevents snow from entering your jacket or pants—a good feature when you take a tumble or venture into deep powder.

  • Helmet-compatible hood: Raising your hood while wearing your helmet is great for windy and chilly days on the slopes to prevent cold air from getting inside your clothing.

  • Ventilation zippers: When you get hot and sweaty, the breathability on your clothing may not be able to keep up. With ventilation zippers under the arms, you can expel hot and humid air more quickly, improving moisture management and preventing overheating.

  • Wind and water protection: Your ski jacket should be at least wind-resistant and water-repellant. However, if you frequently fall or encounter wet conditions, choosing a waterproof ski jacket may be better.

What to look for in ski or snowboard trousers

  • Bibs: The higher design makes for a more secure fit and prevents snow from getting inside your trousers. But they are also more challenging to get out of during bathroom breaks.

  • Snow gaiters: Snow gaiters are inner cuffs with elastic that you can secure tightly around your ski boots. They prevent snow from entering your trousers or boots.

  • Reinforcements at the ankle and hem: Tough scuff guards and reinforced hems provide more durability and protection against sharp edges.

  • Reinforced seat: Reinforcement at the seat gives extra protection when sitting down in snow or the ski lift.

  • Ventilation zippers: Quickly expel hot and humid air inside your ski trousers to improve moisture management and prevent overheating.

  • Wind and water protection: You should at least have wind-resistant and water-repellant ski trousers. But if you often sit or fall in the snow, waterproof trousers would give you more protection.

Accessories for skiing

Ski socks

Select knee-high socks made from moisture-wicking synthetic fibres or wool to ensure comfortable and dry feet while skiing. A snug fit prevents the socks from slipping down and bunching, while strategically placed cushioning in the shin, heel, and toes helps absorb shock and minimise pain during prolonged skiing sessions.

Neck warmer or balaclava

Neck warmers or balaclavas are versatile accessories that prevent cold air from entering your jacket, keeping you warm and protected from the elements. Opt for breathable, moisture-wicking materials like fleece, wool, or synthetic blends. Many neck warmers and balaclavas can be worn in different ways to suit varying weather conditions.

Gloves or mittens

Ski gloves or mittens should be waterproof to protect your hands from wet snow and wind. They should also be insulated to provide extra warmth. Synthetic insulation is a good choice since it’s quick-drying and more moisture-resistant than down. Gloves typically offer better dexterity than mittens, as each finger is individually insulated. Mittens, on the other hand, provide superior warmth, especially in extremely cold conditions.

Smart features for ski gloves or mittens

  • Reinforced palms and fingers make the gloves or mittens more durable to withstand the wear and tear of skiing.

  • Long cuffs with Velcro or cinch closures prevent snow from entering the gloves or mittens and keep your wrists warm.

  • Wrist leashes prevent your gloves or mittens from getting lost if you accidentally drop them.

Ski Goggles

Your ski goggles should provide clear vision and protection while also being comfortable. Look for goggles with a soft foam lining to provide a comfortable seal around your face and ventilation to allow air to circulate inside the goggles. A good airflow and an anti-fog coating will prevent condensation from forming on the inside of the lens, ensuring clear vision in all conditions.

What is VLT?

VLT stand for Visible Light Transmission and indicates the percentage of light that passes through the lens. Lower VLT lenses are darker and better suited for bright conditions, while higher VLT lenses are lighter and better for low-light conditions.

How to dress for different temperatures

Warm weather

0°C to +10°C

When skiing in warmer weather, it is essential to dress in lightweight, thin layers that focus on moisture-wicking and breathability. Layering like this will help you stay cool and comfortable, even when active. Merino wool or synthetic base layers, fleece or thin wool mid-layers, and lightweight shell jackets and pants are all ideal choices for warmer-weather skiing.

Cold weather

0°C to -10°C

As the temperature drops, adjust the level of insulation to keep warm. With an insulated outer layer, opt for a more lightweight base layer to prevent overheating while you’re active. With a vest as a mid layer, you can add insulation to your torso without adding extra bulk that can restrict your arm movements. 

Extremely cold weather

-10°C and lower

In freezing weather, layering is crucial. Instead of relying on a single thick outer layer, wearing multiple layers can keep you warmer and drier. Additionally, a shell layer offers superior weather protection and breathability compared to insulated clothing. This versatility is particularly beneficial when temperatures and activity levels fluctuate.