Warm clothing is essential for skiing but how do you choose what to wear?
“I’m always cold when I’m skiing so I’m going to buy the warmest jacket I can find!” Stop right there. Staying warm whilst skiing doesn’t mean you have to hit the slopes looking like the Michelin man. Guarantee your warmth and comfort with a good layering strategy. Let us explain why this is a more effective way to keep warm this winter…
The 3 Layers Principal
The 3 layers principal is universal but surprisingly little-known.
The fitted technical base layer. It is the first layer you wear on top of your skin and its job is to wick sweat (which will cool you down) away from your body.
The insulating mid-layer. This should be a lightweight insulated jacket or a fleece. This layer is designed to keep you warm.
The waterproof and windproof layer. A jacket and ski pants to protect you from inclement weather.
Let’s look at each layer one at a time…
Layer 1: The technical base layer
Whilst skiing you will warm up, sweat a little and then cool down (while you’re on the chairlift or in a queue for the gondola). This is why base-layers are your best friend. Choose a synthetic wicking material or a natural one like merino. Forget cotton. Ideal for some clothes, cotton is your nemesis when it comes to sport. Once it is wet it stays wet and acts as a heat conductor taking heat away from your body. Damp cotton can also rub your skin, making you sore. A base layer top is vital whilst you only really need to wear leggings in particularly cold temperatures or if you’re very susceptible to the cold as generally ski pants already have a layer of insulation within them.
There are two types of materials that base layers are typically made from:
Synthetic material base layers (25€-100€ per item)
Cheaper than merino and effective at keeping you comfortable. Beware though, synthetic base layers can become a bit whiffy after a few days. Buy Dare2b synthetic base layers for children and adults when you rent your ski clothing.
Merino wool base layers (40€-130€ per item)
Merino wool is excellent at wicking away moisture and trapping body warmth at the same time. It is a natural fibre that doesn’t hold onto unpleasant sweaty odours meaning less washing! We offer a range of children’s merino base layers from Reima. They don’t itch and will keep your little ones warm all day.
NB: We would recommend this option
Layer 2: Lightweight insulated jacket or fleece?
Now let’s tackle the mid-layer to keep you warm and cosy on the slopes. Whatever you choose heat is trapped in air pockets within the fabric of the mid-layer and between your layers so make sure your mid-layer is not too tightly-fitting. This 3 layer system can be adapted to your requirements. In warmer weather you can leave out the mid-layer or swap it for a thinner layer. If it is colder or you feel the cold more than most you can add a second mid-layer like a gilet. Here are our tips to help you choose a good mid-layer.
Lightweight insulated jacket (synthetic) – €70-300
Insulated mid-layers use different synthetic materials including Primaloft which is warm, breathable and packs down easily into your bag to save space. Prices vary according to weight and warmth. Be wary of bottom of the range options which can be less warm and more bulky.
Lightweight insulated jacket (down) – €100-350
Synthetic materiels are improving all the time but traditionally, down offers a better warmth-to-weight ratio than any of its synthetic cousins. On the ‘down’ side (pun intended!) it doesn’t breathe as well or insulate as well when wet so if you’re likely to sweat a lot, best choose synthetic. Down jackets do compress down well if you want to pack it into your bag though.
NB: These two types of insulated jackets can be found in water resistant and windproof versions so can be used as a top layer on warmer days on the slopes.
Fleece top – €30-140
Fleece is an effective (and cost-effective) insulating layer. Polartec is a good quality option that you may have heard of which is breathable and light. In general the thicker the fleece the warmer it will be but beware of cheap thick fleeces as they may not be very breathable causing you to sweat and become chilly as a result.
NB: A fleece is not windproof so needs a layer on top to protect you from the weather
Layer 3: Ski jacket and pants
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All you need now is a jacket and pant to protect you from the wind, snow and rain. For this you need an outfit with a good quality waterproof membrane (between 10-28k). Read our article for everything you need to know about waterproof and breathability ratings. If you’re not planning to exert yourself too much or think you might spend a lot of time waiting for friends and family you probably want to choose a jacket with an insulated lining. For more energetic skiers or anyone planning to go ski touring, a shell jacket (that is waterproof and windproof but has no insulation) is preferable as it will be lighter and more breathable.
So how will I be most comfortable on the slopes?
Your ultimate comfort will come from staying dry, warm and protected from the wind. Some skiers think that with a good jacket, it doesn’t really matter what you wear underneath. Remember, the three layers mentioned all complement each other. If one of the layers is not doing its job the system won’t be effective (for example, a cotton t-shirt can quickly become damp making you cold). For maximum comfort, dress according to the outdoor temperature and weather conditions and according the level of exertion you expect to put into your skiing or snowboarding.
What if I don’t have the gear?
Oxygene offers ski outfits to rent delivered to your accommodation. They have insulated jackets, pants and gloves to keep you warm, that are waterproof and windproof as well as lightweight for optimum comfort. To complete your outfit don’t forget your base layer and mid-layer fleece or thin insulated jacket and some ski socks.
If you’re still not sure about how to dress for your ski trip give us a call. Trust us, we know the mountain conditions and how to keep warm to get the most out of our time on the slopes.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]