Layer Up, It’s Cold Out There!

by Kirsten Dobroth | January 23, 2018

It’s cold out there! So, how do you keep from feeling the chill while you’re hitting the slopes? We break down the basics (and a few extras) on layering for the ski day so you keep toasty no matter the weather.

Layering 101

Let’s start at the beginning.
First, you’re going to need  go-to base layers. Forget cotton, and go with a simple, long sleeve t-shirt and/or long underwear made from wool, or synthetic material that will wick away any sweat and dry quickly when you get wet. Go for a tighter fit, as you’re going to want to be able to comfortably fit other layers on top of this one.
Next, invest in a mid-layer. A light, down puffy jacket is my favorite thing to wear over my base layer, especially because I can pack it in a backpack (and it doesn’t take up much room or add much weight) if I get warm. Again, avoid cotton, and try for something that’s lightweight, but will any heat coming off your body and act as insulation.
Finally, your most outer layer should be your shell. Aim for a jacket that’s waterproof and has lots of features that will cut the cold, like taped seams. If you’re prone to getting cold, look for a jacket that’s wind and waterproof, but also has some light insulation for added warmth. Having a pair of  wind and waterproof snow pants is also a must, and most people typically like pants with at least a little bit of insulation since they don’t wear a mid-layer below the waist. If you tend to do most of your skiing in warmer spring conditions, however, there are plenty of shell snow pants that are super lightweight and great for days you’re working up a sweat.

Our Favorite Extras

Fit is key! It might seem cool to wear oversized styles, but it’s not warm. You don’t have to rock a speed suit, but aim for pieces that are generally within your normal size range for clothes, as they’ll sit most comfortably on your body and retain the most heat.
If your hands and toes are constantly getting cold, it might mean you’re not properly insulating your core. Try adding a beefier mid-layer or outer layer (like a thicker puffy or fleece as a midlayer, or a ski jacket with some insulation) to the mix to see if that helps, and if you’re still getting cold, opt for glove liners. A slim pair of wool or synthetic gloves to go under mittens or your bulkier ski gloves goes a long way in the cold.
Face protection is key on the mountain, and a lodge full of lobster-faced skiers is living proof. Even if you don’t feel like you’re doing damage to your skin, cold weather and windy conditions can lead to frostbite, fast. A neck gaiter or balaclava can provide just the insulation you need, and many companies make face gear you can pull over your entire head, so no skin will be exposed.

Read more about layering for life in the outdoors.

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