There are some basics to layering right for the ski season!
First step: Making a game plan.
First things first, checking the weather report and snow conditions will influence your selection of winter layers for the day ahead and any additional items you may need to pack. Once you know what the day could look like and decide what type of riding you'll be doing you'll know what to wear and how to pack.
Is it a blizzard outside? Freezing but sunny? Sunny and windy? Maybe it’s a blue bird day with a high of 60 degrees. Either way you’ll need to know how to dress the part and handle the elements if you want to enjoy a full day on the slopes. We always check the days forecast before heading out and pack additional layers if necessary. There's no shame in the rip and strip game, because conditions are never certain for the full day.
Type of Skiing
Are you going to the resort or on a ski tour? For resort riding, we generally dress warmer since we'll be riding chair lifts to the top instead of skinning or hiking. This usually consists of a mid-layer under a shell. If going for a ski tour, we generally start out colder and pack extra warmth in our backpack: down jacket, beanie, buff, extra mittens and socks along with emergency essentials and our food and water for the day.
Next step: The basics.
We all have a process of how we get dressed in the morning and having a routine ensures that no step goes unchecked. Start with the toes. Some of us at Gear.com like to start with our socks first so they lay flat under our long johns and not bunch up, making the boot battle an easy win. Socks first, then base layer pants or if you’re one who doesn’t love multiple pieces or the gap opportunity brought on by a separate top and bottom combo, Corbeaux makes great one pieces to solve this issue.
Things to consider when buying ski socks.
Buying the right ski socks really comes down to your personal preference of thin vs. thick socks. Many people mistakenly purchase thick socks thinking they typically have cold feet due to lack of warmth when in fact their cold toes are a result from overheated piggies and lack of moisture wicking fabrics. Enter Merino Wool. Merino will not only wick away moisture but does not hold onto the sweat which can create the rich stinky smells we all hope to avoid. The majority of ski socks today feature a blend of wool and a synthetic material like polyester which improves elasticity and heat retention.
How to select the right base layer for your activity.
Moisture wicking base layers are an absolute must for winter activities. As the first layer against your skin, a snug fit is recommended to achieve full warmth and moisture wicking potential. A top and bottom or onesie made of synthetic material like polyester or natural Merino Wool will deliver on both fronts.
Next step: Facial protection and mid-layers.
Even though it’s cold out, remember to layer responsibly i.e. don’t over do it and end up sweating so much that you actually freeze! It’s possible to have too many layers but having the right layers will prevent any mid-day chills when your body is starting to warm up.
To avoid forgetting this crucial piece of clothing, we like to suit up with all our base layers at once and this includes our neck tube or gaiter, which should go on before the snow pants and after the ski socks. A gaiter will not only protect your face from any harsh winds or cold snow but will also shield UV rays any time of year.
Adding a mid-layer of insulating down or breathable polyester can be your saving grace on those particularly chilly days. Want more? Mid-layers provide the protection required for sunny spring days without overheating your core or adding weight to your pack, plus they look pretty sweet for après ski dinner and drinks.
Next step: The outer layers.
When selecting an outer layer we recommend checking the technical specs and, based on your local season patterns, choosing the appropriate level of water resistance and warmth to your climate. Coastal towns will have wetter, colder winters than inland, whereas Rock Mountain towns should select outer wear with a Durable Water Repellent (DWR) finish.
How to select the right ski jacket or shell.
When selecting between an insulated jacket or a waterproof shell consider the elements you find yourself in most. If you're like us, you'll want your jacket to perform off the ski hill just as well. The next question to ask is what activities off the hill do you find yourself in most? If your outerwear needs to also function for hiking the dogs or shuttle kids back and forth between activities an insulated jacket is going to be perfectly warm and stylish, but if your off the slope activities involve more extreme sports like climbing or running a shell that works with insulating mid-layers is going to be your go-to solution.
How to choose the right ski pants or bibs.
To bib or not to bib, that may be the biggest question to ask yourself when deciding on ski pants. In our opinion, bibs are great for touring because they allow for easy access to your beacon and other essential items without overly exposing your core to the elements. They also rock during the spring months when the riding is a bit warmer and less layers are ideal- you can wear a mid or baselayer under your bib and bend over back-crack free. Bibs for the resort however pose an additional layer contraption when striping layers or taking care of business on bio breaks and typically run at a higher price point than most ski pants, something to keep in mind.
Pro Care Tip
We recommend pulling out all your winter gear and accessories from any bags or vehicles and unpacking them somewhere they can lay flat or hangout to dry completely. This will prevent any bacteria from growing and causing the athlete stink we are all too familiar with, plus your stuff will fully accounted for and in one place for when you're ready to head out the next day.