Beginners Guide to Winter Wear on Ski Fields
Date: 14th July 2018
When preparing for skiing or snowboarding, dressing for warmth and comfort is far more important than dressing for fashion, and if you are new to colder weather it can be challenging to know where to start. Looking at snow gear can be a daunting task as there are so many different products with flashy features and sometimes scary price tags. Are you preparing for your snow season or winter holiday, but unsure what you’ll need? – Read on! This guide is going to tell you what you need, what you need to avoid, and other useful pointers for your days up the mountain.
What you wear is a key factor in your day on the slopes; being cold and miserable is no fun and can directly impact how much you enjoy skiing or snowboarding.
Remember, skiing or riding (what the cool kids call snowboarding) is a physical activity and it is important to have a good range of motion. More layers is not always better- what you’re wearing matters too. The most important thing to remember is to avoid cotton at all costs. Cotton absorbs all types of moisture- water, sweat, and snow- and does not dry quickly. Having cotton close to your skin is setting up for a wet, cold and smelly day on the slopes.
With that in mind, let’s work our way through starting at the bottom!
Ski and snowboard boots are designed to keep your feet warm and dry, leaving the socks to provide cushioning and ventilation. If there was one thing I recommend having a bit of a splurge on, it’s a good pair of ski socks; Stick to materials such as merino wool, (again avoiding cotton) for the best moisture wicking, warmth, and odor control. Bulky socks are unnecessary, although you may want to choose a pair with some strategic cushioning. Some ski socks have extra padding on the shins and heels for those high impact places! Make sure your socks fit snugly so they will not move or cause lumps and blisters.
Definitely do not double up on socks! This will only overheat your feet, and rub or cause blisters.
Tip:If your feet are very cold, it may be that your boots are too tight. Having tight boots cuts off the circulation to your feet and also doesn’t allow space for air to warm to keep your feet warm.
The best way to bundle up is to follow the 3 layer guideline. This allows you flexibility to add or remove layers depending on the weather conditions.
You may not realize it but you will sweat quite a lot on the slopes! Having a thin moisture-wicking layer close to your skin will keep you dry and warm. Choose a long-sleeve top and a pair of bottoms- you may prefer to have ¾ length so as not to interfere with your socks, it’s about what works best for you!. Again, materials such as synthetics or wool are best. Although a little pricey, merino wool base layers are the best as they do not absorb odours and you will be able to wear them multiple days in a row and still smell fresh!
- Mid layer
The mid layer is all about keeping heat in by trapping warm air between the fibres. Try to choose fabrics that do not absorb much moisture; fleece is a good one as it insulates even when wet, and dries quickly.
The outer layer is for keeping the wind and snow off while out on the slopes, and having waterproof items is important for both your top and bottom half. Leave garments like leggings and track pants for your first layer, as they will only absorb water. Do not wear jeans at all, as they are not made of flexible material, they absorb water and become wet and heavy and will leave you miserable and cold. Insulated snow pants are most functional; as a beginner you will fall over, spending plenty of time in the snow.
No winter jacket or pants is entirely waterproof, as manufacturers have to balance water resistance and breathability of the fabric. You will see numbers such as 10,000mm or 10K. This system describes how much water is able to sit on a fabric before it leaks through. The higher the number, the more waterproof the fabric is. Although not ideal for a downpour of rain, these fabrics hold up long enough for a happy day of skiing.
These items are not typically ones you may have hanging around in your closet, they are easy items to rent, taking the decision out of your hands and helping to keep costs down.
Choose a warm, waterproof pair of mittens or gloves. Having wet and numb fingers is no fun and makes it difficult to focus on the task at hand. Frostnip or frostbite is a real threat for bare hands!
Tip: You may want to chose a pair that have a strap, otherwise attach a string to each and thread it through the sleeves on your jacket. This is a great way to keep your gloves nearby and to make adjustments with no fear of dropping one off the chairlift!
Notice I said “helmet” and not “beanie”; Wear a helmet, all the cool kids do. Having a ski or snowboard specific helmet will keep your head warm and safe. Carry a beanie to thrown on underneath in case you get cold.
-Goggles or Sunglasses: Sunglasses are fine for warm sunny days, but you may want a pair of goggles for windy or snowy ones. Covering your eyes is important for the glare off the snow, and will keep your face warm, and make it easier to see in adverse conditions!
-Sunscreen: you may not think of it in the winter, but being on the snow is an easy way to get burned.
-Backpack: Carry a backpack for snacks and water so you don’t have to take as many breaks. It’s also great for adding or removing layers depending on the weather
Tip: Choose a flatter backpack, or try not to pack large bulgy items, this will be easier to ski and ride with, and make riding the lift more comfortable!
–Some goggles come with two lenses, for better vision in different conditions.If your goggles come with two lenses, having the extra one in your backpack is a great idea for rapid changes in weather
And last but not least, have fun! Being prepared for your day on the slopes will set you up for success. Skiing and riding are highly addictive and you’ll be hooked in no time!
– Remember the temperature at the base will often vary drastically from the conditions at the top! Layer up and prepare for changing conditions in an alpine environment
-if you are self driving to the mountains be sure to take your gear out of the car each night. Cold boots are no way to start out.
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Written by Emily Parker.