Dressing properly for a day on the slopes can make a huge difference between an enjoyable ski/snowboard day and one that leaves you wondering why you bothered. Dressing in layers is the key to warmth and comfort.
You may have many basic items for layering in your closet. If not, this is a good time to augment winter sports apparel since many clubs, ski patrol groups, consumer ski/snowboard shows and shops host pre-season swaps in the fall. Visiting swaps can help save some money through the purchase of previously owned, and discounted, quality clothing. Snow sports retail shops typically offer sales in conjunction with a swap. Shop personnel is trained to provide good and logical advice that suit the needs of beginners as well as occasional and dedicated skiers and snowboarders.
Here are some simple guidelines to help ensure your comfort on the slopes.
Base Layer: Thermal underwear and “low to medium” cushion socks will help keep you warm and dry by pulling moisture away from your skin. Look for wool, silk, and synthetic technical fabrics with ‘wicking’ technologies. Avoid cotton; it holds moisture next to your skin making you feel cold.
Insulation Layer: Fleece shirts, flannels, turtlenecks, vests and sweaters are viable options. Neck gaiters, balaclavas and fleece pants are great additions on cold days. These should be just big enough to wear above your base layer but should not be baggy. On colder days, you can double up your insulation layer (you can always shed it). Lean towards wool, wool blends or synthetic fabrics.
Outer Layer: The goal is to keep wind and snow out and warmth in with waterproof jackets, pants and gloves or mittens. Be sure sleeves are long enough and that you have sufficient overlap between your jacket and pants – so snow doesn’t creep in. Top it off with a helmet and a proper pair of goggles (sunglasses are not ideal on colder days). A layer of sunscreen can protect exposed skin from the elements.
Accessories: These play a bigger role than you might think in terms of warmth and comfort. Goggles help keep flying snow out of one’s eyes, but they also keep faces warmer because they fit snugly across the face and partially shield it from colder temperatures. Helmets often are branded as a “safety feature” but they also keep the head warm. Helmets are recommended but hats also keep the head warm. Gloves or mittens protect the hands from getting cold especially if they are treated with thermal materials inside and a moisture resistant coating on the outside.
If the body is warm, it likely will be comfortable. And a comfortable body is the first step to an enjoyable ski or snowboard day, or any day for that matter.