If you’re freezing your extremities off while skiing, you’re not wearing the right ski wear. If your clothing is soaking wet by the end of the day, you’re also not wearing the right ski wear. If your number one priority is looking cool on the slopes, you’re likely wearing the wrong ski wear too! If any of these apply to you, you should definitely give this guide a read. You should feel comfortable while you’re skiing so make sure you’re wearing the right gear to get the most out of your skiing holiday.
Functionality is king
When buying your ski wear, don’t pay too much attention to the aesthetics of the gear you’re selecting. You should be paying the most attention to the actual functionality of the garments. Look closely at the information on the labels and make sure to ask the staff what they would recommend. Take note of desirable features like a convenient pocket for your mobile phone or ski pass, or zippers that are easy to do up and open. A snow guard in ski jackets or trousers is also good to look for. These features may not seem important in the shop, but picture yourself on the slopes in an emergency, no pocket to stash your phone in…
Onions have layers, Skiers have layers…
The onion skin practice used by lovers of extreme mountain sports and arctic explorers is one that is very successfully applied to the sport of skiing.
You should have three layers of protective clothing consisting of thermal underwear, then an insulation layer (a warm fleece etc), and then finally, an outer waterproof layer (your ski jacket). The three layer technique ensures your body is prepared for the harsh cold while skiing. If the weather conditions improve, it’s always possible to carry a light rucksack or carrier so you can remove a layer. This way your clothing can change flexibly with the weather, and you always stay the perfect temperature.
Thermal Knickers are a Must
The first layer is the most important in keeping you warm and dry. You should avoid T-shirts and other garments made of 100% cotton and instead go for functional thermal underwear specifically crafted for snow sports. The synthetic fabrics and wool they are made of provide great thermal insulation and allow moisture to escape easily.
Don’t get Wet
The many layers that make up your ski gear each have their own benefit. The outerwear (your ski jacket and trousers) must be 100% waterproof, breathable, and windproof. The materials that are used to make this layer are continuously being updated as technology develops, so each ski season brings with it improved, better-adapted ski wear.
The Price is(n’t) Right
Expensive ski wear is not always the best. Price does not mean quality. You’ll find functional ski wear, sufficient for a one week holiday on the slopes in the lowliest of discount stores. However, you might find that your ski wear becomes ever so slightly less waterproof with washes. High-end brands offer more expensive, breathable ski garments made from higher quality materials, which are thus likely to last a tad longer than their budget counterparts. A good rule of thumb is to make sure your dedication to skiing is backed up by your wallet. Plan to ski every winter? Then it’s wiser to invest in the bigger brands.
Got to be Free
Whilst skiing, you are continuously moving. It is therefore important your ski wear lets you do this without restriction. When you’re in the changing rooms, close your eyes and imagine you’re sailing down the slopes. Nice, right? You can feel the cool breeze in your face, you bend your knees to take a jump and…What’s this? Your trousers have ripped? How embarrassing. It’s well worth practising a few of your best ski moves while trying on ski wear to ensure they’re not going to be constraining you in any way. After all, it’ll only be you that knows you jumped around like an idiot in the changing rooms, but it’ll be everyone that sees the massive hole over your backside on the slopes.
Ski wear trends are just as ever-changing and varied as fashion trends. Many styles have come and gone, including the one-piece adult ski suit that haunted the 1970’s, (thankfully). If you’re looking to be the trendiest snow bunny on the slope, bright, colourful ski jackets and trousers are very in at the moment, and dull colours like brown and grey are currently out of the question.
Feet, Hands, & Head
Your ski socks should fit your feet well, not be too thick, and be made of specially adapted materials to prevent sweating. Your ski gloves must be 100% waterproof and be able to keep your hands warm too – this is particular important for snowboarders as they spend a lot of time with their hands buried in the snow, (or the avid snowman builder, of course). Thin inner gloves can also be worn if you suffer from cold hand syndrome. The most important piece of ski wear is of course your helmet to protect your head from injury, this should be both well-fitted and well-ventilated.
To Buy or To Borrow, That is the Question.
The reality is that a comprehensive ski wear set with all the aforementioned elements can work out to be very expensive, that’s on top of the price of the ski holiday – which doesn’t tend to be cheap. It can be a good idea to either borrow ski wear or buy discounted or second hand and work up to a complete set of your own.
Getting Your Money’s Worth
Get the most out of your ski wear by wearing it, not just during your ski holidays, but during the winter back at home too. If you opt for more neutral colours, a ski jacket makes a great companion for a winter walk. Ski socks make fantastic, cosy house socks for winter nights, and thermal underwear is a marvel that can be worn for a variety of activities in cold weather.