Skiing and boarding is an outside winter sport and to enjoy it you need to dress properly. You should always have appropriate clothing for a cold day, no matter what the weather forecast is. While you can rent skis and boots, you must bring your own clothing items. While some ski areas do rent outer layers (jackets and pants), most do have helmets available to rent.
The key to staying warm is layering! Layering can give you better weather protection than one bulky, heavy garment and much more versatility. Successful layering will provide warmth, moisture management and greater wind and water proof ness.
Three layers on your top and two layers on the bottom should work well. The outer layer or is what protects you from the elements (the outer shell of your garment), the middle is your insulator (actual insulation or a fleece or sweater layer) and your first layer is your base layer or underwear that should not only insulate but also wick away moisture from your skin. The goal with these three layers is to keep you warm and dry without adding too much bulk or weight.
The First or Under Layer:
Your first layer on the top and bottom should be thermal long underwear. Your underwear choice is critical and it is the best investments that you can make.You want to choose a close fitting, non-cotton garment that is designed to wick moisture quickly away from your skin. Anti-microbial features will also keep it from retaining odors.
The Mid Layer:
The second layer for your top or torso should be a loose fitting type garment. Your choices range from vests to fleece to sweaters to soft shells to technical tops. Remember that these garments can be used for a wide array of sports, not only in the winter.
The second layer on your bottom is usually also your Outer layer and needs to be some kind of water-resistant pant. Being water resistant is critical… Blue jeans are a bad idea… and remember… what ever pants you’re wearing have to be able to fit over top of your ski or boarding boots… Ski pants and jackets don’t have to be the latest fashion but they should be comfortably loose and most important….water resistant.
The Outer Layer:
The outer layer (third layer) for your top needs to be a water-resistant warm winter coat or ski jacket. This is key to the performance of your clothing as it provides the water and/or windproof portion and protects you from the elements. This layer needs to be waterproof and the degree of waterproofing depends on the weather that you plan to use it in. Be sure to understand the balance between windproof and breathability as both are important and depend upon personal factors as well as usage conditions.
Knowledgeable sales staff at any ski or snowboard shop can guide you through the choices and technical information.
Keeping your feet warm is important to enjoy being outside – so make sure you have a good pair of ski socks. To ensure the best possible fit, you should always try ski boots on with properly fitting technical ski socks. The old myth of wearing the thickest wool sock in the drawer doesn’t work, because ski boots are fitted to the foot and too thick a sock interferes with a proper fit.
A good ski sock will be ultra thin-medium weight and because feet perspire at such a rapid rate, they should have moisture-wicking qualities to move this perspiration up and away from the skin and out of the ski boots. Too many layers of socks will also cause problems.
Having warm hands and fingers makes being outside way more fun!! Bare hands freeze very fast no matter what the weather, so winter mitts or gloves are critical. Mitts or gloves should be water-resistant – cotton or wool gloves are not recommended since they’ll get soaking wet. If you usually find you have cold hands and poor circulation a mitt is warmer than a glove. Look for ones that have a heater pocket to insert a disposable hand warmer for colder days. If your hands are warmer and tend to perspire make sure that your gloves or mitts have a wickable inner liner or a removable liner that can be changed during the day. If your hands get wet, they will get cold! It’s also a great idea to keep an extra pair of gloves in your back pack or ski bag.
Hats & Helmets
Most of your heat loss is through your head so you have to make sure your head is covered up! All ski areas in Alberta recommend you wear a helmet and it will keep your head nice and warm. Helmets are available in a wide range of styles, fits and colors and are available to rent. Purchasing your own helmet is desirable if you are going to ski often. Helmets are insulated and come with many features including venting and removable earflaps.
Sunscreen – Goggles and Sunglasses
Protection from the sun can be just as important as any of the other elements found outdoors. Wearing Goggles or sunglasses is good idea. They will help keep your face warm and allow you to see well if it is snowing or very sunny. LIP BALM, SUNSCREEN…The effects of the sun can be very harmful even in the dead of winter. Wear plenty of both your preferred sunscreen and lip balm even on dull or overcast days. Both will also help protect you from the wind.
For more on dressing for a day on the slopes, check out this great video from our friends at the Canadian Ski Council HERE.