Hitting the slopes is one of the best ways to get outside and stay in shape during the winter months. Staying comfortable, keeping your skin protected from the elements, and conserving heat will help ensure you have the best day possible out on the mountain.
There are several critical components to your ski or snowboard layering system. Your clothes should keep your core insulated, manage moisture, and protect from wind. You’ll need warm base layers, cozy socks, a midweight layer, an insulated jacket, a waterproof shell, a neck gaiter, and toasty gloves or mittens. Your helmet probably provides insulation for your head, but an extra hood or something to pull down over your forehead in case there’s a gap between your goggles and helmet isn’t a bad idea either.
You can make the whole system work better for you by choosing items made with 37.5 Technology. The patented, activated particles within the fibers work to remove heat when you’re hot and retain heat when you’re cold. That helps keep you cool on the ascent but warm when you’re on the chairlift back to the top. It’s designed to help maintain your core temperature at 37.5 degrees Celsius and keep the microclimate next to your skin at the ideal relative humidity of 37.5 percent. Since these particles are permanently built into the fabric itself, the thermoregulating technology won’t wear out over time. To help you get started, here are the essential pieces of gear and apparel you should have before hitting the slopes this season.
Base Layers: This is your next-to-skin top and bottom. Look for an athletic fit that sits close to your skin without feeling restricting. You want your entire range of motion, and your base layers should allow you to move freely. Either a natural or synthetic, moisture-managing material will work, and if you have the option of different weights, consider going for the heavier (warmer) options. This base-layer pant from Homeschool is a slightly looser option that allows for greater freedom of movement, and this tighter pair from Salomon provides a more fitted feel.
Mid-Layer: This is an extra layer of warmth for your core. Look for a solid or microgrid fleece layer that can comfortably fit over your base layers without grabbing the fabric beneath and cinching your arms. A high neck or collar will also keep the drafts at bay. This mid-layer mock from Homeschool has a quarter-zip for venting and a neutral fit for easy layering. Or try this ½ Zip Poursuite from Rossignol.
Insulation Layer: When it’s really cold, your down jacket or vest is one of the most critical pieces of gear for winter sports. This insulation layer protects your core during chilly chairlift rides and fast turns off windswept peaks. Look for 750-900 fill-power down, with at least 10 ounces of fill. Treated down will maintain its loft for longer if it gets damp, and a DWR-treated face fabric also helps protect the down and help it retain its insulating properties. This First Lite Vest is a great option that gives your arms a bit more movement.
Shell: A ski or snowboard-specific hardshell is your best bet here, but a heavier raincoat will work in a pinch. This waterproof shell protects your insulation layers as well as keeps the windchill from dropping your core temperature. A sport-specific jacket has a helmet-compatible hood, a snow skirt to eliminate drafts, and it is burly enough to stand up to the windiest conditions. This high-tech jacket from Ripcurl has all of the components and features of a technical hardshell with the added element of 37.5 Technology fibers that warm you up when you get too cold, and help cool you down if you start working up a sweat.
Shell Bibs or Pants: There are a few varieties to choose from. Insulated pants will ensure warmth on the lift and the turns, but they can get sweaty during touring days. Bibs won’t fall down and can offer a more comfortable fit without the extra waistband to worry about. Bibs, like these from Homeschool, provide additional protection by extending over your waist, and they are a good choice if your shell jacket is on the shorter side. Whatever you choose, make sure your ski or snowboard pants are waterproof with sealed pockets.
Socks, Gloves, and Neckwear: Choose a heavy wool or merino blend for your socks, and make sure they’re tall enough to come over the tops of your boots—often called an “over the calf” style, like these from Point6. Your toes can be the first thing to get cold on the slopes, so be sure to take breaks and loosen the bindings on your boots between runs.
Your gloves or mittens should be waterproof—choose the warmest model possible, and make sure they extend over your wrist to keep snow out. The Legend Thermo from LillSport is a great example. Mittens are typically warmer than gloves since your fingers are housed together and help keep each other warm. On the other hand, gloves allow for more dexterity. Your helmet provides warmth and insulation, but a neck gaiter or balaclava (like these from PAG) can be pulled up over your face to keep the wind and elements off your skin and prevent drafts or snow from blowing down your jacket.
Winter sports are lots of fun—especially when you’re comfortable. Pick out the right gear beforehand and you’ll be smiling all day long on the mountain.
Written by Matcha for 37.5.
Featured image provided by 37.5 Technology