Oh, to master the technique of layering for a day of skiing.
If you can ace it, you’ll be warm, dry and happy all day long. It has taken many of us some time to get this down to a science. But if you layer for skiing properly, you’ll feel totally comfortable for a day out on the slopes – which makes all the difference in the world!
How to Layer for Skiing
The best way to layer for skiing is to do it in three key sections:
- Base Layers – should wick away moisture
- Mid Layers – should trap body heat
- Outer Layers – should keep away the wind, rain & snow
This is the recipe for optimal warmth, paired with the flexibility to shed or add layers easily if the weather changes (which it often does in the mountains). Our friends at Ellis Brigham have tons of high-quality options for all your layers, which is we wear on the hill all winter long.
In general, your base layers should fit closely to your body. Merino wool is one of the best materials for base layers, as it’s warm but also wicks away the sweat. Synthetics like nylon and polyester are also good at keeping the moisture off of your skin.
- One pair of Quality Socks – You should always wear one pair of good quality socks, rather than layering them on. This way, you’ll avoid weird lumps in your socks which are painful and can lead to blisters ruining your whole week! The other thing to ensure is that your socks are long enough to come above your boot so that you don’t get any uncomfortable rubbing. There are tons of brands making good ski socks, but one of our favourites is Smartwool. If you want the full low down this article on ski socks covers all the bases, including why ski socks are such an important part of kit, and what socks you should wear.
- Long-sleeve Thermal Top – A form-fitting top will keep you warm and allow for mobility as well. We love The North Face thermals which our instructors and off-hill team wear each year.
- Thermal Leggings – Again, similar to your top, you want a fitted pair of leggings in a breathable fabric. Usually, you can purchase a matching pair of top & bottoms. Also, don’t forget to tuck in your top to your bottoms. If you take a tumble, the last thing you want is snow sneaking up and into your waist. Eek!
Normally, we skip a mid layer on our legs. Our legs naturally stay quite warm, doing lots of hard work on the slopes.
- Long-sleeve Mid Layer – This layer should keep your heat trapped close to your body. The most common material for mid layers is fleece. Other options could be a thin down jacket or a thin merino wool sweater. We like one that zips, so when we’re having a coffee inside, we can un-zip and easily cool down.
The most important part of your outer layer is that it’s totally waterproof. Gore-tex is now widely used and is part of most ski gear, if not other waterproof technology.
- Waterproof Salopettes – Look for salopettes with zippers along the inside or outside of the leg. When you get a little warmer this is a huge perk. There are some that are just a shell and others with insulation – choose what is best for your body temperature, and the time of year you’ll be skiing.
- Waterproof Jacket – Thanks to amazing ski gear technology, you can find a super lightweight & breathable waterproof shell jacket that will still keep you warm. Again, there are jacket options with insulation as well. Most ski jackets these days should include ample zippered pockets for phones, piste maps, lip balm, and a few mini chocolates.
- Waterproof Gloves or Mittens – Cold and wet hands can ruin a ski day! Invest in some high-quality gloves or mittens that are comfy and fit well. For those of you with super cold fingers, technology is here to save you. They now create heated gloves that stay warm for up to 10 hours. Charge the battery overnight and then you can choose the temperature you desire. Seriously, best invention ever?!
- Down Jacket – Throw a down jacket in your backpack in case it gets super cold. They’re very lightweight and you won’t regret it.
- Buff – Lots of people opt to wear a buff to keep their neck & face warm on colder days. These vary from thin cotton or merino wool to thick fleece, so you can choose one that’s appropriate for you and the weather.
- Extra Gloves – The even more prepared throw an extra pair of gloves in their rucksack in case theirs get too wet. Whereas others opt to wear a thin pair of gloves under their waterproof ones. This is totally your preference, neither way is necessarily warmer. There are some great thin gloves that you can use with your smartphone, which is super handy when you need to make a call on the chair or check your Ski Tracks App and don’t want to freeze your fingers off.
And if you only ski once a year, it’s can feel like this is a lot of gear for one holiday. But in reality, the majority of this gear can be used for other outdoor activities and sports – you may already have some sitting in your closet. What’s most important is that once you learn how to layer for skiing, you have the ability to adapt to changes in weather.
If your packing is under control and you’re ready to hit the slopes, why not join one of our group lessons? Learn in a sociable setting and for just a few hours a day, you’ll have plenty of time to ski with family and friends. They’re also great value for money! Find out more about our 5-day group ski lessons or our weekend groups.