WHAT TO WEAR SKIING: THE ULTIMATE SKI APPAREL GUIDE
If you are new to winter sports, figuring out what to wear skiing is a process. Being prepared for the elements can make or break your experience, and without the right clothes, it can affect your desire to ski all together. The key is finding skiing apparel that will be warm, but not sweaty or stinky, and give you a full range of movement.
There’s no doubt that getting into skiing takes some investment. Skiing clothes are pricey, but once you buy the right stuff, it will last you for years.
If you are new to snow sports, this blog post covers the basics about what to wear skiing, along with the list of ski clothes that I’ll be wearing this season.
Already know what to wear skiing, but need to work on your skills? Check out my top 10 beginner ski tips!
Wanna stay dry while skiing? Then you need a tough outer layer, and which outerwear you choose depends on what type of conditions you will be skiing in a majority of the time. The most important thing is getting an outer layer that’s waterproof. Look for Gortex or something similar that will stay dry when it’s snowing or if you take a spill.
Another major factor to consider with outerwear is breathability. While the technology is getting better every year, generally the more waterproof a jacket is, the less breathable it will be. When I’m skiing, I always wear a jacket with pit zips, which are a quick way to let some air in if you are getting toasty in your jacket.
Next, you have to decide if you want to wear something insulated or a simple shell. A shell alone will not keep you warm and will require additional layers underneath. At the same time, shells or jackets with low insulation are going to be more versatile since you can adjust your temperature by throwing on or shedding a base layer. If you plan on skiing in relatively warm winter climates (spring skiing) or you are using your jacket for backcountry skiing, a shell or jacket with light insulation is the way to go. On the other hand, if you are mostly skiing in colder climates, a jacket with heavier insulation will be more appropriate.
Insulated Ski Jacket
This Patagonia Stretch Nano-Storm jacket is the best winter jacket I’ve ever owned and I wear it skiing all the time. It’s very lightweight, and the stretch makes it very comfortable to move around in. I’ve taken spills in powder and the waterproof material performed well, and the pit zips allow for quick ventilation on warmer days. It’s also got a light layer of insulation, so it’s warmer than a basic shell, but you can also layer underneath for added warmth. At 5’6” and 140 pounds, the medium fits me perfectly.
Insulated Ski Pants
Most ski pants tend to be bulky and baggy. I’m not too crazy about this look, so I searched high and dry for a pair of slim-fitting ski pants. I couldn’t be happier with the fit and function of the Patagonia Insulated Snowbelle Pant. They’re a slimmer fit but still work over ski boots and leave enough space for pair of long johns or warm leggings underneath on those extra cold days. If you take a spill, there’s no need to worry – the waterproof shell will keep you dry and the lightweight insulation will keep you warm. When it gets too toasty, the zippered inner thigh vents can be opened up for airflow. I also love that the adjustable waistline helps create the perfect fit and that these pants are made with recycled materials.
Get tips for choosing a new pair of skis
Skiing Base Layers
Base layers are intended to provide added insulation and quality base layers will regulate your body temp by wicking away sweat while you’re skiing. They come in different weights from lightweight to heavyweight and are intended to be combined depending on conditions.
Base layers come in a variety of materials, and the key is to avoid cotton since it tends to hold onto moisture and be slow to dry. Wool is a very popular material for base layers. In addition to being soft, it’s excellent at managing moisture, stays relatively odor-free, and it has a long lifetime. Base layers can also be made out of synthetic materials, like polypropylene or polyester. These tend to be both lighter and cheaper than wool. At the end of the day, everyone has their own personal preference. If you have a wicking workout shirt that you like, that can also work as your bottom layer as long as you have warmer layers to put on top.
The Smartwool Merino Base Layer Top is a versatile short sleeve top for skiing. The merino wool provides slightly more warmth than a regular shirt, plus it wicks sweat and doesn’t retain odors so you can wear it multiple times without washing. Plus it’s not itchy unlike some other wool products out there, making it great as a next to skin base layer. I personally prefer a short sleeve shirt as my bottom layer because it helps with airflow and gives me more flexibility if it’s a warmer day and I want to cool off after a few runs or if it’s toasty inside the lodge.
Skiing Base Layer Top
This Icebreaker Bodyfit Oasis Crew Top is an item I’m wearing for the first time this season and I love it so far. This base layer is made from soft merino wool that wicks sweat and moisture, making it perfect for active snowy pursuits when you are all bundled up. It’s very comfortable and provides the perfect amount of stretch, and it fits close to the skin so it’s a great base layer with no need to wear anything underneath. This is a versatile piece that you can also use for hiking, backpacking, camping, and any other cold-weather outdoor activities that you need to layer up for. If it’s really cold, you can easily throw on an additional base layer or midweight layer like a fleece or this Icebreaker Half Zip Long Sleeve Tech Top.
Skiing Mid Layer
Skiing Base Layer Bottoms
After being so stoked on my Icebreaker Long Sleeve Base Layer Top, I decided to try out a pair of Icebreaker BodyFit 260 Tech Leggings. Ok, yes, these are a little pricey, but they will be the last pair of long underwear you have to buy for a very long time. These leggings do a great job of regulating temperature, whether it be a spring day or an icy 10 degrees. They fit like leggings rather than a set of baggy long johns, and I love the comfortable waistband. They’re warm, soft, cozy, and versatile and can be your go-to base layer anytime you need layer up for cold temps.
A buff is always a good idea in order to keep the wind, cold air, and sun from hitting your neck and face directly. This Polar Buff is fleece-lined so it’s super soft and cozy, and it can be pulled up to cover your face when you get chilly on the chairlift. It’s easy to breathe through and most jackets will zip up over the buff.
My hands get really cold when I’m skiing, so I choose mitts over gloves since mitts are warmer. The Black Diamond Mercury Mitts are the only ones I’ve found that keep my hands toasty on the coldest days. They also have nice big cuffs that fit over your jacket, which helps prevent any airy gaps between your jacket and your gloves.
Despite popular belief, thinner socks are better than thick socks when it comes to skiing. Darn Tough is a brand I fell in love with on the John Muir Trail. I only had two pairs of socks for 22 days and came home blister-free, and the socks had zero wear and tear. Turns out Darn Tough’s ski socks are just as good. Without unnecessary bulk, they are padded in all of the right places, like in front of the shin and the heel, and the lightweight merino wool stayed glued in place throughout the day. No shifting around in my boot. I am officially Darn Tough obsessed and expect these socks to last through the next several seasons.