What to Wear Skiing: The Ultimate Ski Apparel Guide

What to wear skiing - the ultimate guide to skiing apparel so you have the right clothes for staying warm, dry, and comfortable on the slopes.

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!

Skiing Outerwear

What to wear skiing - the ultimate guide to skiing apparel so you have the right clothes for staying warm, dry, and comfortable on the slopes.
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.
Patagonia Stretch Nano-Storm Jacket // Find this and more in our guide to skiing apparel so you know what to wear skiing to be comfortable on the slopes.
 

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.
Patagonia Insulated Snowbelle Pants // Find this and more in our guide to skiing apparel so you know what to wear skiing to be comfortable on the slopes.

Get tips for choosing a new pair of skis


Skiing Base Layers

What to wear skiing - the ultimate guide to skiing apparel so you have the right clothes for staying warm, dry, and comfortable on the slopes.
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.

Skiing Shirt

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.
Smartwool Merino Wool Base Layer Top // Find this and more in our guide to skiing apparel so you know what to wear skiing to be comfortable on the slopes.

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.
Icebreaker Bodyfit Oasis Crew Top // Find this and more in our guide to skiing apparel so you know what to wear skiing to be comfortable on the slopes.

Skiing Mid Layer

On days that it’s cold, I wear the Icebreaker long sleeve midweight top above and this Patagonia Nano Puff Jacket. This jacket is super warm especially for how lightweight it is and it provides an added layer against chilly winds. This jacket is also great for other activities like spring hiking, camping, and traveling abroad due to how packable it is.
Patagonia Nano Puff Jacket // Find this and more in our guide to skiing apparel so you know what to wear skiing to be comfortable on the slopes.

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.
Icebreaker BodyFit 260 Tech Leggings // Find this and more in our guide to skiing apparel so you know what to wear skiing to be comfortable on the slopes.

Skiing Accessories

Ski Helmet

Get a helmet. All the cool kids are wearing them. In all seriousness though, nothing is going to ruin a good day on the hill (or your life) more than a head injury. The Smith Compass Snow Helmet uses MIPS technology which reduces rotational motion to the brain during impact protecting it from injury. It’s so lightweight you won’t even know you are wearing it, and the snap-in earpads add comfort and warmth. The adjustable sizing allows you to wear it with or without a beanie, and the air vents can be easily adjusted for climate control, even with gloves on. As an added bonus, this helmet is compatible with headphones in case you like to jam while you’re on the mountain. Before you buy, measure your head circumference and refer to this size chart to ensure a snug and proper fit.
Smith Compass Snow Helmet // Find this and more in our guide to skiing apparel so you know what to wear skiing to be comfortable on the slopes.

Ski Goggles

Goggles have come a long way since I was a kid. I have very vivid memories of them fogging up so badly in snowstorms that I couldn’t see a thing. Also, I always wore the same pair, no matter what the lighting conditions were. Not anymore. The Smith I/O MAG S Chromapop Goggles come with two different lenses – one for bright light and one for low light – and are designed so you can easily swap out the lens depending on the weather.  The Smith lenses also have an anti-fog coating to keep them clear. I did experience a bit of fogging up on a very cold day of snowmobiling when I was breathing directly into a thick face mask, but on most of my downhill skiing days, they’ve remained fog-free. The “S” in the name means the lenses are slightly smaller, making these goggles a good fit for women. Finally, when picking your goggles, it’s not totally necessary, but it’s a good idea to purchase the same brand of goggles as your helmet, otherwise you could end up with a gap between your goggles and your helmet, resulting in brain freeze. No thanks!
Smith I/O MAG S Chromapop Ski Goggles // Find this and more in our guide to skiing apparel so you know what to wear skiing to be comfortable on the slopes.

Neck Gaiter

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.
Polar Buff // Find this and more in our guide to skiing apparel so you know what to wear skiing to be comfortable on the slopes.

Ski Gloves

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.
Black Diamond Mercury Mitts // Find this and more in our guide to skiing apparel so you know what to wear skiing to be comfortable on the slopes.

Ski Socks

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.
Darn Tough ski socks // Find this and more in our guide to skiing apparel so you know what to wear skiing to be comfortable on the slopes.

Winter Boots

No one wants to stay in ski boots a second longer than they have to at the end of the day, so it’s a good idea to have a cute and cozy pair of boots to change in to. I have the Oboz Sapphire BDry Insulated Boots. The zipper makes it easy to get the boot on and off, they are grippy on ice, and they are warm and comfy. I also love that they are chic and fashionable enough to wear around town.
Oboz Sapphire BDry Boots // Find this and more in our guide to skiing apparel so you know what to wear skiing to be comfortable on the slopes.

Written by Kristen Bor

Hey there! My name is Kristen, and this is my outdoor blog. I discovered the power of the outdoors in my 20s, at the time I needed it most. Now 15 years later, prioritizing that critical connection with nature continues to improve my life. My goal at Bearfoot Theory is to empower you with the tools and advice you need to responsibly get outside.

6 comments on “What to Wear Skiing: The Ultimate Ski Apparel Guide

  1. Wonderful Post…!
    I like your ski wearing tips and ideas. This is very helpful Post for every ski beginners. Ski wear is most important for skiers because of its ride more easy and comfortable play. It’s protected from cold wheater. I love your Post. You are so creative.
    Thanks for sharing your Post.

  2. Hi,
    I am preparing for my first skiing season. I am 26-year-old women who is going to have her first skiing trip. We are going to Slovakia. At the beginning of December, I am going to the US and want to buy myself a good skiing jacket. I have done a little bit of research and found this “Arc’teryx Women’s Sentinel Jacket” (number 2 in this list: http://www.bestsnowgear.com/best-womens-skiing-jackets/). Actually, I have found good reviews on several sites, so I believe it is a good choice.
    First of all, I love the plain minimalistic design. I don’t like these colorful hip skiing clothes. Maybe they are nice, but not for me.
    Second, I trust the reviews, especially the ones on Amazon.
    The price is not low and I like it. A cheap thing can’t be well-made.
    Do you have any comments on my choice? Will appreciate any input. I am buying the jacket for at least 3-4 seasons, therefore I need to have a durable and comfortable piece of wear.
    Any input appreciated.

    1. Arcteryx makes great gear. The jacket you mention is a shell so you’ll need to layer underneath it since the shell on its own won’t be very warm.
      I currently ski in the Patagonia Nano Stretch Storm Jacket skiing and I love it. It isn’t quite as bombproof as the Arcteryx but it has a lighter layer of insulation so it will be a bit warmer. You can check it out here: https://goo.gl/iB7aqe

  3. Nice article. My best discovery was merino wool. Me and my family every year we go skiing to Alps. And we all wera merino wool clothes. We bought shirt and pants for my wife, kids and myself from green-rose.uk.com and the clothes are wonderful. They keeps us warm but does not let us sweat. I recomend merino to every skier 🙂

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