How to Stay Warm While Skiing
Skiing is a great winter activity. There are few things more invigorating then racing down a snowy slope in the middle of winter. It’s a fantastic challenge, and it helps you practice your coordination, determination and patience all at once. It gets you some fresh air and helps you exercise even during the cold winter months when so many other types of exercise might be cut off. Best of all, it’s a lot of fun.
One of the things that’s not so great about skiing is how cold it can get. After all, you’re spending hours at a time out in the chilly snow and ice. The wind whips your face as you glide downhill, and even though you’re generating body heat to help yourself stay warm, it usually isn’t long at all before you start to feel the cold.
Keeping warm even in the midst of a long day on the ski slopes is imperative both for your health and your full enjoyment of this wonderful sport and pastime. If you're new to skiing, you might be wondering how to stay warm in the snow. To answer your questions about what to wear when you go skiing, we’ve put together this complete guide to staying warm on the slopes this year.
Top Tips for Staying Warm
Follow these tips, and you’ll be skiing to your heart’s content without having to stop and worry about the cold.
1. Layer Up
One of the biggest keys to keeping warm while skiing is dressing in layers. It isn’t enough to simply throw on warm outerwear, no matter how insulated or expensive the outerwear is. If you haven’t backed this up with the right layers underneath, these outer layers won’t be able to do their job correctly.
Ideally, you’ll want to start with a thin base layer to wick moisture away from your body. Technical long sleeve undershirts and leggings are an excellent choice for this layer. Avoid cotton for this base layer, as it holds the moisture against your skin, robbing your body of heat and leaving you cold and wet once your blood gets flowing and you start to sweat. Instead, opt for wool or a synthetic fabric that will move moisture away from your skin and keep you warm and dry.
For a mid-layer, try a lightweight fleece jacket or pullover that adds an extra layer of insulation without adding too much bulk. Finally, make your outer layer your waterproof / breathable coat — such as a shell jacket — as well as your ski pants, helmet, mask, hat, gloves and any other accessories you might be packing.
2. Protect Your Extremities
It’s easy to focus on the big-ticket items of outerwear, such as coats and pants. However, it’s crucial that you pay close attention to your extremities as well, since these are often the place to begin suffering from the cold first. Keep your fingers and toes warm while skiing by covering up. Take extra care to wear the right socks and well-insulated gloves or mittens. Don't forget to cover your head as well with helmet that fits properly combined with a neck gaiter or face mask.
3. Keep an Eye on the Temperature
It’s one thing to look at the thermometer and read the temperature, and another still to understand how that same temperature will feel when you’ve been outside in it for hours. Be prepared for those extra cold days by bringing different layering options with you to add when it's colder than normal.
Another weather factor to consider is the wind chill. Wind chill makes the weather seem far colder than it truly is, and this is only amplified when you’re skiing downhill at fast speeds with the wind blowing in your face. Before you commit to hitting the slopes, make sure you check both the temperature and the wind chill to ensure it’s safe and that you are prepared.
4. Make Sure Your Boots Fit
We mentioned that it’s critical to keep your extremities warm while skiing, and this especially applies to your toes. Toes are prone to frostbite, and if you aren’t careful, you could be at risk. One of the easy preventative measures we recommend is wearing boots that aren’t overly tight. This gives your toes a little bit of room to wiggle around and promotes better blood flow. If your boots are too tight, the odds are higher that your toes will be cramped together, lose feeling and be at a higher risk for frostbite.
5. Bring Some Additional Warmers
When you’re out tearing up the slopes, you’ll want all the warmth you can get. If your coat has pockets, consider slipping a hand warmer or two in there. When you’re between runs, you can stick your hands in your pockets and soak up some of the extra warmth. You might also tuck these in your boots or gloves, depending on what type of equipment and clothing you have.
6. Close the Gaps
One of the best ways to keep yourself warm and protected from the cold is to minimize the amount of bare skin showing. This point may seam obvious, but one of the areas that we might neglect a little more easily are the thin gaps between layers or items of clothing. For example, if there's a little skin showing at your neck between your coat and your helmet, add a neck-up or other layer to cover this. Do your gloves not quite reach up to the sleeve of your coat? Make sure you wear gloves with long wrist cuffs. Look for a jacket with a powder skirt to help keep out wind and snow.
7. Think About Packing a Hot Snack or Drink
Nothing warms up your insides more than a thermos of a hot drink or soup. These warm you up from the inside out, helping you generate body heat that can then be trapped and held by all the layers you’re wearing.
This is an especially good idea because you probably aren't drinking enough water while you’re out skiing. It’s important to stay hydrated while exercising. On the other hand, nothing chills you faster than ice water. To stay hydrated while still keeping warm, pack a warm drink in a thermos. It won’t hydrate you quite as much as water will, but it will still do the trick, and it won’t freeze you from the inside-out in the process.
Dress in the Best for Maximum Cold Protection
The single most important step you can take towards protecting yourself from the cold is to dress appropriately. This means not skimping on your cold-weather gear. Don’t just run out to the nearest department store and buy the cheapest thing on the rack. Don’t wear hand-me-downs that have lost what little insulation they had to begin with.
Instead, take the time and spend the money to purchase genuinely high-quality cold-weather gear. Think of these pieces as the investment they are. They’ll last for years, saving you the hassle of continually replacing lesser quality pieces all while giving you some of the best protection available.
Here are just a few of the pieces worth investing in before your next big ski trip.
1. Your Base Layer
Wearing the right base layer is the first step to keep your warm. Base layer is designed to keep you dry by wicking away the sweat from your body. The wrong base layer will actually leach heat away faster due to excess moisture next to your skin. To this end, here are some of the best brands for your consideration:
- Smartwool: For maximum warmth and dryness, we recommend investing in Smartwool. This brand offers long-sleeved undershirts and bottoms for men and women so you can build your entire base layer. It’s made from 100 percent merino wool for the warmest and driest possible fit and comes in many different colors so you can choose your favorite shade. These baselayer staple pieces, such as this gray tee, are the perfect choice to layer over on the slopes or for just keeping cozy inside next to the fire.
- Under Armour: Another baselayer that offers exceptional warmth, Under Armour comes in both men’s and women’s designs in the form of crew-neck shirts and bottoms. They’re lightweight, helping you ward off the cold without bogging you down, and they’re moisture-wicking, keeping you from feeling damp or clammy. Under Armour pieces are designed to protect against any odors as well. These black Base 3.0 leggings are a great example of the cold protection you’ll receive from Under Armour.
- Kari Traa: For base layer that provides warmth and more of a design flare, try the Kari Traa line. Named after designer and Olympic medalist Kari Traa, these are designed specifically for women. Each piece features 100 percent wool for excellent warmth and insulation. Enjoy the variety of beautiful designs and express your personality with the different colors and patterns, such as these rose-printed mauve pants or these black and grey patterned pants, as well as either of the matching full body suits.
- Patagonia: With pieces for both men and women, Patagonia is a solid brand that offers top cold-protection, shielding and insulation. Enjoy these functional and comfortable designs in both crew-neck tees and leggings, such as these Capilene midweight bottoms for men.
2. Your Mid-Layer
These layers are a slightly heavier weight, although they’re still designed to be flexible and lightweight. They’re more concerned with trapping body heat while simultaneously shielding you from the cold outside. A few pieces and materials you might consider for this layer are:
- Nils: This company makes a variety of pieces for women. They offer everything from crewnecks and partial zips to patterned leggings. Try these gray Lucy leggings and this Lexi full-zip jacket. These mid-layers tend to be slightly on the heavy side for added warmth. They’re also fleece-backed and body-hugging for maximum flexibility.
- Kuhl: Featuring jackets and vests for both men and women, Kuhl makes an excellent choice for your mid-layer. They offer one of the highest levels of cold protection for this layer with pieces like this Firefly vest insulated with Primoloft gold that also incorporates four-way stretch to allow for your full range of motion.
- Smartwool: Smartwool isn’t just an excellent choice for your base layer. You can build almost an entire cold-weather suit out of Smartwool, including your mid-layer. Enjoy the Hudson Trail pullover for women and the fleece crew for men. These pieces both use recycled wool to create a cozy and warm sweater that acts as the perfect middle layer.
Never underestimate the importance of high-quality socks when it comes to keeping your feet warm while skiing. For the best protection, here are a few of the best ski socks for cold feet:
- Smartwool: The very warmest in socks, these are an absolute must-have for any avid skier or snowboarder. They’re designed to wick moisture away while also protecting you from the cold. These are available in women’s designs and men’s designs. For slightly less heavy-duty socks, try the men’s ultralight sock and the women’s counterpart.
- Darn Tough: Another fantastic choice that ranks among the best concerning sheer cold-protection, Darn Tough socks are guaranteed for life and feature a comfortable merino wool cushion in addition to their heat-preserving featured. Browse the Mountaintop styles in both men's designs and women’s designs for all your cold-weather needs.
- Heated: If you're looking for a little extra warmth in your toes, you might also try a heated sock. These are powered by rechargeable battery packs and help keep you toasty no matter where you go. Shop both men's styles and women's styles.
The hands are just as susceptible to frostbite as the feet, meaning it’s extra important to take good care of them. The best way to keep your hands warm while skiing is with sturdy weather-proof gloves. A few of our favorite recommendations are:
- Hestra: One of the warmest choices out there, Hestra designs men’s gloves to be extremely waterproof and warm while still allowing the mobility needed for the dexterous movements involved in skiing. This Army Leather Gortex three-fingered glove is just one example of the many functional and warm designs available from Hestra.
- The North Face: Known for their iconic jackets and pants, The North Face also makes high-quality mittens that can keep your hands protected even on the coldest of days. Try these women’s Montana Gore-Tex mittens and experience the difference.
- Gordini: Gordini gloves and mittens have a lot to offer, especially regarding flexibility and cold protection. The Gordini Challenge line in particular features a sleek and effective design that is available not only for men but also for women.
- Marmot: One of Marmot’s top-selling gloves is the ever-popular Randonnee glove gauntlet. This style features a safety leash and a nose wipe while also providing the excellent insulation you would expect from a ski glove. Browse both the men’s styles and women’s styles to outfit your whole skiing party.
You might be decked out in the best of coats, zip-ups, tees, leggings, socks and gloves, but without the final finishing touches, your cold-weather outfit isn’t complete. Here are just a few of the additional things you should consider getting.
- Hats: Never underestimate the importance of keeping your head warm. Browse our extensive collection of men’s and women’s hats from brands like Pistil, The North Face, Patagonia and Smartwool, to name a few. For great unisex headgear, try the Seirus MagneMask Combo Clava. Another excellent headgear option is this Turtle Fur Micro Fur Ninja Mask.
- Extra Layering Gloves: Need an extra layer of warmth beneath your thicker gloves? Try these Smartwool merino gloves and see if they do the trick.
- Apres Ski Boots: After you've spent a day hitting the slopes, you're going to need some footwear. Your snow boots give you traction while also keeping your toes cozy and warm. Try Dublin Apres Ski Boots for a waterproof suede-and-nylon construction. Whether you’re hitting the slopes or just shoveling the driveway, these boots will do the trick.
Stay Warm and Safe This Winter
By incorporating just a few of these pieces into your winter skiing wardrobe, you’ll already be well on your way to warmer, safer and more enjoyable ski trip. Visit Buckman’s for all your skiwear needs. We offer only the best of the best. Stop by one of our seven Pennsylvania locations, or shop our full catalog online.
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