What to wear to the snow - Layers

Everything you need to know about what to wear when going to the snow.

Smart Layers

A key thing to keep in mind when going to the snow is to be smart about layering your clothing. A good tip to remember is to build your base from the inside out.

It’s not about "the more clothes you wear, the warmer you’ll be" i.e. do you recall that episode from Friends when Joey puts on all of Chandlers clothes?. Very uncomfortable, especially when trying to get down a mountain. Wear the right amount of layers to keep you warm while on the hill.

Start with a base layer

The base layer generally comes in the form of Thermals. It is the layer of clothing worn directly next to your skin and helps to draw moisture away from your body.

Avoid cotton for this layer as it will not dry and only absorb the moisture leaving you wet underneath your outer protective layers. Look for moisture wicking materials such as merino or polyester thermals to keep your body warm but wick away the moisture from your skin to keep you dry as well.

Just ask James Simpson, a man of many hats who launched his own adventure wear clothing label called Opus Fresh.

James says that technology development has allowed non-Polyurethane waterproof material and breathable fabric to absorb, then push out sweat more efficiently. This is what people in the know call ‘wicking’ the process of pulling moisture away from the fabric whether it be sweat or the wet NZ snow and does all of this whilst keeping you warm as well!

James advises that thermals are great for the mountain because they are light, warm and when layered, the most effective way to stay warm and reduce the bulk.

Next comes your mid-layer

Generally, a fleece or technical material jacket will do.. Check out the ones which our snowHQ team are kitted out with http://www.marmotnz.co.nz/content/variant-jacket

Finally, Your Outer layer
Your ski jacket and pants will protect you from the wind, snow, moisture and winter weather elements that you will encounter on the mountain.  If you are new to the mountain, most ski areas and rental places will offer outerwear rental for a very affordable price.

When purchasing outerwear, look out for technical features and fabrics to assist in regulating your body temperature such as zippered openings to allow fresh air to circulate and help evaporate moisture.  If all the info overwhelms you a bit, retail experts will be more than happy to help you select the perfect snow outfit.

Also remember, that if you do get too hot out on the slopes, you can always remove a layer and pop it into a backpack or a locker for use later when and if you get cold again.

The Buyer’s Guide for Thermals

It is best to invest in a few great pairs of thermals in different lengths and styles to go under your outerwear and thrash them throughout the winter season. Thermals with a skimming fit ensures that they won’t be too baggy or too tight.

James recommends merino which has made a comeback in the thermal market. Merino doesn’t smell when absorbing your sweat and is anti-bacterial. If Merino isn’t in your budget, opt for a polyprop that you can purchase from places like Farmers or the Warehouse.

That dorky thermal top that mum made you wear on cold days is history as technology has allowed for thermals to not only keep you dry, but looking good too. Après will never be the same again.

The Buyers Guide for Outerwear

When considering buying a jacket there are normally two options that you can go for – insulated or a shell. A shell is a lighter jacket that protects you from the wind and keeps you dry. Insulated jackets feature lining in the body to give you extra warmth.

If you tend to get hot, then a shell is the way to go, especially if you are cross-country skiing as you are bound to work up a sweat. If it is a particularly cold day and you only own a shell then you can always make sure you wear extra layers to keep you extra warm.

Snow pants today are just like your favourite pair of jeans, where there are all types, ranging from a ‘skinny’ tight-fitting style to a baggier look. Your pants are quite likely to get wet so a high waterproof rating is needed to keep you dry through the thrills and the spills. Remember that your pants and jacket also need to be roomy enough to fit your thermal layers underneath.

The minimum recommended breathability and waterproof rating is 10,000mm or 10k (find out what this means here), while the more adventurous should look for a jacket with a 20,000+mm rating for ultimate durability.

Keep and eye out for these feature stories coming soon:

Part 2: What to wear to the snow - Head & Eyewear
Part 3: What to wear to the snow - Hands & Feet