How to Dress for Skiing or Snowboarding

A simple guide to layering for winter conditions

June 29, 2015.nwt3k.4 Likes.1 Comment

How do I dress while skiing or snowboarding? What are the best layers for winter? We’ve put together this basic winter and cold weather laying guide to help answer the most common questions on how to best dress for cold weather conditions and shredding on the slopes.

Think in Layers

The best clothing solution for skiing and snowboarding consists of three layers:

Layer 1. Base Layer

Layer 2. Middle/ Insulated Layer

Layer 3. Waterproof Outer shell / Protection Layer

Base Layers

This is the “next to skin” layer. Base layers are designed to help regulate your body temperature by moving moisture (sweat) away from you skin. Popular base layer fabrics today help skiers and snowboarders stay dry (from the inside out) when exercising large amounts of energy.

Common base layers include

Polyester is the most common material used to make base layers today. It’s breathable, wicks moisture, and dries fast. Polyester may be blended with other fibers such as stretch materials like Spandex for more comfortable performance.

Polypropylene is a historical favorite and has been worn by skiers and snowboarders for years. It’s lightweight, breathable and dries quickly. Many people still wear polypropylene long underwear. However, some people dislike the texture of the material, so polyester has generally become the more popular choice amongst skiers and borders today.

Silk is a natural, lightweight, breathable and moisture-wicking material. While silk can be very comfortable against the skin, it’s not as durable as polyester or polypropylene and is usually more expensive.

Middle / Insulated Layer

This layer is worn over your base layer and designed to retain heat by keeping air close to your body. In simple terms, it helps keep you warm. There are many insulated mid-layer options available, however, we recommend goose down or fleece for their warmth and added breathability features.

best mid & insulated layers for skiing and snowboarding

Common mid layers for winter conditions include:

Polar fleece – warm, synthetic fabric originally created by the Polartec® company. Polar fleece provides an excellent warmth-to-weight ratio and is most commonly made from polyester, which makes it breathable, moisture-wicking and fast-drying.

Pile fleece – a variation of Polar fleece and also called brushed fleece, has a soft, fuzzy texture that captures more air and therefore provides additional warmth.

Down insulation – providing the highest warmth-to-weight ratio available in winter weather clothing. In extremely cold and windy conditions, down vests and jackets make excellent insulating layers under a waterproof ski jacket shell.

Waterproof Outer Shell / Protection Layer

This is the layer that protects you from snow, rain or wind and keeps you dry. A waterproof ski or snowboard jacket shell is crucial to staying warm and comfortable while skiing and snowboarding. We recommend choosing a waterproof / breathable shell that has a waterproof rating of 15,000mm or higher. See our guide on how waterproof fabrics and jackets work for a closer look at fabric waterproof ratings. We also recommend finding a big and tall jacket that fits well.


Resources: What to wear while skiing & snowboarding

waterproof ski and snowboard shells
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