If you’ve never been skiing before, the options of the different base layers, mid-layers and exterior layers can seem like a bit of an enigma, and that’s before you even throw in the socks, gloves, glove liners, neck warmers or balaclavas. It can be hard to know what, and how many you will need!
Temperatures differ from year to year, but in Europe the colder months tend to be late December through to early February, where days are shorter and often snow is falling and sub-zero temperatures, sometimes into -20 in the higher regions, are the norm. By February days are often sunnier though can still be cold, so best to come prepared with everything!
For those who have skied or snowboarded before but are visiting a different country or at a different time of year, or even trying a different sport such as skinning or splitboarding for the first time (where you get pretty warm on the way up, and much cooler on the way down!), they may also want to review their kit to ensure they have the correct attire for their trip or time in the mountains.
• Helmet – if this has vents you can open and close, you can even adjust the airflow to your head which can be helpful
• Gloves – good quality insulated gloves intended for Snowsports. Glove liners are recommended too
• Neck warmer / balaclava – this is a must to avoid windchill between your jacket and neck especially on colder days. The brand ‘buff’ has some great options
• Ski goggles – not only protect your eyes but keep your face warmer!
• Ski socks – thinner ski socks are much better than the thicker tube sock variety
• Thermal layers both top and bottom
• Ski pants / salopettes
• Ski jacket
1. It’s all about the layers!
Having the option to layer additional thinner layers is the best way to adjust to the temperature. Depending on how hard you’re working while skiing, you might get hot quite quickly, or if you’re standing around a lot you might find yourself getting a bit colder! It’s very common now to have just a shell jacket, and if you have this be aware that you will need a puffer or some thicker mid-layers to keep yourself warm.
2. Choose moisture-wicking fabric and avoid cotton
Anything that may retain moisture as you sweat, you will find will cause you to cool down very quickly. There are some great natural fibres such as merino wool which is perfect for base and mid-layers, as well as synthetic fibres specifically designed to be moisture-wicking so that you stay warm and dry.
3. Time of year and location
Temperatures vary massively depending on the time of year and location you are skiing. As a rule, there is always snow, so there is a need to wear appropriate gear to protect yourself from falls or getting wet, but what you will need certainly changes from one month or one location to the next. The weather in the mountains is also very changeable, so if the sun goes behind a few clouds, you can find yourself getting cold quickly!
Make sure you check out the average temperatures for your trip, so you can make sure you pack with the weather in mind, as well as checking the weather forecast on the day. Taking a rucksack means you can stash an extra layer if you’re not sure.
4. Change your kit for different activities
If you’re hiking or skinning, you’re likely to be getting very hot, then cool off as you’re exerting less energy on the way down. In the same way, if you’re planning to hit some very high slopes on a certain day, the temperature may be a lot colder. Make sure you review your kit and can layer up or down depending on your plan!