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The Importance of Layers on the Slopes

Posted by Matt Gahman on Monday, January 11, 2016

It happens every year – incredible powder conditions followed closely by frigid or wet conditions. Cold kiddos are the quickest way to ruin your family’s well-deserved ski adventure and preparation is key to staying comfortable! This season, don’t let cold toes and frozen fingers hold you and your loved ones back from a memorable day of fun on the slopes.

The Importance of Layering

Dressing properly for skiing means dressing in layers that will work to keep you dry, warm and protected under a variety of conditions. You don’t need to compromise style, and you certainly don’t need to compromise comfort! 

Don’t forget to dress for the most extreme weather you can predict based on the forecast of that day. These three basic layers will ensure you stay warm:

Layer #1 = long underwear/base layer
Layer #2 = insulating tops & pants
Layer #3 = shelled outerwear

Rule #1. NO COTTON!


It’s easy to want to opt for cotton; these garments are warm, soft, and comfortable when you first put them on. Unfortunately, cotton garments are notorious for their ability to hold moisture. There is no worse feeling than wet, cold clothing during a back bowl adventure, and nothing will suck the heat out of your body faster than wet clothes! Marino wool, polyester and other synthetic fabrics are phenomenal alternatives to cotton.

The first layer is your base-layer

Base-layer tops and bottoms keep you dry by allowing perspiration to wick away from your body and evaporate quickly, keeping you dry throughout the day. Long underwear will also provide warmth and comfort against your skin while avoiding unnecessary bulk.

Base layer garments for skiing should fit close to the body to absorb moisture effectively. Smartwool delivers super-quick drying options that are sure to keep you dry and comfortable all day long. Ideal for cold weather pursuits, its interlocked knit is not to be beat.

Fabrics with moisture wicking ability ensure that a warm, dry area is created between this layer and the mid-layer.

The second layer is your mid-layer

The primary goal of clothing in this layer is simply to keep you warm. Sweaters, fleece tops and vests, and pullover styles are standard mid-layers because of their warmth and comfort.

Look for fabrics with a bit of stretch to keep you feeling free on the slopes; materials that incorporate spandex/Lycra® are good for more active skiers.

One of our favorite full-zips is the Marmot Variant Jacket. Weighing in at well under a pound, its lightweight, ultra-warm Thermal R™ Eco insulation protects your core, while Polartec® Power Stretch® delivers superior flexibility.

The mid layer is also easy to change out should the day warm up as the sun rises, and is just as easy to put back on for night skiing or on those colder, windy days.


The final layer is your outerwear

 Outerwear’s purpose? To protect you from the unpredictable weather of mountain life! It will keep your body safe from the wind and snow, but it must also allow moisture and excess heat to escape. Insulated garments are ideal for this, as they have a form of insulation within a soft shell or a waterproof breathable fabric. Perfect for throwing on top of layers 1 and 2, it helps maintain the heat your body created during your physical activity.

For one of the most advanced jackets around, try out The North Face’s Fuse From Brigandine 3L Jacket. It’s sure to help you stay comfortable and regulate your body temperature, plus its FuseForm™ construction ensures four-way stretch with targeted abrasion resistance.

By bringing these three layers with you, you have options to work with as conditions change throughout the day. Proper use of these three layering areas will show you the importance of layering for skiing & riding, and it will quickly become apparent that there is a difference between layering correctly, and simply piling on heavy sweaters in cold weather. Spare yourself the day of misery and pack right the first time!

Our team of experts can help make it a memorable experience, year after year. So head on into any of our six retail locations and let us help you find all the gear you need. Not local? No problem! Just visit our online storeand browse all the brands you love.

See you on the slopes!

Categories: Top Winter Brands  |  Ski & Snowboarding Tips  |  Ski & Snowboard Apparel

Tagged: ski, snowboard, ski and snowboard equipment

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