Whether you want to enjoy the view from the chairlift and then head down the groomed runs, or you'd rather find your own line through fresh powder before sitting outside on a terrace in the sun, you will need the right clothing to brave the cold, wind and snow. Thanks to our advice on what to wear when skiing, you will be able to ski with a smile, even in a snowstorm!

The Layering System

A quick reminder on what the layering system for outdoor sports is:

  • A breathable base layer to remove perspiration 
  • A mid-layer to keep you warm 
  • An outer layer to protect you from the elements

The layering system for Alpine Skiing

A breathable base layer is essential to wick moisture generated by exerting yourself while descending, and it prevents you from feeling cold once you are on a chairlift. Long thermal underwear made from synthetic fibers are a suitable option, but merino wool is even better for the breathability and warmth it provides, even when wet.

A mid-layer is worn to maintain your body heat. It could be a fleece, or a light insulated jacket worn over your thermal underwear.  Your ski jacket is often already insulated with a fleece lining or a synthetic or down filling, so you should adapt your mid-layer accordingly.

The outer-layer is your ski jacket. As mentioned above, your jacket can often have a fleece or synthetic lining, or for warmer jackets a down quilting.  Your jacket must be windproof as there is always wind when skiing, whether it's forecast or due to the speed at which you ski down the mountain. Even when sitting on a chairlift you will be exposed to wind that is linked to its movement. If you ski mainly in nice weather, a Durable Water Repellant (DWR) treatment on your jacket would be enough to protect you from bad weather. If you are an all-weather and powder skier then the protection of a waterproof jacket, for example Gore Tex, is essential.

Finally, other than the cut and color of women's ski wear, their clothing is often warmer than men's, as women are generally more sensitive to the cold.

September 10, 2021 — Carlos Strachan