How to dress for skiing
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
Choosing your ski outfit, it’s not only about the latest trends, it's about wearing technical clothing that is specifically designed for winter sports.
If the layering system approach is new to you, we advise you to read our article on the subject.
A quick reminder on what the layering system for outdoor sports is:
The layering system for Alpine Skiing
The layering system is a must for outdoor sports and is particularly suited to 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.
---Check out our base layers: for WOMEN | for MEN
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.
---Check out our mid-layers: for WOMEN | for MEN
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.
---Check out our outer layers: for WOMEN | for MEN
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.
The layering system for the lower half of your body
Layering is simplified for the lower half of your body as there is less perspiration to deal with. Like ski jackets, ski pants are often lined and warm. You can therefore wear just your ski pants, or wear long underwear underneath, depending on the weather conditions.
---Check out our ski pants: for WOMEN | for MEN
If you practice off-piste skiing, your legs will be particularly exposed to the snow. Opt for waterproof pants that are reinforced with a DWR treatment as well.
What are the features of ski clothing?
Layering is a good place to start when choosing your ski wear. There are however other aspects of winter sports clothing designed specifically for skiing.
What accessories should I choose on a ski jacket?
A well-designed ski jacket will have accessories to protect you from the snow and the wind such as:
- A snow skirt to prevent the snow and wind from coming up into the jacket
- Velcro on the sleeves to tighten your jacket around your wrists
- Ski cuffs that protrude from the end of your sleeves to prevent snow from getting into your jacket
- An adjustable hood for all-weather skiing
Useful item-specific pockets can make your life easier on groomed tracks, for example, a pocket for your ski pass, an inside pocket for your phone or a secure pocket for your cash or cards. Freeriders appreciate a pocket for their avalanche transceiver.
Sometimes there are pockets for your sunglasses or goggles which include a microfiber cloth for cleaning them.
If you practice free touring or you sometimes walk with your skis attached to your backpack, then zippered vents will be useful for preventing overheating when climbing.
Some jackets have a Recco reflector that can help patrollers find you if you are caught in an avalanche. If you ski off the groomed tracks, this provides only backup protection and is not a replacement for an avalache transceiver.
--- Check out our ski jackets: for WOMEN | for MEN
What are the features of ski pants?
Ski pants should be warm and waterproof. Intergrated gaiters will be beneficial in powder snow. A zippered vent, the length of your thighs, is useful when skiing in the spingtime or during the climb when free-touring.
--- Check out our ski pants: for WOMEN | for MEN
Indispensable accessories for skiing
Wearing the right clothes isn't just about choosing the right jacket or pants. You must also protect your extremities which are particularly sensitive to the cold.
When you are cold, your body concentrates its blood flow towards your vital organs, like the heart or the brain, in order to keep them at a constant temperature of 37°C. This is why your extremities, like your feet or hands, are particularly sensitive to the cold....plus it's essential to wear a hat!
Ski googles offer better protection than sun glasses whatever the weather (Read our article on choosing the right ski googles)
--- Check out our ski googles: for WOMEN | for MEN
A neck warmer, even a thin one, will give you good additional protection against the cold and the wind. It can also cover the bottom of your face.
The choice of ski gloves is often tricky. Thin gloves allow you to have a good grip on your poles but are not warm enough when it's cold. Opt for thick gloves that are waterproof and not too tight if you get cold hands. For the groomed tracks, it's usual to wear your gloves under the sleeves of your jacket. Whereas, freeriders often prefer longer gloves, with ski cuffs, that are worn over their jacket sleeves. Finally, mittens combined with thin inner gloves provide optimal protection against the cold, you will really be able to feel the difference.
--- Check out our ski gloves and mittens: for WOMEN | for MEN
Ski socks are also important. Thin socks encourage precision in narrower ski boots, designed for racing. For more comfort and warmth, look for thicker ski socks made from synthetic fibers or from merino wool, combined with wider boots.
--- Check out our socks: for WOMEN | for MEN
Wearing the right clothing for skiing is first and foremost about protecting yourself from the cold, wind and snow...as yes, that's how we love the mountains in the winter!