Staying Warm and Dry on the Slopes

You’re going on a ski vacation, but are not looking forward to being freezing cold after an hour out on the slopes. If you want to stay out longer before heading in for the first hot cocoa, check out these tips for staying toasty warm!

  1. Dress in layers. Yeah, you’ve heard this before. What does it mean? Well, instead of one cotton shirt and a thick jacket, use multiple thinner layers – and avoid cotton. Thermal underwear or a merino wool shirt (Icebreaker or Smartwool) is great as a base layer. Then a warm synthetic sweatshirt could be layer 2. A fleece zip-up jacket could go next, then a thin shell jacket over it all. Voila, you’re layered!
  2. Buy a helmet. They are not only a great idea to protect you from wipeouts (or some idiot on the slopes that runs into you). Helmets are also super warm! That 1” of foam with hard plastic on the outside keeps the warmth in, and if you get the kind with no vents, it’s 100% windproof ;-).
  3. Cover your neck. You can use a neck gaiter, scarf, or high-zip sweatshirt/fleece. But if you keep your neck warm, that’s one less entry point for cold air to get down your shirt and chill you.
  4. Wear waterproof/breathable outer layers. You don’t have to go for expensive Gore-Tex – there are many other waterproof/breathable layers available nowadays. These keep you dry in the snow. One word of warning, though: these fabrics are not breathable anymore after they get wet. So if it’s sleeting and the fabric looks wet outside, it will be trapping your sweat inside, making you damp. Go for a jacket & pants that repel drops of water, so the outer fabric itself doesn’t absorb water as easily.
  5. Use gloves with gaiters, consider mittens, and use liner gloves. Gloves with gaiters have a section that extends partway over your jacket’s sleeve, and has a stretchy cord to “zip” the gaiter tight. Neither snow nor cold air will get into your glove cuff! Also consider mitten-gloves, where the four fingers are one big, warm pocket. If you’re still cold, get some liner gloves to wear underneath the main glove. Merino-possum fabric is incredibly warm, as my own fingers can testify. Thank you, New Zealand!
  6. Get a face mask for cold days. Neoprene face masks, or combination fabrics like my mask from Barts, will keep the snow and wind from freezing your face and nose on bad-weather days. When I go to a glacier area, this mask is always in my pocket.
  7. Don’t drink alcohol during the day. It’s not good to be skiing drunk anyway, for safety reasons. But did you know alcohol also chills down your body? It makes the capillaries near your skin open up, so you lose heat faster. Wait until you’re cozy and warm at the bottom of the mountain in an apres-ski bar before boozing it up.
  8. Wear warm socks. A thick pair of ski socks, maybe with some merino wool content, will really help keep your toesies warm. Merino is not itchy like normal wool, and it is the best fabric at combating smells.

Hopefully these tips will keep you toasty on the slopes. Get geared up and stay warm & dry!