Why it’s important to layer up for warmth.
Being cold and wet on the slopes will ruin your day faster than you can say, “I wish we went to the beach.” Weather conditions change rapidly in the mountains, and wearing the right clothing will not only ensure your comfort, but also the safety of your 10 fingers and toes. Putting some planning into the layers that you wear under your snow clothing will go a long way towards making sure you enjoy every moment of your next snowy adventure.
A layering system is typically made up of 3 elements:
Base Layer: This is the layer that’s in direct contact with your skin.
The purpose of your baselayer is not only to keep you warm, but also to transport moisture away from your body. It might be freezing outside, but you still sweat when you are on the hill, and having wet clothing against your body will be a guaranteed day-ender. Polypro baselayers are a great budget choice and gone are the days of one wear wonders – you can get various weights with plain and printed options. These all retain warmth when they are wet and wick moisture away from the skin. Merino wool is the king of baselayer fabrics, and though more expensive, is well worth the investment if you will be making several trips to the snow fields this winter. Merino does come in various weights and options but might not be suited for those who react to natural fibres against the skin.
Mid Layer: The mid layer is where you have the most flexibility to adjust to the weather conditions and your own personal thermostat.
Too cold? Add another mid-layer. Too hot? Take it off and put it in your pack. The mid layer is there to provide warmth via insulation, and to continue the job of moving moisture away from your body to the outside of your clothing where it can evaporate. Synthetic fleeces are great mid-layers, as they are lightweight, retain warmth when wet, and are quick to dry. Soft shells and lightweight puffer jackets are also a great option if you tend to feel the cold. If you find you only need the extra warmth on your body core, then a sleeveless vest is also a fantastic option.
Outerwear: This is the barrier between you and the elements, and will ensure you remain warm and dry all day long.
You will need a jacket and pants that are tough wearing and waterproof. There are 2 main options when it comes to outerwear styles: Shell or Insulated. A shell jacket is a thin, lightweight, waterproof outer layer, that is highly breathable, and designed for movement and flexibility. You control your warmth with the layers you wear under a shell jacket, so make sure to chose one that is roomy enough to accommodate your base layer and a mid layer. An insulated jacket will be a little bulkier, but that is because they have a heat-trapping loft built in between the outer shell and the lining. Insulated jackets and pants are a great option if you tend to feel the cold, or alternatively if you prefer to wear light base layers, and control all of your heat with your outerwear.