How to Dress in Layers

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Base Layer Clothing

base layer for skiing
Consider a pair of ski-specific tights and a slim-fitting top, made of synthetic fabrics, as a breathable alternative to woolen longjohns. (Photo from Amazon)

Dressing in layers is essential on any cold ski day. On the top of the mountain, it may be windy and cold, and you need to be prepared for this. You can always remove a layer if the sun comes out and warms up the mountain, but if not, layers are sure to keep you warm. Dressing in layers is key to staying warm on any day of skiing.

The first layer you will need to wear is your long underwear (a shirt and pants). Old "long-johns" made out of cotton, wool, or flannel will not keep you comfortable on the slopes. Instead, breathable under-layers that wick perspiration away from your body and eliminate that cold, clammy feeling are excellent. Attire is available in men's and women's styles.

While there are a variety of companies that make base layers formulated specifically for skiing, certain brands such as Columbia ($), Hot Chillys ($$), Smartwool ($$), Underarmour ($$$), and CWX ($$$$) have stood out from the rest:

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Mid-Layer Clothing

woman in vest
A vest is a great option to wear, and it's versatile, as it also can be worn alone during spring skiing. (Photo from Amazon)

The next layer is your mid-layer, an insulating layer. For this layer, you can wear anything from a sweater, a turtleneck, or an insulating shirt designed to keep you warm or comfortable without adding extra weight. Some skiers choose to wear vests, and some skiers simply choose sweatshirts as an insulating layer. Whatever you choose, make sure that what you wear will keep you warm, as this layer is essential to keeping you comfortable.

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Optional Fleece/Soft Shell Layer

woman in fleece jacket
(Photo from Amazon)

For colder days, some skiers choose to wear a fleece layer under their ski jacket. This layer doesn't have to be fleece. In fact, a soft-shell jacket can keep you incredibly warm on days that are especially cold. This layer isn't necessary, as you might find yourself a little too warm during moderate winter temperatures. However, a fleece jacket or a soft shell layer will keep you warm on days that are especially cold or windy.

Consider checking out Columbia ($), The North Face ($$), Patagonia ($$$), and Arcteryx ($$$$):

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Outer Layer

woman in ski jacket
(Photo from Amazon)

A ski jacket and ski pants are your most expensive layer, but they are also your most important layer.

A ski jacket will protect you from the elements, and you have many jacket styles to choose from. The two main jacket styles are insulated jackets and shell jackets. Insulated jackets will not only shield you from wind, snow, and rain, but they will keep you warm and comfortable. Shell jackets will shield you from harsh elements, but they are not insulated so they will not keep you as warm as insulated jackets.

Ski pants are also available in insulated or shell styles and are essential for keeping you completely warm and comfortable. But your best bet is to choose a jacket that is totally weatherproof: insulated, seam-sealed, waterproof and windproof.

Fortunately, no matter what your price range, there are a variety of choices available to you:

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Accessories

ski goggles
Zionor Lagopus ski goggles with detachable lens. (Photo from Amazon)

Last but not least, are ski accessories. Ski goggles will keep the sun and snow out of your eyes. You will need ski accessories to protect your whole body. Goggles are available in a variety of lens colors, but goggles with yellow lenses tend to be the most versatile.

Your hands will need mittens or gloves, and your head will need a hat or a helmet. A warm hat or helmet is essential because the most heat is lost through your head.