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What to wear skiing: it's all about warmth and comfort

By TravelFactory , 20/10/2022
A skier in ski wear, goggles, and a hat skiing in the French Alps

The bad news: the sheer volume of ski wear options can be overwhelming. The good news: you’re sure to find exactly what you need at the price point that works for you. It’s worth taking the time to explore your options so that you can make an informed choice. 

As part of our Ski Travel Guide, we’re answering all the questions you may have about what to wear skiing. You’ll find an item-by-item breakdown below with a brief explanation and our insider tips. But the bottom line is that the right ski wear keeps you safe, comfortable, and warm. The rest is up to you! 

Clothing: base layer

When it comes to clothing, layers are key. You can easily add and remove them if the weather changes without heading back to the resort. The base layer is closest layer to the skin. Keep it thin and lightweight to avoid that weighed down feeling. Opt for wicking material that absorbs sweat and keeps you dry. 

A family of four in ski wear on a flat piste in the Alps

Thermal pants or leggings

Look for products made of breathable fabrics with a good amount of stretch that allow for dynamic movement. Leggings or a pair of thermal pants can hug the body but shouldn’t feel too tight or constricting. 

Some brands to explore: The North Face, Columbia, Icebreaker 

Base layer shirt 

Merino wool, GORE-TEX, and polyester are smart choices for a base layer shirt.  It’s lightweight, insulating, and comfortable. Choose from long or short sleeved.  

Short sleeved merino wool shirts can be worn in the summer too, as they absorb sweat. 

Some brands to explore: The North Face, Columbia, Icebreaker, Millet 

Ski socks 

You’ll spend a lot of time on your feet, so treat them right!  Ski socks usually hit just below the knee. They allow air to circulate underneath the feet, which evacuates humidity.  Extras like leg warmers, shin guards, and more are widely available. 

Some brands to explore: X-SOCKS, Icebreaker, Protest, X-Bionic, Ortovox, Volcom 


Clothing: mid-layer

While base and outer layers largely remain the same, mid-layers can vary based on weather conditions and your skiing habits. If you’re going out into the extreme cold, opt for a fleece jacket rather than a jumper.  It’ll leave you feeling nice and warm if temperatures approach 0° C.  

Your Jumper of Choice 

If temperatures are about average for the season (and/or you’re keeping to the slopes in a designated ski area), one of your own jumpers will suffice. Go with something that doesn’t add too much bulk, retains heat, and easily stays put. 

Some brands to explore: Your favourites! 

A Fleece Jacket 

Fleece jackets contain mostly synthetic materials. GORE-TEC, Karuishi, and Polartec are just some of the new fibres you can choose from. They are breathable and keep you warm. Opt for a fleece for extreme cold and/or going off-piste. We often imagine fleeces as long-sleeved, but you can also find sleeveless models and turtlenecks. 

Some brands to explore: Millet, Eider, Quechua, Mammut, Mountain, ARC’TERYX 


Clothing: outer layer 

An illustration showing the outer layer of ski wear

The outer layer should protect you from the elements. Keep in mind that the snow could pick up and wind could start gusting at any moment without warning. Windbreakers and waterproof clothing will allow you to keep on skiing, no matter what Mother Nature has in store.  

Ski Jacket 

Ski jackets are made from a combination of materials including down, GORE-TEX, and Merino wool. Choose something that is keeps you warm and dry. Opt for function over fashion—you’ll be wearing it all day every day. Large pockets come in handy if you’d like to keep small snacks and other items on you. 

Some brands to explore: Milet, Norona, Picture, O’Neill, The North Face, Peak Performance 

Ski Pants 

Soft, warm, and waterproof, a good pair of ski pants shouldn’t hinder movement. After all, precision movement of the lower body is key in winter sports. Avoid models that are too bulky and privilege those that allow for a full range of motion. Quality ski pants will also protect you from friction and minor injury. 

Some brands to explore: Salomon, Banshee, Patagonia, O’Neill, Quicksilver, Ortovox, The North Face 

A Hat 

Hats protect your ears from frostbite and keep your head warm in inclement weather. Wool hats are the by far the most popular. If you find wool itchy, opt for a hat with an inner lining or go with fleece instead. If your ears are particularly sensitive to cold, try a trapper hat. Trapper hats are great for the littlest kids, too—you can fasten them under the chin with Velcro or a buckle. 

Some brands to explore: Mountain Hardware, Columbia Trail, The North Face 

A Helmet 

A helmet is a must-have for anyone preparing to hit the slopes. Skiing can be dangerous business, and a helmet protects from head trauma in case of an accident. If you're going to invest, here's where you can do it. Lots of different materials are available, including recycled materials. Opt for a helmet with an official safety certification if you can.

Some brands to explore: Smith, Salomon, Scott

Ski Boots 

A good fit is key. It’s worth trying on a few different styles, sizes, and brands. Models exist for beginners, experienced skiers, and experts, so take your level into account. Opt for a sturdy, well insulated model that will withstand wear and tear. Choose the clamping system that is most comfortable for you and best fits into your budget.  

Some brands to explore: Tecnica, Salomon, Lange, Atomic

Gloves and/or Mittens  

A pair of gloves or mittens are often thought of as optional, but they protect your hands from frostbite, cuts, and bruises. If you opt for mittens for extra warmth, layer them over a pair of gloves. Choose the amount of padding, the material, and the grip strength that works best for you. Don’t forget to measure your hand for the best fit! 

Some brands to explore: Dakine, Salomon, Black Crows 


Ski Accessories 

Accessories might not be the first things that come to mind, but they’re necessary ski gear, too! Snow reflects sunlight, so protecting your eyes and face from those UV rays is a common-sense precaution. Keep falling snow, dust, and other particles out of your field of vision so that you can focus on your descent. And don’t forget to complete your look with a scarf! 

A group of skiers on a ski lift wearing ski goggles and helmets

Sunglasses or Goggles 

Sunglasses are a basic option in a pinch, but goggles can be more securely fashioned and are adapted to more varied conditions: sun, cloud cover, snowfall, etc. There are goggles that don’t fog up, goggles that increase contrast in white-out conditions, and more. Choose the model that is best suited to your needs. 

Some brands to explore: Julbo, Oakley, Roxy 


Neck warmer

Even if you’ve got a base layer with a turtleneck, a scarf or neck gaiter is an important addition. Scarves are widely available in department stores and just about everywhere. No need to invest in expensive winter sports neck wear. If you are warm and comfortable and the scarf stays in place as you move, you’ve made the right choice. 

Some brands to explore: Repeat Cashmere, Calvin Klein, Zalando, Adidas, Nike 


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