Staying warm while skiing

Dec 26, 2008

After years of being cold on the slopes, I think that I’ve finally gotten the gear to keep myself warm. Through a high of 4 degrees Fahrenheit a few days ago and 16 degree snow with 20+ MPH winds today. I’m sure someone will find this information useful.

I wear a helmet, so hats are out of the question. Instead, I have an Icebreaker Quantum balaclava; in addition to being quite warm, it stays so even when wetted with snow or breath. As for tops, I wear an Under Armour ColdGear mock turtleneck with an Icebreaker Bodyfit 260 TechTop over top of that. I think this combination of a tight-fitting synthetic base layer with very warm merino wool atop is the best way to go. When the weather is very cold, such as the aforementioned bitter or windy days, I wear a Descente Podium vest. I top this all with a Spyder Rival insulated jacket.

My hands have always been a very difficult part, but was the final piece that I solved this year. I’m wearing a pair of Manzella Silkwieght Windstopper gloves, which are just thin, polyester pieces, inside a set of Black Diamond Mercury Mitts which are absolutely wonderful. The mitts are roomy enough that my hands with those liners fit easily, allowing me to quickly pop them out to take pictures, use my phone, or deal with my gear. Polyester for the liners is good because it shed snow when I do pull my hands out of the mitts. The my outer handwear also has insulation that is easily removable, making overnight drying a snap.

On bottom, I wear a single pair of Smartwool socks and a couple of pairs of polyester long underwear. I should really get some wool long underwear, because it’s certainly better than polypropylene. Generally, though, I’m doing enough with my legs that I don’t have that much problem.

Note on brands: I mention all the brands of things I wear because it makes clear exactly what I’m talking about. Generally, the style of the item is what is important. For example, Smartwool makes tops very similar to the Icebreaker one I mention. I know that North Face makes tops much like the Under Armour ones that I like. As for vests, I very much like the North Face & Mountain Hardwear ones that I have, in addition to the Descente.