New to winter snow sports? Welcome! You’re in the right place to get comfortable with staying comfortable on the slopes. The right gear can help keep you warm and dry and make your day on the slopes more enjoyable. Let’s get started with the basics: learn to love layers.
You should wear clothes that will keep you warm and dry. Pretty obvious, right? But while a nice sweatshirt and sweatpants are a great choice for a chilly evening at a football game, they’re the last thing you want to wear skiing or snowboarding. That’s because when cotton gets wet, it gets cold, and you’ll get miserable quickly. You’ll need a technical jacket and pants that shed water and snow and help keep body heat in. If you don’t have a ski jacket and pants, look for a Colorado Ski Country USA resort that rents outdoor clothing or check with a rental shop for the right gear.
You don’t want to be too hot or too cold. You want to be just right. And you want to be—and stay—dry. The key to warmth is making smart apparel choices and layering. On a sunny day, you may only need two layers: a turtleneck or long underwear layer and, over that, a waterproof, outer layer. Bringing a just-in-case middle layer—a fleece or wool sweater—will ensure you’re ready for any weather. You can always take off or add layers as the conditions on the mountain change. We suggest dressing in three layers: inside, middle, and outer.
Inner or Wicking Layer
Since the inner layer is worn next to your skin, it’s important to pick a material that pulls moisture away from your skin, a process called wicking. Quick-drying polyester jersey fabric offers great moisture management and breathability. Silk is also a good natural fabric that pulls away moisture from the skin. Warm thermal underlayers made of wool or a synthetic fabric will also set you up for success on the mountain.
Middle or Insulation Layer
For the middle layer, look for pullovers, turtlenecks, and vests that will keep you warm by trapping air between the fibers and insulating you. A great material for this is fleece. Puffy jackets or vests that can be added or removed will help to regulate your body temperature as conditions change.
Outer or Shell Layer
Your jacket and pants should guard against the elements and keep out the snow while allowing some breathability. When looking for a jacket, look for one that’s waterproof with a snow guard or is long enough to overlap your pants by a couple of inches. This will help prevent snow from getting into your pants or getting your layers wet.
One of the most important purchases you’ll make for skiing and snowboarding is your gloves or mittens. Hands are often the first thing to get cold, so invest in a good pair of gloves that will keep your hands warm for years.
A pair of tall, lightweight or medium-weight socks in a synthetic or wool blend work best. Don’t give in to the idea that multiple layers of socks are better—that will only restrict circulation and cause your feet to be colder rather than warmer.
Protect your eyes from dangerous UV rays. Sunglasses or goggles protect your eyes from the bright sunlight that reflects off the surface of the snow.
The most important piece of gear is a properly fitting helmet. A helmet helps protects your head during bumps and falls and also keeps you warm. Helmets can be rented from any rental shop and should be worn at all times when you’re skiing and snowboarding.
If you’re getting into skiing or snowboarding for the long haul, it’s well worth the investment to get the right gear. It’s just like any other sport: the right gear can make all the difference. If you’re just starting out, it might make sense to research where to rent the gear you need and make sure it’s something you want to invest in. Either way, the more comfortable you are, the more fun you’ll have on the slopes.