All the ski gear, but snow idea?
Going skiing this winter? We look at the ins and outs of ski gear, and show you how to keep your cool in the cool.
DELIVERING breakfast to a group of mostly male skiers I was quite literally bowled over by what looked like a walking snow bear! It was actually a 14-year-old teenager decked from head to toe in her dad’s old snow gear. Worse still, dad insisted that as a precautionary measure she should stuff a pillow down the oversized trousers to help break her fall during her first ever snowboard lessons. I watched on horrified, as the poor thing waddled her way down to the nursery slopes on one of our warmest ski days.
It’s important to get your ski gear right. Some snow days in spring can be bright and sunny, but some days your toes can become so numb you literally can’t feel them. On the days where you find yourself chiselling ice off your moustache, finding warm, waterproof, breathable clothing in the correct size will mean the difference between a good and a bad ski day. So before you splurge on the fancy ski gear, here are some essentials to remember when selecting your winter wardrobe.
Winter winter woollies vs sexy and stylish
I love browsing for snow gear. In fact, stylish ski and snow gear is by far one of my favourite indulgences! From cool, funky colours to retro goggles and bright bobbly hats, it is possible to find ski clothing that’s both functional and mountain chic. That being said, function always wins over fashion when selecting good ski wear – as I discovered one very chilly winter’s day.
Outside were blue, sunny skies, so a friend, a fellow chalet girl and myself all donned leopard print tights for some ski fancy dress fun. Weather conditions seemed perfect and the tights seemed like a good idea, until of course we reached the summit. Temperatures plummeted below zero and we were caught off guard in what must have been the biggest snow blizzard of the season. Fighting frostbite, hyperthermia and ever curling hair we made our way to the nearest mountain bar – wet, cold and shivering. Needless to say we spent the rest of the afternoon defrosting in the girls’ loos, huddled beneath the heater. It may seem obvious but the 3 W’s – warm, waterproof and windproof – are essential when selecting gear, as is having the correct eye protection for both sun and extreme snow. The weather on the mountain is always changing and snowfall is unpredictable.
A lesson in layering
This should help you be prepared, no matter what the elements. Everyone has a different sensitivity to the cold which is why layering is so important — it allows you the flexibility to adjust your temperature on the slope ensuring an all round great ski day. Generally there is a 3-layer rule:
1 — Base Layer (wicking)
2 — Mid Layer (warmth)
3 — Outer Layer (water and wind proofing).
Back to Base-ics
Skiing and snowboarding are physical activities; hiking up a wall of ice and then whizzing down the other side requires some effort. That said, it’s important that snow gear is breathable which is why a good base layer is a boarder’s best friend. Trapped moist air will soon turn to ice when temperatures reach below freezing, and both snow and sweat can make the body cold. Most experts will agree that avoiding fabrics such as cotton is a wise idea when engaging in outdoor winter activities, as is selecting clothing that allows moisture to move away from the skin. Swap your sexy cotton knickers for synthetic alternatives and your t-shirts for woolly sleeves.
Socks, jocks and everything in between
Forming a warm insulating middle layer will keep you nice and toasty on a cold winter’s day and I’m not just talking hot chocolate! Sweatshirts, fleeces and hoodies are perfect for building layers. Just ensure that whatever you choose doesn’t leave you looking like a walking snowman and that your clothing allows for full freedom of movement.
Investing in a good pair of ski socks and a nice warm beanie will keep your feet from becoming sweaty and smelly and your head from losing essential heat. A snood or neck warmer is also a useful addition to your ski attire and can be essential in hiding last night’s aprÃ¨s romance. Goggles are indispensable when it comes to skiing in low light or times of bad visibility – don’t be caught without them.
Fit, flexible and functional
Ski fashion has come a long way since the humble neon “onesie”. Today’s fashion on the slopes is fun, fearless and fabulous. The rich and famous have bought new glamour to the ski world with faux fur finishes, trendy designer labels and a new urban street/slope wear.
It’s important to look good, but great ski clothing also needs to fit correctly, be flexible enough to allow for those park jumps and should also be “fall-proof”, which means it should be padded enough to protect your bum from all those first time falls! Pockets are also useful in terms of storing all those extra bits and bobs such as sunglasses, sunscreen and your ski pass.
Some final words of advice when it comes to selecting that warm, water-resistant and windproof outer layer – whilst today’s vintage stamp has seen the return of the one-piece, just remember that pants over dungarees help keep the loo line shorter, a powder belt can prove a lifesaver by keeping snow out of unwelcome places, and baggy pants are not just for beach bums!
By Natalie Pickering
For, by and about Aussies in the UK.