Wearing the right clothing to keep you warm and dry when playing outdoors can make a big difference. If you are cold and miserable, you are not going to have a great ski vacation. Here is some basic information about dressing for winter.
The best way to dress for Winter is to wear multiple layers of clothing. This gives you the flexibility to add or remove layers depending on the weather and activities. Most commonly, Winter sports participants wear three layers: wicking, insulating and weather protection.
This is the layer worn next to the skin, usually, thermal underwear.
Look for thermal underwear made of a synthetic … usually polyester … fiber that has "wicking" power. As you perspire, the fibers will wick (move) moisture away from the skin and pass it through the fabric so it can evaporate. This keeps skiers warm, dry and comfortable. Silk is also a good, natural fabric that has wicking abilities.
The wicking layer should fit snugly (not tight) next to the skin in order to effectively wick moisture
Even though it's cold, snow sports will make participants sweat … especially if they are cross-country skiing or snowshoeing. This is why the wicking layer is very important.
This middle layer includes sweaters, sweatshirts, vests and pullovers. The purpose of this layer is to keep heat in and cold out, which is accomplished by trapping air between the fibers.
Popular insulation materials include fleece, a synthetic material which maintains its insulating ability even when wet and spreads the moisture out so it dries quickly, and wool, which naturally wicks away moisture.
Comfort is key for the insulating layer. It should be loose enough to trap air between layers, but not so bulky that it restricts movement.
Exterior/Weather Protection Layer
The exterior layer serves as the guard against the elements of Winter. It should repel moisture from snow, sleet or rain; block the wind, and let perspiration escape to the outside to evaporate. Look for outerwear that is “waterproof/breathable”.
Most genuine Winter shells, parkas and pants are made waterproof/breathable by using tightly woven fabrics teamed with a coating or laminate. This keeps moisture on the outside but allows perspiration to escape.
Look for functional hoods, cuffs, pockets and zippers … details that truly make garments comfortable in a snowstorm.
Some jackets and pants are shells (no insulation), some include built-in insulation, and others have zip-in insulation layers. Choose your protection layer based on temperatures and snow conditions in the areas you will be vacationing and on your desired comfort level.
Although less baggy than in previous years, most snowboard clothing is still designed to fit looser than alpine skiwear, giving snowboarders freedom of movement. In addition, many snowboard pants are reinforced in the seat and knees for extra protection when kneeling or sitting on the snow.
Up to 60 percent of the body's heat can escape from an uncovered head. This is why wearing a hat, headband or helmet is essential when it's cold. Helmets are becoming very popular. Not only do they protect the head during falls, but they also provide warmth. A fleece neck gaiter (like a collar) or facemask is a must on very cold days.
Sunglasses & Goggles
Snow, because it is a reflective surface, makes ultraviolet (UV) rays stronger. On sunny days, sunglasses are essential to protect the eyes. Look for 100 percent UV protection in sunglasses. On flat-light days or when it's snowing, goggles are vital. Special lens colors increase the contrast in order to properly discern terrain features. Goggles should form an uninterrupted seal on your face, extending above your eyebrows and below your cheekbones. Watch for gaps, especially around your nose
Gloves & Mittens
Look for gloves and mittens that use waterproof/breathable fabrics. Mittens, in general, are warmer than gloves, but offer less dexterity. Consider the type of activity when choosing between gloves and mittens. Snowboarding gloves and mittens often have a reinforced palm because of extra wear from adjusting bindings and balancing on the snow. Some snowboarding gloves and mittens also have built-in wrist guards, which are excellent for novice snowboarders. Gloves for cross-country skiing tend to be lighter-weight to allow for extra movement and a higher degree of perspiration.
One pair of lightweight or medium weight socks works best for skiing, snowboarding or snowshoeing. Socks are made from a variety of materials, including polyester, silk and wool. Cotton is a no-no. Cotton soaks up and retains moisture and then your feet will stay cold. Socks designed specifically for snow sports have wicking properties similar to thermal underwear, meaning your feet will stay drier and more comfortable.