From the breathtaking mountain views to the excellent all-body workout, there is no better activity than a day out skiing. However, to stop that perfect day from turning into a miserable one, you’ll need the right gear for staying warm. Here’s our suggestion selection for the top ways of keeping warm during your time in the mountains.
Getting the layers right
The base layer
Whether you’re a keen skier willing to take to the slopes in all kinds of weather, or just someone who just naturally feels the cold, you’ll want to invest in a good base layer selection. It should produce and keep in warmth, as well as providing a smooth and comfortable foundation that feels great against the skin and moves with you. Whether it’s for your top half or long johns, merino wool is a tried and tested material by skiers across the world, and is an ideal choice as a base layer material.
The mid layer
An often overlooked but essential component of your ski wear if you want to combat the cold, is the mid-layer, which is a medium-thick sweater or zip-through jacket that differentiates the areas that are most sensitive to the cold as well as those that are most prone to perspiration.
Our pick of mid-layer jackets features wool-based panels at the kidney area, and have high, slim-fitting collars and thumbhole cuffs that extend over the hands to prevent cold air from getting in. The back and underarms are less likely to be affected by the cold but are prone to sweating, so are crafted from breathable, moisture-wicking material that will keep you dry.
The jacket layer
The last layer for your body and the one everyone will see is your ski jacket. While the two layers before it helped create warmth and lock it in - while releasing moisture and allowing your skin to breath - this all-important top layer will protect you from the elements.
You’ll want it to be snug enough to stay warm without extra layers, but not tight enough to stop you from wearing extra layers. With the downhill, often fast-paced nature of skiing, your jacket needs to be breathable, as well as waterproof and windproof. There’s usually a wide range of feature options with ski jackets, but the one that will help keep you warm is an attached powder skirt, which if you fall, will stop snowing reaching through to your inner layers.
Additionally, while it’s important to stay warm out the slopes, it’s also important to stay ventilated, so choose a jacket that has a good number of zips that will allow the air to flow through your body.
Losing heat through your legs is as unpleasant as your top half, so it’s also important to get your salopettes right. They differ from waterproof trousers due to their breathability. The most common question you’ll need to ask yourself when looking for a pair of salopettes is whether you want shell or insulated. While shell trousers are made from lightweight nylon or polyester, making them waterproof, windproof, and highly breathable. However, being so easy on the legs also means they aren't very well insulated and will require a pair of legging or long johns. Insulated trousers have all the same qualities as shell trousers with an extra layer of insulation. For those new to skiing, the insulated would be a better choice.
Getting the rest right
Your head and face
It’s common knowledge that most of the body heat is lost through your head, so keeping it comfortably warm is vital. Choosing a proper face-covering, namely a balaclava, will cover both your head and face, but with enough room for you to be able to see. If you want a bit more freedom and space between your head and helmet, it may be worth purchasing a snood, which is essentially a balaclava without the head covering. Whatever your choice, make sure it’s made of moisture-wicking material, such as polyester, as to whether it’s from taking a tumble or just general snowfall, you don’t want a wet face turning into a frozen one during your day’s skiing.
Of course, wearing any helmet while out skiing is a must, but that doesn’t need to be at the cost of spending the day with a head cold. Whether you’re purchasing a helmet, make sure the inside is insulated with padding, as well as cushioning throughout. Additionally, it may also feature adjustable vents to allow air to circulate your head and eliminate sweat during those tougher runs. Alternatively, if you’ve got your mind fixed on wearing a very specific type of helmet that is non-insulating, then it might be worth wearing a helmet liner. These are essentially small beanie hats that can wick away sweat whilst keeping your head warm.
Now onto goggles. It may seem as though it’s a choice between wearing the aforementioned or sunglasses, but when it comes to truly protect yourself from the cold, it’s goggles all the way. Not only do they stop a large amount of heat leaving your face, but it also protects it from wind and snow obstructing your vision as you ski.
How to keep your hands warm when skiing
First off, make sure you pick a decent pair of gloves. You can have all the life hacks in the world but if your gloves aren’t up to it, your hands will get cold. A good pair of gloves should last a few years at least, and they need to be both waterproof and windproof, seam-sealed, breathable, and insulated.
Look for a pair made from either nylon or polyester as they have these qualities, and woolen made gloves. If your hands are still cold after finding the right gloves or you suffer from poor blood circulation, you should test out glove liners or stock up on hand warmers. If neither of these is useful, there is the expensive option of purchasing heated gloves, which are electronically charged to stay toasty throughout your ski.
Keeping your feet warm in ski boots
Despite being protected by thick, durable ski boots, your feet are the body part that is most likely to feel the cold on the slopes. What’s more, although many other areas of the body can recover from the cold, a pair of chilly feet could mean the end of your day’s skiing and head home for a hot bath.
So with all this said, it’s important to first get your ski sock collection on point. Instead of layering up with thick cotton socks (that trap moisture and can ultimately lead to your feet freezing) opt for a much thinner pair of ski socks that go up just above the calf and are made with a blend of nylon, wool, and elastic, which will allow your feet to breathe whilst out on the slopes. If your feet are still feeling the cold, try to stay strong, do not opt for a thicker sock, just double up with a second thinner sock over your base layer.
How cold your feet are may also come down to how your boots fit
It’s often the case when renting that you will be given boots twice your normal shoe size, meaning your foot will have too much freedom and move around, causing strain and creating poor circulation and ultimately, cold feet. When you’re having your boots fitted, make sure you can’t lift your heel, and that they feel tight but comfortable, as you don’t want to be trying to adjust whilst out on the slopes!
Another tip to keeping the heat circulating in your boots is allowing them to air out during skiing breaks. While taking them off completely will allow the warm air to circulate inside the boot and change the circulation in your lower leg, it’s also possible for you to just undo your boot and experience similar results. Doing this approach for as little as ten minutes will have excellent results.
If you get your socks and boots sorted and you’re still cold, there are other alternate methods, with varying cost. The cheapest option after picking the right socks is to pick up some disposable boot warmers, which are uniquely designed to sit underneath the sock and insoles, acting similarly to hand warmers.
Next on the list are boot gloves
They're essentially a cover that fits over the ski boot, stopping any snow or water from getting inside the boot, and can add 53 degrees in warmth whilst you're out on the slopes. There is also the option of investing in thermostat heat reflectors, a device that sits inside by your foot, reflecting the heat created by your boot upwards.
If you’ve got your pair of boots and struggle with the cold, it may be worth either installing boot heaters, or purchasing a pair with heaters already installed. Working like mini electric blankets, the heaters are placed inside the insoles, with a cord connected to a rechargeable battery. It’s expensive but worth it!
And finally... how to keep your phone warm when skiing
There are several excellent reasons for bringing your phone out with you skiing. Whether it’s to take a photo of the mountain views or to ring your skiing party when you get lost, you’ll want your phone to stay safe, warm, and fully functional.
The most practical way to do this is by keeping it as close to your body as physically possible, and your natural body heat will keep it from freezing and draining power. The other options, which include everyday solutions such as having a decent waterproof case and bringing a reserve charged battery pack, but also wrapping your phone in a hand warmer to make sure it stays at a good temperature throughout your day’s skiing.
The one downside of this however is that you may need to check up on it now and again to make sure it isn’t overheating.