Clothing can be divided into two types: insulating layers and the outer layer.
1. Insulating Layers
In cold weather these are the most important layers. Several thin layers that trap air and are made of material that will stay warm, even when wet, are better than a couple of thick bulky layers. The number of insulating layers you wear depends on the weather and the activity you are participating in.
Wearing thermal underwear will also help insulate against the cold. Wool is a good natural fibre and manufactured fibres such as polypropylene and fibre pile are also effective. Cotton undergarments perform poorly in cold and wet conditions.
2. Outer Layer
Staying dry and reducing the effects of wind chill are important, therefore your jacket and overpants should be waterproof and windproof. The outer layer also helps to insulate by trapping warm air next to the body. If you don’t have your own windproof and waterproof outer clothing you can hire them from most ski hire outlets.
It is important to wear a warm hat as significant body heat is lost from the head. Woollen or synthetic socks and gloves or mittens should also be worn. On wet days, large rubber dishwashing gloves worn over the top of your gloves help to keep hands warm and dry.
Never wear jeans or cotton/vinyl gloves as these do not give adequate protection against wind, rain or snow.
Alpine skiing: Equipment and clothing
Alpine ski clothing and equipment is specialised. Before purchasing equipment and clothing, ensure that they are suitable to your skiing needs. Consult your local professional ski retailer who can advise you on the best equipment to meet your requirements. If possible, hire the same equipment before purchasing.
If you have your own equipment. always have it checked and serviced regularly by a reputable ski or board technician before riding lifts.
Before buying clothing, seek expert advice and remember that showerproof is not waterproof.
Ski touring and bushwalking: Clothing
The right clothing ensures your comfort and therefore your enjoyment of any ski tour or bushwalk. Cotton or nylon clothing is not suitable for snow conditions as these materials are poor insulators when wet. Do not wear jeans.
What to wear or carry:
- Clothing made of wool, or synthetic fibres that have insulating properties similar to wool such as fibre pile.
- A number of layers of thin clothing, rather than a few layers of thick clothing.
- Woollen beanie and gloves or mittens.
- Warm underclothing, ie polypropylene thermals.
- Warm outer clothing, eg polypropylene or woollen jumpers.
- Woollen socks.
- Waterproof oven mitts and overpants.
- Footwear with soles having substantial grip.
- Goggles and/or sunglasses.
- Long waterproof and windproof jacket.
- Spare clothing if over-nighting.