Nothing can ruin a great day on the slopes like being as cold as a freeze-pop. Believe me, I’ve learned the importance of dressing properly, as I’m usually hard to keep warm even when I’m not in the mountains. Jeans and cotton clothing are no longer part of the equation; plus, if you caught wearing jeans on the slopes these days, you may fall victim to snickering from the locals.
Take a look at some some tips on what to wear on your ski trip to Winter Park.
HEAD, HANDS & FEET
Keep in mind that the biggest areas of the body that drain heat are the head, the hands and the feet. Keeping these areas warm is your biggest priority. For your head, wear a helmet. Wearing a helmet not only protects you from injury, but it keeps your body’s furnace nice and toasty.
WICKING AWAY FOR WARMTH
Probably the most important tip for staying warm is staying dry. Wicking materials such as wool and synthetic blends (like Under Armour) will keep moisture away from your skin, whereas cotton soaks up moisture that may eventually turn to ice on your body. Wicking materials keep you dryer, and therefore, much warmer. I personally love a great pair of thick wool socks or two thin pair of wool socks.
LOVE THE LAYERS
Rather than wearing your thickest knit sweater under your thickest winter coat, it’s recommended that you wear a couple of thin layers. A waterproof “shell” that goes over a fleece is great instead of a heavy coat. Under the fleece, wear a thin polyester shirt. You can then remove the fleece if you start to burn up and sweat too much. Long underwear made of a synthetic blend material are great under a waterproof pair of ski pants.
DRESS JUST A LITTLE COLD TO STAY WARM
Say hmmm? Think of it this way: if you’re already burning up in your ski attire before you even hit the lift, you’re going to sweat yourself into a shivering frenzy after you make a few runs. You want to be just a teeny bit cool outside before you start turning, so you’ll be perfectly warm after your body heat kicks up from exertion. If the weather is exceptionally cold or windy, you should be at just a comfortable temperature in your ski gear before hitting the slopes.
GLOVES OR MITTENS? THAT IS THE QUESTION…
No matter what, you need to cover your hands. A pair of waterproof gloves is good, but even better are mittens. Mittens keep your fingers together so they collectively keep each other warmer by sharing body heat. One of my biggest challenges in all my years of snowboarding was having cold hands, until I found a great pair of North Face mittens filled with down. I’ve never had cold hands on the slopes since.
FOR WINDY & SNOWY DAYS
Balaclavas. Face Masks. Scarves. Anything to protect your face from the wind and snow is a HUGE help, especially when you’re on the lift. A Balaclava is great because it has a built in face cover connected to a cap that you can tuck back in if you don’t need it anymore.
AHMs (ARTIFICIAL HEAT MAKERS)
You can pick up heat packets at most ski shops around town and the Safeway in Fraser. These little things heat up when you squeeze them and are great to stuff into your mittens or boots. You can even go all out and buy fancy equipment like jackets or pants with built in battery packs that heat up if you want, but be prepared to spend a pretty penny.
Consider getting a locker and storing some dry clothes if you get too sweaty and cold. Also be sure to PROTECT yourself from the elements. You need to wear goggles or sunglasses and sunscreen even if it’s not sunny. And water, water, water. We cannot stress the importance of staying hydrated at our high altitude. For tips on how to avoid high altitude sickness, click here.