We've all been there - you forget a jacket or don't wear the right layers and end up frozen and miserable while skiing or out exploring during the winter. When adventuring in the snow it’s important to wear the proper clothing so that you can focus on having fun instead of fending off negative thoughts and hypothermia the whole time. A big thing to remember is that wearing more layers doesn’t necessarily mean you will be warmer! A lot also depends on knowing which type of clothing goes where in the layering sequence. Once you know the basics, you will be ready for your next snowy adventure.
Base layer, best layer!
The base layer of your clothing is probably the most important layer. This layer usually comes in the form of thermals, so that your body stays nice and toasty. Picture the core of earth being the hottest part - that’s how you want to think of your body. You want to keep as much heat as close to your core as possible. The worst thing that you can wear next to your skin is cotton. Cotton easily absorbs all the moisture that your body secretes and doesn't dry. You do not want wet clothing touching your skin because it will freeze, leading you to freeze! The best things to wear include synthetic thermals or wool (things that are warm when wet). You should wear thermal long underwear, a thermal shirt and sturdy socks such as Smartwool socks.
You can think of this layer sort of like the insulator of your house. Its job is to make sure all the heat stays inside. Some of the best options for this layer are a heavyweight fleece or a puffy jacket depending on how cold and wet it’s going to be. If it’s going to be super damp then puffy jackets with synthetic fills are a better option than say a down jacket. Add a synthetic or wool neck warmer and hat and your mid layer is ready to go!
This layer protects you from the snow, rain, wind and whatever other elements you may experience on the mountain. It is your first line of defense for your layers underneath. So make sure to choose a jacket and pants that are not only water resistant, but are fully waterproof, windproof and breathable. A breathable outer layer is very important so that the moisture from you base layer doesn’t build up. Gore-Tex rainwear is a great option for waterproofness and breathability.
Gloves and boots
Hands and feet get cold the fastest in the winter so it’s important to keep them warm! For the hands I suggest insulated gloves with waterproof and breathable shells. Mittens always seem to be warmer because they allow fingers to share the warmth. For the feet it’s best to wear non-cotton socks. It’s also a good idea to make sure your boots are waterproof and have an insulated lining. And when all else fails, make sure to keep a few hand and feet warmers in your pockets in case you need them.
Better safe than sorry
It’s always good to bring a backpack with backup clothing just in case something gets wet unexpectedly. I typically keep an extra pair of socks, gloves and maybe a fleece if I'm going to be out for a longer period of time. It’s better to be over-prepared on the mountain. Now that you’re all layered up, it’s time to get out there and enjoy those white-capped mountains!