Todayís market is flooded with many ski clothing options. There are flowery designs, bright colors, plaid patterns, polka dots, stripes, solids and just about anything you can imagine. I recently overheard a woman in a colorful one piece suit exclaim to a friend that her husband said it looked like their infant daughter threw up on it (the suit), due to itís array of colors.
While todayís options are far more varied than the unflattering ski clothes I grew up with, there are still some things to consider before purchasing a new jacket, ski pants, or one piece suit.
First, where will you be skiing, the resort or the backcountry?
If you are a resort skier, dressing properly can often be a challenge. Itís easy to work up a good sweat when youíre skiing down, but the chairlift ride up can be windy and cold. Some brands offer heavier jackets and pants, insulated with added fabric for the chilliest of days. The drawback to purchasing insulated clothing is that those extra-insulated clothing options donít work so well in warmer temperatures. Unless you can afford multiple ski outfits, you may want to reconsider such a purchase.
One-piece suits have always been around, but they have varied in popularity. They seem to be making a comeback lately. While these also come in different thickness, keep in mind the top part of a one piece requires a little management in the restroom.
A safe bet is to go with layered options, like a fleece or lightweight jacket underneath a waterproof shell. You can then easily adapt to the temperature range for the day that you are skiing. If itís exceptionally cold, you can wear a long underwear top (silk, wool, Capilene or other synthetic), put a warm sweater over it, and still add your fleece/lightweight jacket under your shell.
If you are backcountry skiing you want clothing with options. Itís nice to have pants with side zips, to vent the heat out while you are hiking. Venting allows your long underwear to dry out some from the sweat, so when you reach the top and are ready to ski down, youíll feel warmer instead of chilled. Layers are necessary, as you will always want to wear less hiking up, and more skiing down. If itís a particularly blistery day you may need to wear your waterproof shell while hiking, and one with armpit zippers for venting is ideal in this situation.
Regardless of where you are skiing, keeping warm is paramount to having a good day. Check the forecast before heading out, dress right, and you are sure to have fun!