We ski in temperatures that can range from -10C or lower up to around freezing, so you’ll need warm clothing. On the other hand, while skiing the body generates heat. Even in cool temperatures you can soon find yourself perspiring, which can lead to dampness and feeling cold as soon as you stop, or pause along the trail. You therefore want to wear breathable clothing that is lighter than you would wear if just walking outside, and that allows you to move comfortably. Don’t wear a downhill ski outfit as you’ll overheat!
The best plan is to dress in layers which can be removed or switched around as conditions require:
Start with long underwear and a top in a wicking material that is not cotton. Cotton absorbs moisture and will keep you cold. You may find polypropylene, wool or silk options – many of our members swear by Merino wool. You can get this sort of clothing at outdoor stores such as Mountain Equipment Co-op or Sail, or at the pro shop at some resorts.
Next add a warm layer such as fleece or a sweater, or if you are a particularly energetic skier just a light jacket or thin sweater on top. You might want to bring along a couple of options in your ski bag, e.g. a sweater, plus a fleece vest in case you find it’s cooler than you expected.
You’ll want some sort of shell on top that breaks the wind, but not a rain jacket as again you would retain moisture and end up colder. For conditions of falling snow a hood is useful.
Nordic ski pants or tights in a light fabric that breaks the wind are almost essential. Don’t wear jeans as denim gets stiff and uncomfortable.
If you are a runner you can initially use your running jacket and pants if they are made from breathable material. Of course, you will still want to use layers underneath as described above.
You’ll want a hat, mitts or gloves, and perhaps a neck warmer. When temperatures are low or it’s windy you’ll want to keep your ears covered, and buff (neckwarmer) is handy to pull up over your nose and cheeks if needed. Gloves are suitable for warmer conditions but you’ll need mitts for particularly cold weather. Wool mitts with a removable windproof shell can be useful.
Think about what socks to wear, and again, avoid cotton. You can get wool or suitable synthetic socks specially designed for Nordic skiing, with some degree of padding to keep your feet warm and comfortable. If you’re buying boots, wear your ski socks when trying them on.
If you find your hands or feet tend to get cold even while moving, you can use chemical warmers, e.g. Hot Shots. These can be bought at most resorts or at outdoor shops, and they slip inside your boot or mitt. Many X-country boot makers provide a shell or over boot that you can pull over your boots in cold weather. These are usually made of synthetic materials and have Velcro zips. Some manufacturers have a neoprene over boot but these are difficult to put on and provide a lot less warmth than the synthetic ones. Your name tag with your current contact information. You’ll be issued this on your first trip and you must wear it on the bus and on the trails. The lanyard is designed to release if needed.