Dressing For Highly Aerobic Winter Sports
Even though the thermostat reads 15 degrees and you can see your breath, if you’re skiing or snowboarding, you can expect to heat up fast and perspire. IF the sweat you produce during this workout is trapped next to your skin, you will eventually feel chilled. Not only is this cold clammy feeling uncomfortable, it can be dangerous, especially as you start to cool down. Protect yourself by wearing lightweight layers that you can remove quickly and stow away as you warm up.
Moisture management is the first consideration here. To keep the body warm during high-energy activities, clothing should transport moisture away from the skin, to the outer surface of the fabric where it can evaporate.
Your next layer should be a lightweight stretchy insulator such as a breathable fleece sweater of vest. While you might not need it once you’re warmed up, you’ll appreciate a cozy top on your descent or ride home.
The final part of your cold-weather wear should be a lightweight and versatile shell jacket that will function for highly aerobic as well as less strenuous activities, depending on what you layer under it. For aerobic activities, a shell’s ventilating features are particularly important. Look for underarm zippers as well as venting pockets and back flaps.
Depending on the activity and weather, a lightweight wicking layer and stretch fleece parts are often all you’ll need on the bottom. In deeper snow, you can wear gaiters to protect your feel and ankles, but carry lightweight shell pants with side zips just in case the weather gets nasty.
Always bring a hat and gloves, regardless of the weather or your activity level. As with the rest of your clothing, synthetic materials work best for protecting you against the extremes – plus they don’t itch! Look for fleece hats made with Windstopper fabric; gloves and mittens layered with Gore-Tex and fleece; and socks made of synthetic, moisture-wicking materials.
Dressing For Activities Where Energy Output Fluctuates
It’s 8:30 a.m and you’re in the parking lot, surveying the skies and your duffel bag as you try to decide what to wear. Getting dressed for a day of downhill skiing or snowboarding can be especially tricky. IN the next several hours, you’ll work up a sweat carving turns and negotiating mogul fields, but you’ll also sit on the chairlift, exposed to biting winds and wishing you had a down-filled mummy bag.
As you mull over your ensemble, keep the basic principles of laying in mind, incorporating warmer windproof garments with plenty of venting options. Underneath, choose mid- or heavyweight long underwear with wicking capabilities. Staying dry is the best way to combat the inevitable cooling while you’re at rest in the lift lines and on the chairlift. Also, look for undergarments with zip turtlenecks.
Next, layer on a lofty insulator, such as fleece pile, to trap warm air and protect you against the cold. Again, the fabric should wick moisture and breathe to help you stay dry. Another good option for skiing and snowboarding is windproof fleece. Several manufacturers now offer garments that feature a layer of wind protection sandwiched between layers of fleece, providing extra warmth and protection without added weight or bulk.
Shells for downhilling should be completely windproof and provide plenty of opportunities to vent. A longer three-quarter-length shell parka will keep wind and snow out most effectively, with the added benefit of keeping your backside warm on the lift. A hood is handy for extra head and neck protection in high winds.
For the best performance and comfort, wear shell pants over stretchy fleece tights. Features to look for in shell pants included full side zips for ventilation, articulated knees for easy movement, and bibs for extra snow protection. Some people, particularly snowboarders, like an extra layer of warmth and padding for sitting in the snow – it’s also nice on the lift.