Skiing and snowboarding are wonderful winter pastimes. When it starts snowing, go hit the slopes! But not so fast – make sure you gear up properly. Going out in the winter without proper clothes can lead to hypothermia (when your core temperature drops too low) and frostbite (when your skin loses circulation and actually freezes). Most people who enjoy winter sports also enjoy adding their own personal style to their outfits – but worry not: wearing the proper clothes to ensure your own safety doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your fashion.
The proper clothing for winter sports essentially boils down to a three-part layering system.
This is your base layer, closest to your skin – and therefore closest to your sweat. As any winter sports participant knows, cold weather doesn’t mean you don’t sweat. There’s no reason to be uncomfortable on the slopes, though. A proper wicking layer will absorb your sweat through capillary action, and carry it toward the outer layers, keeping your skin nice and dry. Look for long underwear and long-sleeved t-shirts made from a high-quality thermal fabric – but make sure you find the proper fit. Otherwise, you’ll be pretty uncomfortable. Luckily, these garments tend to be rather uniform in size.
This is your workhorse layer. Most of the work to prevent hypothermia is done by this layer: it keeps the warm in, and the cold out. Here’s where some personal style can come into play. This layer is essentially your everyday winter wear: sweaters, sweatshirts, pullovers, fleeces, and the like. Just make sure it’s warm!
This is your outerwear, and a chance to really let your personal fashion show. As a protective outer shell, this layer is your main guard against everything winter has to throw at you – freezing air, snow, rain, wind, etc. It’s important that this layer is waterproof, but it also needs to be breathable enough to allow your perspiration to evaporate. Some garments will have vents to allow evaporation; others are the result of waterproofing fabric such that it keeps moisture out, but allows evaporated perspiration through.
That covers the body, but what about your head? Frostbite can hit hard on your head – especially the ears. Earmuffs are one solution, but they’re not exactly high fashion – nor are they incredibly manageable on the slopes. Many snowboarders employ helmets, which serve the dual purpose of keeping your head warm and protecting you from dangerous falls. The most popular – and some might say most stylish – choice, however, is the classic knit hat. A knit hat made from well-insulating yarn will keep your head and ears nice and warm on the way down the hill.
Your ears aren’t the only part of your head that can take a beating from the elements. Going down the slopes at high speeds will send that wind and snow right into your eyes. Make sure to keep things nice & visible with a good pair of goggles. Here’s another place to let your style show – on warmer days, you could even forego the goggles in favor of some fashionable sunglasses.
So go out and look your best on the slopes! But remember safety first. Proper clothing can be the difference between life and death.