Skiing holidays are often avidly anticipated and many people book them up to a year in advance, with the excitement building until the day you can head to the snow.
Family ski holidays can be some of the most memorable trips with the kids learning to ski and gradually being able to ski with the adults, often suddenly beating them down the slopes! But these amazing times can quickly disintegrate without the right clothing.
Nobody likes feeling cold, uncomfortable and potentially downright miserable and if you are travelling with children you will almost certainly hear about it.
And bear in mind the mountain weather can vary quite substantially from one day to another and a warm, sunny ski day can turn into a snow storm very quickly.
Prepare yourself & your family for any turn of events, so that you really can enjoy that longed for ski holiday and keep everyone safe. Here's what to wear when skiing:
You can add or remove layers to help regulate your body temperature, as weather conditions change throughout the day. Even if the air temperature stays the same, you may sit in the sun at lunchtime and need to take off a layer, but ski some shady runs later & need it back on again. Stuff an extra thin later into a ski jacket pocket in case it gets colder than you think or you can use your pockets to store thin layers if you get too toasty.
Wear long underwear - you can wear thermal layers that look like long sleeve T-shirts on your top half as well as thermal bottoms or legs as we call them! Polyester or merino wool are really the best thing to wear next to your skin. No cotton! Base layers are no longer the thing your granddad wore, they can be very stylish nowadays with the big brands making them. On top of your long underwear, lots of people wear mid-layers such as a polo-neck or long sleeve shirt. Again many of the brands now have wicking mid-layers to help regulate your body temperature. Then add jumper, fleece, or sweatshirt type layer.
Wear a ski jacket and salopettes or ski pants which are warm, comfortable & water resistant. Some jackets are insulated with padding. Lots of people also now wear just a "shell" jacket with a thin down jacket underneath it. Whichever you choose, make sure your gear is not too tight (!), you need to make sure you have plenty of room underneath for however many layers you need that day. Plus you need room to move, so that you can ski your best.
Lots of people complain about cold feet! Skiers & snowboarder really should wear thin socks and although this sounds counterintuitive when you want to keep your feet warm, it's really the best way to go. If your socks are too bulky your ski boots will be too tight and you cut off circulation to your feet, ending up with cold toes. Wool or poly socks are great, but do avoid cotton. Smartwool has a great selection of warm, but not itchy socks to keep your toes toasty.
If your feet tend to get cold, there is also the option of a neoprene "footglove" which goes over your ski boots and creates a barrier between the snow & your boot helping to keep you warm.
If you want to go the whole hog and you have your own ski boots, there are "hot-tronics" which are battery operated boot warmers. The heating element is placed under your footbed, so it doesn't affect the fit of your ski boot. It's attached to a battery pack which clips on the outside of your ski boot and you can control the temperature of the heat on a scale of 1-4. Personally I use these all the time! Sometimes I just put my boot heaters on a scale of 1 to warm them up a bit before I go out to ski. If it's really cold you can give them a quick blast at level 4, before turning them down to an ambient level 2 for the rest of the day...
Clearly gloves or mittens are a must. Mittens are warmer if you tend to get cold hands. Some people think they are harder to manipulate and grip your ski poles, but many people get used to them pretty quickly. If you have trouble with mittens, there's a hybrid option where you can get mittens with finger section inside.
Personally I also take disposable hand-warmers with me, just in case I need them. Hand-warmers resemble packets of sugar and to turn them "on", you just shake them and then put them inside your gloves or mittens and you'll feel the warmth. Some gloves even have pockets specially made for these handwarmers. Note you can get disposable foot warmers too, but they can make your ski boots fit incorrectly, so we wouldn't particularly recommend them unless you're desperate!
These are great to fill in those gaps which the chilly wind or flying snow can get into it. Neck gaiters work better than scarves when it comes to keeping your neck warm; scarves can easily unravel when you're traveling fast and can get caught in the lifts. If it gets chilly you can pull up your neck gaiters over your mouth and nose and even anchor it with your goggles to keep your mouth and nose warm. Usually made of neoprene facemasks can help cover any remaining inch of your face, whilst allowing you to breathe. Perfect for those perishing days.
We've probably all heard that 80% of heat is lost though your head, which means a good hat or helmet is essential. If you choose to wear a hat, it should cover your ears and stay anchored to your head easily when you're skiing or snowboarding. Helmets are actually warmer and are much safer.
All children in ski school have to wear helmets now in the US and it's getting rarer and rarer to see hats on the slopes. Some people say it's hard to hear with a helmet, so now helmets often have removable ear pieces, which is bonus so you can take them off when you get too warm.
Ultraviolet radiation is around 35% higher at high altitude say of around 9000 ft (which most of the Colorado resorts start at) than at sea level. When the sun reflects off the snow, it can be harsh and really hurt your eyes, so you must wear good eye protection. Goggles again can be warmer on cold days and you can get different lenses for low light or bright sun conditions. Some even change automatically. Sunglasses are cool, there's no doubt about it, but can fly off or make your eyes water if you are going fast. Just make sure you wear one of the other as snowblindness is not fun or pretty and can cause permanent damage.
We want you to have a fantastic, comfortable skiing holiday, so follow these steps and Happy Skiing!
We live in the USA, know the ski resorts & accommodation and visit them regularly.
We can give you expert advice and save you time & effort finding the right USA ski holiday for you.
Helen & Rob Brown
UK Tel 01223 655642
US Tel 303 482 1961