One of Tahoe’s timeless questions in what to wear skiing. Whether you’re visiting us here at Granlibakken, hitting the nearby Squaw Valley slopes, or even traveling to Alaska and beyond, we’ve enlisted the help of the gear experts at Tahoe Mountain Sports to make sure you know what to wear when skiing or snowboarding. Here’s their quick primer on ski layers:
Thermals, or base layers, are key. Be sure to buy base layers made of material that will wick moisture away instead of holding tight to any sweat or wet snow that may get through your outer layers. We recommend a light and natural wool layer from the likes of SmartWool apparel or Icebreaker Merino Wool. The wool being made into base layers is fine spun to eliminate any itch, and won’t hold onto odors like synthetic fabrics do. Terrarmar is a great base layer brand if you’re on a budget since their garments are built to wick moisture but are very affordable. And these guidelines go for your bottom half, too. Most brands make matching base layers for top and bottom to keep your shopping simple.
Depending on the weather, you may opt for a middle layer for additional warmth. This layer should have some loft since it’s primary purpose is to keep you warm, but you don’t want it so bulky that you can’t fit your jacket over it, or that you’ll inhibit your movement. Skip bulky cotton hoodies and sweatshirts that stay wet once they get wet. We recommend something ultralight yet warm like the Patagonia Nano pullover if you get cold, or just a heavier weight shirt like something from the SmartWool Midweight line.
If it’s snowing, be sure to wear a waterproof ski jacket. You can usually check waterproofness on garment labels. 5,000 mm (a measurement listed on most jackets that indicates how many millimeters of rain it can withstand in 24 hours) is a good start, but if it’s really wet out, you can opt for Gore-tex or Patagonia’s H2No which reach 20,000 mm and up.
If you run hot, get a jacket with pit-zips and pants with thigh zips that will be key in keeping you cool in fluctuating temps. These days, companies even make hybrid jackets (like the Patagonia Nano Storm) with some down or sythetic insulation in key spots to keep you warm. Or you can opt for a soft shell jacket that breathes and is less waterproof. Most skiers, though, go with a standard hard shell jacket; that way you can layer (or not) according to the weather.
Socks are also key to your comfort on any slope. If your feet are unhappy, clammy or wet, chances are you’ll cut your day short. The aforementioned properties of wool make it a great choice for your feet, too, and most sock brands make ski-specific socks with extra padding in high-impact areas.
OTHER KEY ACCESSORIES
Ski goggles and waterproof winter gloves are two accessories you should definitely wear when skiing or snowboarding, and don’t fret about spending a little money here. A cheap pair of goggles will fog up on a snow day and gloves without waterproofing will leave your hands cold and wet. If you spend the extra money on getting a quality pair, then you’ll be all the more comfortable and they’ll last for years and years. Another accessory to consider is a snow helmet. Skiing can be dangerous, so why not take the extra precaution? Plus, on a snow day, a ski helmet keeps your head dry!
Tahoe Mountain Sports is an online outdoor gear retailer based in Kings Beach, on the North Shore of Lake Tahoe. Visit them 10am to 6pm daily, or anytime online. They’re local experts on what to wear skiing and can build a custom outfit for you.