Ski Clothing Buying Guide
Use this step-by-step buying guide to help you pick out the right ski clothing.
Waterproofing & Breathability
The industry standard for measuring a garment’s waterproofing is to place a column of water on a fabric and then increase the water level so more pressure is exerted. Once the water starts to penetrate the fabric, the water level is measured. This gives the fabric’s waterproof rating in mm e.g. 10,000mm. The higher the number, the higher the water proof capability of the item. If 10,000mm is the water proof rating on a garment then water would not penetrate the fabric until over 10,000mm of rain had fallen within a 24hour period.
Other areas of waterproofing concern are the seams. The stitching, done during manufacture, requires taping or sealing to become waterproof. In some cases all the garment’s stitching is taped while in others only critically placed stitching is taped i.e. through the shoulders, hood and chest - high exposure areas.
Waterproof/breathable fabrics have pores large enough for water vapour to escape, but small enough to prevent liquid passing through. The garment must be able to breathe from the inside out, otherwise during activity perspiration moisture cannot escape. The garment becomes wet on the inside and the body’s temperature will drop because of it.
Oils, dirt, perspiration and other contaminates will eventually break down the waterproofness and breathability of any garment and so, with time, they become permeable and fully breathable.
To make sure you remove moisture (perspiration) away from the body while remaining warm, use an appropriate layering system.
Probably the most important layer of them all. This layer sits next to the body and has to work the hardest to remove moisture away from the skin and through the other layers. The base layer needs to fit closely to the body. Always choose base layers that have high wicking (the removal of moisture away from the skin) properties, so it will regulate your body temperature. If you choose a fabric like cotton, this only stores moisture so will make you feel cold and damp.
The mid layer is there to add insulation as well as removing moisture from the base layer out to the outer layer. It is better to wear multiple mid layers than one thick one, as this promotes warmth by trapping warm air. Multiple light mid layers can be added or removed as required. Good examples are light fleeces or slightly heavier weight thermals containing merino wool or silk.
The outer layer consists of jackets and pants, which are there to protect from snow, wind and rain elements. They must be waterproof as well as breathable to remove moisture away from the mid layer, thereby keeping you warmer and dryer. Jackets and pants come in numerous different styles, cuts and fabrics. Choose one that fits comfortably and meets your requirements of waterproofness and breathability.
Extra zips allowing increased air flow when the body gets too warm. Usually found in the upper leg area on pants and under the arm or across the chest, in jackets.
Most jackets come with hoods that can either be folded away at the back of the neck or removed and placed in a pocket at the lower back. Modern hoods are shaped to be able to fit over any ski helmet.
For storage, and found everywhere, inside and out, on pants and jackets. Think about what you usually have on you and make sure there's a place for it.
An elasticised skirt that stops snow and wind entering the jacket.
Designed to keep the elements away from wrists. They need to be adjustable to maximise their performance.
In high use areas harder wearing fabric is used to slow down wear and tear. This reinforced material is often found on shoulders where packs are used as well as lower inside leg area to prevent cuts from ski/snowboard edges.
Garments either fully or critically seam sealed to prevent snow and rain penetrating seamed areas.
Flaps to cover exposed zips with the purpose of stopping snow/wind and rain getting through.
To make the garment more comfortable to move in e.g. articulated knees on pants.
Fairly obvious - so a belt can be worn on pants, to help them stay in a secure place.