On the ski slopes, dressing appropriately is essential. Certain fabrics and clothing layers work better to keep you warm and dry than others. For new skiers, rustling up the right clothing can make the difference between a fun day on the slopes and a wet, cold day of shivering misery. Learning what to wear skiing is key to your enjoyment of the sport.

Here at The Adventure Junkies, we’ve put together the ultimate clothing guide for skiing. It will help you get started in rounding up the clothing you need for the slopes. It will also help you sort out what clothing will keep you warm and what clothing may not perform well enough to protect you in wintry conditions.

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

 

FREE BONUS! Click here to download the AJ Quick Starter Guide To Snow Sports

 

 

 

 

HOW TO USE THIS GUIDE

Here you will find a list of terms we’ll be using within the article to describe each piece of clothing.

BEST MATERIALS:  We’ll list what materials to look for when shopping.

PRICE RANGE: We will give you a price range so you’ll know what to expect.

CONDITIONS BEST FOR: This is our recommended best conditions to wear the product in.

TYPE OF SKIING: There are a few types of skiing. This will help you dress for the occasion.

IDEAL PROPERTIES: The qualities in technical clothing terms to look for.

LEARN MORE: More information may be listed in a link here.

 

 

 

1. FOOTWEAR

ideal ski boots

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Cold toes are no fun. That means keeping your feet warm while skiing is paramount. Ski boots and socks are designed to keep your feet warm. The boots are also an essential part of your ski equipment.

 

 

 

SKI BOOTS

Adult ski boots should have four buckles, a Velcro power strap around the cuff, and rubber toe and heel pads for walking safety. The best liners can be shaped by heat in the shop to conform to the specific contours of your foot.

The outer plastic shells provide the stiffness to steer your skis and waterproofing. Boots also come in varied stiffness; most beginner and intermediate skiers prefer a soft to medium flex while racers, freeride competitors, and experts opt for stiff models. Some boots also have a walk mode or built-in heaters.

Some popular boots for beginners and intermediates are Salomon Quest Access 80 and Rossignol Alltrack Pro 100.

 

BEST MATERIALS: Plastic shells, rubber toe and heel pads, thermoformable liners with Thinsulate

PRICE RANGE: $300-$800

CONDITIONS BEST FOR: Snow

TYPE OF SKIING: Downhill

IDEAL PROPERTIES: Waterproof, moldable to your foot

OTHER OPTIONS: All terrain or touring ski boots, telemark ski boots

LEARN MORE: Ski Boots 101 >>

 

 

 

 

SKI SOCKS

Ski socks come in varied thicknesses for providing more or less warmth and usually pull up knee high to be higher than the boot. Some have extra padding on the shins, since that’s where you pressure your boots. Some socks also beef up the padding around the heel and toe for extra warmth and durability. Ski socks should have elasticity to conform to your foot.

Some of the most popular ski socks are Smartwool PhD Ski MediumSmartwool PhD Ski Light and Darn Tough Thermolite Cushioned Ski Socks.

 

BEST MATERIALS: Merino wool, synthetics (polyester, nylon, and spandex)

PRICE RANGE: $22-$30

CONDITIONS BEST FOR: Cold weather

TYPE OF SKIING: Downhill, backcountry

IDEAL PROPERTIES: Breathable, moisture wicking, warmth, flat toe seams

OTHER OPTIONS: Mountaineering socks

LEARN MORE: Snow Socks 101 >>

 

 

 

 

2. BOTTOMS

ideal ski pants to wear

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Dressing appropriately for skiing means layering. All under layers, including underwear, should be made from synthetics that have moisture-wicking and heat-retaining properties.

Cotton does not work as it absorbs water, hangs onto it, and produces clammy, cold skin. Outer layers should have waterproof and wind-blocking properties.

 

 

 

UNDERWEAR

Go for quick-dry types of fabrics for underwear. These will provide the warmth you need for skiing while wicking moisture off your skin. Antimicrobial treatments can help reduce odors, and flat seams will prevent chaffing.

For men, the Exofficio Give-n-Go Boxer Brief or Smartwool Merino 150 Boxer Brief work well for skiing. The Exofficio Give-n-Go Bikini or Patagonia Active Hipster Briefs offer women’s options.

 

BEST MATERIALS: Merino Wool or Nylon

PRICE RANGE: $25 – $45

CONDITIONS BEST FOR: Skiing

TYPE OF SKIING: All Types

IDEAL PROPERTIES: Breathable, quick drying, warm

 

 

 

LONG UNDERWEAR

Long underwear comes in various thicknesses, from lightweight silk to heavier fleece. Leggings also can work, as long as they do not contain cotton. Your outer pants will dictate what type of long underwear layers you need.

If your outer pants are insulated, then a thinner pair of long underwear can do the job unless temperatures plunge below zero.

If your outer pants are a thinner shell, then you’ll need a heavier long underwear layer, such as fleece, or perhaps even a thin nylon layer topped with a thin fleece. Be cautious of layering too much that might cause overheating or impinge movement.

Some popular long underwear for men are REI Co-op Merino Midweight Base Layer Bottoms and Patagonia Capilene Lightweight Long Underwear Bottoms, and Icebreaker Winter Zone Leggings. For women, check out the Smartwool Merino 150 Base Layer Bottoms and REI Co-op Silk Long Underwear Bottoms.

 

BEST MATERIALS: Merino Wool, silk, and nylon

PRICE RANGE: $24-$120

CONDITIONS BEST FOR: Cold weather

TYPE OF SKIING: All Types

IDEAL PROPERTIES: Breathable, moisture-wicking, and warmth

 

 

 

SKI PANTS

The best ski pants should be windproof and waterproof. They should have elasticized powder cuffs or snow gaiters to prevent snow from getting into your ski boots. Insulation will provide warmth, although you can use thicker long underwear layers for pants that lack insulation.

For men, popular pants are the Outdoor Research AlpenIce Insulated Pants and Marmot Motion Snow Pants. For women, look for Arc’teryx Sentinel Snow Pants or Patagonia Insulated Snowbelle Pants.

 

BEST MATERIALS: Gore-tex, nylon, polyester

PRICE RANGE: $120-$600

CONDITIONS BEST FOR: Cold and wet snowy weather

TYPE OF SKIING: All Types

IDEAL PROPERTIES: Waterproof, breathable, windproof

OTHER OPTIONS: Shell pants

LEARN MORE: Snow Pants 101 >>

 

 

 

3. TOPS

how long snowboard and ski should be

Photo by istockphoto.com/portfolio/dell640

Layering tops can help you adapt to skiing in ultra frigid or warmer spring days. Underlayers need to be moisture-wicking and breathable. Above all, they should not be made from cotton or cotton blends that are neither.

 

 

 

SPORT BRAS

For maximum comfort, warmth, and breathability, look for sports bras made from polyester and nylon. Spandex adds elasticity for a snug, no bulk fit. V-style or racerstyle backs prevent straps slipping off. Look for bras such as Moving Comfort Juno Sports Bra and Patagonia Active Sports Bra.

 

BEST MATERIALS: Nylon, polyester, spandex

PRICE RANGE: $25-$65

CONDITIONS BEST FOR: Activity outdoors in cold weather

TYPE OF SKIING: All types

IDEAL PROPERTIES: Moisture-wicking and breathable

 

 

 

 

LONG UNDERWEAR TOPS

Layering long underwear tops is key for handling winter weather. For colder temperatures, you can double up on tops or go with a thicker fabric. For warmer spring ski days, trim down to one lightweight layer.

Tops come in lightweight, midweight, and heavyweight thicknesses. No matter how you layer tops, be cautious of overdressing that may cause overheating and inhibit movement. For colder days, some tops include a mock-turtleneck and neck zipper.

For men, the REI Co-op Lightweight Base Layer Long Sleeve Crew Top and Smartwool NTS 250 Pattern Long Underwear Crew Top can work. For women, tops include the Smartwool Merino 150 Base Layer Long Sleeve Top or Icebreaker Oasis Half-zip Long Underwear Top.

 

BEST MATERIALS: Merino wool, synthetics (nylon or polyester)

PRICE RANGE: $24 – $110

CONDITIONS BEST FOR: Winter and spring skiing

TYPE OF SKIING: All types

IDEAL PROPERTIES: Moisture-wicking and breathable

OTHER OPTIONS: Fleece top or ski sweater

LEARN MORE: Snow Underwear 101 >>

 

 

 

SKI JACKET

Ski jackets come in three constructions: insulated, shell, or soft shell. Insulated jackets use polyester or down layers to retain heat while the outer layer provides waterproofing and wind-blocking.

With shell jackets that trim down to only the water- and wind-proof layer, skiers can vary the underlayers to adjust to warmer or colder conditions. Soft shells are usually for warmer ski days as the outer layer is not as waterproof. Jackets known as 3-in-1 styles have zip-out insulated liners, so you can wear only the shell, only the liner, or both parts for maximum warmth.

For men, the Arc’teryx Shuksan Jacket and Outdoor Research White Room are good options. For women, the Patagonia Snowbelle 3-in-1 Jacket or Mountain Hardwear Downhill Down Parka provide good choices.

 

BEST MATERIALS: Gore-tex, down, polyester

PRICE RANGE: $115-$775

CONDITIONS BEST FOR: Winter and spring skiing

TYPE OF SKIING: All types

IDEAL PROPERTIES: Depends on weather

OTHER OPTIONS: Fleece or down jacket

LEARN MORE: Snow Jackets 101 >>

 

 

 

4. ACCESSORIES

best ski mittens

Photo by istockphoto.com/portfolio/BSANI

Ski accessories are an important part of clothing, especially to add head, face, hand, and eye protection.

 

 

 

HELMET

Ski helmets are necessary to protect the head during falls and collisions. While you can find helmets designed for men or women, many work for either sex. The most important element is fit.

The helmet must be snug, but not too tight. You’ll wear it over a thin beanie or just your head. Higher end models offer methods of adjusting vents for airflow, coverage to keep ears warm, and adjustable chin straps.

Try out helmets such as Smith Vantage MIPS Snow Helmet for men or the Smith Vantage MIPS Snow Helmet for women.

 

BEST MATERIALS: Hard plastic shell exterior, foam liner

PRICE RANGE: $60-$260

CONDITIONS BEST FOR: All weather

TYPE OF SKIING: All types

IDEAL PROPERTIES: Head protection, works with goggles

LEARN MORE: Ski Helmets 101 >>

 

 

 

HATS

While some ski hats are fashion statements, functional hats do the job of keeping your head warm. For those wearing helmets, only thinner beanie-style hats with no pom-poms on top will fit under the helmet.

For warm spring days, headbands work, but for colder days, look for hats with wool or tight knits. Fleece linings can help reduce itch.

Especially with helmets, look for hats like the Patagonia Beanie Hat. There’s also the North Face Bones Beanie for men, or for women, the Pistil Flint Hat.

 

BEST MATERIALS: Merino wool, polyesters, synthetics

PRICE RANGE: $20 – $55

CONDITIONS BEST FOR: Cold weather

TYPE OF SKIING: Any type

IDEAL PROPERTIES: Breathable, moisture-wicking, and warmth

OTHER OPTIONS: Balaclava or Buff

LEARN MORE: Snow Hats 101 >>

 

 

 

GLOVES AND MITTENS

To keep your hands warm on the slopes, you’ll need to invest in a pair of mittens, gloves, or both. Many skiers wear gloves for skiing when the temperatures are 15 degrees or warmer.

For temperatures that plummet below that, many skiers opt for mittens as they provide more warmth for the fingers. You can also add thin liners to gloves or mittens for an additional layer of warmth. Both gloves and mittens should have a waterproof outer layer with inner insulation.

Go for Black Diamond Guide Gloves or Marmot Expedition Mittens for men or Outdoor Research Alti Mittens or Burton Gore-Tex Gloves for women.

 

BEST MATERIALS: Gore-tex, synthetics

PRICE RANGE: $36 – $355

CONDITIONS BEST FOR: Cold, wind, and snow

TYPE OF SKIING: Downhill, backcountry

IDEAL PROPERTIES: Waterproof, wind-blocking, breathable

LEARN MORE: Snow Gloves 101 >>

 

 

 

SUNGLASSES

On sunny days, sunglasses are a must to protect your eyes. Damaging UVA and UVB rays can glare off the snow with added intensity to cause snow-blindness.

Be sure to invest in sunglasses that have strong UV protective coating to cut down on damaging rays. Shades that wrap around the side of the face will also prevent rays from coming in the sides. Look for dark, polarized lenses to transmit less light.

Some of the most popular sunglasses for skiing are the Oakley Jawbreaker Prizm Sunglasses and Smith Parallel Max Polarized Sunglasses.

 

BEST MATERIALS: 100% UV Protected Coating, nylon frames

PRICE RANGE: $20 – $300+

CONDITIONS BEST FOR: Sunny days

TYPE OF SKIING: All types

 

 

 

GOGGLES

Snowy, blowing days in the mountains require goggles for skiing. They protect your eyes from snow and ice, plus keep your face warmer. Look for fog-free optics and a wide field of vision. They must be helmet compatible; try out glasses with your helmet to be sure of the fit. Some glasses have interchangeable lenses for different light levels.

Check out the Oakley Flight Deck XM Snow Goggles or Smith I/O Snow Goggles for men and Oakley Flight Deck XM Lindsey Vonn Snow Goggles or Smith I/OS Snow Goggles for women.

 

BEST MATERIALS: 100% UV Protected Coating

PRICE RANGE: $30 – $650

CONDITIONS BEST FOR: Snow, cold

TYPE OF SKIING: Downhill, backcountry

LEARN MORE: Snow Goggles 101 >>

 

 

 

NECK GAITER

Neck gaiters are knit or fleece tubes that help in retaining heat from escaping the neck and lower face. You can pull them up to cover your chin in a blizzard or wear them just around your neck. Two classic neck gaiters are REI Co-op Merino Wool Liner Neck Gaiter or Turtle Fur MFS Neck Gaiter.

 

BEST MATERIALS: Merino Wool or synthetics

PRICE RANGE: $18 – $35

CONDITIONS BEST FOR: Cold, wind, and snow

TYPE OF SKIING: Downhill, backcountry

IDEAL PROPERTIES: Breathable

OTHER OPTIONS: Buffs

What to Wear Skiing - Snow Clothes For Women, Men and Kids – Snow Outfits for Winter - Accessories for Ski and Snowboarding – Best Skiing and Snowboard Gear

About The Author

Snow Sports Expert

Becky Lomax is a writer and photographer who covers skiing, hiking, and backpacking. She is based in Montana where she skis several days each week in winter. The choice of downhill, backcountry, cross-country touring, skate, or Nordic classic depends on snow conditions. Having skied many of the big resorts in the western U.S. and Canada, she knows a good day skiing is any day she’s gliding on the boards.

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