Skiing is fun, skiing is exciting, skiing is the best time of winter!
But… (it is never so simple…) skiing can quickly turn into your worst nightmare if you don’t come prepared. Remember last time you were stuck on a chair lift on a windy day and all you could do was promise yourself you would buy a warmer jacket or start layering up? We have all been there. Waking up on a sunny day, making sure to pack cool shades and suncream and off we go. Little did we know the sky would turn dark and it would snow rabbits tails (french expression translated litterally)?
Welcome to the mountain they said! And there you are shivering cold on a chair-lift…
When I ski with my clients, I usually have an extra woolen hat or an extra pair of gloves for the unprepared 🙂 because the weather changes quickly in the mountains.
Here are my 10 tips to be protected head to toes.
1- Better too hot than too cold
You might feel warm thanks to skiing but it is still -10°C outside. Never leave your hotel or chalet in the morning being underdressed. It is easier to drop a layer than it is to warm up at the summit when it is freezing cold and gusting 30 knots!
2- You can leave your hat on
Some old school skiers are used to skiing whith their head uncovered. I can’t! My ears would freeze and fall off… I advise you carry a warm hat with you just in case it starts snowing badly.
Now when it comes to your head, whether or not wearing a helmet is usually your first question. For children, the helmet is mandatory and should be worn at all times. For adults I tend to be more flexible. I do not wear a helmet myself (I did when I use to compete as a kid), so who am to force to you to wear one? Your best protection is your ability to observe the environnement you are skiing in, adapt your speed and be carefull. Wearing a helmet is up to each skier. It is YOUR responsability and it is best this way. Mountains are one of the last lands of freedom. I hope it stays this way.
3 – « The sky is the daily bread of the eyes«
Well then let’s not burn our eyes! Sunglasses, weither they make you look silly or the coolest dude on the slopes, are MANDATORY!
Direct sun rays and the sun’s reflection on the snow will burn your eyes. No fact checking needed on this one…
The thing is: our eyes don’t feel the pain so we don’t realise what’s going on until the end of the day when you discover your eyes are completely red… You can opt for a mask, sunglasses or a helmet with windshield. There is a wide choice of gears. Ideally it is nice to have a pair of shades for spring days (making sure reflections can’t get to your eyes on the side of the glasses) and a mask for foggy days when the visibility gets very poor. If you are skiing with a helmet, you will probably feel more confortable with a mask or an inbuilt windshield.
4 – Will you be showing a good nose?
More and more skiers wear a nose covering devise to protect them from getting frost bitten. I have never tried it myself. I must admit it creates a distance with the persons you are talking to… Not great for a ski instructor. I find it a bit extreme when it is not less than -15 °C outside but if you tend to have a fragile nose, it might be worse trying one of those nose guards.
If you do try, let me know what you think on the comment section below! And do post a selfie 😉
5 – Layers are the secret
The most efficient way to keep warm is to layer up. This way
As Angelika Liko explains in her blog post from the Mountain Warehouse, « the reason wearing multiple thin layers will keep you warmer than a single thicker layer is because warm air is trapped between the layers acting as an insulator. If you were then to remove a layer you would reduce the amount of heat trapped which would cool you down. »
The 3 main layers: the base layer, the mid layer, the outer layer.
Wear the base layer directkly on your skin.
It is meant to regulate your body temperature and transfer away the moisture from your skin. Yes I am talking perspiration and women are concerned too… Cotton does not allow the moisture transfer. Therefore, cotton must be avoided because it will keep the moist and make you feel cold. I would rather not mention any brand here. This is not a sponsored post. Frankly, any winter sport shop will offer base layers from a wide range of prices.
The mid layer is made to provide insulation.
It will create a barrier to stop cold air but it will also retain your body heat. Your mid layer can be a fleece, a woolen (100% wool, no mix please) sweater like in the good old days or a down jacket. Down jackets usually means traumatising geese so I will leave it up to you to decide… If you don’t beleive me, please fact check it. Depending on the season, it might be good to pack different types of mid layers for your ski holidays. In the spring, a light fleece will do the job but during cold winter days, a woolen sweater plus a down jacket will be the minimum to keep you warm.
Last layer is your outer layer.
Sport clothing technology has improved a lot in the last decade to provide technical outer layer that are super efficient, ultra water proof and very light. Your outer layer is a wind blocker and a protection against the rain. More than often it is breathable to allow sweat (yes ladies) and body vapour to escape.
6 – Strong legs, warm legs, skiers’ legs
The layers theory works just the same on your legs. Personnaly I always wear a base layer. This means that I look like a ballet dancer in the morning when I drink my coffee before leaving home to go skiing… Except I am much less gracefull and flexible…
7 – Head to toes, said I.
Feet can be the trickiest body part to protect during your ski holidays. This is beacuse (Breaking news alert!!) ski boots are heavy and potentially super painfull when you are not used to them… I know. It is the ugly truth.
Here are my advises for happy feet while skiing. I don’t have any trick against smelly feet but that is another story (worse a blog post? not sure… let me know!) Wear long socks. Your socks must be higher than your ski boots otherwise it will pinch your skin and hurt. Try to buy socks with as much wool as possible in the material mix. Wool will keep you warm and insulated even if moist.
You might also find solutions in advanced technology….
So one of my clients had warming socks linked to her iphone with a special app allowing her to regulate her socks temperature. I will let you dig through this if you are ineterested. It can be a good option but it goes a bit too far for me. Many skiers, and especially professionnals who spent the whole winter outside wear warming soles in their ski shoes that they plug on a battery at night to charge. It has proven to be efficient. Make sur you try the ski boots with the soles if you are renting gears to avoid bad feet pain.
9 – Gloves
Wear gloves. Always. Snow can be abrasive. Even it is a warm spring day, please don’t ski with bare hands. Light gloves are fine if it is warm. I have skied with very stylish leather gloves made for gardening myself and it worked just fine. If it is really cold, the layering secret works well for gloves too.
10 – It is ok to run for style
Some ski resorts are famous for their fashionista crowd. Courchevel, Meribel, Megève, Gstaad,… are good examples. Ski instructors are usually dressed up with famous sports brands. Depending on your nationality, background and age, the way you dress will work like an id card on locals.
I am happily taking the risk of sounding boring when I say, think comfort and safety over style.
Think respect of our planet and painfree treatment for animals over fashion and brands when you shop for a skiing outfit.
Now if you really want to look stylish out on the slopes, improving your skiing skills is probably your best bet. I can help with that of course! Click here to contact me or book.
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Skiing, how many levels? (… you will find a fun test in this post !…)