How to Layer: The Basics

Layering has to be one of the most challenging parts of skiing. Seriously, what do you wear when it’s 20 degrees outside and snowing? There are so many factors to take into account: you’re moving downhill with wind in your face and then sitting on a lift for at least 5 minutes. Sun, wind, snow and maybe all three? What do you wear?

Keeping in mind that men and women handle cold much differently, we’ll be offering two “How to Layer” tutorials. We’ll run through an entire layering system for women and then do the same for men, starting both with the basic outerwear. From there we’ll work from the skin to the midlayer. We’ll address a typical Breckenridge day (about 20 degrees Fahrenheit) as well as cold Breck days (around 10 degrees).

We want to start with the outerwear because that is the least likely to change. How many of us really have five different jackets and three different pairs of ski pants? We need a basic outfit that will take us from warm spring days to the coldest winter days by simply changing our layering system. These are some of our favorite fabrics and combinations of fabrics. You may have never seen anything like these layers, and that’s why we like them so much.

Today: women’s jacket and pants.

We started with the Special Effects jacket. This jacket has 80 grams of Heatseeker insulation, which is The North Face’s in-house shredded polyester insulation. For women, we love a shredded poly insulation. It’s warmer than fleece and way less bulky. Often, women cannot layer enough under an uninsulated shell to get warm enough in the coldest temperatures, so a dedicated insulation is a great starting point. Dedicated insulation offers less bulk and more warmth than either  a shell or a removable insulation, but is less versatile. We still perfer it. 80 grams is enough to create warmth, but light enough to wear on a warm spring day.

The high collar and hood on the jacket are great to zip up against wind, while the second zipper gives a little breathing room when you have a neck gaiter on. The offset zip reduces zipper stack and all but eliminates that annoying chin chafe.

The pants are the women’s Riderarchy pant, which have 60 grams of Heatseeker insulation. Our legs often do not need as much warmth as our upper body. The pants have vents on the inside of the legs, which are great for cooling down on the lift. The relaxed style and gold accents are functional and beautiful. The exact combination I want in a ski pant.

Tomorrow: down to the skin.

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