The season is about to reach full speed and it’s time to review the choice of ski equipment. Today we talk about clothing and how to dress in the snow.
Several factors influence the choice of the right clothing for each of us, comfort, functionality, protection from the cold, price …
We want clothes that keep us warm and protect us from the cold and wind, that are light and comfortable. We all remember the wool tights that itched us all day or the brightly colored dungarees we wore when we were little …
Those times are (fortunately) over. Today, clothing manufacturers produce clothes with soft and warm materials at the same time, able to guarantee comfort throughout the day of skiing. Of course, we must first decide our budget, as in all things there are many price and quality ranges, but the high price of a garment is not always an indication of higher quality, even in ski clothes in fact fashion has its own weight and its price.
Let’s investigate some technical factors that can help us in the choice.
A ski suit today generally consists of:
- a thermal underwear: it is the first layer in contact with the skin and has the function of constituting a link between the body and the subsequent layers. Many manufacturers have made garments whose fabrics have a polypropylene fiber. This material has a high hydrophobic capacity, expels moisture towards the outside of the fiber, keeping the body warm and dry.
- a second layer: depending on your tastes and how cold you are, it can be a heavy or lighter fleece to which warm under-pants are added, if thermal ones are not enough.
- the third layer: it is the most important because it directly protects us from cold, wind, water and snow. It must be waterproof and insulate us from the outside. For the coldest, jacket and trousers with a padded inner layer.
- extra (not so much): hat and gloves are a must. Some people can replace the hat with a helmet or add a neck warmer or even a balaclava. Obviously necessary socks, even here one or two layers depending on how cold we suffer.
Having said that, other more technical factors influence our choice and must be carefully considered. Let’s see them in detail:
It is the first factor that usually tends to be evaluated in a ski garment.You will find, in addition to the reassurance of the salesman, a standard index for the waterproofing of ski jackets on the label, indicated with a number and followed by the wording “water columns”. The water column is the yardstick for the impermeability of a material and indicates the pressure that water exerts on a material before the material itself lets water penetrate. The whole is measured in millimeters and a 10 cm diameter cylinder is filled with water. With a water column of more than 1,300 mm, the garment is waterproof. Fortunately for us, mid-level ski jackets already have a waterproof rating of 5,000 mm while the most expensive ones reach 22,000 mm!
To make a choice we must think that, in case of snow, we will subject the garment, for at least 3-4 hours, to bad weather. Therefore, if a 5,000 mm column gives safety for falls, snowball fights and for one or two hours of snowfall, it will not give it in the rain or very wet snow. To be sure, it is therefore better to focus on a minimum value of 10,000 mm.
- Perspiration index
It is essential for a ski jacket. It indicates how much water vapor the jacket is able to pass in a certain amount of time. It is indicated in g / m2, i.e. the quantity (in grams) of water vapor that a square meter of fabric can expel in 24 hours, usually abbreviated to G. An excellent garment boasts 20,000 G of breathability, the average is around 10,000 mm and the base is 4,000 (level that is usually valid for trousers, jackets have a few thousand more) under this figure you really risk finding waxes more suitable for sailing than skiing!
This feature is also essential for ski socks: having cold feet is one of the most frequent problems on the slopes! It is therefore necessary to have technical ski socks, which allow sweat to transpire and rebalance the heat in the various points of the foot.
If a finishing treatment on the outer fabric is used to obtain water repellency, waterproofing and breathability can be achieved by using microporous or osmotic membranes that allow the vapor molecules to escape but prevent the infinitely larger drops of water. to penetrate. The best known membrane used by ski clothing companies is Gore-Tex.
- Thermal insulation
Crucial to keep us warm during the day of skiing, the padding traps air to better maintain body temperature. Goose down is preferred for how much it can keep warm compared to the bulk, it has a very high ability to trap air and at the same time a high degree of compressibility that allows garments with this padding to be extremely light and comfortable. However, down is preferable in cold climates, but with a low degree of humidity, as the material has a high ability to bind to water molecules. The padding in synthetic microfiber, on the other hand, has properties similar to goose down, but have water-repellent characteristics, which guarantee maximum comfort even in conditions of high humidity.
In the field of ski clothing, the most technical and well-known paddings are those in Primaloft and Polartec which allow excellent thermal insulation and good compressibility, in the face of very low moisture retention.
Choosing ski clothing is a delicate matter and very often of personal taste. We must be prepared for different weather conditions, it follows that the best choice is to adapt our clothing to the conditions of the day.
Having more items available is therefore probably the winning choice. If you still have any doubts about how to dress when you go skiing, here is a video to take them all off …