Hi there,

Its Gareth from PDS Academy 3 Valleys.  Ski instructors are like onions, we have layers!

For some this might be correct both metaphorically and literally, however in this post you will be glad to know that I am only writing about the latter.

With lots of early snowfall across the alps and more forecast over the next few days, we might be in for another cold winter (fingers crossed).  In preparation of a cold winter it is important to understand how to keep warm when skiing this winter, and how best to utilize your winter clothing.

As most of you will know the best way to keep warm is to layer up, however there is a method and science behind the layering, which I will explain below:

The 3 Layers

To keep things simple when layering up you should separate your layers into 3 different categories:

Layer 1 – Moisture Control

Often referred to as the BASE LAYER. This layer should be skin tight and in direct contact with your skin (like a second skin).  Natural and modern fibers can be used to help you to regulate your body temperature.

Some base layers have specially stitched vents in the areas of the body that get hot, this aids cooling when you are charging hard through the snow.  Some use modern fibers that enable your body sweat to be wicked away, which in turn keeps your dry and warm.  Others use natural fibers for the same affect.

It’s important to pick the correct type of fabric for this layer as the wicking process will not happen with some traditional everyday fashion fabrics.  For example, cotton absorbs 7% of its weight in water, compared to only 0.4% with polyester.  This means that cotton will keep hold of more of your sweat and stay wet, making you smelly and cold!

Layer 2 – Insulation

Often referred to as the MID LAYER. This layer should be designed to retain heat (if its cold).  You can use natural and synthetic insulation to keep the warmth in.  I like wearing a mid layer puffer jacket, as shown in the video with my white BASI Avalanche puffer.  This uses a polyester filling which works as an insulator by creating lots of air to trap the heat in. You can also have traditional down feather fillings, which does the same job.  But make sure they are sourced ethically!

Layer 3 – Weather Shield

Often referred to as the OUTER LAYER. The purpose of this layer is to protect you from whatever mother nature throws at you.  The things you want to be looking for are WIND RESISTANCE, RAIN RESISTANCE and BREATHABILITY.  The first 2 are likely to keep you dry and warm, and the latter is likely to keep you dry and cool, so you can get the best of both worlds!

Lots of fresh snow over in the alps. Here’s a new blog from Gareth from our 3 Valleys Ski School, on the basics of what to wear to keep warm when skiing.https://pds-academy.co.uk/what-to-wear-to-keep-warm-skiing/Fingers cross for a cold snowy winter! ❄️❄️❄️

Posted by PDS Academy on Wednesday, 31 October 2018


Layering Top Tips

  • Check the weather forecast!
  • Keep base layers tucked in so you are a sealed unit.
  • On extra cold days wear mid layer insulation on your legs. A puffer jacket for your legs!
  • Keep outer layers zipped up and use the snow skirt!
  • Avoid wearing everyday clothing made from cotton, e.g. – t-shirts over base layers. Doing so makes your moisture controlling layer useless as the cotton in the t-shirt will retain the moisture, which will make you wet, cold and smelly!
  • Dry your kit out! Wet layers do not help anyone, and they eventually smell!
  • Pick an outer layer that will be large enough to allow for varying amounts of layers to be worn underneath

The Extremities

Effective layering by following the advice above will help you go a long way to keeping your extremities warm (hands, feet and head), however you are still going to need to protect your hands, feet and head from the elements.

Tips for the Hands

  • Follow the same 3 layer advice set out above. Most top gloves / mits will do this for you, but its always worth checking the layering system of what you are buying.
  • Keep a set of extra thermal gloves on you that can be worn as a base layer inside your mits / gloves should the temperature suddenly drop.
  • Keep your gloves dry and protected! Don’t be the person in the bubble lift with smelly gloves!
  • Use mits on extra cold days.
  • On wet days consider an outer cover to protect the glove from the rain.

Tips for the Feet

  • Keep your boots and socks dry!!!
  • Do not layer up with cheap socks, by a good pair of socks that fit well.
  • Consider buying heated socks or heater foot-beds. If you suffer from cold feet, once you try heated socks or foot-beds you won’t go back!
  • Use antiperspirant on your feet. This can help stop your feet from sweating as much, which in turn helps to stop your socks becoming as wet and ultimately helps to keep your feet nice and toasty.

Tips for the Head

  • Always wear a helmet!
  • Pick a helmet with a good climate control system. My POC helmet has vents that can be opened and closed as the temperature changes.
  • On cold days wear a helmet hat or thin balaclava under your helmet.
  • On cold days cover you face and neck with a neck and face shield.

If you follow all of the advice above and are still cold then you need to ski harder!  Or just admit defeat and stop for a hot chocolate stop to warm up, you are on holiday after all and if you can’t beat them you might as well join them!

Until Next time,