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Dressing For Highly Aerobic Winter Sports

The following is from National Ski Patrol and Professional Ski Instructors of America websites.

Even though the thermostat reads 15 degrees and you can see your breath, if you’re running, hiking, snowshoeing, or cross-country skiing, you can expect to heat up fast and perspire. If the sweat you produce during this workout is trapped next to your skin, you will eventually feel chilled. Not only is this cold clammy feeling uncomfortable, it can be dangerous, especially as you start to cool down. Protect yourself by wearing lightweight layers that you can remove quickly and stow away as you warm up.

Moisture management is the first consideration here. To keep the body warm during high-energy activities, clothing should transport moisture away from the skin, to the outer surface of the fabric where it can evaporate. Tall order? Fortunately companies such as Duofold are now using new ultra-light fabrics like CoolMax and Thermastat in their long underwear. These materials wick moisture from the skin and move it away, so start with this as an inner layer. Also look for garments made from the new stretch fabrics for better fit and performance.

Your next layer should be a lightweight stretchy insulator such as a breathable fleece sweater or vest. While you might not need it once you’re warmed up, you’ll appreciate a cozy top on your descent or on the ride home.

The final part of your cold-weather wear should be a lightweight and versatile shell jacket that will function for highly aerobic as well as less strenuous activities, depending on what you layer under it. With the creation of The North Face’s three-layer Gore-Tex and other innovative fabrics, today’s shells are ultra lightweight, while remaining waterproof, windproof, and breathable. Activent, a new highly breathable shell-fabric option (also by The North Face), is water-resistant, and may be a good option if weather conditions are fair and you’re really moving. For aerobic activities, a shell’s ventilating features are particularly important. Look for underarm zippers as well as venting pockets and back flaps.

Depending on the activity and weather, a lightweight wicking layer and stretch fleece pant are often all you’ll need on the bottom. In deeper snow, you can wear gaiters to protect your feet and ankles, but carry lightweight shell pants with side zips just in case the weather gets nasty.

Always bring a hat and gloves, regardless of the weather or your activity level. As with the rest of your clothing, synthetic materials work best for protecting you against the extremes–plus they don’t itch! Look for fleece hats made with Windstopper fabric; gloves and mittens layered with Gore-Tex and fleece; and socks made of synthetic, moisture-wicking materials.

Frequently Asked Questions