Ski Canada Magazine



Staying comfortabl­e on the ski hill is as much about staying cool as it is staying warm. Get sweaty and then sit on a chairlift for 15 minutes and you’ll probably feel cold, even with the best layering system. Add some cotton or a non-breathable jacket into the mix and it’s a recipe for a bad day.

“Proper layering isn’t just about the base,” says Tom Brownlee of Mons Royale, a New Zealand company that specialize­s in merino wool clothing. “If you put plastic or a cotton hoodie over one or two good layers, the whole system breaks down.”

Either will dam a moisture transfer system that’s moving sweat off the skin toward the exterior. The impact isn’t just an incoming chill, says Brownlee. It can also funnel fog into goggles.

The lesson is that layering doesn’t begin and end with the first layer. For the system to really work, it has to begin at the skin and end outside. And you have to pay attention to what you’re wearing and adjust your pace. Work both sides and you can be comfortabl­e all day long in almost any conditions.

NEXT TO THE SKIN: Brownlee likes merino wool in baselayers, like Mons Royale’s new Cascade top and bottom, for their ability to suck up water without feeling wet; their soft feel, natural temperatur­e-regulating and anti-odour properties; and their renewable aspects. Synthetics, like Helly Hansen’s Lifa, often dry faster and are more durable than wool. Plus, many now incorporat­e recycled plastic, reducing their carbon footprint. A new spin is Fine Track Elemental, a sub baselayer. We found wearing the soft, thin, mesh T-shirt or long underwear below our usual baselayers kept our skin drier and, thus, us warmer. It doesn’t actually wick sweat, but keeps skin and moist baselayers apart.

MID-LAYER: Deciding what to stick between the base and outer layers depends on temperatur­e and exertion. The most versatile option is something like Rab’s Xenair (page 36). It actively regulates temperatur­e, locking in warmth when you’re cold, while still allowing moisture to escape. In warmer temperatur­es and higher-effort days, something like Norrøna’s falketind Alpha

120 Zip Hood uses Polartec Alpha and other fleece panels to retain warmth with lots of air transfer. Unless it’s really cold out, we’d reserve down puffies for ski-touring breaks and the resort. Down fill packs a ton of warmth, but the tightly woven nylon fabrics needed to contain the fibres don’t breathe. And if down gets wet, it loses its insulating properties.

OUTER LAYER: The last defence is key to comfort. It needs to block wind and precipitat­ion, without blocking moisture from escaping the layering system. It comes down to the right mix of breathabil­ity and weather resistance. In cold temperatur­es a softshell with a windproof membrane, like Arc’teryx’s Procline (see page 33), is ideal because it’s highly breathable and windproof. When wet snow is a possibilit­y, a hardshell like Mammut’s La Liste (see page 47) offers more weather protection and versatilit­y.

 ?? ?? Arc’teryx Procline
Arc’teryx Procline
 ?? ?? Mammut La Liste
Mammut La Liste
 ?? ?? Fine Track Elemental
Fine Track Elemental
 ?? ?? Rab Xenair
Rab Xenair

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