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How much insulation is "warm"?

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 

Following on from my first post about buying gear to go skiing in France, I have been spending night and day poring over online skiwear shops until my eyes are square and I have a headache.


I think I have figured out that I want jackets which are at least 10K/10K waterproof/breathability with pit zips, powder skirt and warm insulation.


But what is "warm"? I have read numbers like 50g (fill), 80g, 100g. Are these numbers thin insulation or warm insulation?


Thanks in advance for any assistance.

post #2 of 5
The higher those Primaloft insulation numbers, the warmer (and heavier) it is going to be.

What will it take to stay "warm"? No idea; I tend to run hot, so I usually have fewer layers on than other people on the mountain do.

My ski jacket isn't insulated at all since that gives me maximum flexibility. So on a warm day, I can put one or two light layers on underneath, and on some brutally cold day, I have room under my jacket to pile on a bunch of layers.
post #3 of 5

Welcome to Epic. You're asking a question that can't be answered very well because "warm" is a subjective sensation that each of us feel differently. I'm warm in conditions that my wife thinks are frigid. But: Typical cold weather insulation runs from 60-100 g for synthetic insulation. Anything under 60 or so would be considered "light." Anything upwards of 100 would be considered suitable for very cold weather. (But consider that mountain climbers, facing temps waaay below what skiers typically deal with, usually have lighter or similar insulation unless they're literally on the South Col because they are working so damn hard.) So it's not just the insulation, it's what you're going to use it for. I've never found France that cold, actually, compared to places like Montana or Alaska. But it's a damp cold, more like B.C. I bring this up because it should impact your choices; damper cold transmits heat more efficiently, feels "colder" than dry cold at the same temp, and necessitates better waterproofing for the same bang. You can ski dry cold without any waterproofing, in fact. Many do. 


IME actual efficiency varies a lot by brand, and down is always significantly warmer at the same thickness, no matter what synthetic makers claim. OTOH, down gets damp or wet and there goes your insulation. Most folks don't worry so much about numbers, plan to layer, add or subtract on slope. Suggest that for you; why not a shell with good vents and some fleece or PrimaLoft underneath? Finally, IME, 10K won't cut it for waterproofing in areas that can get wet snow or rain, 20K is minimum. And yes, after all these years, Gore-Tex is still king of readily available barriers, although a couple of new ones like eVent are getting comparable. The real issue is as much breathability as it is waterproofing; you can get soggy from the inside out. But a surface coating isn't as effective, especially after a season, as a real barrier. Put another way, you get what you pay for. Class dismissed, go ski....

post #4 of 5

My thoughts on ski wear:


3 indispensable layers are: merino wool base-layer, uninsulated technical hard-shell top and bottoms with venting options and good hood, midweight insulating vest (fleece, thin down, etc...). This is where you want to start.


When properly dressed you should feel a little cold on the first lift of the day and the first lift after lunch. Your body has not had a chance to warm up. Once you are warmed up you will feel neutral not cold and not sweaty.


Waterproofness for ski outerwear is kind of over rated. It is only relevant if if there is actual precipitation and the temperature is above about 28f. Breathability is nice to have. But, if you are are not over dressed and have proper vents its less of an issue.


0F at 2,000' with over cast skies is alot colder feeling than 0F at 10,000' with bluebird.


Like the others said, what feels good to you is going to be very personal based on your own body and local weather conditions. Even things like did you have enough breakfast or did you have an extra couple glasses of wine with dinner the night before  may  have a huge impact.


Insulated ski wear is really nice to have -- but only if it is very cold. Skiing in a T-shirt and parka is very nice option to have. Check out the quality, lots of insualted ski gear have cold spots. 


If I start feeling cold after a few runs, a thin light layer is all I need to add most of the time. e.g. medium weight long underwear top or a minimal thickness polartec vest is a great layer to throw on.


Keep in mind stuff like gondola / tram vs. chair lift, it will make a difference.

The big risk is not getting too cold because you are under dressed, but rather its over heating. Think about how you will cool off if you get too hot.


A powder skirt is not really necessary for ski wear at all. If you fall alot what you really want is bib pants. If you fall alot in actual powder you want  a 1 piece snow suit, not a powder skirt. 

Edited by tromano - 10/1/11 at 1:29pm
post #5 of 5

I'll second nearly everything tromano said, except I  wear a synthetic baselayer.  I wear a Patagonia down sweater under a Patagonia Powder Bowl shell jacket.  It can get pretty cold at RLM sometimes but my core has never been cold.  I wear a synthetic baselayer under uninsulated ski pants and my legs have also never been cold. I plan to try the merino base layer this season.


Wearing too much can be dangerous.  Sweating can lead to hypothermia so be careful about how much you wear.

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