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Ski Clothing for a First Timer

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
 I'm about to go on my first ever ski trip in Colorado during Spring Break. I live in Kansas and the lack of cold-weather activities leaves me with a lack of suitable cold weather clothing. We've had quite a cold winter here, and so I bought a North Face Condor Tri-climate Jacket in bittersweet brown - the shell with the windbreaker-like liner. First, is this a suitable color? It's a very dark brown. 

Secondly, I'm looking for a few things. I believe I've found a good pair of pants from North Face that match the jacket.

But, I'm looking for a suitable type of long underwear, a great pair of gloves that are comfortable and don't inhibit dexterity, and anything else a skier needs in terms of clothing like hats, face masks, etc... Obviously, I want all of the clothing to keep me warm and dry and to be comfortable. Also, price isn't an option unless it is extravagant for the sake of being so. I'm completely in favor of spending more money in order to get a better product, and I'd be disappointed spending money on something that leaves me wet and cold on the slopes. 

Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated. Many thanks in advance. 

post #2 of 14
There are no suitable or unsuitable colors, pick the colors you like.

You mentioned that price isn't an object, within reason. However, I do think this is an area that invites overspending. Here is what you'll need, apologies if i forget something.

at least two thermal base layers. I'd get a light and a medium.
at least one pair of ski pants. I'd get a light or medium lining for warmth.
optionally, I'd get a light shirt-type layer
a fleece jacket or the equivalent in terms of bulk and warmth
a shell that's waterproof and breathable - this is the biggest opportunity to waste money IMO
gloves - no need to go nuts and buy something you could use in outer space - as long as they fit and are at least kind of waterproof, they're ok
optionally, glove liners (you can sometimes find light acrylic gloves in gas stations that serve this purpose for about $2.99)
at least two pairs of socks, smartwool or similar
a hat or helmet
optionally, goggles - these are nice on days with snow and they also act as sunglasses
if it'll be cold, you may want a neck warmer (nice for tugging it up high enough so you can breathe behind it, keeping the coldest air out of your lungs)

On cold days, you might want to double up on socks and/or base layer

If you're skiing lots of days in a row, you'd want extras of the stuff most likely to stay damp overnight, like socks and base layers.

So as for the shell ... personally I think a lot of people who are skiing for the first or second time make a "statement purchase" with Gore-Tex, taped seams etc in an effort to look serious. The truth is that just about anything that is even kind of waterproof and kind of breathable will be okay if you stay on groomed slopes and don't roll around in the snow. It doesn't even need to be an official ski coat. I've worn the same Columbia Titanium coat most of the time for my last 15 ski trips and my backup coat is a $100 Marmot raincoat.
post #3 of 14
Thread Starter 
 Awesome. Just a few questions though. 

When you say pants with a lining, do pants come with linings or are they sold separately? Also, when you say base layers, do you refer to both legs and body layers, such as the ones you can get from North Face? (You may tell that I basically know only one brand of outdoor clothing) Also, should all the base layers you mentioned be worn at the same time? Are there any good brands you could recommend? I've got a good jacket - the shell with liner. When it comes to the liner, if it isn't fleece will it still work sufficiently? It's an APEX liner, soft shell. Do base layers for the lower body work as a long underwear substitute, or should I get something like wool or another good material for my first layer on my legs? Sorry if I've made this at all confusing. Thanks for your post. 
Edited by Huckle - 2/14/10 at 12:50am
post #4 of 14
Pants come with some amount of insulation ranging from none to heavy. I bought a pair at Dick's with light insulation for $40 in late December that worked well for a trip to Snowshoe WV (random trip while I was visiting family for Christmas so I didn't have any gear with me).

Base layers are aka thermal underwear and are usually sold as packages with top and bottom parts. They come from a lot of manufacturers and in light, medium, heavy weights. Heavier is warmer. I haven't noticed a big difference between brands. Most of the time, you only wear one base layer at a time, but for cold days, you can double them up as an easy way of increasing warmth.

The shell's liner doesn't need to be fleece as long as it's similar in warmth and doesn't contain cotton. This layer just keeps you warm, it doesn't have to deal with snow b/c your shell is handling that. It's good if it can be worn separately from the shell, for times when you need warmth but not waterproof (eating lunch or taking a walk ) or waterproof but not warmth (skiing on a warm day).
post #5 of 14
post #6 of 14
No Cotton.
For a multi use "neck warmer" find Buffs, lots of configurations.
I use the wool model.
No Cotton, particularly underlayers.
post #7 of 14
Thread Starter 
 Thanks for the clarification. That helped a bunch. 
post #8 of 14
Thread Starter 
 That's an awesome reference. Thanks for the post!
post #9 of 14
Thread Starter 
 Is a Buff a brand or specific style?
post #10 of 14
 I agree w/ the don't go overboard statement.
I've got about 20 days this year (alot for me ),, Ski bibs are close to 10 tears old, Columbia shell bought at goodwill,never spent over$ 50.00 on gloves or goggles,  I have hind winter running tights & under armour cold weather gear as a base layer w/ a fleece vest/ jacket as a mid.,layer.
A fleece neck gator( love that thing).
Always ski above 9000 ft. and in as much pow.as I can find, at temps down to minus 5.

Have fun!  ( & make sure you spend all your money here) 
post #11 of 14
Buffs is a brand. And a style. Basically a tube that can be

configured a number of ways. 

They have wool, fleece, and other fabrics.

post #12 of 14
Thread Starter 
Something like that? It looks like a good product. 

Is there are good site you could recommend with more than just a few choices of Buffs?

Thanks for the post.
post #13 of 14
That looks pretty much like what I meant when I said "neck warmer" - not sure the official name for them. You wouldn't need reflective stripes, though. Basically I pull them over my head and wear them around my neck on chilly days, and often pull them up enough so I can keep my mouth and nose behind it at least part of the time, so I'm breathing from a pocket of relatively warm air.

There are all kinds of warming gizmos you can buy, I'd start out simple and then address problems once you have a feel for your pain points.
post #14 of 14
Couple of thoughts:

1.  Would not agree with the double-up on socks suggestion.  Often this can lead to foot-sweat, which will end up making your feet colder, and the extra thickness reduces your sensation and control a bit.  I used to be a two-socker on cold days until similarly warned and now I use a single thin to medium wool ski sock (Smartwool or similar) and my feet stay warmer.  On really cold days in Northern Vermont you may wish to try rubbing some cayenne pepper on your feet before putting them in your socks. Just don't forget to wash it off when you're done for the day!

2.  As already suggested, quality base and mid layers make ALL the difference, don't overspend on the shell.  I find that my most temp flexible layering combo consists of silk undies, powerstretch mid layer, and then bib/soft-shell.  At 20 degrees F and below I may add a fleece vest or pullover or wool sweater (at 0 degrees F and below).  Just stay away from fabrics that don't wick moisture away from your body, and bulky stuff.  Dress more warmly and make sure everything is waterproof if you are a real beginner as you'll likely be less active (standing around in ski class) and falling more.   
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