With my own trip to Val Thorens coming soon (leave on Friday night - ridiculously excited!), I started getting a few bits together, and have been thinking about what to wear. Val Thorens is high - 3200m at the top - and temperatures have been as low as -17C in the last few weeks, so keeping warm is vital if you want to enjoy the slopes...
In this blog, I'll share some of the techniques through which you can keep your body warm. For those with a short attention span, here's the key thing;
The most common approach to this is 3-layer rule of layering. Layering gives you the adaptability to include or remove layers, based upon the climate conditions (which can change quickly) and your movement level. These are the layers that you will need to wear:
1. Wicking / Base Layer
This is the layer worn alongside your skin, most often a long sleeve top and pair of "long-johns" which come with an abundance of high tech names . Search for warm clothing made of a manufactured - more often than not polyester - fibre that has "wicking" control. This implies the strands will wick (move) dampness far from your skin and go it through the texture so it will dissipate. This keeps you warm, dry and comfortable. The one "don't" is cotton really - as comfortable as it is, it absorbs moisture, becomes damp and that dampness can get cold... and despite the fact that it's icy, you will sweat! So look for a technical fabric with wicking - most of the high street stores do this type of base layer, my preferred options:
Personal favourites are my Big Crocodile top - very comfy, warm and technical fabric - and Absolute 360 Infrared leggings - these are genius, AND warm! Both of these brands are also small UK businesses, like us - so that's even better!! Links are at the end of this post - why not go check them out??
2. Protecting Layer
This centre layer (or layers!!) is where fleece tops and/or down are found. The thinking here is that more layers are better than 1 thick layer in order to keep warm in and icy out, which they do by catching air between the fibres. I tend to go with fleece as a start point and add a down or fleece gilet if it's really cold. Again, these are in plentiful supply - I personally have a few different models - Jack Wolfskin being my preferred brand. I also have a couple of Uniqlo Ultra Light Down gilets (oh and coats - great for warmer blue sky ski days!!). There is always one in my backpack!
3. Security Layer
The outside layer, for the most part a shell jacket and trouser combination and jeans, are crucial. They need to be waterproof to resist snow, slush or (please no) rain and have some form of windstopper membrane, at the same time there needs to be breathability giving moisture a chance to vanish. I've got some great O'Neill kit that I have had the eGlove logo added to (of course). For me they represent the perfect mix of look, quality, performance and price! I've always had a soft spot for O'Neill - I used to have some ski gear of thiers in the 90's... In fact, it's probably in the loft and fashionable again now... ;-)
At this point we get onto peripherals!! Head, neck, hands and feet...
For the neck, I wear a buff/snood style neckwarmer. For me, it's more about keeping the wind off, and I've always scarves too warm (although, you guessed it, the Uniqlo HEATTECH scarf is AMAZING!) so I have a specially made Giraffe eGlove branded version - It's great for running, walking, cycling, and of course snowsports!! Soon to be available on the website! :-)
For Your Head
We all wear helmets these days don't we? 'Nuff said. Seriously though, don't risk not wearing a lid - an earlier blog talks about the dangers of hear injury. For apres, eGlove have always LOVED a Zaini, and the Melrose is packed and ready to go for next week!!
Least surprising part of this blog! Gloves!! Keeping your hands warm is one of the most important thing while doing skiing or snowboarding. With eGlove, all of our Ski gloves and Snowboard gloves are touchscreen compatible without removing the gloves - this extra dexterity means that you are able to use devices and do zips with warm gloved hand cosiness! Our ski glove range has been tested down to -20C and below - and keep your hands warm and dry in the toughest conditions... Some people though have their own preferred glove or mitt option - so we also do a touchscreen glove that can be used as a liner glove. These are a great option and liner gloves have always been a great idea for people who suffer with cold hands. UNTIL 9TH FEBRUARY 2017 THERE IS 20% OFF WITH CODE SNOW20 !!
Clearly you'll need either ski boots or snowboard boots. What goes under them is similarly as vital, and when selecting socks, comfort and warmth is key! My faves are some Salomon socks I picked up at TKMaxx of all places - warm and comfortable = happy! Sometimes, it's worth remembering that poorly fitting boots may actually be the issue rather than the socks - always make sure you have a pair of boots that don't restrict bloodflow and give your toes a little wriggle room!!
Hope this helps you have the best winter sport holiday possible!! Got any secrets to share? We'd welcome your comments!!
Selected websites for the gear highlighted: