How to Layer Your Clothing when Skiing

How to Layer Your Clothing when Skiing

Key Takeaways
● Skiing can be difficult to stay warm in, but if you layer your clothes correctly, you’ll be comfortable and protected from the cold
● Start by wearing a base layer that will wick away moisture
● Add middle layers for insulation
● Finish off with an outer layer that will protect you from the wind and rain

There’s nothing like the chilled breeze on your face when you hit the slopes for a good skiing session. There’s a reason it’s the most popular winter getaway and it gives you the chance to get a good workout while also admiring the winter scenery. But how do you layer your clothes?

When skiing, you need three layers: the base layer, mid layer, and outer layer. Using them correctly will help keep you warm while you ski so that you stay safe and don’t get sick from being out in the cold for too long.

In this guide, we take you through everything you need to know about each of the layers in question so that you can layer up properly and go enjoy the slopes.

How to Layer for Skiing

How to Layer for Skiing

You’re planning the ski trip of your life, but you NEED to stay warm on the slopes so that you don’t get sick from being out in the cold for too long. So, how do you layer?

You’re going to need three different layers of clothing. These are:

  • Base layers
  • Mid layers
  • Outer layers

With these three layers, you will be toasty and WARM so that you can stay out skiing for hours. Let’s take a closer look at what each of these layers consists of.

The Base Layer

The Base Layer

This is the first layer, and it can also be considered the most IMPORTANT since its purpose is to ensure you retain heat and stay toasty. Here’s what you need to make an effective base layer.

Pro Tip: Synthetic base layers are cheaper but trap warm air with very little ventilation, which can lead to sweating. Ski gear should be breathable.

Quality Socks

A GOOD pair of ski socks for skiing should be made of a heat-trapping material such as wool or polyester. They should also be long enough to cover and insulate your calves but not too thick that they make skiing uncomfortable.

Thermal Shirt

A long-sleeve thermal shirt is perfect for skiing because it TRAPS heat and wicks away moisture. It should be form-fitting to allow for improved mobility while you ski.

Thermal Leggings

These pants are like THERMAL shirts but for your legs. They should be made of a heat-trapping material such as wool or polyester.

The Mid Layer

The Mid Layer

Your legs are naturally rather warm, and this means that most people tend to SKIP the mid-layer on their legs. Since your legs work hardest while you ski, this means that they sweat faster and heat up QUICKLY. An additional layer here can cause you to overheat. [1]

Long-Sleeve Jacket or Jumper

You should wear a LONG-SLEEVE insulated jacket or jumper over your base layer when skiing. This serves to trap heat and KEEP you warm, and merino wool is one of the best materials for it.

The ski jacket should be waterproof and windproof, with a hood that can provide additional protection from the elements.

The Outer Layer

The Outer Layer

The ESSENTIAL part of this layer is to ensure that it’s waterproof. After all, snow is just frozen water. GORE-TEX tends to be the most popular option as it is versatile, durable, and lightweight. Here’s a closer look at what your outer layer should consist of.

Pro Tip: Breathable outer layers are essential, and this includes your ski boots which should be warm but prevent sweat from pooling around your feet.

Waterproof Salopettes

They should be made of GORE-TEX and have adjustable straps to give you more room when skiing. Choose a pair with zips on the side of the legs so that you have CONTROL over how warm your body is and to make it more versatile for seasonal skiing.

Waterproof Jacket

This jacket should be made of GORE-TEX and have a hood for extra coverage.

Ski jackets should also have breathable, adjustable ventilation on the arms and shoulders to regulate your body temperature.

Waterproof Gloves

Your skiing gloves should also be waterproof and preferably WINDPROOF as well. They should have a good grip so that you can securely hold onto your skiing poles and control your skiing.

Additional Gear

Additional Gear

The three layers are the most important part, but there is also additional gear that you might want to bring with you so that you are PREPARED for anything. Let’s take a quick look.

Down Jacket

A down jacket is great on skiing trips because it serves as an INSULATION layer and can double up as a mid-layer if you need to take off your skiing jacket.

Ski Goggles

Ski goggles are a must-have for skiing because it PROTECTS your eyes from the bright sun, snow, and UV rays. It should also be fog-resistant so that you have a clear view of the slopes.

Ski Hat

A skiing hat is a great way to keep your head WARM and also helps to protect you from the sun. It should be made of a warm material such as wool or fleece.


A buff is a great way to keep your neck WARM and also provide protection from the wind. It should be made of lightweight material so that it fits comfortably under your skiing helmet and jacket.[2]

Spare Gloves

It’s always a good idea to bring SPARE gloves with you skiing in case your hands get cold. It should be lightweight and have a good grip for skiing.

The Issue with too Many Layers

The Issue with too Many Layers

It’s very easy to OVERHEAT skiing, and this is especially true if you are wearing too many layers. Remember that it is better to wear several lightweight layers than one thick layer, as this will allow you to adjust according to the weather and skiing conditions.

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Just Wear Leggings Skiing?

No, it is not recommended to wear leggings skiing as they are not designed for cold weather. If you do choose to wear them, they should be worn under a pair of skiing salopettes.

Do I Need a Base Layer When Skiing?

Yes, it is highly recommended to wear a base layer skiing as this acts as the first line of defense against cold temperatures. It should be lightweight and wick away moisture from your body.

Are Thin or Thick Socks Better for Skiing?

Thin socks are usually better for skiing as they allow your feet to move more freely and also regulate body temperature. Thick socks can add too much bulk and make skiing uncomfortable.

Should Skii Clothes be Loose or Tight?

Skiing clothes should be snug but not too tight. It should fit close enough to your body so that you can move freely without feeling restricted. It should also have some room to allow for layers of clothing underneath.

To Conclude

To Conclude

Layering your skiing clothing correctly is an essential part of skiing, as it helps to keep you warm and comfortable. Start with a base layer that will wick away MOISTURE, add a middle layer for insulation, and finish off with an outer layer that will protect you from the wind and rain.

Make sure that you don’t wear too many layers, as this can lead to overheating. Consider wearing skiing gloves, a skiing hat, and other ADDITIONAL gear for extra protection and warmth.

We hope this guide has helped you to prepare for your skiing trip so that you can tackle the slopes safely and expertly.

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Picture of Lisa Hayden-Matthews

Lisa Hayden-Matthews

An avid Skier, bike rider, triathlon enthusiast, amateurish beach volleyball player and nature lover who has never lost a dare! I manage the overall Editorial section for the magazine here and occasionally chip in with my own nature photographs, when required.
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