Saami Buying Guide – everything you need to know about ski clothing
With professional Ski Instructors and skiing enthusiasts on the Team at Saami Snow we know it is important to stay warm and dry whilst enjoying your time on the slopes. Our primary concern is that you enjoy the sport as much as we do. We have therefore developed the following guides to help you through the purchasing decision making process. Whether you buy from us or not, take this guide with you and make sure you know your stuff before buying!
[varn_accordion id=”hats” file=”file.pdf” title=”HATS”]
A person can lose approximately 25% of their heat through the head. When out on the slopes on a cold day it is important to retain this heat ad therefore a ski hat is essential to ensure you stay warm and comfortable. Things to consider when purchasing a hat are:
- Type of Hat – Beanies, Peruvian or balaclavas.
– Beanies are suited to normal skiing conditions and fit snugly over your head.
– Peruvian offer additional coverage over the ears with ear flaps which can also be tied up out of the way when required.
– Balaclavas are usually used in extreme cold weather conditions as they keep the whole of the face covered.
- Type of Material – most ski hats are made of a warm material such as wool, fleece, pile or knitted acrylic.
- High Visibility – for increased safety you should consider luminous colours or reflective piping.
- Size – most hats are ‘one size fits all’ so you need to ensure you try it on before purchase or are able to refund if purchased on the internet.
- Fit – a hat should fit snugly over the head so that they stay in place when moving around, cover the ears but also be loose enough to allow circulation.[/varn_accordion]
[varn_accordion id=”sandn” file=”file.pdf” title=”SCARVES AND NECKWARMERS”]
A scarf and neck warmer are thin strips of material that provide instant warmth to the neck and prevent snow or cold from entering the top of the jacket. They have a dual purpose, not only do they keep you warm and protect you from wind and chills but they also wick away sweat and for this reason are often made from breathable thermal fleecy material.
Neck warmers can be pulled into any position required. For example, they could be worn around your neck, pulled up to cover the lower part of your face and in some cases can be worn as a headband.[/varn_accordion]
[varn_accordion id=”SKIJACK” file=”file.pdf” title=”SKI JACKETS”]
The ski jacket is your outer shell that protects you when you ski. It is essential to choose the correct ski jacket to ensure you remain warm and dry whilst on the slopes. Please refer to our separate guide ‘Waterproofing, Breathability and Windproofing’.
Jackets will either have an synthetic insulation or down/feather insulation.
- Synthetic Insulation: This is a man-made equivalent to Down and is normally less expensive. It provides the same warming and heating effects of down but is generally less bulky, achieves higher level of breathability and performs better in wet weather. The only downside with a synthetic insulation is that it tends to lose heat quicker than a Down/Feather Insulation.2)
- Down/Feather Insulation: Yhese are made with natural goose down and can provide warmth very quickly on a cold day. However, once you start skiing you will generate your own heat and become hot very quickly. Down jackets are also unsuitable in wet weather as the insulation will become saturated very quickly and will then be unable to loft and produce heat. Once wet a Down or Feather Jacket will take a long time to dry.
The seams are another important consideration to ensure you remain warm and dry. A garment could have a really high waterproof rating but if the seams are not sealed then water will find a way in. Taped seams means that a waterproof tape has been applied to the inside seams of the garment.
There are two levels of Taped Seams:
- Taped Critical Seams: Critical seams are defined as the shoulders, hood and arms. All other seams on the ski jacket are not taped and therefore could absorb moisture.
- Fully Taped Seams: all seams on the ski jacket or ski pants are taped and hence are waterproof.
Most ski jackets have either a fixed, detachable or stowaway hood.
- A fixed hood is permanently in place on the back of your jacket.
- A detachable hood enables you to unzip the hood during warmer weather conditions.
- A stowaway hood can be packed into the collar of the jacket.
It is really down to your own preference on which you would find most suitable. However, there are some things that you need to look out for on all hoods. These are listed below:
- Hood space – is there enough space to pull your hood up when you are wearing a Beanie? When you are out on the mountain on a really cold day you will really be glad to have thought about this.
- Adjustable drawcords – it is important that you are able to adjust the hood so that it moves with you when you turn your head and to prevent snow from entering when skiing. Drawcord adjusters allow the hood to be adjusted to suit your own particular needs. An adjuster on the back of the hood enables you to alter the space inside of the hood whilst adjusters on the front enable you to adjust the size around your face.
- Hood awning – this is the same principle as a tent awning. It ensures water running off of your hood does not run directly down your face.
The material on the back of a Ski Jacket will often be longer than the front of the Jacket. This will stop the wind blowing up the back of your jacket on a wintery day. The front of the jacket is left shorter to prevent any restriction on movement.
Under arm venting (often called ‘pit zips’) will allow you to regulate the temperature on the inside of the jacket. Vents can be used to retain or release heat whilst skiing. On hot days the vent can be opened to allow heat to escape whilst on cold days the vent can be closed to retain the heat. An important feature to look out for is whether the jacket has a mesh lining on the inside of the vent opening. This will prevent snow entering the jacket through the vent in the event that you fall over.
A ski jacket should have a number of different pockets with zip closing. The last thing you need to worry about is carrying big and bulky rucksacks when skiing down a mountain. Another important thing to think about is will the Jacket be roomy enough when the pockets are full to still be able to ski. For example, when you have your goggles or hat in the pockets will the jacket feel tight and restrict movement.
There are various pockets, as detailed below, but as a minimum all pockets should:
- Be easily accessible
- Have a large enough entry point
Types of Pockets:
- Hand warming pocket – normally a pocket either side of the Jacket at waist level that you can place your hands in. Consideration should be given to the internal lining of the pocket. A nice soft fleece lining will feel warm and soft to touch on a cold day.
- Electronic communication pocket – pocket for mobile phone or MP3 player with a hole where earphones can be fed through. Often jackets will have this pocket accessible under the storm flap but outside of the main zip so that access can be obtained without having to undo the main zip and therefore letting the cold air in.
- Goggle, Gloves or Hat pocket – Usually an internal pocket of mesh material that is large enough to store goggles or a hat in when not being used.
- Sleeve Pocket – usually a pocket on the left sleeve large enough for ski pass.
When the snow and wind are blowing directly in your face you will be really glad of a nice fleece lined neck and chin guard. This not only keeps you warm but also prevents the top of the main zip rubbing on your face.
A good functioning zip is really important as it will allow you to get your Jacket on or off quickly when the weather suddenly changes. Zips should be easy to open or close with gloves on as the last thing you want to do is to remove your gloves on a cold day. Often zips will have pull tags to make them easier to grip.
Cuffs should have an adjustable wrist closure (often Velcro) that enables you to adjust the size of the cuff around your glove and also to act as a vent. Cuffs can also have a Gaitor which is a piece of material that extends from the inside of the sleeve and fits over your thumb and sits inside of your glove. The gaitor and adjustable wrist closure ensures no snow can enter your glove or the inside of the jacket sleeve.
A snow skirt (often also called a ‘powder skirt’) can be fixed or detachable. It is fastened around the inside waist of the ski jacket and its purpose is to stop snow entering the bottom of the jacket when you fall over in deep snow. Snow skirts will normally have a rubber grip at the bottom to stop it riding up inside the jacket.
The hem drawcord allows the Skier to tighten the bottom of the Jacket and when opened can allow heat to escape from the inside of the jacket.
A storm flap is a piece of material that covers the main zip. On some jackets you will also find a storm flap over the pocket zips to prevent snow being able to enter through the zip. A storm flap will run the complete length of the zip and will also prevent ice and snow building up and causing your zip to freeze.
Trouser clips allow you to attach your ski trousers to your jacket which means there are no gaps for snow to enter when falling in deep snow. When buying trousers it is important to ensure the clips are in the correct place to match your ski jacket.[/varn_accordion]
[varn_accordion id=”gloves” file=”file.pdf” title=”GLOVES”]
This is probably the one area where people underestimate the importance of a good pair of gloves. Your fingertips, feet and head are at the extremities of your body core and therefore are more exposed to the wet and cold weather. Due to different designs of gloves, it is really important that you buy Ski Gloves for Skiing and Snowboard Gloves for snowboarding. For example, Ski Gloves will have a better grip to allow you to hold your ski poles.
There are a number of features to look out for when buying Gloves which are all important, however, two of the most important are Waterproofing and Breathability. Below we will explain the reason for this.
There are a lot of gloves available that are water resistant or weather protective. If you do not want your hands to be wet and cold as soon as you hit the slopes, Saami Snow would recommend that you buy fully waterproof gloves.
In order to allow the sweat and moisture that will build up inside of your glove to escape and keep your hands warm, dry and comfortable your gloves will need to be breathable.
Gloves need to be windproof to avoid cold and frozen fingertips.
For more information please read our separate guide ‘Saami Ski Wear Guide – Waterproofing, Breathability and Windproof’.
The lining creates a nice feel to your hands and increases the warmth. The lining is normally a material that has good moisture wicking properties (e.g. it takes the moisture away from your skin to the outer surface where it can evaporate).
Your gloves will need to be able to cope with sub-zero temperatures and therefore the selection of material is critical to ensure your hands stay dry. There are many types of material choices, each with their own properties.
- Nylon – extremely breathable.
- Leather – water resistant (you will need to check this as not all Leather gloves are water resistant). A liner will be required with Leather gloves to remove moisture from your hands. Leather gloves are very comfortable and flexible but will require regular maintenance to avoid losing waterproof capabilities.
- Gore Tex – great for wind and water resistance, extremely breathable, durable and under normal conditions will last a long time.
- Kevlar – this material is suitable for the harshest conditions and will therefore normally be more expensive. Unless you are an experienced, frequent skier you would not normally need to pay out for this kind of glove.
- Fleece Gloves – usually made from synthetic fibres, tightly knit for warmth. However, due to the material this type of glove offers no waterproof or wind protection.
- Glove Liners – snug fitting stretch material that are lightweight, warm and generally water and wind resistant. They can either be worn on their own or provide a base layer under insulated gloves. Due to the material they are very quick drying.
- Soft Shell Gloves – lightweight, water and wind resistant and ideal for use in low to moderate activities in cold temperatures.
- Insulated Gloves – usually made from synthetic fibres that are designed to trap heat. Outer shell is waterproof, windproof and breathable. Seams will be fully sealed.
- Insulated Mittens – identical to insulated gloves with the exception that they do not have individual fingers and only have two sections, one for the thumb and one for the rest of the hand. This type of glove allows complete circulation between fingers and holds more heat than the glove equivalent. However, mittens restrict movement when compared to a glove.
- Touchscreen Gloves – these gloves are the same as insulated gloves but have a special surface on the fingertip compatible with electronic devices such as touchscreen mobile phones and IPODs. This means that you do not have to remove your glove to operate this type of device.
It is important to get the right fit of glove to avoid any gaps which will let the cold air in and to ensure you get a good grip on your ski poles. Gloves that are too small will restrict movement and will likely expose your wrists to the cold elements.
When you fingers are outstretched the correct fitting for a glove would allow you to pinch about a quarter of an inch of material.
There are two lengths of cuffs on ski gloves.
- Short – this glove normally ends at the wrist and fits just under the sleeve of your jacket. It offers greater movement around your wrist area.
- Long (Gauntlet) – this glove will extend past your wrist and go over the sleeve of your jacket. It offers greater protection against snow entering the glove when in deep snow.
It really is down to personal choice on which you would prefer.
Seams will need to be double (or even treble) stitched and sealed to prevent water and snow entering the glove.
Some gloves have a mini squeegee on the fingertip (a small rubber blade) to help clean your goggles, similar to your windscreen wiper on your car. This is a very useful feature when skiing in bad weather.
Some gloves have a zipped pocket that enables you to place a disposable hand warmer in. These are bought from all good Snow and Ski shops.
A soft absorbent area on the thumb of the glove for those days when your nose will not stop running (sounds disgusting but believe me when you are at the top of a mountain the last thing you want to do is take your glove off and find a handkerchief)
Reinforced Palm and Fingertips and Grips
Your ski poles will be held in your hands for the majority of the time whilst you are skiing some gloves have reinforced palm and fingertip areas to prevent wear and tear.
Some gloves also have grips on the fingertips which provide a better grip when holding your ski poles.
The safety loop fits over the wrist and prevent the loss of gloves when on the ski lift. Some gloves also have a catch that allows you to clip the two gloves together.
Ski gloves should taper towards your wrist to prevent snow and ice entering. There are two types of cuff available, elasticated and Velcro, both are designed to keep the glove snug against your wrist and prevent cold air from entering.
Some gloves have a pocket into which you can insert a heat pack. These are normally zippered pockets for disposable hand warmers.
Good for increased visibility.
This can improve your grip whilst still remaining flexible.[/varn_accordion]
[varn_accordion id=”flmid” file=”file.pdf” title=”FLEECES & MIDLAYERS”]
This layer sits above the base layer and under the outer layer and is designed to pass moisture through from the base layer and keep you warm. Fleeces and Midlayers can also be used for aprés ski.
There are various types of material used and each has their own benefits.
- Polyester – this is relatively cheap to purchase, able to wick away moisture and sweat, quick drying easy to maintain (doesn’t need ironing – ideal!).
- Merino wool – this is not only breathable but also extremely warm. Due to it being a natural fibre it will be suitable for anyone with sensitive skin. Wool is also a natural antibacterial material which minimises odours. This type of material will be more expensive than the synthetic materials such as Polyester.
- Elastane/Lycra/Spandex – when combined with one of the above materials this can provide additional flexibility for movement.
Features to look out for when purchasing a fleece or midlayer:
- Ventilation – often underarm ventilation made of mesh material to quickly release heat.
- Pockets – should be easy to reach and zipped.
- Seams that are flat and will not agitate your skin when hot and sweaty.
- Adjustable hems and cuffs that allow the person to make adjustments to suit their own size and shape.
- Wind resistant to avoid cold chills.
- Anti-microbial treatment – this is applied to some fleeces and prevents the build-up of bacteria.
- UPF and SPF – found in some fleeces to provide a barrier against UV rays. Could be important when removing your jacket for those all important refreshment breaks.
- Weight – fleeces are sold in 100 gram, 200 gram and 300 gram weights. Generally if you are using a layered system the 300 gram would be too much for everyday skiing activities.
[varn_accordion id=”thermbase” file=”file.pdf” title=”THERMALS & BASE LAYERS”]
The Thermal and Baselayer is the layer that sits directly next to your skin. It can comprise of a top and/or leggings. A common mistake is to not consider this important and to wear a normal everyday cotton T Shirt. This will be fine at first, but as you get hotter, this type of material is unable to wick away the sweat. This will mean that even the most expensive Ski Jacket will still make you feel damp and cold. The outer layers of clothing will perform better when a thermal base layer is worn as the body temperature will be maintained, warmer in the cold conditions and cooler when in warmer temperatures.
The most common materials for this layer are polyester or polypropylene. Both these fabrics wick moisture away from your skin which can then be vented through the insulation layer and out of your jacket. Another important point is that both materials dry very quickly which means it is easy to wash after a day on the slopes. Polypropylene will dry twice as quickly as polyester but is therefore more expensive.
One other material that is suitable is a combination of polypropylene with a combination of an insulating material such as merino wool. This also has low moisture retention, quick drying properties and provides increased warmth.
There are various types of base layers on the market. These range from long or short sleeved tops with crew neck or zip and long and short leggings. The choice is down to the individual’s preference.
The important features of this garment are:
- Material that will wick sweat away from your skin e.g. breathable
- Seams that are flat and will not agitate your skin when hot and sweaty
- A thermal material that will keep you warm
- To fit snugly and closely to your skin
- Mesh vents – often under the armpits to provide additional ventilation
- Adjustable cuffs and zips – allow you to open to speed up the cooling process[/varn_accordion]
[varn_accordion id=”trousalop” file=”file.pdf” title=”TROUSERS/SALOPETTES”]
Most people at some time or another will fall over (if we’re honest we will all probably more than once). Some of the most important things to look for when purchasing ski trousers are durability, flexibility, breathability and thickness. We will cover these and some other important features in this guide.
Waterproofing, Breathability and Windproofing
Please refer to our separate guide ‘Waterproofing, Breathability and Wind-proofing’.
Ski Pants need to keep you warm and dry and protect you from bumps and knocks. The insulation layer is designed to transfer moisture away whilst keeping you warm by trapping heat.
There are basically two types, ski pants and ski bibs.
- Ski Pants: this type is a normal trouser that may or may not have braces to help them stay in place. Ski pants tend to be easier to get on and off than ski bibs.
- Salopettes (or Ski Bibs): this type has an additional piece of material that extends from the waist over the chest and secured by a pair of braces. Ski bibs tend to be warmer that ski pants, stay in place and prevent snow entering your jacket during a fall.
Most ski pants are designed to be worn directly over a base layer that will wick away sweat and transfer to the outside. Most ski pants have an insulating layer which keeps you warm, dry and protected from the harsh elements. Those without the insulating layer are more suitable to skiing in the warmer weather.
Whichever type of ski pants you decide on, will need to be a comfortable fit. They should be loose enough to allow complete movement as you will not only be skiing but also getting on/off ski lifts and invariably getting up after a fall. However, they should also not be too loose and fitted enough to prevent any gaps where snow could enter. The length should not be too short to allow snow to enter your boots but not too long which will result in loose material around your ankles.
The seams are another important consideration to ensure you remain warm and dry. A garment could have a really high waterproof rating but if the seams are not sealed then water will find a way in. Taped seams means that a waterproof tape has been applied to the inside seams of the garment.
For ski pants Saami Snow would recommend that you opt for the fully taped seams. This is because your ski pants are going to spend a lot of time in the snow and therefore you want maximum protection against the moisture.
Heat will be generated when you are skiing which will become extremely uncomfortable it you cannot release. Vents are normally located on the inside of the upper length of the leg and have a mesh lining to prevent snow or ice entering.
It is important to have some pockets in your ski pants. These should be big enough to fit your hand in and all have zip closures.
The most common pockets are:
- Pass Pocket – a pocket with a clear screen for your ski pass
- Cargo Pocket – a deep pocket on the side of the leg for hat or gloves
- Glove Holster – a deep pocket that will hold your gloves
- Handwarmer pockets – on the front waist of the ski pants and keeps your hands warm when waiting around.
- Back Pocket – ideal for loose change etc
Most often you will find ski pants have elasticated waists. This allows complete flexibility in movement, ensures a comfortable fit and prevents gaps through which snow or ice could enter. It will also make adjustments for different layers of clothing and make it easier when you have to make one of those inevitable comfort breaks.
Many also have a high waist or back which makes it more difficult for snow or ice to enter between your ski pants and jacket.
Suspenders / Braces
Detachable braces allow you to make adjustments and prevent your ski pants from falling down.
It doesn’t matter how good a skier you are at some time or other you will fall over. Reinforced areas are often found in the seat and knee area and provide extra protection when falling over. It also provides additional reinforcements against rips and tears.
Hems are also often reinforced by additional stitching to increase durability and in some cases an additional piece of material (known as a scuff guard) to prevent fraying.
To protect the hem of the ski pants from dragging on the ground when not skiing some ski pants are fitted with a cord and snap system. This enables the skier to roll the trousers up when finished skiing.
This is a piece of waterproof fabric that is attached to the inside of each leg and extends down over the boot to prevent any snow or ice from entering.
A good functioning zip is really important and they should be easy to open or close with gloves on as the last thing you want to do is to remove your gloves on a cold day. Often zips will have pull tags to make them easier to grip.
Buddy Lift Clip
This is a clip for your ski pass to clip on to.
Pant to Jacket Clips
This allows you to zip or snap your ski pants to your ski jacket to keep in place and prevent any snow or ice entering any gap between the two garments.[/varn_accordion]
[varn_accordion id=”SOCK” file=”file.pdf” title=”SOCKS”]
You may ask why you need special socks to go skiing. Well, If you have ever done any sport whilst wearing normal everyday socks you will more than likely know that if the socks do not fit correctly you will be subject to all sorts of aches, pains and even blisters. People often find that when skiing, the feet are the most common problem area for these types of aches, pains and blisters. Preventing the risk of aches and pains is down to mastering the technique of skiing whilst a good pair of ski socks will minimise the risk of blisters.
Things to look out for when buying ski socks:
- Length of the sock should be knee length to keep you calves warm and prevent the sock from ruffling.
- A ski sock should be thin material. Your boots will provide the insulation you do not need thick socks, unless you are carrying out non slope activities.
- Type of material – a minimum of 40% wool is recommended for warmth and absorption of sweat.
- Padding – some socks will have padding on the shin to provide that extra protection. [/varn_accordion]
[varn_accordion id=”waterbreath” file=”file.pdf” title=”WATERPROOFING, BREATHABILITY”]
What the technical measures all mean
With any outer ski garment there are three important features that will ensure you stay warm and dry on the mountain. These are waterproof level, breathability rating and wind-proofing. These are explained in greater detail below.
The Waterproof rating is probably the most important feature of a ski jacket as it will inform you how quickly your jacket will start to absorb water and hence result in you becoming damp and cold.
Now for the technical bit… the industry standard for measuring the waterproof rating of a ski jacket is to place a column of water over the fabric. The pressure is then increased by extending the length of the column until it starts to soak through the fabric. The column of water is then measured in millimetres to establish the waterproof rating.
Waterproof ratings can range from 1,500 mm to 20,000 mm. The higher the number the better the waterproof rating will be.
Waterproof ratings level of resistance
- 0 – 5,000 mm – no resistance to some resistance to moisture. Ski jackets with this rating will withstand light rain, dry snow and no pressure.
- 6,000 to 10,000 mm – under light pressure jacket will be rainproof and waterproof. Ski jackets with this rating will withstand light rain, average snow and light pressure.
- 11,000 to 15,000 mm – rainproof and waterproof except under high pressure. Ski jackets with this rating will withstand typical skiing conditions e.g. moderate rain, average snow and light pressure.
- 16,000 to 20,000 mm – rainproof and waterproof under high pressure. Ski jackets with this rating will withstand heavy rain, wet snow and some pressure.
Ski wear needs to keep you dry on the inside which requires the outer fabric and lining to be breathable.
Muscles produce heat during exercise. This heat is balanced against our body heat by sweating. The purpose of sweat is to cool the body by sitting on the surface of the skin and allowing heat to escape. This is our body’s way of cooling us down and keeping its natural temperature (which if you are interested is 37 Deg C).
When skiing the temperature and humidity within the ski jacket is higher than on the outside. Breathable fabrics are designed to work with our inner body cooling system in that they allow moisture vapour from the inside of the garment to escape to the outside of the fabric, where it can be evaporated. If it cannot escape, the moisture will build up as condensation on the inside of the jacket and give the impression that the jacket has let in water.
Now for the technical bit… Breathability is measured in grams (g) which is based on the Moisture Vapour Transmissing Rate (MVTR). The MVTR determines how many grams of sweat per 1 square meter can escape a jacket in a 24 hour period.
The good news is that you don’t need to worry too much about this technical measurement. The higher the Breathability number, the more moisture can escape and the more breathable it is.
It is advisable to purchase a garment that is not only waterproof and breathable but also windproof. When skiing down a mountain in a strong wind the last thing you want to feel is a cold chill which will make you very uncomfortable and can affect the breathability of the outer layer.[/varn_accordion]
We hope you have found the Saami Snow Ski Wear Guide useful. If you require any further information please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will be happy to respond to any further questions you may have to ensure you get the maximum enjoyment out of your skiing or snowboarding experience.