What to Wear Ski Touring
Ski touring is a fickle mistress. On the way up you’re huffing and puffing like you’re blowing a house down, while on the down you may need to slap on every layer to stop becoming an icicle of frozen sweat. As with any outdoor sport, a bit of trial and error generally ends up helping you nail down what to wear when you’re engaging in your favourite hobby.
We’ve come up with our go-to list to help you take the guesswork out of what to wear on your backcountry skiing or boarding adventures; less time spent checking the gear list means more time checking the avalanche conditions and weather forecasts, and we all know how important that is.
The quickest and easiest way to ruin your day touring is to get cold feet, the quickest way to ruin your overnight hut trip is with socks that reek like 2 month old oatmeal. Make sure you have a warm, moisture wicking, antibacterial, anatomically correct sock. We love Icebreaker’s ski specific socks for all these reasons. They’re available in not just Men’s, but Women’s and Children’s too, along with a host of different cushioning levels to suit all needs.
Base layers are the foundation of your ski touring outfit. You need excellent moisture wicking for the sweaty skin track, but warmth (even when wet!) for the descent. Synthetic materials can be adequate, but they often start smelling before too long. Cotton is a poor baselayer and should be avoided, it loses any warmth when wet and takes a long time to dry. Icebreaker’s merino wool baselayers are an excellent option; wicking, warm and anti-bacterial, they look better than your average baselayer to boot!
We love the Arc’teryx Proton LT Hoody as the perfect midlayer. Excellent breathability ensures you don’t overheat during periods of exertion, but can still keep you warm if things get chilly.
This jacket is particularly useful on cold ascents, it is breathable enough to keep you dry, with enough insulation to keep you at optimum temperature. If spring touring is your thing it is also super compactable, making it easy to stow away if it’s a sans-midlayer kind of climb.
Base and midlayers are highly recommended, but they can’t do their job without the proper outer layers. For pants, we recommend a non-insulated, Goretex shell, like the Arc’teryx Rush LT Pant. The breatheability of a Goretex shell allows the smaller particles of water vapour (i.e sweat) to leave, but does not let the larger water molecules (i.e. rain, snow) pass through to your skin. The Rush pants also have zipper vents when you get really warm on the climb, so you can dump that extra heat while staying on the move.
The Arc’teryx Rush Jacket is an excellent option for your ski-touring missions. Lightweight and packable for when you’re running hot, this fully waterproof and windproof jacket can handle those difficult stormy conditions with ease. Designed with safe skiing in mind, the stormhood is helmet compatible, offering coverage in snowy conditions and designed with your sight in mind.
We all know when you’re expending a lot of effort on a climb, hands heat up fast. Thick mittens or gloves for the descent will be too much for the climb, but you won’t want to leave your hands fully exposed. We recommend the Black Diamond Midweight Softshell glove for the climb to keep your hands dry, warm, and offer you secure grip on your poles with their goat-leather palms.
Toque/Hat for Skin
Don’t forget to keep your head warm on the way up the mountain. Grab your favourite ball cap to keep the sun out of your eyes on a bluebird day, or try out a lightweight, moisture wicking toque from Icebreaker.
Don’t leave home without it, kids. Most all avalanche packs or daypacks for ski touring are equipped with a carrier for your helmet on the ascent.
For those bluebird days on the climb, you’ll be so thankful you didn’t leave your sunglasses at home. Pack them up and swap ‘em out for goggles on the descent.
Have more questions about what you should be wearing on your ski tour? Stop by our Whistler or Squamish location to pick the brains of our backcountry experts. Everyone has their own tips and tricks, and you might just learn something you’ve never thought about.