Wearing the right layers underneath your ski or snowboard jacket will make the world of difference. There are two layering systems that we recommend here at Rhythm and they are the 3 layer which consists of a thermal, a mid layer and a jacket. Then there is the 4 layer system, which we recommend when wearing a shell and it consists of a thermal, a mid layer, an insulator and the shell jacket. Depending on what kind of jacket you have will greatly affect that layers you should wear.
Let’s start with the 3 layer system. If you have a jacket that is insulated or as some people will say, ‘padded’, you should use the 3 layer system. If you’re not sure what’s inside your jacket, look on the inside for its care and fabric label. This will tell you exactly what's inside. Generally, you will find it says, polyfill, polyester insulation or down. Your first layer is probably the most important. This is your thermal layer. It needs to be on your skin, not too baggy as it will help wick sweat and keep you dry and warm. It can be short sleeve or long sleeve, depending on how hot you get, but the most important thing to consider is the fabric used.
Base Layer materials:
Polypropeline and merino wool are the two most popular fibres used for baselayers. Polypropeline is the cheaper option but still relatively effective. It is made from polyester and is engineered specifically to wick sweat. If you go skiing more regularly, however, you may want to invest in a 100% merino or merino blend baselayer. The merino fibres will wick sweat, like the polypro, but it will also keep you warmer. You can also wear it for a few days without needing to wash it as the merino fabric has anti-bacterial properties, so it won't smell bad! Surprisingly, merino thermals are made to be soft, so don't be scared when you hear the word wool, it's not super scratchy. So if you do have sensitive skin, you should be okay! The main thing about your first layer is to make sure it's not cotton! Cotton doesn't wick any sweat and will soak up any moisture and make you cold. For some seriously good thermals check out Le Bent, Mons Royale, Burton and EIVY.
Your midlayer can be one of three things. A polar fleece, a cotton- poly fleece or a heavier weight merino layer. Don't be discouraged by the thickness of this layer either. If you are looking at something that is thin but says it's a midlayer, it will still be warm. The first thing to do when you're looking at midlayers is to have a look at what it's made out of. A heavier weight merino layer is going to be a warm and breathable choice. Just like the baselayer it will disperse any moisture and keep you warm at the same time. A polar fleece is light, hydrophillic fabric which holds most of its heat-retaining abilities, even when wet! It's almost like a man-made wool. It's soft and will keep the warmth closer to your body. Cotton fleeces are more absorbent which can make you cold. So try and find a blend of polyester and cotton so that you can keep some of that body warmth in. One of our favourite midlayers is a good quality Flannel, or check out Rojo's polar fleece's or for a next level hoodie check Yuki Threads, such good quality clothing. So that's 2 layers and then if you add your jacket, you've made it to the end of the three layer layering system. Now is the part where you put on your jacket. And you're done!
If you do get cold or it's a really cold day, you may need to add an extra layer. Or, if you wear a shell, it would be good to add another layer and that takes us to the 4 layer layering system! What is a shell? It can either be a hard shell, which feels more like a raincoat and it only 1 layer or, a softer feeling jacket that has no insulation. It may have a liner, but when you rub the fabric between your two fingers, you will feel no padding.
This layer will be an insulator. This can either be a poly-fill or down layer that is lightweight and not too bulky. Down is much warmer than poly-fill but it's also more expensive however it packs down smaller and is lighter. For this layer, look for something that doesn't have a hood. Depending on what you prefer, you could use a vest or a jacket. If you do get too hot, you can always lose a layer or open up your vents to cool yourself down.
Once you've got your insulator, you're ready for your jacket again. Now, depending on the weather, you can also mix and match these layers to find the best combination for you. These are just the combinations I know work for me but they are also the easiest. If you're going into the backcountry, you might want to wear just your baselayer and a shell. If it's really cold, you could add another baselayer.
In the end, all I can say is, keep it simple. If you've got an insulated jacket, go for 3. If you wear a shell, go for 4.
Article and Video by Aurora Braid. After 10 seasons back to back Aurora has all the snow tips you could need. Watch for more blogs from Aurora and check out her Youtube channel. If you didn't want to head to Japan before you will want to after watching a couple of clips! For tips on your Snow Sport equipment stay in touch with us: facebook: facebook/rhythmsnowsports Instagram: @rhythmsnowsports twitter: @rhythmsnowsport