I remember my first time cross country skiing. Naturally, since I was a city boy, I knew that unless I dressed REAL warm, I would probably freeze to death. No one really explained to me that cross country skiing probably generates more body heat than just about any other sport. Burn Baby Burn. And naturally, I used what I had in my closet, which was mostly cotton items. After a while those comfy cotton items soaked up all the sweat that was pouring off of me and I Froze Baby Froze. It was not a good first time out. Then there was the incident with the purple klister from an aerosol can on that same trip, but that’s another story…
But once I learned what to wear, I would forget from season to season which clothes to wear at what temperatures. Here’s what I did. I made a simple list –
After one season of taking notes, I was able to refine a list of what to wear for any temperature. This trick also works great for other activities like cycling and running. Here’s what I found keeps me warm while skiing under most California conditions:
You will notice I tend to use Pearlizumi clothing. I like it because it also works great for cycling and running. But there lots of great brands out there, Hind, Sportif, XC Sporthill, etc. Above all, you will notice I do not wear any cotton items. For you first timers, wear ANYTHING BUT cotton. Cotton is known for its comfort — until it gets wet. And wet clothes in cold weather can not only be real uncomfortable, but downright dangerous. Fabrics like polyester, nylon or polypro don’t hold onto moisture but tend to wick it away from your body so you stay drier and warmer. Don’t wear cotton sweatshirts, jeans, pants, jogging suits, sweaters, etc. Root around in your closet to find some old polyester or wool clothes. Head to the local thrift store to find some deals on non-cotton clothing you can use for skiing. And when it comes time to start buying new clothes for skiing, consider bike shops. I find cycling clothing works great for us nordic skiers incredibly well. And don’t be shy about shopping the internet — there are lots of great deals out there if you are willing to nose around a little.