Insulation, waterproofing, breathability and other outerwear terminology can make picking the right outfit seem a little overwhelming. That’s why we are here to help you pick out the best outerwear kit ever.
First things first, what are we using this outerwear for? Snowboarding? Frigid winter city jacket? Both? Think about how you will be using your gear and it will help you pick the right pieces. We are going to break it all down inside and out so you can get prepared for the winter.
No matter how fancy your jacket is, if you are wearing the wrong layers underneath, you are going to end up wet, cold and bummed. Proper first layer pieces are just as (if not more) important as outer layers.
- Breathability is a must. You will sweat at some point, if that moisture can’t escape that sweat is guaranteed to turn into ice when the sun goes down.
- Wicking agents will help disperse moisture from the inside and out to help keep you dry. Sweat on the inside and wet snow on the outside are sure to happen, fabrics that wick will stay dryer than cotton and keep you from overheating / freezing.
- Choose your layer thickness based on the temperature. Frigid days go with a fleece-weight option and check out silk-weight tops and bottoms for spring conditions.
- Don’t laugh. One-piece first layer is awesome. By trapping all your body heat inside, you can stay warmer, longer. And you look like an oversized 3 year old, which is always fun.
- Absolutely, never ever ever, ever – wear cotton.
If your feet are cold, your day is over. Socks come in different weights and blends of materials to fine tune the amount of warmth.
- Pick a non-cotton sock that was made for snowboarding. These socks will have extra padding and support where you need it so they stay put throughout the day.
- Wool socks are a great option because wool has a natural wicking agent. They will not absorb sweat and are naturally thick so they add great padding.
- Merino wool is a thinner wool / acrylic blend that is less bulky and softer to the touch. If you have sensitive skin and traditional wool is too itchy, opt for Merino wool. Thinner feeling but still super warm.
- Sweaty feet? There are plenty of lightweight options out there for riders who run hot. Be sure to look for keywords like “Ultrawick” or “Dryride” and stay far away from cotton.
Sometimes you need a little something in between your first layer and your jacket. For colder days, one more effective layer can really do the trick.
- Whatever you put between your first layer and jacket should also be breathable. Opt for a mid-weight fleece that fits close to your body to keep from feeling bulky.
- Take the hood into consideration. If your jacket has a hood, you may want to opt for a hood-less layer to keep from too much fabric bunching up around your neck.
- Thumb holes are awesome. To keep your layer from creeping up the sleeve of your jacket, look for a fleece with thumb holes built in.
- Bonded fleece will wick from the inside and out and also make great layers. If you have a wipeout and your fleece layer gets wet, you want it to dry asap. Bonded hoodies will do this with ease and also make for a great street wear piece.
Since a lot of the tech that goes into your snowboard jacket and pants are the same, we will break it all down at once. 40 degree days on fresh groomed runs or 20 degree days in 3 feet of powder – the right jacket and pant will do all the work so you can enjoy the ride.
- Gore-Tex is the only way to go for absolute water and wind proofing. Gore-Tex pants will generally come in shell form so you can layer accordingly underneath. Gore-Tex jackets come in various insulation options – keep in mind that the shells block the wind and water so they offer more warmth than a non-windproof shell and are often paired with layers instead of having built in insulation.
- All jackets and pants will have a series of numbers listing their waterproof and breathability ratings. You might see something like 15,000 / 10,000 listed on your outerwear item. The first number will usually be the waterproof rating and the second is breathability. Numbers close to 20,000 will be close to Gore-Tex performance while numbers around 5,000 are better for rain wear, hiking, or just around town performance.
- Insulation is the guts of your jacket and will help keep you nice and toasty this winter. If you run cold, look for a higher number like 120g insulation and for milder temps shoot for around 40g insulation. Remember, it’s always a good idea to get a jacket that falls right in the middle and layer accordingly for colder days to avoid overheating.
- Pant – to – jacket interface systems are awesome. Create a “onesie” effect by zipping your jacket and pants together. Many brands do this, check the inner backside of your jacket and look for an extra zipper.
- Pit zips are a must in any legit winter jacket. Instead of taking your jacket off if you are overheating, just unzip the pit zips and cool down quickly.
- Most jackets will have a waist gaiter that you can snap to keep your jacket wrapped tightly around your hips. This works great for windy days and wipeouts – keeping snow and cold where it belongs, outside of your jacket.
Cold hands are just as miserable as cold feet. Protect them from the cold and keep them nice and dry so you can high five all day long.
- Just like your jacket and pants, Gore-Tex is always the best way to go with gloves or mitts.
- Gloves -vs- mitts comes down to personal preference but mitts do keep your hands a bit warmer by keeping your fingers close together.
- Leather is another great option for gloves, just keep in mind they need to be treated and cared for to upkeep the waterproofing. They offer unmatched warmth and a very clean look.
- Look for gloves or mitts that come with liners – if you need to take your glove off on the lift, your hands won’t freeze. (touchscreen compatible liners are a good choice too!)
- If you ride at a resort with tow ropes know that no glove or mitt can handle the abuse from a tow rope. The best way to protect your fancy gloves are with a leather glove guard – and they also give you extra grip to grab the rope quickly.
- Lots of gloves or mitts come with small zippered pockets on the outside of the glove. Drop a little heater pack inside and stay warm for hours.
You’ve got your core outerwear kit down but you’ll still need a few accessories to keep you warm from head to toe.