Section 04: Clothing
Yes and no. First of all, jeans are probably the absolute worst
thing you can wear in the mountains unless you're absolutely positive
that it's going to be sunny and warm all day. Cotton holds moisture
and becomes a terrible insulator when it gets wet.
Expensive clothes, however, are *not* necessary. If you're on a
budget then a pair of wool pants, a good warm hat (wool or
polypropolene), a good pair of gloves or mittens, and a warm jacket
will work just fine.
Cardinal rule: if you get cold you'll get miserable.
If you're going to really get into the sport and intend to go rain
or shine then here's a list of stuff that will help lighten your
Nordic: Don't dress for alpine when going nordic!
- Silk or polypro ski socks. Wool tends to itch and is often too
bulky for a good fit in todays boots.
- Silk or polypro thermal underwear. Wicks moisture away from the
body and is easy to clean when it gets smelly.
- Stretch pants or a lined shell. Stretch pants are usually warm
but may not be all that waterproof. Shells are usually more
versatile but many people don't think they look as cool.
- Various layers for the torso which may include polypropolene
pull-overs, wool sweaters, and the like.
- A light gore-tex or similar jacket. Heavy lined parkas are warm
for those storm days but you can get the same warmth and far more
versatility by layering underneath a shell.
- Wear a hat or headband to protect your ears - frostbite hurts.
- Have either a good set of mittens or gloves. X-Cs should
have an extra dry set. Famous mountain stories exist about
people losing fingers and toes. Mittens are clumsy, but have
less surface area for heat loss. Good gloves tend to be a bit
Steve LaSala has written an excellent article on Gore-Tex. It's far
too long to include here in the FAQ and deserves its to be posted
and perused all by its lonesome. In brief, Gore-Tex is not totally
waterproof...a wetsuit is much better. However Gore-Tex is a lot
more comfortable on the hill.
- Follow the rules for alpine, with a couple of exceptions...
- Avoid over-dressing, bring a small day pack to put extra
layers of clothing in, and have one or two layers in the
pack for when you stop. Include a pair of light wind pants
for the legs.
- Gore-Tex is not recommended for HEAVY exertion. It does not
breath fast enough. Leave the down parka in the car, along with
a change of dry warm clothes for when you are finished.