Prepare for the piste: skiwear
PUBLISHED: 11:55 15 December 2009 | UPDATED: 16:28 20 February 2013
Intelligent skiwear not only looks good on the slopes, but is designed to protect you too
Downhill, Cross Country or Snowboarding? What do you fancy? Skijoring sounds nice and lazy - thats the skiing on the flat when youre pulled along by a pack of dogs or a horse! If youre contemplating a snow sport for the first time, brace yourself, theres lots to learn before you book that flight.
Experienced skiers know the score; they know how it works, they have no fear either of heights, how to get a ski pass or share a hot tub. Theyre the ones who know about seamless socks and what to wear for aprs dos.
Dont let it put you off, but unless you do a bit of investigating youll be too worried to ever enjoy your winter skiing holiday.
Fining out as much about the resorts helps a lot. Investigative questions and web searches will reveal much about whats on offer to help plan the wardrobe (have you seen www.paradiski.com? Were saving up for next year!)
An fact-finding trip to an outdoor retailer is imperative. Usually run by experienced enthusiasts, theyre not just salesmen but those who are in the know, whove experienced the highs and lows and are well up on technology.
This isnt gadget land where youll be tricked into paying over the odds for technical fabric wizardry - youll be introduced to fabric and fibre innovations that can save lives. Its only fun if youre fit, fully protected and insulated against the elements. And if you intend to take this up as a long term hobby, there are ski jackets with satellite trackingvery serious investments.
The first thing youll learn, and the most important, is how imperative base undergarments really are. Merino wool is right at the top of any serious skiers list followed by silk or microfibre in long sleeve vest-tee styles and long johns or all-in-ones. Its vital that your base is breathable and takes moisture away from the body.
Mammut recently launched a new Merino wool-microfibre blend for their Alpine womens underwear collection with a zoned design; areas of the body more susceptible to the cold: arms, shoulders, the hips and the kidneys are covered in a higher percentage of wool whilst armpits, backs of knees have more microfibre.
To put it bluntly youre going to sweat and sweat turns cold and chills you to the bone hence the important of breathability. Keeping dry keeps you warm. The base layer is followed by a mid layer, usually a merino wool garment; before the waterproof outer garmentdepending on the conditions you might need an insulating layer too. But youll have checked the temperature and terrain and expected snowfall and temperatures from one of the excellent websites like www.welove2ski.com wont you?
Back home you can balance your findings against the excellent down to earth advice offered by www.skibeginner.com who explain that depending on the weather, depending on the resort and your own style, you can ski in gear that will cut corners as long as you dont skimp on the golden rules of layering.
Then and only then can you decide whether your new found knowledge has given you the sufficient expertise to buy at discount rates or online; youve got to know what youre doing.
Aprs ski is harder to judge and depends on the fashionability of the resort - for instance youll see lots of fur and moon boots in Italy. Mostly its a groovier version of those same layers but with some big warm comfy boots and a generous application of lipstick!
Remember youve got to get from the chalet to the bar and the temperature really does drop at night. High street fashion this season seems to take its layering inspiration directly from slope-wear so its a perfect opportunity to take all sorts of variations on snoods, shrugs and leggings from your favourite fashion brand. Piling it on means you can unpeel as the night wears on.
To be forewarned is to be forearmed goes the saying and its certainly true when experiencing harsh extremes of temperature, whether baking hot in Barbados or in this case shivering in Chamonix. Its not safe unless youve worked hard, done the preparation and protected yourself.
Cant wait to hurtle down those challenging slopes!