Keeping Warm For Winter Sports

There’s nothing quite like the thrill of hitting the slopes or taking to the ice for a spot of winter sport activity. But if there’s one thing that puts a downer on the fun, it’s getting cold. Selecting the right clothes to keep you warm means that you can enjoy your preferred winter sport for longer.


The basic principal to adopt when dressing to keep warm for winter sports is layering. There are three types of layer, each with a different function to help keep your temperature from falling too much and to keep you dry. The layers also work by trapping air between them that your natural body warmth heats up. The layers prevent this warm air from dissipating too quickly, keeping you warmer for longer.

First layer

The bottom layer of your winter sports get-up should take perspiration away from your body, leaving just warmed trapped air against your skin. It may sound strange, the idea of sweating in a snowy landscape, but the activity of your sport will make you sweat. Silk and polyester are good choices of material for this layer, but you need to avoid cotton, which traps the moisture. A tight-fitting long-sleeved vest is ideal (the tightness helps prevent the warmed air escaping). You can get undergarments in various thicknesses. The colder the place you are going, the thicker the garment should be.

Middle layer

The middle layer should sit close to your base layer – to trap the air – put doesn’t need to be as closely fitting. It will be thicker as it plays more of a role in insulating your body from the cold. Fleeces, wool jumpers and other blends of natural and synthetic fibres are commonplace.


Outer layer

Coats and trousers are the first line of defence against the elements. They need to keep out the cold, water and wind. Typically they comprise a lightweight synthetic membrane over compressed stuffing. They will have zips to help you get them over the other layers and your ski boots.

Hands and Head

When your body gets cold it will reduce blood-flow to the extremities (the hands and feet) to keep the interior, where the major organs are, warm. That’s why your hands feel numb, and why it is doubly important to wear good protection. Thermal gloves are a must for any winter sport. Insulated thermal gloves with a breathable membrane are the best for keeping warm without trapping moisture.

Heat rises, so a lot of your body warmth will escape from the top of your head if you’re not wearing a hat. Again breathable membranes are good in combination with a wool or fleece lining. Ear flaps help prevent heat loss and a peak can prevent rain and snow getting in your eyes.


You need a pair of thick socks made of wool or a similar synthetic blend. Layering of socks works on your feet the same way your clothes do on your body, so wear them over a thinner pair of polyester socks for maximum protection.

When you’re not wearing ski boots or ice skates, you’ll want footwear that is warm and, crucially, is waterproof. Shoes with thick, lugged soles (deep indentations) are good as they reduce the amount of the boot that’s in contact with the cold snow and ice.

James Dunbarton is a blogger on behalf of Sealskinz who offers a wide range of thermal socks and gloves.