Gear selection can be overwhelming as there are many brands and styles to choose from. We’ve broken down our list a little further with specific examples to make it easier to select the right item from your trip.
There’s no way around it. You sweat. Base layers wick moisture away from your skin as you perspire. Unlike 100% cotton that gets wet and stays wet, wicking fabrics help you regulate your core temperature and avoid overheating or chilling. Great examples include EMS® Techwick® T1 and T2 polyester which wicks, packs, wears, and washes like nothing else. Base layer top and bottom are recommended for cold weather activities such as climbing and winter hiking.
Mid-layers add mild insulation to help retain heat that your body creates, and are worn between the base layer and insulation if needed. Examples of over base layers are EMS® Techwick® T2 or T3, EMS® Powerstretch, or any lightweight wool shirt.
Mid-layers add insulation to help retain heat that your body creates, and are worn between the base layer and outer jacket. Examples of insulating mid-layers include a fleece vest, a down sweater, or a synthetic jacket made of PrimaLoft®.
Uninsulated Waterproof/ Windproof Shell
Forget about bulky coats. Wear an outer shell (over your base and insulation layer) to shed water and snow. Layering will give you more versatility, depending on the weather and your activity. Outerwear that is waterproof with increased breathability will be more adaptable and can help transfer moisture away from your body to keep you dry and protected from the elements.
“Over-it-All” Hooded Down or PrimaLoft Jacket
Hooded, down or primaloft jacket. This layer is put on when you stop for a break. It keeps the body temperature up when stopped. This layer is generally worn over all your layers; yes, even over your Gore-Tex® Or System Three® jacket.
When its cold out, your body pumps less blood to your extremities in order to maintain heat in your core. Pack 2 pairs. 1 pair ski/ice climbing gloves is used when your hands are not cold and need to be dexterous. 1 pair of mittens (Gore-Tex® or System Three® is ideal) are worn when your hands are cold and don’t need to be dexterous.
You’ve probably heard that most of your body heat escapes from your head. When you’re feeling cold the first piece to add to your clothing system is a hat. This hat should cover your ears and can be made of fleece or wool. Remember to fit the hat so you can wear it under a helmet.
A properly fitting pack will make your day 100 times better. Use a pack large enough to hold all your gear without strapping extra gear to the side. Also, it’s important to have a pack that carries ice axes easily, and that has a hip belt to help support the weight. (2,500-7000 cubic inches depending on activity)
How many times have your feet been way too cold? Wool or wool blend socks are great natural insulators, even when wet. For most cold-weather sports, wear wicking liner socks and midweight wool or synthetic socks. Make sure you fit footwear with heavier socks for more warmth. Footwear that constricts your foot will constrict your blood flow and cause your feet to be cold.
Gaiters cover the top of the boot to keep out rain, snow, and ice. They should cover your entire calf and be able to fit over a plastic ice climbing boot. They also cover your Gore-Tex® pants and provide a clean surface around your legs. This way, you are less likely to trip on loose pant legs and damage them while walking and climbing in your crampons.
When the temperatures drop and the wind picks up, the skin on your face becomes very vulnerable to frostnip, and even worse, frostbite. Wearing a balaclava adds protection and warmth to your clothing system. Use an all-fleece balaclava and leave the neoprene for the face mask.
Neoprene Face Mask
When the balaclava isn’t enough, we put on the neoprene. Neoprene is the same material used for wetsuits. In extreme cold or windy conditions neoprene is a supreme windproof layer. When tucked up inside your goggles it gives you full facial protection from the elements. We often cut the mouth holes a little larger to help you breathe better. This piece is the best protection against frostbite on your face.
We all wear hats and gloves, but don’t forget about your eyes. It’s not uncommon for climbers and skiers without protective eyewear to burn their eyeballs. And the sun damage can be just as strong on cloudy days. Wear sunglasses or goggles with UV protection. Goggles also shield your eyes from the harsh temps and blistering winds often encountered above treeline during the winter.
Mother Nature doesn’t always provide us with light so we bring our own. Carry an LED headlamp with extra batteries for when She decides to flip the switch.
Uninsulated Waterproof/ Windproof Shell
Over-it-All Hooded Down or PrimaLoft Jacket