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A bit has changed since we last wrote about this for our original Chalet Morzine blog. The weather is more unpredictable, and garment technology has come on leaps and bounds.

When you live in a ski resort year round, and unless you are a ski instructor (mentioning no names, Thierry) and get a new jacket every year, you kind of just get by with what you’ve got and learn to live with it. Gradually, as things get too old or tatty then you replace them with better things. Here is how we have refined our skiing wardrobe over the years in five easy steps.

Thermals: Buy good, buy once. 

Merino wool, wicking capability, and well-known brands are what we look at when shopping for thermal base layers. These are you most important layer, in my view. You can wear all the expensive gear you like on the top, but if you work up a sweat on the mountain and that sweat doesn’t get wicked away, you’re going to get cold. For a week, you need at least two. You can wash and dry your base layers back at the Chalet, but it’s also a good idea to have enough to be able to pack a dry layer and take it with you for the first few days until you get your layering right. 

Mid-layer: Buy good, buy once.

You might be seeing a pattern here. Again, you need to use this layer to keep warm, and to keep dry. So if you buy an amazing breathable, sweat wicking base layer and then cover it with something that traps the sweat then it won’t be long before you are shivering. Depending on the weather, and how active or inactive you are going to be on the mountain will determine whether you need one or two of these. Because of my ski jacket choice, I have two of these and the second one is SUPER warm as well as breathable. 

Top layer

A lot of people buy a ski-specific jacket. If you are going to go that route look for one with a snow skirt, a ski pass pocket, a goggle pocket, and ideally a Recco reflector. If you are once a year skiers and not growing any more, this can be a decent and perhaps more economical way to equip yourself. You don’t have to do this though, as there are other ways to achieve the same storage – like carrying a rucksack for example, and wearing sallopettes that have a ‘bib’. I had a ski specific jacket for more than 10 years. It lasted 7 of those just coming out to the Alps for a week or two, and then it managed three complete seasons before I finally handed it into a charity shop – and it will still be going strong for someone. When I buy again, it will be a windproof, waterproof layer to go over my base layers and my two mid-layers. The reason I will be doing this is that as the weather changes, I am adding more sports to my winter range. I walk, snowshoe, experiment with ski de randonnée and I would roast in a ski jacket doing any of these. 

Sallopettes

Here, look for windproof and waterproof qualities. You can wear long johns unerneath for warmth, but your bum won’t want melted snow off the chairlift for company all day!

Take proper care – buy the good stuff for washing with 

If, having invested in all this, you then wash using normal detergent, you are going to be working against your clothes. The chemicals  strip the waterproofing right off, so over time will degrade your jacket and sallopettes. It might seem like a pain to have to have seperate products, but you will appreciate it that day that the heavens open and you need to make it back to the chalet with everyone in tow still dry and warm!

With the exception of my sallopettes, I now use my ski gear year round. My base layers are layers for hiking, my mid-layers become top layers, and my ski jacket will come in when it’s lashing it down!

What’s your favourite bit of kit or best investment? I have to say, I love my merino wool IceBreaker mid-layer. It has saved me from cold countless times and it has lasted me for almost ten years now!

We hope we’ve helped, let us know what else you’d like us to feature in our up-coming blogs.