Just because the days are getting longer and warmer doesn’t mean that ski season is over. March is still prime ski season in most areas. In Canada, the ski season is still going strong through the end of April. In Colorado, the ski season can last until anywhere from April all the way into mid-June!
Packing for a ski trip isn’t always the most intuitive process. The secret to packing effectively and making sure you’re not too warm or cold is thinking about your layering system. With the proper layering system, you’ll be able to maintain the perfect temperature no matter the conditions.
This is the layer of clothing that will be the closest to your skin. Choose a moisture-wicking material like wool that won’t stay damp all day if you start to sweat. This layer should fit closely to your body. You’ll be putting other layers over this one, and you don’t want to have a bunchy under-layer.
For your base layer, you’ll need
Start your base layer with quality wool socks. Be careful to pick a pair that is no thicker than a standard pair of cotton socks, otherwise they might cause blisters or make your ski boots too tight. A 14-inch tall sock works well under ski boots, as it doesn’t create an uncomfortable line halfway between your foot and the top of the boot.
No matter how warm it is on the slopes, you’re still going to want long-sleeves on your base layer. Wool and polyester both work well for this layer. Both of these materials are good at moisture-wicking and staying form-fitting.
Just like with your top, you want a layer over your legs that is moisture-wicking and warm. You can usually buy a matching set of thermal tops and bottoms, but if you can’t find a matching set, make sure to pick leggings that fit closely and are made of a material like wool or polyester.
Pro-tip: Tuck your shirt into your leggings to make sure that no snow or wind reaches your skin!
These layers should help trap in heat. They will be a little looser than the base layer, but if they are too loose, they will bunch up and be uncomfortable throughout the day. You typically don’t need a mid layer over your legs.
For your mid layer, you’ll need
Most skiers choose a long-sleeve fleece jacket for this layer. Fleece keeps you warm without feeling too heavy. Choose a jacket that unzips, at least around the collar, to make it easier to take off this layer if you get too warm on the slopes or in the lodge. If it’s going to be really cold, you can double up on the mid layers. In this case, some people choose a fleece to go over their base layer and then a thin down jacket to go over the fleece.
This layer is for keeping the wind and snow from getting through your other layers and onto your skin. This layer should be made of a waterproof material. Some people choose to simply wear a rain jacket. There are also many companies that make jackets specifically for skiers. These often have a lining that can help take the place of a second mid layer on extra cold days.
For your outer layer, you’ll need
A jacket that is water-resistant rather than waterproof might not be able to stand up to the blowing snow of the ski slopes, so make sure yours is waterproof. Some waterproof jackets come with zippers in the underarms to help ventilate the jacket if you get too warm.
Typically, in the spring you’ll just need a shell pant – a waterproof pant without any insulation. Choose a fully waterproof pant.
Don’t forget gloves! Choose a pair with good lining and a waterproof exterior.
Pro-tip: If you start to get too warm, take off your mid layers rather than your outer layer. This will help you stay cooler without losing the waterproof outer layer. You don’t want to get covered in snow without a waterproof layer on!
How Much Should You Pack?
A good rule of thumb is to wear your base layer for no more than two days. When it comes to your wool socks, it’s a good idea to pack a fresh pair for every day. The part of a skier’s body that tends to get the sweatiest is their feet, and a fresh pair of socks for every day will keep your feet comfortable and blister-free.
You can wear the same mid layers and outer layers for every day of your trip. But it’s a good idea to bring two mid-layer jackets so you’re ready for any colder days.
For the Lodge
No matter how much you love skiing, you won’t be skiing 24/7! You’ll need clothes to wear at the end of the ski day. Many skiers like to bring a less-casual outfit so they’re ready to go out to dinner at one of the nice restaurants that surround most ski resorts. Bring clothes that are comfortable and warm!
It’s important to remember that even down at the resort there will probably still be snow on the ground. A good pair of winter boots are a stable and slip-resistant choice for the lodge.
And don’t forget to pack a book! There’s nothing better than sitting next to a fireplace (mask on, of course) and reading a good book. The late ski season is often hit with big and surprising storms. If the visibility is too low on the slopes or the wind is too strong, you might find yourself with one lifts-closed day on your ski trip. Having a good book will help keep days like this fun!
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com