Stylish winter sportswear

20 Dec

Living in Metro Vancouver it’s typical to complain about the cold weather one moment and be ecstatic for an upcoming snowboarding trip the next. Since we’re bound to find ourselves participating in a winter sport this season, whether it’s snowboarding, skiing or snowshoeing, it’s best to have a warm and stylish outfit ready. The key is to layer with weather-appropriate items that will keep you warm and dry while on the slopes. Layers will also make it easy to change into a less bulky look when you’re relaxing with a hot chocolate in the lodge afterwards.

Keep dry with a moisture-wicking base layer, like this one from MEC.

Keep dry with a moisture-wicking base layer, like this one from MEC.

Start off with a base layer that will wick away moisture such as sweat. Cotton may be a breathable, natural fabric but it will also retain sweat once absorbed — a situation you want to avoid when doing winter sports. Go for synthetic materials such as polyester blended with a moisture-wicking textile. Most active brands carry clothing made with their own high-tech fabrics designed to keep the wearer dry and comfortable. For example, The North Face uses FlashDry fibre in their baselayer pieces while Columbia uses Omni-Wick and Omni-Heat.

Merino wool baselayer hoodie from Icebreaker.

Merino wool baselayer hoodie from Icebreaker.

If you prefer to go the natural route for a moisture-wicking layer, try wool. Merino wool is soft and comfortable, making it a great layering piece for any snow sport. Wool pieces also make for an excellent insulating mid-layer. Another popular insulator and more lightweight alternative is polar fleece. The only downside to fleece is that it’s not windproof, so it’s best to pair fleece with a jacket that is wind-resistant.

The proper jacket for winter sports should be able to repel water and also be breathable. Whether the outer layer is a full winter jacket or a shell, it needs to be able to protect your body from the elements and regulate heat. Built-in ventilation zippers on the sides of outerwear can also help wearers keep cool after hours of activity.

Colourful snowboarding pants will add some flair to any ensemble.

Colourful snowboarding pants will add some flair to any ensemble.

Once you’ve got the base, insulation and outer layers figured out it’s time to complete the look with accessories. Accessories are crucial for winter sports since your head and hands are more exposed to the elements while up on a mountain than in the city. They’re also a great way to change up your usual ski or snowboarding look without spending a lot. For toques, go for something made of fleece or wool. Slouchy beanies are a stylish option for this season, so grab one in a fun colour. For gloves, ensure that it’s waterproof and snug around the wrist. Consider adding glove liners for more warmth. You’ll be able to keep your hands toasty and dry in case a snowball fight breaks out. An item I always like carrying in my pockets are hand warmers. Once activated, they can stay warm for the entire duration of your snowboarding session and are great for those moments between activities, like standing in line for the ski lift.

Keep your head warm with a fun wool toque, like this one from Canada Goose.

Keep your head warm with a fun wool toque, like this one from Canada Goose.

As covered last month, footwear is one of the most important items in determining your comfort during a winter sport. Make sure your snow boots are waterproof and warm. Some boot brands, such as Sorel, also make removable thermo liners that are great for additional insulation. And if you’re snowshoeing, opt for lightweight snow boots so less energy is required for those steep climbs.

Complete the look with a pair of sunglasses or goggles, and sunscreen to protect your skin. Along your cozy layers and colourful accessories to match, you’ll be all set to hit the slopes in style. Because if it’s cold and raining in the city, there’s a good chance fresh snow is blanketing the local mountains.

[Article first appeared in the Dec. 18 issue of Richmond Review.]

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