As winter quickly approaches, it’s time to make sure your kit is ready for all of the powder days to come. But, picking the right ski apparel for you isn’t as simple as finding your favorite color. With many technical terms, materials, and more to consider, picking the best options for you can seem more challenging than skiing Snowbird’s Elevator Chute. Lucky for you, we’re here to shed light on all you need to know, and even called in members of Stio’s design team to lend their expertise, too.
The first thing to consider when building your kit is how you plan to layer. If you get cold easily or ski mainly at the resort, you may be fine with lighter base and mid-layers beneath insulated outerwear. But if you run warm or plan on ski touring, you will likely be best served by wearing shells (uninsulated outerwear), paired with the right base and mid-layers for the day’s conditions.
Stio’s Chief Product Officer, Kelly Hill, gave us her advice for layering like a champ in the cold and powdery Utah winters:
Regardless of your jacket of choice, picking the right baselayers are instrumental to remaining not only warm but dry, all day on the mountain. Staying away from materials such as cotton, which will keep you damp and therefore cold if sweat builds up, is important. There are many synthetic options that are affordable and comfortable, which also wick moisture away from your skin throughout the day. A little pricey but higher in performance would be a merino wool-based layer, known for its odor-resistance, incredible moisture-wicking, and comfort. We love Stio’s Power Wool Tight and Crew combo.
Next comes your mid-layer. What you wear between your baselayers and outerwear will likely change depending on the weather of the day and the kind of skiing or riding you're planning. However, as a basic rule of thumb, if you plan on wearing an insulated jacket and pants, you can choose a lighter option that will complement the warmth provided by your outerwear without overheating and causing too much excess sweat. We like the Fremont Stretch Fleece Half Zip for its cozy knit material that provides warmth and breathability without being bulky. Its moisture-wicking capabilities will also help keep you dry beneath your layers, letting you ski or ride comfortably for longer.
If you plan on wearing a shell, a layer like the Fremont will treat you well on many days, but you will likely want to add an additional, warmer mid-layer option to provide insulation on the coldest of Utah powder days. Stio’s Azura Insulated Jacket fits the bill with 60 g of PrimaLoft® Gold ECO™ Short Staple Synthetic Insulation, making it not only warm but incredibly packable for storing in your touring pack or car when things warm up. If you tend to run on the colder side, consider a down insulation layer that is revered for its ability to provide warmth even when wet. Stio’s Pinion Down Sweater offers 800 fill warmth to keep you toasty on the mountain and comfortable apres, too.
Now that we’ve worked through the metaphorical meat of your ski kit hamburger, it’s time to pick the buns…Aka your outerwear. You should choose your outerwear based on the conditions you plan to ski or ride in the most. If you live in a wetter climate, you want outerwear that has the highest waterproofing ratings—we’d recommend something rated 20,000mm or a 3L GORE-TEX like the Credential Jacket and Pants. The Greatest Snow on Earth® in Utah is known for being light, dry, and plentiful thanks to lake effect and cooler temperatures. That means the average skier or rider here is less likely to need outerwear with the highest waterproof ratings, but it’s comforting to know you're ready for the most extreme of weather should you still choose.
You will also want to consider insulation, as previously mentioned. Resort skiing in Utah can be chilly on a mid-winter storm day, and insulated pants on the lift ride up might make the difference between a stop for hot cocoa or the best run of your life. If you run cold or plan on staying in-resort, an insulated kit like the Doublecharge Insulated Jacket and Pants could be for you. But if you plan on exploring the backcountry, run warm, or even want to take advantage of spring skiing, a shell that focuses on venting and breathability to allow for heat regulation, like the Raymer Jacket and Pants, may be more your type.
Finally, you need to pick the outerwear that provides the features you need. Pockets for your lift tickets and goggles are important for some, while other folks care the most about venting. Be sure to read all of the features of your prospective jackets and pants to make sure you’ll be able to stash your pocket bacon and phone just how you like. We love Stio’s updated Environ Jacket and Bibs, featuring generous vents, pockets (including an all-new RFID-specific pocket), and an adjustable hood and powder skirt.
Finally, we think it’s important to consider the environmental impacts of what you wear. Many brands are taking steps to decrease their carbon footprint and create apparel and gear that will last, instead of needing to be replaced often. This season, Stio has updated one of its staples, the Environ line, moving to recycled materials that are all chosen and designed to last over 100+ days on the mountain. Materials Manager Sandy Flint shared with us how big of an impact these updates are making:
Whether you choose the Environ line, another Stio staple, or a different brand of outerwear altogether, we hope you consider the environmental impacts of each item you choose, picking it to wear not just for this season, but the many to come.
Still not sure what to wear? Check out the following design team picks or head to the Stio store on Main Street in Park City for more expert advice.