Your Ultimate Guide To Ski Layering

For Comfy, Sweat-Free Skiing Adventures

When you’re in the mountains, it’s important to enjoy every moment.  


One of the key factors to this enjoyment? Your ski layering.  


Any experienced skier will admit that having an adaptable layering system is everything on the slopes. It’s comfort, warmth and key to keeping you smiling – especially when managing changing temperature conditions. Let’s explore which layers go where, which materials are best for the job and how to make the right choice.  

Why Is Layering So Important For Skiing?

Skiing or snowboarding requires a reliable layering system. It becomes your shield against unpredictable weather changes, keeping you warm on the chairlift and sweat-free during those thrilling descents.


Because skiing is such an active sport but enjoyed in sub-zero conditions, your body temperatures fluctuates a lot. So being able to keep this under control and keeping your ski clothing flexible will mean ultimate comfort and enjoyable slope time.  

The base layer is your first line of defence against the elements. Its primary job? Wicking away sweat from your skin and regulating your body temperature. Look for materials like polyester or merino wool for their drying and temperature-regulating properties. 


Read more about base layers here.  

What Are Base Thermal Layers Made From?

There are many different materials used. To make things simpler, look out for these two materials in your base layers:




  • Synthetic fibre 
  • Lightweight 
  • Fast drying  
  • Easy to care for 
  • Good value for money 


Merino Wool:  


  • Natural fibre 
  • Breathable
  • Odour resistant 
  • Soft against the skin 
  • Best weight to warmth ratio 
  • Warm even when damp 

How To Choose A Base Layer

Choosing the ideal base layer depends on how you handle the cold and whether your ski pants and ski jacket are insulated. If your outerwear lacks insulation, opt for a top and bottom base layer for warmth.  


For backcountry skiing, go for a lightweight, quick-drying option. If you ski all day, make sure you’ll still be comfortable if you need to remove a mid-layer for managing sweat.  


Look for breathable options and versatility to adapt to changing conditions. The right base layer keeps you warm, manages sweat, and ensures comfort for an enjoyable time on the slopes.  




Shop Women’s Base Layers


Shop Men’s Base Layers  



Woman carving the piste on a clear day

These are your ultimate temperature regulators. Sitting snugly between your base layer and ski jacket, mid-layers are crucial for trapping body heat while allowing moisture to escape. The key here is comfort without bulkiness, ensuring unrestricted movement.     

These layers are great at guarding your body heat. For the chilliest days, consider adding or replacing your mid-layer with insulating jackets. They’re easy to pack and a lifesaver when temperatures drop unexpectedly.   


Read more about insulation here. 

What Are Mid-Layers Made From?

Some mid-layers are fleece material and are of varying thickness. Some are thin and lightweight whereas others more heavyweight for colder temperatures.  


If you get colder easily or ski in colder climates, an insulating jacket is the mid-layer for you. They're designed to trap body heat whille allowing for breathability. Again, both work well but have slightly different perks. Let’s explore:  


Synthetic Insulation:  


  • Best for active use 
  • Fast drying 
  • Water-resistant 
  • Hypoallergenic 
  • Breathable for high-output  


Down Insulation:


  • Best for cold, dry conditions
  • Lightweight + packable 
  • Superior insulation  
  • Best warmth-to-weight ratio  
  • Can be more expensive    


As you can see, each offer unique benefits to keep you warm on the slopes but this depends on which benefit ranks higher for your use. Discover a more in-depth guide on finding the right insulation here.  



Shop Women’s Mid-Layers  


Shop All Women’s Insulation


Shop Men’s Mid-Layers  


Shop Men’s Insulation 



Your outer layer - the ski jacket—is your protection against the elements. From hardshell options for rain and wind protection to softshell ones ensuring breathability and mobility, your choice depends on the weather and how long you’re out there for.    

What's A Hardshell Ski Jacket?

  • Top-tier weather protection. 
  • It’s both waterproof and windproof while maintaining breathability. 
  • Allowing sweat to escape and preventing moisture buildup. 


Hardshell fabrics often use polyester or nylon and they have an outer layer, a waterproof-breathable membrane, and an inner layer.


These fabrics feature a Durable Water Repellent (DWR) coating to shed moisture plus, waterproof membranes like GORE-TEX, Pertex Shield, H2No, and DryVent offer varying degrees of protection – ask an in-store gear specialist for more advice or head to our Ski Jacket Buying Guide.


Even though they have excellent weather defence, hardshells are less breathable than softshells. Consider them ideal for heavy snow, while a softshell might offer more comfort in milder Spring skiing conditions.


For hardshell ski jackets made without harmful chemicals, discover Patagonia’s innovative ski jacket range – free from perfluorinated chemicals.    

What's A Softshell Ski Jacket?

  • Softshells offer moderate weather protection 
  • They’re comfortable and breathable 
  • They offer flexibility rather than complete waterproofing 


Crafted from polyester or nylon blends, they range from lightweight and stretchy to sturdy and abrasion-resistant. Despite featuring Durable Water-repellent (DWR) finishes to repel moisture, they aren’t entirely waterproof.


Various styles are designed for specific activities—for example, those for backcountry skiing adventures focus on warmth and comfort with heat-trapping linings. 


Softshells are versatile. Suitable for changing temperatures and changing seasons, unlike hardshells. However, for heavy rain or snow, a hardshell offers better protection.


Softshells excel in activities where comfort, breathability, and movement are key, extending their use beyond wet-weather conditions.    

Layering accessories are small essentials that make a big impact. Thermal liner gloves are absolutely necessary if you struggle with cold fingers or just like to take pictures, they keep you hands warm while you’re fiddling with boot buckles or great for spare warmth.


An insulating buff or beanie keep your head and neck warm while you’re waiting in ski lift queues or brilliant for chilling out (and hiding your helmet hair) during après-ski sessions.  

Why Is A Flexible Layering System Important?

Efficiently adjusting your layers throughout the day is crucial. Removing or adding layers as needed—whether it’s the chilly morning chairlift ride or the sun-soaked afternoon restaurant deck, sipping on a hot chocolate, it’s key to staying comfortable and dry. 


Whether you’re a newbie or an expert skier exploring the backcountry, the right layering system shapes your skiing experience. Uncomfortable temperatures—be it too hot or too cold—can mar an otherwise fantastic day on the slopes.

For tailored advice on picking the right ski layers, seek support from experts at your nearest Snow+Rock store.


Stay comfy, warm and smiley all day long by making the right choice with people who love the snow as much as you.



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