Everything you need to know about buying outerwear

Looks are one thing, but when it comes to choosing a jacket and pants it’s more about substance than style. Here’s our guide to ensuring you pick the right gear

Choose the right outerwear for the kind of riding you do | Callum Jelley

Choose the right outerwear for the kind of riding you do | Callum Jelley

Body mapping liners that work with a skier’s microclimates, 3D garment designs that follow a skier’s movement and innovations in materials like Gore-Tex’s new C-Knit backer mean ski clothing is more breathable, functional and better insulated than ever before. But knowing what features and fabrics will actually benefit you on the mountain can be a tad overwhelming. So we asked Ellis Brigham buyer David Whitlow to navigate us around the tricky world of outerwear and reveal what to look for in your gear, from fabrics and insulation, right down to the nitty gritty features.

“If you spend a lot of time riding deep snow in wet and variable conditions then you need a fabric with a high waterproof and breathable rating – look for 10,000mm to 20,000mm-plus. Gore-Tex fabrics rule in this high-end outerwear category. If you plan to hike or tour a lot then some softshell fabrics with enhanced breathability may be the way to go.

If you spend a lot of time riding deep snow, splashing out on high-end products can be wroth it | Callum Jelley

If you spend a lot of time riding deep snow, splashing out on high-end products can be worth it | Callum Jelley

“If your aspirations are less extreme and you rock the resorts a couple of times a season, playing on the pistes and lift-accessible off-piste, then you can rely on any of the skiwear brands’ own fabrics and intelligently insulated styles to deliver performance. Under your outerwear a layered clothing system is still the best way to go; wicking baselayers that drive moisture away from your skin [see here for our selection of layers] are always better than a cotton tee and a thin fleece mid-layer is much better than a cotton hoodie.

“In terms of jacket features, a hood is welcome when the wind howls on a long lift, pit zips are great for dumping hot moist air when you are hiking and an inner snowskirt can stop snow shovelling up your back when you slam. Inner security pockets and stash pockets help you keep things safe and sorted, whereas outer pockets keep things handy (but make sure they have good flaps or water-resistant zips!).

“Pants should be well engineered to fit comfortably and allow a full range of ski and hiking movements. Venting leg zips are great for dumping heat when hiking or at lunch. Make sure the inner snow gaiters fit comfortably over your boots. A nice feature on some pants allows the hems to be cinched up so the bottoms don’t get trashed in the après-ride bar floor soup or muddy car park.

The most important feature in ski pants? Fit | Callum Jelley

The most important feature in ski pants? Fit. | Callum Jelley

“Modern skiwear can now almost be looked on as equipment – just as technical and important as your choice of boots and skis”.

Read all our gear reviews in the 2015-16 Fall-Line Gear Guide, out now 

Fall-Line Skiing |
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