How to layer for resort skiing

Spyder's Product Design Team spill the layering beans

a skier in red and black gear skis in resort under a chairlift with a light powder spray behind him

Can you briefly explain the layering system and how it should be applied to resort skiing? 

The basic premise of the layering system is that you need three high-quality layers – a thin baselayer, a thicker mid-layer and a waterproof outer layer. Spyder is known for keeping skiers warm and dry with highly technical outerwear fabric and insulation so our skiers don’t need too many layers. Start with a Momentum baselayer top and bottom or one of our Premier Graphic T-necks. If you need more warmth then pair it with a heavier layering piece like the Speed Fleece jacket or Bandit/Bandita jacket that are also nice to wear into town after your ski day ends. Blokes can top this off with the Leader jacket and Propulsion pants; ladies could grab the Schatzi jacket and Winner pants. 

When it comes to baselayers, what kind of fabrics and fibres work best? 

Spyder’s synthetic baselayers are ideal for changing weather conditions as the fabrics are designed to move moisture away from the skin, which keeps you dry and comfy. 

Does weight matter? 

While it’s true thicker insulation will be warmer, some materials can provide lightweight warmth by having higher loft with more air space in between the baffles. Great examples of this would be natural down fill or PrimaLoft Gold insulation. 

There are heaps of different types of mid-layers out there, from fleece to lightweight hybrid insulators. Talk us through the pros and cons…

Layering decisions are a personal choice that can be tailored to an individual’s unique needs. For example, if someone has a tendency to run cold then they might choose an insulated mid-layer for more warmth. The downside could be the potential to overheat, so on a warmer day they might choose a lightweight fleece, which still provides warmth but is more breathable so it allows body heat to escape. 

What kind of properties are essential to have in a resort jacket/pants? 

Waterproof properties are essential when it comes to your resort jacket and pant. Sitting on the lift, falling in the snow, or staying protected against a fast-approaching snowstorm are all reasons why you need waterproof kit. Spyder also focuses on resort garments with built-in insulation of various weights and qualities, so this simplifies life for skiers. The mandatory inclusion of pit zips or core venting still allows insulated jackets to be worn on cool to warm days. Beyond these critical features, we include tons of features to enhance the skier’s comfort and ease of use as well. 

And what kind of features are super-nice to have? 

Versatility is key when it comes to features. Layering and accessories often affect how a jacket can fit due to their bulk. Our line of jackets have key features like targeted interior stretch panels, removable powder skirts, adjustable cuffs, thumb holes and mesh padding at the shoulders. Underarm venting is another key feature to have as it helps regulate heat throughout the day. Removable helmet-compatible hoods also help fit a variety of end uses. 

We hear a lot of talk about hydrostatic heads and waterproof/breathability ratings – what do these actually mean? 

While lab tests can’t truly replicate the conditions that a skier will face, they do provide some good data to help people decide what garment is best for them. Hydrostatic head refers to a water column test, where a vertical cylinder of water is pressurised against a fabric. The higher number resulting, the more waterproof the fabric is understood to be. As for breathability, this is measured with MVTR, a moisture vapour transfer rate. This is an important rating for skiers who run hot, or who will be exerting themselves. More breathability means that body head and moisture from sweating will dissipate faster for more comfort. All of Spyder’s ski jackets have at least a 10k/10k rating, meaning that the results of both the water column and MVTR tests are over 10,000. This is a solid baseline for basic and reliable performance, and then some of our ratings go as high as 30k/20k. 

And finally, is it possible to get properly layered up for skiing in kit that doesn’t cost the earth? 

Absolutely! This might mean a jacket with a flap over the zipper instead of a waterproof zipper, or a partial stretch lining instead of full stretch, but all of Spyder’s product tiers have four-way stretch fabrics and reliably warm insulation, so you don’t really have to sacrificing anything at all.

Check out Spyder’s resort gear here