What you wear in the mountains is crucial. It can make the difference between an epic day or being cold, wet and miserable.
Having worked as a ski instructor for 14 years I have never really had to think about packing for a ski holiday. Until a once in a lifetime trip to Japan arose, my first ski holiday in over a decade! Packing for a ten-day ski touring adventure with much talked about freezing conditions, as well as a long haul flight with luggage restrictions. The plan was to road trip around Hokkaido so I wanted to bring only what I really needed to minimize the faff factor. Practicality and efficiency was the priority.
Clothing Kit List
ISOBAA ski sock
I am seriously fussy when it comes to socks. Having had surgery on my foot and as someone who suffers from severe circulation problems, my footwear is of optimal importance. For a couple of years I religiously used Thermic’s electric socks, these were revolutionary and preferable to previously used boot warmers. If you can’t afford electric socks, I have always loved Falke socks. However…
Isobaa merino socks have just jumped up to pole position.
These stripey beauts are a mid-weight merino blend with slight padding on the shin. Whether its the sad reality that the seasons have just got warmer or if it’s Isobaa’s formula, but with my Isobaa socks, I don’t have half as many days in unbearable pain from the cold. Isobaa socks with my boot warmers on stand by, and most of the time you get a very happy skier and instructor. (sorry to any clients if you experienced otherwise!)
ODLO & SWEATY BETTY
I love an Odlo legging because they are snug to your skin, have a good waist band and do not lose shape. They also have a variety of thicknesses and lengths. I also found a really good brand in Meribel but can’t remember the name! I have a pair of Sweaty Betty thermal leggings which I love because they have funky prints, are pretty warm and ideal for lounging around after skiing but I wouldn’t take them on a big ski touring trip where functionality is key. Search out something high wicking, warm, breathable, and comfy — I often opt for something mid-calf length to avoid too much material in my ski boot or around my knee.
ISOBAA Women’s Merino 180 Long Sleeve crew
Superfine 180gm Merino, this long-sleeved top has become a staple in my wardrobe, its an ideal base layer for ski touring; but also looks pretty good when eating a picnic in the snow too! One of the worst things when ski touring is working up a sweat and then getting really cold, but merino keeps you warm when it’s cold and breathes well when it’s warm, keeping you comfortable whatever the weather. It is quick-drying and naturally odor resistant. I am a big fan of this company for its sustainable eco-friendly ethos as well as their continuously amusing puns posted on social media. I challenge you to how many days you can wear Isobaa without washing; I wore mine every day in Japan and I continued to be fresh as a daisy! (Or so I thought!). I wear a medium.
Second layer on Top:
ISOBAA Women’s Casual Hoodie
The Isobaa Women’s Casual Hoodie makes the perfect second layer. Made from superfine 260gm loop back Merino, its a good extra layer for hiking in the mountains and also looks sporty stylish at apres! I have the navy blue with fluoro zip option and my Mum has the petrol; we often meet up for skiing or coffee and both wearing them by coincidence! It is also perfect for traveling on the plane as it doesn’t look like a geeky technical ski item but is nice and cosy and warm for a long haul flight with leggings. Size comes up quite large, I wear M.
Also worth mentioning is another favorite Isobaa top of mine —Women’s Merino Crew Sweater — elegantly chic for wintery days where you end up in a restaurant for hours drinking vin chaud; but just as practical for skis and walks with its merino and breathable qualities.
Third layer on top:
This is one of the most versatile layers I own. Using it as a mid-layer for skiing and as a standalone when walking out and about. Unlike many Down mid-layers, a synthetic mid-layer has a higher degree of weather resistance with quick dry times and retains warmth even when damp. According to Arcteryx, it is one of their “most trusted, best-loved hoodies” and I can see why. Not cheap at £200, but worth every penny in my opinion. I wear a medium.
Fourth Layer just in case:
My absolute favorite Down Jacket is actually my Peak Performance one because it is pale pink, cosy and very pretty (!) but the outer lining is delicate. Patagonia’s polyester ripstop shell makes it more durable. As with all down jackets they pack into their own pocket; are lightweight and ideal for traveling or keeping in your pack. Sizes seem to come up large with Patagonia. I wear a Small.
A gilet is the perfect in-between or reserve layer; you can wear it or shove it in your pack. Both Ortovox gilets I own are great multipurpose options. Ortovox seems to have endless options online so it was a bit of a gamble when I did an order. But it paid off. The Ortovox TOFANA VEST I particularly love for spring touring conditions. “Super lightweight with great breathability for ambitious ski tours”. Its merino fibers on the inside ensure that even though it is lightweight it is comfortable to wear with optimum thermal insulation. The fit and functionality of this top are perfect. I wear a Large.
I also own the LARAVELLA VEST also from Ortovox. This is more of a puffy gilet. Just as practical with two large pockets but with the added bonus of a cosy hood and bit more warmth.
ORTOVOX 3L Guardian Shell Pant / ARMADA bib pant
The Ortovox 3L Guardian Shell Pants are simply amazing, just a shell but with a merino lining which you wouldn’t necessarily notice until you realise your legs rarely feel cold. With big vents, they are still perfect for ski touring. They also have a really high wide velcro waistband which is supportive for your back, keeps your core warm, and stops the waist-deep powder coming in!
The Armada Highline GTX 3L Bib Pant is also awesome. Waterproof, breathable, and windproof. They look trendy being a dungaree design, have functional pockets, but perhaps the best feature is the zip around the waist for easy peasy pee-pee time!
I don’t know how you feel ladies, but it’s not that easy finding a women’s ski jacket which is both technical and looks the part. This jacket does, in fact, do both. It is cool, as well as technical and functional. It is mid-length, which at first I wasn’t used to, but now love the extra warmth covering my bottom! I wear a Medium. The most important thing to look for is durability – make sure it is not simply a windproof, but is of substantial waterproof quality, thin enough to pack away in a bag, I would avoid anything with insulation, and instead, use your layers (as above) for warmth. Wax on, wax off, Strip off, get dressed, kinda thing 😉
I always have both goggles and sunnies on me; sunnies for the way up, and goggles for the way down. It is important they are polarized and offer as much protection as possible.
Make sure you find a goggle that is comfy with a good protective lens. I like finding a goggle with one lens to suit most conditions rather than having two lenses to faff around with. I wear an Oakley Line Miner with a prizm saphire lens. It offers great peripheral vision.
I love my Planks sunnies and find the lens works well for me. I also have some retro-looking sunnies from Izipizi which are fun but not as practical as I thought they would be!
I would say a beanie is always essential. As is a headband for touring, but you can always use a buff to double up as either a neck warmer and use as a headband. In Japan, I always wore 2 buffs around my neck, one of which I could swap in as a headband when needed. Also if one gets wet from face shots of powder you can change it for the dry one easily.
ORTOVOX Touring glove for touring in. A silk inner glove for extra chilly days. Some kind of Gortex warm mitten or lobster mitt for skiing.
Ski boots can be the bain of someone’s life (speaking from past experience!) An uncomfy ski boot can make or break a holiday. I highly recommend getting a professional fit and proper footbeds to give you support under the arch. I go to PROFEET in London, they offer a fantastic service and can cater for all sorts of needs. I do not live anywhere near London so I really mean that! Ski boots aren’t cheap but they do say you should spend the most amount of money on shoes — I think the same applies to ski boots! Last year I opted for the Women’s Lange XT Freer 110 LV Freeride Ski Boot which is awesome. It is reasonably lightweight for an alpine boot so great for ski touring in the hike mode but performs wonderfully well downhill as well. Because I don’t live in London I can’t pop to Profeet easily for tweaks if needed; in which case The Bootlab in Meribel is my next port of call.
If you would like anything Isobaa please go ahead and use my discount code JOJO20 xx