Currently my Instagram account is full of people anticipating the winter and snow. There are the lucky few to live in areas where they’ve already had dustings of snow, or people sharing ‘Throw-back-Thursday’ shots of last year’s epic days. Snow shots always make me envious; I love snow. Isn’t there a saying; there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing?
Last year we didn’t have enough snow (for me!) but what we did have, I made good use of. My backpack is always at the ready, and my Kahtoola Micro Spikes awaiting action. Running in the snow is great, but I swop to my skis as soon as I can see any drifts building up. I don’t mind putting in the extra effort of carrying skis as I like going uphill, running or walking, and being able to ski down is the bonus. Good layering is key in the winter; not overheating too much on the way up then not getting cold when speeding down. Then there’s my afternoon tea and cake stop; I go cold really quickly and usually need to throw on an extra layer, so the packable warmth-to-weight ratio of a down jacket is a great option. Kept warm I can relax and enjoy the view, then once refuelled I can often persuade my legs to be tempted for just one more up and down.
I generally prefer a zipneck top in winter, usually a Patagonia Capilene or an Arc’teryx Phase and to be honest it’s whichever colour fits better with what I’m wearing; both fabrics work well for me. I then like to use my Arc’teryx Gamma AR softshell jacket. The fabric is slightly insulated, has a high level of wind resistance but great breathability, and stretches for comfort. I can put it on and leave it on without overheating on the way up! That combination has worked well for me; if it’s been colder I use a Polartec Power Stretch top for a bit of extra insulation, or an Arc'teryx Atom LT vest.
For the past couple of years I’ve been using Arc’teryx women’s GORE-TEX mitts and gloves, they’ve really thought about the design and perfectly fit my hands. Much to my surprise I could operate my camera, and more importantly fiddle with ski boot clips, bindings and pack straps while wearing them. This year they’ve improved the construction again, giving even better dexterity (ideal Christmas gift from my husband… hint)
There were quite a few days last year when I needed 100% weatherproofing, including a hood that fitted over my helmet. When skiing in the Lake District in bad visibility, a helmet is definitely a good idea as we have quite a lot of unexpected rocks! Also the snow can be a bit dubious in flat light, going from beautiful blown-in powder to rock hard old drifted snow. Trust me; when the snow is good, it’s really, really good, but we just can’t guarantee when or where it will be. Learning to ski on grassy tufts also helps.
I don’t always just torture myself, I do like a ski holiday; what a treat a ski lift is. Here, I have to readjust my thinking regarding clothing. I don’t build up as much heat, so a merino wool base layer helps to keep me warm under my ski jacket. When it comes to choosing a skiwear combo, everything goes; are you dark jacket and bright pants, bright jacket and black pants, black and black or just total contrast (thus not getting lost in a snow storm)? We’ve some lovely ski jacket options from Arc’teryx, Schoffel and Salomon, plus (new to us this year) Eider. Eider also makes some great kids ski pieces that should stand up to all the weather that’s thrown at it! All our skiwear uses great fabrics and will be waterproof; necessary if you’re going to be using it as a warm coat after your holiday. Always selected by us because they make us feel good, and with everyone using GoPro cameras to film their holidays, feeling good is the right start to looking good!
Bring on the snow and have a happy ski season, or just enjoy walking in our beautiful Lake District with its snow-capped mountains