An Expert Guide to Layering for the Slopes

Does your layering system need a refresh as we head into winter? Follow this guide from Snowboard Expert Bri Dornisch for this year's top apparel choices.

A snowboarder jumps and a mountain range opens up in front of him.

Photo by Romain Gal

A wise, old gear junkie once told me that “comfort is the lack of thought.” It’s a strange take, but hear me out. If you’re out there crushing it on the slopes all day long, and you don’t have to waste a single moment thinking of being too hot or too cold, then you’re comfortable. Really and truly comfortable. No thoughts of freezing fingers or an overheating midsection; just enjoying the ride the way it’s meant to be.

How do we create that type of comfort? Two things: good gear and a great layering system. Build your system from the base and work your way out. Layer well and layer right, and you won’t spend another season thinking of anything other than long runs and deep powder.

Baselayers

Product images of the Icebreaker Women’s 250 Vertex LS Half Zip and the Airblaster Men’s Classic Ninja Baselayer Suit.

The Icebreaker Women’s 250 Vertex LS Half Zip and the Airblaster Men’s Classic Ninja Baselayer Suit

When it comes to building a solid layering system, baselayers are non-negotiable. The key function of a baselayer is to keep your skin dry. A good baselayer is worn next to the skin, should have a snug (but not too tight) fit, and will absorb and wick moisture away from the body. In the world of winter sports, temperature regulation and moisture control are not only important for your comfort but also imperative for your safety. Making sure you have a quality, well-fitting baselayer in your kit will keep you on the mountain longer. Below are a few of our favorites:

Airblaster Men’s Classic Ninja Baselayer Suit

The Airblaster Ninja Classic was the original ninja suit. It has been perfected over 15 steady years of research and development. The result is a supremely comfortable full-body suit with 4-way stretch and Air Tech fabric. It includes a form-fitting hood, thumb loops, and a drawcord at the waist. On top of all that, you get a full zipper down the middle and through the fly, and a 360° zipper around the waist for easy access and adjustments. The Air Tech fabric quickly and efficiently wicks moisture away—be it sweat or snow—from the body to keep you warm and dry all day long. Talk about head-to-toe comfort.

Icebreaker Women’s 250 Vertex LS Half Zip

This ladies’ baselayer top by Icebreaker is 100% Merino wool. Wool is truly unmatched with its natural moisture-wicking abilities. Merino wool is extremely warm yet highly breathable. What does this mean for you? Soft and cozy warmth, no matter the conditions! The half zip allows you to dump heat when necessary. Gusseted underarms for mobility. Flatlock and offset seams to prevent friction. Natural odor resistance. Plus, a cool-looking pattern to boot!

Helly Hansen Women’s LIFA Merino ¾ Baselayer Bottoms

These Helly Hansen Baselayer bottoms are an amazing choice thanks to their lightweight material. The LIFA merino fabric consists of synthetic, technical fibers against the skin with a full-merino exterior. This 2-in-1 construction provides the best of both worlds—quick drying, low weight, durability, and warmth. The ¾ length is perfect for pairing with ski or snowboard boots as it eliminates extra bulk. Flatlock seams provide even more comfort.

Midlayers

Product images of the Burton Women's Multipath Pullover and the Burton Men's Crown Weatherproof Pullover.

The Burton Women's Multipath Pullover and the Burton Men's Crown Weatherproof Pullover

Next up in the layering system is going to be your midlayer. The purpose of the midlayer is to provide insulation—as much or as little as you need to feel comfortable. This component is where you have the opportunity to add as much warmth as necessary for your comfort level. A good middle clothing layer will trap your body heat, allowing you to face the elements easily. This layer can be easily removed or doubled up to adjust your body temp. See a few great options below:

Burton Crown Weatherproof Pullover

This pullover from Burton is not only the perfect midlayer but also makes an uber-cool standalone piece, which is great for warmer days or spring riding. The best midlayer has multiple functions, and the Crown Weatherproof Pullover definitely fits the bill. Polyester fleece with DRYRIDE DWR (durable water repellent) keeps you warm while repelling water. Stretch back panel, cuffs, and hem offer a ton of mobility.

Women’s Burton Multipath Pullover

The Multipath is as amazing to look at as it is to wear with a sleek look. This technical fleece pullover is what dreams are made of. Its DRYRIDE weatherproofed fabric is warm and breathable. The pullover offers a slim fit and features a fleece-lined attached hood, zippered kangaroo pocket, and a drop hem. The Multipath pullover is the perfect addition to your winter kit.

Outerwear

Product images of the 686 Men's Smarty 3-In-1 Form Jacket and the Dakine Women’s Barrier Gore-Tex 2L Shell.

The 686 Men's Smarty 3-In-1 Form Jacket and the Dakine Women’s Barrier Gore-Tex 2L Shell

No layering system is complete without a solid outerwear choice. The jacket’s job is to protect you and your inner layers from wind, rain, and snow. Some level of wind and water resistance is imperative to keep you warm and dry. When selecting a size for your outer layer, be sure to factor in the other layers. You’ll want to comfortably fit the other layers underneath without being too snug to keep you mobile. Check out these top outerwear choices for men and women:

686 Men’s Smarty 3-in-1 Form Jacket

This 3-In-1 from 686 is a must-have piece of gear for powder lovers everywhere. It includes two jackets to be worn separately or together. The outer jacket is a 2-layer infiDry shell with a DWR finish. This fabric is specially designed to allow moisture out while not letting any in. The shell offers 20k waterproofing and 15k breathability. The included removable midlayer jacket is made with 160g synthetic infiLoft insulation and has stretch side panels. It consists of an adjustable bottom hem cinch, mesh-lined underarm vents, and tons of pockets—even one for your phone with an audio cord outlet! The convenient hoodlink system allows you to pack down your jacket small to keep your gear organized. The Smarty 3-In-1 has everything you need and then some.

Dakine Women’s Barrier GORE-TEX 2L Shell

Dakine brings the perfect lady-shredder jacket to the table with the Barrier GORE-TEX 2L Shell. The GORE-TEX fabric will force precipitation to bead up and roll away, meaning rain and snow don’t stand a chance against you. The powder skirt and adjustable hood will keep all the blustery snow out so that you can stay on the mountain longer. Easy Shockcord hem adjustments inside the pockets. Simple design with a clean and cool look.

Pants & Bottoms

Product images of the The DC Women’s Crusade Bib and the The North Face Men’s Chakal Pant.

The DC Women’s Crusade Bib and the The North Face Men’s Chakal Pant

Did you think all this layering didn’t include pants? Not so fast! Warm, breathable, weatherproof bottoms are a necessity. The right bottoms will hold your body temperature while allowing you to remain agile. Take a peak at some options we love:

The North Face Men’s Chakal Pants

Waterproof and breathable—the two staples of solid winter pants. Heatseeker Eco insulation provides a medium level of warmth without being too much. Inner thigh vents allow you to dump heat quickly and on the fly. Reinforced kickpatches provide extra durability. Complete with a DWR finish. North Face made seriously high-quality pants that can stand up to whatever the winter brings with the Chakal.

DC Women’s Crusade Bib

Who doesn’t love a bib? Look good, but feel even better! These DC bibs are stylish, functional, and crazy comfortable, with 15k waterproofing and 20k breathability. The Weather Defense shell will keep you dry no matter the conditions. Taffeta lining is lightweight and breathes extremely well. The Crusade bibs are absolutely packed with features, such as mesh-lined leg ventilation, articulated legs, DWR boot gaiters, boot gussets with zippered closure, and internal waist adjustment. Oh, did you think it stopped there? Think again! These bibs have a media pocket, zippered side entry for easy bathroom access, stretch side panels, and a jacket-to-pant attachment system to keep the cold out and the warmth in.

Accessories

Product images of the Anon MFI Fleece Helmet Hood and the Seirus Women’s Magne Mitt Heatwave Plus ST Ridge.

The Anon MFI Fleece Helmet Hood and the Seirus Women’s Magne Mitt Heatwave Plus ST Ridge

Your layering kit is just about complete! We can’t forget that it is just as important to keep the extremities warm—keeping the hands and head warm is every bit as important as the rest of the body. Picking the right winter accessories to complete your layering system is a must when gearing up for long days in and out of the resort! See some of our top choices:

Anon MFI Fleece Helmet Hood

This fleece hood from Anon is incredibly soft against the skin. Made of warm, stretchy fleece fabric with an adjustable drawcord, it is plenty roomy and designed to be worn over a helmet. It provides perfect coverage from the cold and the wind when paired with MFI-compatible goggles. Internal magnets seal the goggles seamlessly to the mask. You can remove the magnets and wear the hood with other goggles just as easily. This is a super comfy helmet hood option!

Seirus Women’s Magne Mitt Heatwave Plus ST Ridge

This mitt option from Seirus is truly the best of both worlds! Mitt on the outside, glove on the inside. The outer mitt is made of weatherproof softshell material. A magnetic seam along the mitt easily opens to the very warm inner glove liner. It gives you the cozy warmth of a mitten and the nimble dexterity of a glove at a moment’s notice without letting much heat escape. Heatwave lining reflects your body’s heat for 20% more warmth. You’ll never have cold fingers again with this mitt choice!

In Conclusion

These are just a few options to start building a solid layering system to stay warm, dry, comfortable, and safe this winter. Curious about what else might work for you? Chat with a Winter Sports Expert now for some personalized recommendations. Experts at Curated will help you find the proper layering you’ll need when on the slopes.

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Written By
I am absolutely passionate about all things outdoors. So much so that I went out and got a degree in Outdoor Leadership. I have been a snowshoe tour guide, park ranger, mountaineering and rock climbing instructor, gear slinger at multiple outdoor retailers, and even a lumberjack. (Foresty tech- but...

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