Strafe and Ski.com teamed up to create the ultimate guide to dressing for a day spent on the mountain. When getting dressed and layering up we like to think of it simply in terms of baselayer, insulation, and outerwear according to activity, effort, and temperature. Here’s a Q&A on how to dress like an Aspen local for varied mountain conditions and weather with our friends Victor and Kelsey on the marketing team at Strafe:
A full ski season covers a broad range of temperatures and conditions. With the added variable of the type of skiing you are intending to do, there are myriad options for dressing/layering!
When getting dressed and layering up we like to think of it simply in terms of baselayer, insulation, and outerwear according to activity, effort, and temp. Here’s how to dress like a local for varied conditions:
Every day starts off with a top and bottom base layer. Baselayers provide next-to-skin comfort and temperature and moisture regulation and vary in material qualities and weight. Go with a mid-weight or heavy-weight base layer for cold days. For moderate/warm or active (ski touring) days, choose lightweight or thin baselayers.
Next, you can layer single or multiple insulators. Top (or bottom) insulators provide much of the temperature regulation and vary in warmth and breathability. For those colder days, choose an insulator that isn’t too bulky, yet maximizes warmth like down or synthetic down-replacement insulation. Double up if it’s really cold. For moderate/warm or active days, choose a more breathable insulation that will help mitigate moisture. This could be thick fleece or active insulation like Polartec® Alpha®.
Last is outerwear. Outerwear provides protection from the elements and varies in waterproofing, weight, and breathability. For extremely cold days we recommend insulated outerwear pieces. Insulated outerwear allows you to maximize warmth with fewer layers and bulk. For moderate/warm or active days, we recommend a versatile three-layer (3L) shell with a waterproof/breathable membrane.
Depending on conditions, recommended layering all derive from the above system! For bluebird days with warm sun, you might be able to layer lighter than an overcast day of comparable temp or skip outerwear altogether on a slushy spring day (Canadian tuxedo anyone?). For deep powder days, you’ll want outerwear that prioritizes weather protection and keeps moisture out, like a one-piece suit or high bibs and a jacket with a powder skirt. For days of backcountry touring or with lots of in-bounds hiking, you’ll want to prioritize breathability.
Our favorite system starts with a tech tee, followed by a lightweight fleece layer, then an insulating layer, and finally lightweight 3L shell outerwear. Depending on which insulator(s) you use, this system can work in all but the extreme ends of the spectrum.
The two most common materials for baselayers are synthetic polyester or fleece and merino wool. Synthetic baselayers are generally higher performing. They dry faster, wick moisture better, and are generally more durable, however, they can get stinky after multiple uses. Merino wool baselayers on the other hand, are in general less durable and dry slower but can provide warmth when wet, are not polyester-based and are naturally antimicrobial.
The best baselayer type is generally personal preference. If you’re often skiing in a wet, humid climate merino wool may be the best choice. If you are in a drier environment and have access to multiple baselayers, synthetic can provide higher performance. Of course, there are many blends and materials available and it will take some time to discover your preference.
At Strafe we use the highest-performing technical materials and fabrics to create systems of baselayers, insulation, and weather protection depending on your intended activity. From the beginning, Strafe recognized that modern waterproof outerwear does a great job of keeping moisture and wind out, so often the limiting comfort factor is moisture buildup internally. To mitigate that internal moisture, we focus on maximizing breathability with air-permeable fabrics and insulation systems, allowing you to stay drier, warmer, and more comfortable longer.
We love our eVent® outerwear pieces. These are 3L shells that hit the sweet spot between the two main compromises of weather protection and breathability and weight and durability. No one wants to ski in a kevlar trash bag or ride in a fragile, freezing fabric, and after many years of development these eVent® shells have found the perfect balance. With the right layering they’ll work for any day and any activity in the mountains.
Of course! We are spoiled and definitely have an upper hand on how to create an effective layering system when it comes to protective gear. Our offices are located right at the base of Aspen Highlands, home of some of the best inbound terrain in Colorado. We’re athlete-owned, so we make the gear we need.
Hiking the Highland bowl, ripping down to the lift, and riding up to lap again places unique demands on apparel in terms of breathability, weather protection, insulation, mobility and storage. We found gear needed to be a blend of breathable, waterproof materials and constructions with snow-specific features and fits for moving efficiently and skiing hard all day. We’re trying to constantly evolve and find the newest and best materials to keep us dry and warm on the coldest days!
Gear doesn’t make the day great, but can sure make it better! Skiing is a cold, outdoor sport with a lot of moisture and it’s generally much easier to cool off than it is to warm up. Dress warm and give yourself options to adjust based on your comfort.
At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter what you wear, just as long as you’re warm, comfortable, and outside enjoying the beautiful mountains we call home.
Don’t be afraid to try new things! Trying new layering is how we learn what is most comfortable for us as the skier or rider we are.
Check out the latest in layering technology for the perfect Strafe garment for your winter needs:
Our hope is this guide gives you the confidence to explore the outdoors in all conditions and even better, know that you'll be doing it comfortably. Instead of having to cut your day on the slopes or in the backcountry short, hopefully you're now able to maximize your own time in the mountains thanks to this layering guide. Being able to guarantee more time in the mountains? Now, that's priceless.