The Heli-Ski Blog

Clothing Choices to Keep you Skiing in All Weather (Part 1)

Posted by Jane Carswell on Oct 18, 2010 9:16:00 AM

This is the first article in a series of three complied by Exercise Physiologist Dr. Delia Roberts and Carl Moriarty of Arc'teryx outlining clothing solutions to challenges presented by varying weather conditions encountered while heliskiing.

Good snow generally means colder temperatures and lots of moisture, and we certainly see an abundance of powder while heliskiing with CMH. On the other hand, you’ll be working hard and generating a fair bit of heat making all those turns. Whatever weather you find, be it cold and/or stormy or bright and sunny, you can be comfortable while in our true mountain wilderness. Just choose your clothing to create your own microclimate! Layering your clothing can allow you to retain just the right amount of heat and provide just the right amount of ventilation throughout your day. Stay warm and dry, and enjoy the amazing powder and terrain!

Layer: Next-to-Skin or Base

Issue: Damp garments draw precious heat away from your body because water is a good heat conductor. Even in conditions above freezing, this rapid heat loss can cause a dangerous drop in your body temperature. Besides, cold clammy clothing doesn’t feel very good.

Solution: The inner-most layer should transport moisture away from the skin and disperse it to the air or outer layers where it can evaporate.

F10 Rho AR Top Miro BlueCMH Choice: The best base layer materials are synthetics (polypropylene and polyester), especially if it's very cold, or you perspire heavily. These materials are light in weight, thermally efficient and have excellent wicking properties, moving moisture away from your skin. They will keep you dryer than any other type of material. Merino wool can also be a good choice. It absorbs moisture but feels dry and warm to the touch. Since this is a characteristic of the fibres themselves, repeated washings do not decrease wool's ability to keep you dry. An additional benefit is that wool doesn't absorb oils from perspiration, so it won't host odor-producing bacteria. The design features of your base layer are important to avoid skin chafing. Gussets and stretch fabrics allow for ease of movement. Seamless or flat-seam garments lie flat and won't rub your skin. Fit is also important, the garment should fit snuggly without constriction. Tops should be long enough to tuck in, or not ride up when bending over.

Arc'teryx Recommendations: Arc’teryx offers a base layer choice that meet these requirements in CMH's retail shops. The Rho AR (see photo) is a  polyester knit with high levels of spandex to ensure a snug fit and unrestricted mobility.

Dr. Roberts is an Exercise Physiologist who has worked with Olympic medalists, Heli-Ski Guides and is currently working on injury prevention for Ski Patrols and Ski and Snowboard Instructors.  Send us your training and physiology, diet and performance oriented questions or contact Dr. Delia Roberts at

Topics: Gear, CMH Experts