The Heli-Ski Blog

Clothing Choices to Keep you Skiing in All Weather (Part 3)

Posted by Jane Carswell on Nov 15, 2010 10:49:00 AM

By Delia Roberts

As the snow begins to fall in earnest here at CMH Heli-Skiing our thoughts turn towards fun filled days of deep powder and the best terrain on earth. But how can you stay warm and dry while skiing or boarding all day in the wilderness? This is the third of a three part article on Clothing Choices to Keep you Skiing in All Weather (see Part 1 and Part 2), brought to you by Dr. Delia Roberts, CMH and Arc’teryx. This week we will tell you about the outer-most layer, the one that provides shelter from the wind and rain. Read on to find out how to prevent the outside from getting in,- and still let the inside (heat and moisture) get out!

Layer: Outer Layer

Issue: Nothing cools you off faster than a brisk wind, or speed whilst shredding the pow as the case may be. And when that powder is dumping down from the skies it doesn’t take long for clothing to get wet, cold and uncomfortable.

Solution: The outer layer protects you from the elements creating your own personal micro climate. Shell fabric technology allows these garments to shed water and block wind while still allowing excess moisture to escape.

CMH Choice: For dry conditions, a breathable wind shell or soft shell may be all you need. Soft shells are lightweight garments that provide warmth, breathability, and wind resistance without a lot of bulk. A soft shell can replace the traditional combination of an insulating inner layer and a waterproof-breathable outer, in all but the wettest weather (but please note that they do NOT work well as a mid-layer. The close weave that makes them wind and water resistant will not allow enough moisture to escape and you will end up cold and clammy). If you expect conditions to be more severe, a waterproof breathable membrane or laminate shell will protect you from wind and precipitation, and allow water vapor to escape. Additionally, factory applied durable water repellency (DWR) surface treatment will cause water to bead and roll off. Design features such as full seam taping will also increase water proofing, and pit zippers are essential for venting.

Arc'teryx Recommendations: Arc’teryx builds a series of Gore-tex Proshell and Gore-tex Softshell jackets. Gore-tex 3 layer fabric technology offers the most durable waterproof breathable performance available while remaining light and pliable for maximum comfort.

Arc'teryx is committed to designing and constructing ergonomically-fitted garments that enhance personal performance. Check out the Arc'teryx video links to learn more about the design team and their philosophy.

About the author: Dr. Roberts is an Exercise Physiologist who has worked with Olympic medalists, CMH 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