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Roseville, Calif- People often head to a ski resort unprepared for the weather. No problem spotting the rookies. They are typically dumbfounded and not surprisingly find themselves battling the cold later in the day.

It’s been said clothing makes the man. That statement might warrant a closer look, considering today’s casual style of dress.


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However, there is no doubting clothing can make a skier or snowboarder. Come to a resort unprepared on a chilly day and the experience may conclude early. Often times you can find these folks seeking the nearest warm fireplace, looking to sip hot chocolate or something stronger to revive those frozen body parts.

On the flip side, miserable day weather wise can be thwarted easily. Windy, wet or cold, it doesn’t matter with the right combination of clothing.

Of course, the downside is the cost. Even the smart shopper will spend a fair amount on clothing needs. As with everything associated with snow sports, there is no way to do it cheaply.

Cost is a concern and so is buying the right apparel that will provide the necessary warmth, yet also give proper breathing room and is waterproof. Throw in fashion and that complicates the issue further. When it doubt, go with substance over style.

Here are some tips for what to purchase and why.

Layering: The smart winter sports enthusiast understands this concept. It allows for versatility, keeping one warm when the conditions are extreme and allowing for some quick removal when the temperatures begin to climb.

Whether it’s watching a football game on a late November night or heading to the slopes on a chilly morning, the first layer to consider are the undergarments.  Although thermal underwear is always a good idea, the middle layer has a critical role as well, guaranteeing the chill stays away and the heat remains. Vests, sweaters and sweatshirts all work well.

Fleece is a popular material for protection. It has great insolating properties. Even when it gets wet, fleece will spread the moisture and drying will occur rapidly.  Time-tested wool will also get the job done. Avoid cotton; it absorbs moisture and does not ward off the wind.

The outer protection layer serves as the repellent. Most shells and pants are waterproof and will guard against snow, rain and also reduce the effects of wind. Jeans may look good, but that’s about it. They are not waterproof and will quickly get soaked and stay that way.

Headwear: An uncovered head can be a huge mistake on a cold day, allowing at least half the body’s heat to escape.

Buy a hat made of wool or fleece. A helmet, which is now worn by over 40 percent of skiers and riders, is a good idea, providing another fine source of warmth and also protection. A neck warmer should be part of the cold weather package as well.

Gloves: Buy a quality pair of gloves. There is nothing like cold hands to ruin a day on the hill. Buy fabrics that provide proper breathing and are waterproof. Mittens are generally warmer than gloves, but severely limit dexterity. Avoid buying either gloves or mittens that are too tight. Air space is important at the fingertips, providing insulation.

Socks: Do not buy into the more-socks-is-better theory. Multiple socks or very thick ones will restrict circulation, causing the feet to get colder as the day progresses. One regular pair of socks, preferably made of wool, will do the job effectively.

Eyewear: Goggles and sunglasses can both play a role in keeping the face a little warmer. More importantly, they protect the eyes from ultraviolet light, which gets magnified reflecting off the snow.

Jeffrey Weidel is a Sacramento-area free-lance writer with more than 25 years of skiing experience.

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