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Outerwear Buying Guide

Outwear Guide Image

Skiwear technology has reached new dizzy heights in the last few years and it can be very confusing when faced with 8000mm/10000gr/STR etc jargon. What does it all mean…?! So Sports-Outlet has put together the Skiwear Concise Alpine Dictionary for you:

A is for…Abrasion-resistant. Some ski pants feature an extra panel at the bottom to protect the fabric from rubbing against boots or poles, where the fabric is more susceptible to getting a tear.

Breathability Rating: Most ski jackets have a rating such as 10000mm/12000gr (or 10k/12k). The first number (10000) refers to the waterproof rating. The 2ndnumber (12000) refers to the breathability rating. The higher the rating the more breathable the fabric. If you perspire when skiing or boarding you need to zap this extra moisture away from your skin, so you should look for a highly breathable fabric in your jacket.

Critically Taped Seams: Like Fully Taped seams the purpose is to stop any snow getting into the fabric through the seams. However Critically Taped seams means that only the main seams in the garment are fully taped – not necessarily every seam as with Fully Taped seams, which are usually a bit pricier.

Draw Cords: Many hoods have draw cords which can be adjusted to pull in the fabric around your face should the winter elements start to attack. You also find draw cords in the bottom of some jackets.

E…. Errrrr

Fully Taped Seams: The purpose is to stop any snow getting into the fabric through the seams. More expensive outerwear often has Fully Taped seams, which means that every seam in the garment has this protection.

Goggle Pocket: If you like to swap between sunglasses and goggles look out for a large interior pocket in your jacket which can accommodate your goggles when not in use.

Gore-Tex®: For supreme durable waterproof and windproof protection then Gore-Tex is the market leader. This is a permanent waterproof and windproof coating on fabrics. Many brands use this, but it is more expensive.

Hoods: To hood or not to hood! Most ski jackets have hoods, but some are fixed and some are removable. Also if you wear a helmet you should look for a jacket where the hood can come up over the helmet if required. Adjustable features such as Draw Cords are useful for pulling in the hood when required. A stiff brim helps too.

Insulated: Insulated jackets offer various levels of warmth generally ranging from 40gr to 220gr. An insulated jacket will then have a waterproof outer shell to protect you. If you are likely to perspire heavily, or are skiing at different times during the season, then a shell jacket would offer you breathability and temperature control that insulated jackets don’t. In summary insulated jackets are warmer but less versatile than a shell.

Jacket-to-pant Interlock system: This system connects jacket and pants together using poppers, zip, loops or hooks.

Layers: Always wear technical layers that are also breathable to maximise the performance of your outerwear. Look for warmth without added weight.

Leg Gaiters: Inside the bottom of all ski pants is an inner elasticated gaiter that fits around your boot holding your pants in place and stopping snow riding up inside your legs and down your boots…brrr.

Moisture-wicking: Jacket and pant linings are sometimes made of a ’moisture-wicking’ material that removes sweat away from the body, helping to keep you dry.

Primaloft®: Primaloft® insulation is lightweight, breathable and proven to repel water better than any other synthetic of natural insulation, so you remain warm, dry and comfortable.

Shell: Pure Shell jackets can offer superb levels of waterproofing and breathability, but do not offer any warmth. For spring skiers, or touring skiers and boarders who spend time going uphill as well as down and work up more of a sweat, this fabric zaps the moisture away from the skin and offers great protection from the elements. When warmth is needed the trick is to layer up underneath.

Ski Pass Pocket: Gone are the days when you have to fumble for your ski pass on a string. Just zap your sleeve or chest ski pass holder across the sensor and you’re in! Very handy.

Snood: For many a favourite accessory: sits over your neck and can be pulled up over your mouth and chin when it gets a bit chilly out there. Ski Lift essential!

Snow Skirts: This is an elasticated hidden inner waist band to stop snow riding up inside your jacket. They can be poppered away or removed when not in use.

STR: Strategic Thermal Regulation: A canny feature which puts insulation where you need it in cold zones and performance mesh in hot zones to sure you are kept warm and dry without added bulk.

Thumb loops: wind and snow like to get in the gap between your jacket and your gloves. This can be combated by having a wrist gaitor inside your jacket that loops down over your thumb. Especially handy in children’s snow gear.

Vents:Many jackets and pants have zipped vents in the armpits and between the legs. So if you get a bit warm just unzip and let the cool air in!

Waterproof Rating: Most ski jackets have a rating such as 10000/12000 (or 10k/12k). The first number (10000) refers to the waterproof rating and refers to ‘10000mm’, which is a result from a pressure test when the fabric is stretched out and water poured on top to a height where it eventually permeates the fabric. The higher the rating the more waterproof it is. We would advise that any rating above 8000mm is good. 20000 is high.

Wicking: This refers to the properties in the fabric lining that draws moisture away from your skin. It effectively absorbs moisture and spreads it over a large surface, accelerating the vaporation process to keep you dry.

Wrist Gaiters: Some jackets have cuffs attached to the wrists of your jacket than come down over your hand and are held in place with thumb holes. Again to stop snow getting where it shouldn’t, and also to hold shut that chilly gap between jacket and glove.

Zips: Zips are an exposed part of your jacket and it is good if they are water repellent. Also look out for a cover at the top of the zip to prevent it chafing on your chin.