It takes only a frigid winter to make you clothes conscious. And after skiing a few times with the wind-chill factor falling off the chart, I am definitely not talking about fashion. I'm talking about survival. Any ideas I had about splurging for a new fashion-plate parka disappeared with December's first artic gust. My love affair with goose down has been renewed, and the bulkier the better.
Some snythetics out now, on the other hand, are pretty good heat retainers and, unlike down, don't lose all their insulating capacity if they become wet.
The main thing to remember is the importance of dressing in layers. The well-laminated skier packs more insulation per ounce of clothing and can more easily control perspiration, a major factor in heat loss.
Layering is particularly important to cross-country skiers, who must able to shed outer layers as they heat up and put them back on easily and quickly when stopping to rest. Here's a guide, from the inside out:
Start with thermal underwear. The open weave allows perspiration to escape while trapping body heat. A turtleneck jersey makes a good second layer, though a wool shirt will do nicely. Next a sweater; once again wool is desirable for its heat-retention quality, even when wet.
You want wind and moisture protection from your outer layer, and flexibility as well. A hooded shell makes sense for cross-country skiers, who may want to substitute a down vest when the weather so dictates.
For pants, knickers and knee socks are still comfortable and popular, although more and more stretch suits are being seen.
Light socks under knee socks, a warm hat, and water-resistant gloves round out what you'll need except for two important items. On sunny days, particularly in high altitudes, take dark glasses and a sun screening lotion.