Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Outer layer: parkas and pants

The final layer should be the insulated or non-insulated parka and pant. Insulated clothing traps air, creating a barrier that keeps warmth in and cold out. It stays warmer than non-insulated clothing, but for some people can be too warm. The cold, damp northeast requires more insulation than, say, the dry climate of the Rockies where a lighter insulation works just fine.
Obermeyer for 2010-11

Don't be fooled by skiwear in discount or department stores. Although department-store jackets may look and feel like those you see on ski slopes, look closer. Read hangtags. If you want real warmth, you want the latest technology from companies that make clothing specifically for cold-weather sports. Though a parka might resemble a brand carried in specialty ski shops, its cheaper price tells you the fabric, construction and features are not the same quality and won’t protect you from the elements like the real thing. 
Look for these features:
• Wind flaps over zippers for wind and snow protection • Pull-tabs on zippers for easy grabbing with mittens or glove Strategically placed pockets for outside access like a trail map pocket on a pant leg •  No hip pockets on tight-fitting pants — they make pants too bulky • Sealed seams — wind can rip through seams of poorly made clothes Snug or adjustable cuffs at wrists and ankles  •  Collars and inside closures that can be zipped or buckled to the chin • Elasticized drawstrings at waists and hems of jackets that can be tightened.
I find everything I like in Obermeyer, the Aspen-based company that has been designing skiwear for more than 60 years. You can read about the company's founder Klaus Obermeyer here on this blog. His ski clothes top the charts, especially for women and kids.
Nils for 2010-11
I also like Nils. This Swedish company designs ski wear only for women, so it's all about us! Their clothes fit women's curves like no other. My review of 2010-11 ski fashions is here

I dread the day one-piece ski suits come back into style. Not that they aren't warm. They are. Their biggest drawback is going to the bathroom! You know the drill: you get into the stall, take off your goggles, hat and gloves and find there's no place to put them except between your knees. So you unzip and drop your top, trying to keep the sleeves from dragging on the dirty, wet floor. Still clutching your hat (or helmet), goggles and gloves with your knees, you attempt to pull your long underwear bottoms down around your bum. Then you remember what your mother told you: don't ever sit on the seat!
While I'm on this delicate subject, let me tell you about a great find that is invaluable if you ski in the backcountry. It's called Freshette, a palm-sized anatomically designed device that lets you take a leak like a man. Without having to squat, you can direct your flow through a trough, a spout and a tube while standing up. Check it out here.


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