What to Wear


Nordic Clothing Basics

The goal is to remain comfortable (not cold, not hot) in a winter environment while both exercising and resting.
  • Thermal insulation – Preserves body warmth.
  • Moisture control – Lets perspiration escape while keeping melting snow and rain out.
  • Wind barrier – Protects against wind chill.

Clothing Material

  • Synthetics or wool – Especially against the skin, to wick away persperation. Wool insulates even when wet.
  • NO COTTON – Especially against the skin or as a middle (insulation) layer. Cotton promotes evaporative cooling, which is not good in a winter environment.

Core Protection

Use a layering system for upper and lower body protection.
  • Base layer – Insulates and transports moisture away from skin.
  • Middle layer – Provides thermal insulation.
  • Outer layer – Creates wind and moisture barrier(s).

Extremity Protection for Head, Hands, and Feet

  • Cap – Wool or synthetic with thermal barrier protection. Since heat loss is greatest from the head, you can put-on or take-off the cap as a primary way to control body heat.
  • Gloves – Light ski gloves or mittens (not insulated alpine gloves). Mittens will keep fingers warmer than gloves. Carry extras.
  • Wool or synthetic socks – Use a thin liner sock under a medium weight outer sock.
  • Gaiters – For deep snow.
  • Eye protection – Use dark wrap-around sunglasses to protect eyes against harsh light reflected off the snow. Downhill (alpine) ski goggles are usually not appropriate for cross-country skiing; nordic skiing is a higher energy activity, and goggles are likely to fog. You may even want to use anti-fog solution on your sunglasses.

Day Pack

A small- to medium-size pack will carry the gear you may need. Some considerations:
  • Low center of gravity – Match body’s center of gravity.
  • Stable support – Make sure pack does not swing.
  • Support weight from hips, not shoulders.
  • Fit is especially important for back country skiing.

Gear You May Need

  • Extra clothes – Replace wet clothes or add a cover up when needed. Remember the layer system!
  • Water and food – Energy snacks and meals. Hydrate before you feel thirsty.
  • The 10 essentials and other survival equipment.