Ski Clothing Buying Guide
We take ski wear seriously at Ellis Brigham. Ski holidays are expensive and mountain weather can be very harsh - if your ski jacket and ski pants aren't up to the task you're gonna have a bad time. We all want to look great on the slopes but it's worth thinking about fabric technology, your layering system and the terrain you intend to ski as this will have a direct impact on your comfort.
Ski specific jackets and pants are crammed with features that make your time on the slopes more convenient and comfortable.
- A hood is a welcome feature when the wind howls on a long lift
- Venting zips are great for dumping hot moist air when you are hiking or overheating your way through your first lessons!
- An inner snowskirt can stop snow shovelling up your back when you fall
- Inner security pockets and stash pockets help you keep valuables and essentials safe and sorted.
- Outer pockets keep things handy but make sure they have good flaps or water resistant zips
- An arm or wrist ski pass pocket is handy in many Euro resorts using swipe/bleep lift systems
- Internal snow gaiters prevent any snow entering the ski boot.
- Many pants are clip-compatible with same-brand jackets to form a waterproof system at the waist.
- Modern performance stretch fabrics make particularly comfortable ski trousers.
- Ski pants should fit well and be comfortable for a full day on the slopes and perhaps a couple of hours of après ski!
- Different leg lengths are sometimes available, but most ski pants can be easily shortened by a high street tailor to give a perfect fit.
- Pockets are good but try not to overload them
A good base layer and mid layer system is crucial to ensuring the optimal performance of your outerwear. Base layers are made from fine Merino wool or a synthetic fabric as these wick moisture away from the skin very effectively, keeping your skin warm and dry.
Avoid cotton completely, as this instead collects and holds moisture.
A base layer top is a must all season long, while base layer bottoms or 'long johns' are needed on the colder days. An insulating mid layer then helps transfer this moisture to the outermost layer, which then allows the moisture to escape.
What level of ski wear performance do you need?
If you hit the ski resorts a couple of times a season and ski hard on the pistes and lift accessible off-piste, then you can rely on any of the clothing in our range to deliver the performance you'll need.
Fabric performance and fit quality increases with price, and as top brands produce limited amounts of their premium range, so does exclusivity.
If your ski plans involve extensive off-piste, backcountry and periods of hiking, you will want to focus your attention on high-end technical clothing that can provide the performance needed to keep you comfortable, warm and dry in the most demanding conditions.
Ski Wear Waterproofing & Breathability
Waterproofing or water resistance is rated using a 'hydrostatic head' test where a fabric's resistance to water pressure from a vertical column of water is rated in millimetres, giving a water resistance rating of - for example - 10,000mm. Some companies call fabrics with a hydrostatic head of 1,000mm 'waterproof' but in a real world environment wear and pressure would make such fabrics leak quickly.
Breathability is measured by the rate at which water vapour passes through a square metre of fabric over a 24 hour period. This gives a breathability rating of, for example, 10,000g/m2/24 (often abbreviated to 10,000g). You will see us abbreviate fabric performance further to 10k/10k.
At Ellis Brigham, entry-level ski clothing will have a very minimum waterproof rating of 5,000mm with 5,000g breathability; mid range clothing fabrics rate 10,000mm/10,000g with the best performing fabrics delivering 20,000mm/20,000g or better.
Ski wear fabrics are becoming increasingly sophisticated by incorporating a lot of stretch in their construction. This allows designers to create engineered form-flattering garments that combine mountaineering levels of waterproof/breathable fabric performance with highly tailored, super comfortable fits. It is this sophistication in fit that sets modern ski wear apart from purely functional outdoor clothing and the ‘Michelin Man’ look of ski wear in the past.
For more information on ski wear waterproofing, head to our Waterproof Fabric Buying Guide.
Take a look at our other buying guides
The best ski is the one most suited to your ability and the kind of terrain you intend to ride. Choosing the right skis is a simple matter of balancing the shape, flex and characteristics to your requirements.