A Question...
8 posts
7 users
3k+ views
November 19, 1999
Being a newbie at skiing, for Chanukkah, my parents are getting me a pair of ski bibs. I haven't been skiing since I was 12-I skied then in Spain, at Sierra Nevada. I have asked this question to many seasoned skiers, but their answers are so different. So, question is...what does one wear under their ski bibs? Long johns? Shorts? Please help. Thanks.
November 20, 1999
Member since 11/19/1999 🔗
176 posts
Depends on the bibs, depends on the weather, depends on the long johns.

Thermal bottoms are the best choice. They can be had in different weights for different degrees of warmth. If your bibs are insulated, a lighter weight may be the best choice in the mild temps we have around here. If you are going to Vermont in January, you will want heavy weight. If you just want to go the Sears/K-mart/etc. route, avoid the waffle pattern ones - can lead to chafe-a-rama. Ditto for just wearing regular underwear under the bibs - they are not neccesarily made to ride directly against the skin.

With most thermal bottoms, getting too hot is only an issue when the temps are above 35 F.

Scott - DCSki Editor
November 22, 1999
Member since 10/10/1999 🔗
1,251 posts
Unless it's really cold, I usually wear sweat pants underneath my ski pants. For my ski pants, I use North Face Mountain Light pants, which are gore-tex and block out any water or wind. I don't think my legs have ever gotten cold.

If it is frigid, I'll wear thermal underwear underneath the sweat pants instead of regular underwear. I bought REI-branded thermal underwear (I believe it's expedition weight; they come in various thicknesses) and it keeps me toasty.

Where I've had problems is hands and feet - they always get too cold. I finally bought a nice pair of Marmot gloves - they were expensive but well worth it. And I discovered that it's better to wear one pair of socks instead of two - that, and a good pair of boots, helps keep the feet warm. (Of course, we all know that keeping the head warm keeps the rest of the body warm!)

January 5, 2000
Just don't wear cotton! If you want to stay warm you must be dry, and if you have cotton on you will be wet. I guess thats pretty opiniated sounding, but it comes from experience. I started x-c ski racing when I was 12, and I've been x-c and alpine skiing in different climates since. (I'm 29 now) I like Capilene from patagonia, but its kind of pricey. Most good long johns are a polyester material. Buy a good set and they will last you a long time. I still have some of the Helly-Hanson Lifa underware I wore in high school.
January 5, 2000
Member since 01/6/2000 🔗
3,555 posts
I agree with ValveFloat. I swear by Capilene from Patagonia (light-weight or medium-weight). Several years ago they were around 20 dollars per piece but well worth it. Like most synthetic sports fabrics, they wick away moisture which keeps you more comfortable during the normal daily temperature variations and during periods when you are skiing harder and likely to be sweating. Capilene also keeps you incredibly warm and is very light.

The most effective tip I can give for avoiding cold feet is to unbuckle the lower two buckles of your ski boot when in the lift line and riding up the lift. Wiggle your toes and the natural blood flow will warm your feet up. I actually spend a lot of time skiing with the lower two buckles undone, which gives you a much better feel for the snow.

January 5, 2000
Member since 06/23/2000 🔗
61 posts
I agree with the other posts that state clothing choice depends on the weather. Overall, layering is best as it allows you to adjust to various temperatures. You definitely want a wicking material next to your skin (such as polyprop. or any of the "high tech fabrics - coolmax, etc.). The middle layer should be polar fleece as its light and insulates well. However, on warm days the first layer may be all you need if you have a good shell (blocks wind and water). Finally, the outer shell is crucial. Gor Tex is great but pricy. There are many water resistant/breathable fabrics out there these days and most are quite good.

Hope this helps.

January 5, 2000
Member since 11/22/1999 🔗
317 posts
I agree with most of what was said with one notable exception - cotton. Yes, I agree 101% that cotton loses all insulation value when wet and can actually be detrimental. However, that said, cotton is also (IMHO) the most comfortable fabric next to the skin (well, except maybe silk). You CAN wear cotton as your first, next-to-the-skin layer if you layer properly. Specifically, I start out with a cotton t-shirt and long johns (not the waffle kind). For the legs, I then usually wear my EMS Goretex skipants. The Goretex keeps out the water and the cotton keeps my legs warm and comfy. If it's colder out, I'll where my bicycling leggings. For the upper body, I usually put on another cotton shirt, fleece (or vest) and Goretex jacket. Again, the Goretex keeps the water out but lets me breathe. Even if I do get slightly wet, all the areas where I ski have indoor lodge areas where I can dry off. Unless you're in the back woods or otherwise away from indoor facilities, cotton will work fine - just not as the outer layer!
January 10, 2000
Member since 01/10/2000 🔗
3 posts
I have to disagree with Jim about using cotton. Cotton is the worst thing to have next to your skin. I absorbs perspiration and holds it. It took me a long time to learn that my cotton t-shirt was causing a me most of my problems. Polypropolyne, Thermax, Polartec or one of the other synthetics is what you need next to you. They are all quite comfortable and considerably warmer. They are also available in several different weights, depending on your needs. Besides the skiing catalogs check Cabela's or Bass Pro Shops as they have a good assortment of themals. The Thermax/wool combo that they offer I have found to be very effective. My wife has a set of Polartec and she has had no problem. And she does not tolerate the cold real well.

If you must wear a natural fiber, try and use wool as it is warm even when wet.

I skied all day Sat. with just my Thermaxs, bibs and coat. Temp was about 38 and calm.

Ski and Tell

Snowcat got your tongue?

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