Nordic Ski Colorado - The official cross-country ski guide
Article: Layering, the Right Way For Peak Performance & Comfort
By Stacy Strayer / Photos courtesy of Sporthill®

nordic club members ski together at Snow Mountain Ranch YMCA
Forever lamenting that you’re either burning up or freezing while cross-country skiing? Bryan Pepper, a former racer for the Eastern Intercollegiate Ski Association, divulges how to dress for success.

“Layering on the right kind of clothing is crucial,” he says. “It’s better to be prepared for anything and just peel layers as needed.” It’s different than prepping for alpine skiing. “With Nordic skiing, you don’t need heavy protection because you’re not getting cold, riding on a lift.”

To dial-in the appropriate garb for future outings, gauge yourself while you’re out. “I tend to ski hot, so I start with a light, thin thermal top made from a sweat-wicking material, such as the Craft elite layer, that’s easy to move in and fits tight to my body. But if you tend to ski on the cooler side or you’re not going to ski very hard, I would add a mid-weight performance layer, which is a little thicker.”

nordic club members ski together at Snow Mountain Ranch YMCA
With the jacket, the details are key. “It should be thin, and the front should be windproof and waterproof - you don’t want the wind to cut through and make you colder than you actually are,” he says. “The back of it should be a Lycra material that will allow air to escape, with plenty of zipper vents around the arms, shoulders and back, so you don’t overheat.”

The jacket should also allow a lot of movement in the shoulders, but he cautions against it being too roomy. “If you keep hitting your coat when you move, it’s going to bother you over time.” A wind-stopping vest underneath and a pair of Lycra pants completes his ensemble. “If it’s nice enough, I’ll take off the jacket and just ski with a vest and shirt, and for my lower half, I usually wear either one pair of Lycra pants or two, depending on the temp,” he says.

Whether you’re racing or not, several name brands (Craft, Swix, Salomon, etc.) offer stylish, functional and versatile performance pant options that can be worn year-round, including loose-fitting touring pants featuring elastic-shell exteriors paired with warm, mesh linings, or lightweight stretch poly knit or micro fibers, equipped with wind blocking and breathable qualities.

He offers this last tidbit of sage advice. “Avoid cotton - it holds moisture and it doesn’t have an insulating quality, so if you stop moving, you could get cold.” So get moving!

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