Hidden features of your Snow Gear (and how to use them)
As well as looking great - and providing waterproofing, insulation and comfort - a lot of snow clothing comes with special features that improve functionality, give you greater value for money and let you focus on enjoying all of the things that make a trip to the snow brilliant. When shopping for snow gear, it pays to look for these 'hidden' features that play such an important part in enhancing your snow experience.
Here are some of the things you should be looking for…
In order to give you an idea of how your clothing will perform in the snow, your gear will be rated on a scale according to its waterproofing and breathability.
In general, a waterproof rating of 5,000mm is the minimum rating for a jacket to be considered waterproof, whereas 10,000mm to 15,000mm is the mid-range for withstanding heavy downpours and snow, and 20,000mm upwards is the rating for when you're planning to tackle some really challenging conditions.
When it comes to the breathability rating, clothing with a rating of 5,000g/m2 to 10,000g/m2 is fine for most resort skiing, while 10,000g/m2 to 15,000g/m2 is suitable for more adventurous or back-country skiing, and 15,000g/m2 to 20,000 g/m2 is best for skiing trips where you're likely to be working hard and perspiring heavily.
Not surprisingly, it pays to take notice of waterproof and breathability ratings when weighing up the best gear from both a cost and functionality point of view. For example, if you're skimping on price but expecting gear with low waterproof and breathability ratings to do the hard yards in trying weather conditions, you'll ultimately pay the cost in both your health and comfort. Use the ratings wisely to get the best fit for your needs.
Zippers can be a vulnerability point in clothing when it comes to moisture and heat, which means your average zipper won't cut it in the snow. However, waterproof zippers are specifically designed to overcome this problem in snow gear. Additionally, taped seams provide extra protection against the wet for longer comfortability on the ski fields.
The Chute range of snow jackets at Anaconda, which come with a functional 10,000 waterproof/10,000 breathability rating, are critically seam-sealed (i.e. sealed in places where you're most likely to get snow and water coming through), although their range of pants are fully seam-sealed for even better durability against the wet.
A number of jackets - such as those produced by Chute - feature what's known as powder skirts. Powder skirts stop light, powdery snow getting up into your jacket when you're skiing or snowboarding, which proves particularly useful in places like Japan where this type of snow is really common. We don't get much powder here in Australia, yet a powder skirt is still going to be really helpful for keeping you dry when you're a beginner.
Similarly, wrist and boot gaiters help protect your extremities from the wind, rain and snow. Buying them separately can end up setting you back a few dollars, so take the time to check if the clothing you're considering comes with gaiters incorporated into the design. This will not only save you money but also play a key role in keeping the snow from breaching your inner layers.
Wearing a helmet is an essential part of skiing safety. Having the versatility of a removable hood from your ski parka/jacket or shell is also an important hidden feature of your ski clothing. Take the hood off as you go for a couple of runs down the slopes, and then re-attach when you take a break or call it quits for the day ready for apres ski fun.
Ski pass pockets are another handy hidden feature. There are a lot of things to bear in mind when you're on the slopes but, with dedicated ski pass pockets, keeping your passes and lift tickets easily accessible and dry won't be one of your concerns. So, it's worthwhile checking that the pants, shells or jackets you're looking at come with purpose-designed pass pockets.
While we're talking about pockets, take care to explore the type and number of pockets your clothing offers for stowing essentials things like goggles/sunglasses, gloves, mittens, car or hotel room keys, cash or credit cards, sunscreen/lip balm and your mobile phone.
In A Nutshell
Keeping warm, dry and comfortable should be the primary role of your clothing for the snowfields but - thanks to a myriad of hidden features incorporated into designs - your ski adventure will be even more convenient and enjoyable.
Know what you're looking for in hidden features in your snow gear (as well as their purpose), and be mindful of getting value for money without compromising form and functionality.