Thirty ways to better skiing

No 8. Keep warm

All it takes to nullify the benefits of a top-of-the-range snowsports jacket is to wear a cotton T-shirt underneath it, says Dave Whitlow, marketing manager for the Ellis Brigham outdoor clothing and equipment shops. "Cotton absorbs sweat, keeping moisture next to the skin rather than transporting it away. You may not notice that when you are exercising, and generating heat; but as the moisture chills it draws warmth from the body, causing at least discomfort and - in very cold weather - the risk of hypothermia."

All it takes to nullify the benefits of a top-of-the-range snowsports jacket is to wear a cotton T-shirt underneath it, says Dave Whitlow, marketing manager for the Ellis Brigham outdoor clothing and equipment shops. "Cotton absorbs sweat, keeping moisture next to the skin rather than transporting it away. You may not notice that when you are exercising, and generating heat; but as the moisture chills it draws warmth from the body, causing at least discomfort and - in very cold weather - the risk of hypothermia."

Instead, you should wear a couple of polyester garments beneath the jacket, a thin layer next to the body and then a thicker one: among the different weights in the Polartec range, for example, these would be the 100 and 200 fabrics. (The 300 is too bulky for 'layering'.) "The body-contact fabric will wick away moisture from the skin," says Whitlow. "It does this either 'mechanically', through hollow fibres, or with the help of a chemical treatment which draws moisture through the fabric. A fleece worn on top of that will provide a layer of insulation; and because air is trapped within its open-weave construction, it will also permit the transfer of moisture. A breathable jacket then completes the process of venting moisture away."

In anything less than extreme cold, three layers should be enough to keep skiers and boarders warm: with snowsports jackets that have a lot of pockets and a loose lining inside, even a microweight fleece may provide an adequate middle layer. "But on cripplingly cold days in the depths of a Canadian winter, a fourth layer may be necessary," Whitlow adds. And, he says, it's vitally important to protect those parts of the body that don't benefit from the layering. "It's amazing how much body heat you can lose through your head and hands."

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