Planning a ski trip? Be sure to pack lots of layers. You’ll be glad you did. Weather can be hard to predict for skiing during the early winter or spring. Keep reading for a practical guide on what layers to pack the next time you hear the mountains calling.


Beautiful from the inside out. Each layer has an important function, and it’s fun to color coordinate the entire ensemble. Here’s what I packed for my cross country ski trip to the Continental Divide’s Boreas Pass Section House in mid-March 2017. The temperature low’s were in the upper 20s, and the high’s were in the lower 60s.


Three Layers on your Torso, Two on your Legs 

BASELAYERS: Next to your skin you want clothing that is either synthetic or wool, and absolutely not cotton. This distinction is important because cotton holds moisture whether it’s from perspiration or snow. Once the cotton is wet, it becomes cold and makes you shiver. On my mid-March trip to Breckenridge, I wore The North Face Reaxion Tank underneath a Smartwool Lightweight Crew. The extra core warmth provided by the tank in the morning also doubled as a 3:00 pm escape from the heat when I was ready to soak up the sun in 60 degree weather. I prefer wool over synthetic for my long sleeve because I can wear it several days in a row without fear of it smelling of sweat. My husband, Clayton, is warm natured and often wore just his baselayer and no jacket. We both wore Smartwool Lightweight Leggings.

MIDLAYER: The perfect midlayer for me is a light puffy jacket. I prefer a puffy over a fleece because of it’s weight to warmth ratio. In other words, it is much warmer while being lighter weight than a fleece. It slides into my coat with ease, and I don’t feel constricted in the sleeves. It also takes up less room in my luggage. If you decide to wear fleece, the thickness depends on how insulated your outer shell is and what the weather conditions are. I wore an Arc’Teryx Atom LT as a midlayer in the morning and evening. It also ended up being used as an outer shell most of the trip because the temperatures were so warm and sunny.

OUTER SHELL: Spring skiing weather can vary from warm and sunny to cold and snowy. That being said, I prefer a lightly insulated, waterproof jacket that I can layer under according to the weather that day. On my mid-March trip to Breckenridge, I found myself only wearing my outer jacket over my midlayer in the morning and after sunset. I didn’t need it mid-day because it wasn’t snowy, but I was glad to have it when the temps plummeted. Speaking of plummeting, my North Face Ski Pants came to the rescue keeping me warm and dry even though I fell numerous times!

Aside from all the layers, here’s a handy checklist for everything else to pack for your next snowy exploration: The Backpacker’s Winter Hike Checklist