Understanding snow clothing related terms & specifications
Shopping a snow trip can be overwhelming with the wide range of choice in jackets, base layers and other snow gear accessories. The most expensive snow jacket may have a lot of great features, but what do they even mean? And more importantly, what should you be looking for? In this article, we’ll explain the most common “specs” so you find it easier to select snow clothing that meets your needs.
Jackets and pants with waterproof fabrics are essential to staying dry with many different types of water-resistant materials. All active winter snowwear created for snowboarding and skiing will vary in water resistance, but in due course heavy rain and snow will start to seep through to your inner layers. If your snow gear was rubber and completely waterproof, you would overheat and sweat bullets in no time at all. The solution is a delicate balance between both. The heat your body generates needs to be able to escape, this is called breathability, while the fabric needs to provide resistance to the rain and snow. The waterproof and breathability ratings will give you an idea of what type of weather your snow jacket and pants are capable of withstanding. Waterproof ratings are based on millimetres (mm) and breathability ratings are based on grams (g).
Most waterproof ratings use two numbers—millimetres or water resistance. For example 15,000mm or 15k means if you had a square inch of the fabric, it would take 15,000mm of water before you started to get wet. Higher numbers provide more water-resistance. A waterproof rating of 5,000-10,000 is perfect for light rain and snow, with ratings of 15,000 and above perfect for those heavier conditions.
Breathability is usually rated in grams, generally it’s the higher the number of grams the more breathable the fabric. If you’re not hiking up the top of black runs and taking hot cocoa breaks back at the lodge, you’ll find a 5,000-8,000g breathability rating will be adequate. If you’re a naturally sweaty person and a seasoned skier who is happy on the mountain from dawn to dusk, look for snow apparel rated 10,000+
Generally, most ski jackets and pants will have a water repellent treatment knows as a DWR (Durable Water Resistance). This is an additional element to increase the water resistance.
Base layers, jacket linings, ski pants, socks and gloves are created with a special material that draws the sweat away from your body, reduces body odour and keeps you feeling dry and comfortable.
Check to see if your snow jacket or pants feature sealed seams. Sealed seams have waterproof seam tape to block moisture entering where the fabric is joined to ensure you stay warm and dry.
Sometimes referred to as powder skirts, are attached to the hem of a jacket to prevent snow getting into your clothes should you fall over. They can be integrated into the jacket or removable.
Now that you have a better idea on understanding the features available, it’s time to start shopping for snow season.