Ski touring, downhill skiing: how to dress?


© Millet – Quentin Iglesis

Before going on a ski touring or alpine skiing trip, think about the right equipment. Discover the advice of our official partner Millet.

How to dress?

Dressing for ski touring and downhill skiing is not the same thing.

Ski touring is an activity that requires a complete set of clothing, including breathable clothing to evacuate perspiration during the effort of climbing, warm clothing for the descent or transitional periods and protective clothing in case of bad weather. For this reason, ski touring uses the so-called “3-layer” system to adapt to the effort, the needs and the weather conditions.

For alpine skiing, a breathable first layer is needed to wick away perspiration. Then you need a jacket lined with synthetic wadding that will protect you from the wind and snow while providing warmth to stay dry during the activity. In very cold weather, it is advisable to add a fleece under the jacket in order to provide more warmth.


Dressing for ski touring

Breathable first layer

The first layer must be breathable and moisture-wicking. Two categories of products stand out:

  • The merino wool tee-shirt which provides warmth, lightness and does not retain odours.
  • The synthetic T-shirt can be used as a first layer, it will be closer to the body, resistant and will dry quickly.

On the other hand, avoid cotton: once wet, it does not dry and transmits the cold.


Second insulating layer

For the second layer, several choices are possible:

  • You can wear a wool or synthetic fleece, with or without a hood.
  • You can also wear a down jacket which is insulating, compressible and light. This is the ideal solution for dry weather.

A synthetic down jacket has the advantage of retaining its properties even when wet and is very easy to care for.


Third protective layer

The third layer is used to protect against the external natural elements. Here again, there are two categories of products:

  • Waterproof jackets with a membrane that is waterproof, windproof, breathable, lightweight and durable.
  • The Soft Shell jacket is water repellent and will offer a windproof effect while being very comfortable, stretchy and more breathable than a waterproof jacket.


Concerning the trousers, we find the same particularities as for the 3rd layer. Thus we will have the choice between waterproof trousers which will offer a high protection against bad weather while being breathable and light.

The other option is the soft shell trousers, which will be windproof and windproof, while being stretchy and breathable.

In case of very cold weather, it is possible to add a pair of tights under these two trousers.

Sur les pistes en ski alpin

© Millet – C. Hudry / Sur les pistes en ski alpin

Dressing for downhill skiing

Unlike ski touring, alpine skiing does not require modularity in the layers. We are therefore looking for products capable of providing both warmth and protection for a sport where the efforts are less intense and where we are looking for comfort for the skier and a permanent supply of heat.

Thus, the outfit of an alpine skier is composed of a first layer, identical to that of a touring skier, over which we will put a ski jacket. This jacket will provide warmth in all weathers thanks to the synthetic wadding, as well as protection against snow and rain thanks to the waterproof membrane.

The trousers of the alpine skier are constructed in the same way as the jacket. A membrane for protection against the weather, lined with a synthetic wadding that will keep the legs warm both during the descent and the ascent on the chairlifts.

These products usually have ventilation zips under the arms and on the legs so that excess heat can be evacuated and sweating avoided.

In cold weather, it is advisable to add a fleece under the jacket in order to improve the warmth.