June 11, 2010, Newsletter Issue #302: Women's Ski Wear

Tip of the Week

In the 1800s, women used to ski in their dresses. Fast forward to the 1940s till the 1980s, one-piece ski suits with stretch pant legs were the norm. According to ski film maker Warren Miller, a revival of the stretch pants craze would be a surefire way to revive skiing. Unfortunately, while stretch pants might revive the sport for middle-aged men in the midst of a midlife crisis, these foxy but dysfunctional garments will do precious little to improve a female skierís comfort on the slopes.

A somewhat snarky writer from Skiing Magazine describes this by saying that anyone who wears stretch pants fails to understand the concept of a shower curtain. Simply put. If your ski pants are tucked inside your boots, how in heavenís name are they going to keep snow and water outside of your boots? However, if you still like the sexy fit of a nice pair of stretch ski pants, you might be in luck. Some manufacturers have designed a new type of stretch pant that fits over the boot, thereby providing the female skier with both style and comfort.

Aside from style, fit is another factor that should be considered when choosing womenís ski wear. Any woman who has ever been an employee at a ski resort will advise you against wearing menís ski pants. These pants almost never fit the female form. Also, while snowboarders might enjoy pants that fall down below the hip, these are hardly functional. The question then becomes, what constitutes a functional pair of ski pants. Basically, your ski pants should be waterproof and contain an inner liner. Make sure that they have plenty of pockets. While one piece suits may provide comfort and warmth, consider your bathroom experience. Some of the restrooms at ski areas can be rather cold.

Ski jackets also involve striking a balance between style and functionality. Companies such as Columbia, Helly Hansen and Mountain Hardware tend to design jackets that are warm and functional, albeit androgynous. If youíre looking for a bit more style, consider jackets designed by Obermeyer and Head. However, some of these might not be suitable for extreme cold conditions. When reading a ski jacket description, you might find yourself baffled by the lingo. Here are some common terms and their meanings:

Breathability: These jackets have been treated with a process that allows body moisture to pass through the materials to the outside of the jacket.

Hydrophilic fabric: The material of these jackets is composed of molecular chains that attract vapor and pass it through to the outside of the garment.

Microporous fabric: These fabrics contain microscopic pores big enough to let perspiration vapor through.

DWR: These jackets have a Durable Water Repellent finish that is applied to the outer fabric of jackets, which allows water droplets to roll off the surface.

Ripstop fabric: These jackets can be identified by the faint criss-cross lines in the fabric. They prevent tears from spreading across the jacket panel.

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