Dressing appropriately for winter sports is trickier than you might think. Simply piling shirt over shirt isn’t necessarily the best way to stay warm and dry while on the field. The fabric your clothes are made of actually play a huge factor in keeping your warm and comfortable. With the right clothing choices, winter athletes like snowboarders, skiers and even winter runners should really only need three layers to stay warm no matter how long they are outside.
Gearing up for winter sports starts with the base layer, which is the layer of clothing that comes in direct contact with the athlete’s skin. The best option for base layers is a tight fitting (because you might have to put a few extra layers plus pads on top!) and moisture wicking material like Polypropylene, silk, polyester, Thermax, Thinsulate or wool. Avoid a cotton base layer (like your basic tee shirt) because it traps moisture, which will ultimately pull heat away from the athlete’s body.
The mid layer’s job is to provide insulation, keeping a youth athlete warm during their winter sport. Mid layers also carry moisture away from the base layer to the outer layer. Common material for mid layers includes down, polyester, fleece, wool and synthetic/natural blends. Fleece clothing is a favorite mid layer among many winter sport athletes because it’s lightweight, warm and can dry quickly if it gets damp.
The outermost layer is designed to be waterproof and windproof, protecting youth athletes from harsh winter conditions. Usually the shells are made of Gore-Tex or a similar material (many come with removable fleece mid layers) and the outside layer usually comes with a variety of ventilation options so youth athletes can stay cool while moving without having to lose a layer.
Winter sport athletes should also remember to keep their extremities warm, in addition to keeping their core protected. Fingers and toes are especially susceptible to frostbite, so warm gloves and thick socks are a must! It might also be worthwhile to invest in a hat to protect ears and keep heat from escaping. If winter athletes get too warm during play, removing gloves and hats are a good way to cool off while still protecting their core from the cold.