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Ski touring clothing: the 5 most common mistakes and how you can avoid them.

Choosing the right clothing can make a difference between make or break on a ski tour. Wearing the wrong clothes can take the fun out of your mountain experience and in extreme cases put you in physical danger. Here are the five most common clothing mistakes, and ways to avoid them. Follow these tips and you’ll stay warm and dry on the mountain, no matter how tough the tour may be.

Too much clothing/equipment

In the mountains, you must be prepared for changeable weather and emergencies. You have to carry everything with you that you will need – but obviously, the weight of clothing (and equipment) plays a significant role when you’re ski touring. Less weight in your pack means more fun on the tour. Put another way: Carry everything you need, but carry as little as possible.


The best clothing concept is to rely on a versatile system of garments that are layered or worn one on top of another - hence the term ‘layering’. The various layers help to transport moisture away from your skin, while trapping insulating air between the garments, which helps to keep you warm. How many layers are needed and which materials they are made from is an individual choice and depends on how easily you feel the cold, how strenuous the activity will be, and on many other factors. That said, there are a few general rules and a few basic garments that you will need almost every day in the mountains:


Baselayer: A wicking layer that is worn next to your skin. This layer provides a moderate amount of insulation, and transports sweat away from your skin quickly and effectively.


Midlayer: One or two layers that keep you warm – these can be made of fleece, synthetic insulation or down.


Outer layer: A protective external layer that is either waterproof (hardshell) or water- and wind-resistant (softshell).


Ideally, each clothing layer should fulfill multiple functions, to provide maximum possible versatility and efficiency. This will save you valuable weight so you will make it to the summit more quickly!

Not enough clothing/equipment

The weather in the mountains can change quickly. During a ski tour, the temperature may vary significantly, from icy cold early mornings to warm and sunny afternoons on a glacier or on a spring ski tour. And there’s always the chance of snowfall or strong winds, which can occur suddenly.


If you are not prepared for changes in the weather, you can find yourself in uncomfortable or even dangerous situations. An ideal clothing system must be versatile and flexible, to provide comfort and protection from shifting weather conditions. At the same time, your clothing cannot weigh you down unnecessarily.


If things get serious, it’s always better to have one layer too many than one layer too little. You should choose multifunctional garments like neck gaiters that can be used as a scarf, a hat, or a face mask. Warm gloves or shell gloves are also indispensable. For an extra margin of safety, you should always have a heat-reflecting emergency blanket or bivy bag in your backpack.


If you are new to ski touring, it’s a good idea to write down a packing list to make sure you don’t forget anything. You can use the checklist provided by our skimo hero Ueli as inspiration.

Wearing too many layers on ascents

If you are new to ski touring, it’s tempting to wear your tried-and-trusted insulated alpine ski clothing on a ski tour. Doing so completely overlooks the amount of warmth you generate while climbing. If you wear too many layers while skiing uphill, you will quickly begin to sweat and to overheat. When you stop for a break, you will quickly feel cold, because your sweat-soaked clothing cools down your skin.


It's better to be somewhat underdressed at the trailhead – a few minutes of climbing will ensure that you will soon warm up. Starting light saves you from having to constantly stop and shed layers. However, when you do take a break, you should immediately put on an additional warmer layer to prevent your body from cooling down. The key to a pleasant ski touring experience is to find the right balance between “not too warm” and “not too cold” while you are climbing.


The layer between your base layer and your outer layer (your hardshell or softshell jacket) plays a decisive role. Ideally, the choice of the right midlayer will be determined by several factors, including the ambient temperature and how easily you feel the cold. A favorite midlayer in the DYNAFIT collection is the RADICAL Polartec Jacket (men / women). It regulates your body temperature, keeps you warm without overheating, and when necessary, it can protect you from the wind, with its snug-fitting hood.


As you gain ski touring experience you will discover what works best for you. Try out various base layers and adapt your clothing to current conditions so you feel good throughout the entire ski tour.

Wearing cotton as a base layer

Ski touring is a physically demanding sport. After only a couple of minutes of uphill skiing on a skin track, you can work up a significant sweat. If you don’t wear a wicking base layer, your clothing and your skin will quickly become soaked and your temperature will drop. Cotton is a material that retains moisture rather than dissipating it. This can quickly lead to discomfort. Additionally, cotton dries quite slowly, which can be unpleasant particularly on a multi-day tour. Our advice: Stay away from cotton! Choose a functional base layer material such as merino wool or a synthetic that wicks moisture effectively and dries quickly. The right base layer will quickly transport moisture from your skin and help create an ideal comfort level.

Wearing the wrong socks

The quickest and simplest way to ruin a ski tour is to get blisters on your feet. Wearing the right socks is key to ensuring that this doesn’t happen. Given their importance, socks frequently receive far too little attention. It’s important that a ski touring sock be made of a wicking material such as polypropylene or merino wool to manage moisture.


Ski touring socks do not have to be thick. Thick socks do not keep feet warm inside ski boots – quite the opposite. They create additional pressure and reduce blood flow, which leads to cold feet. It’s better to wear a thinner sock and trust the insulation of the boot liner. If you find you are still getting cold feet, you should have your boots fitted by an experienced boot fitter.

Carefully designed cushioning at the toes, heel and ankle can provide the protection and comfort you need when you are touring. At the same time, a smooth surface without potentially irritating seams is important to prevent blisters from occurring.


One more tip: Socks with antimicrobial characteristics stay fresh even after they have been worn several times, which is great for multi-day tours.

Choosing your clothing carefully is key to an enjoyable and successful touring experience in the mountains. Invest in functional ski touring apparel that wicks moisture, offers protection from rapidly changing weather conditions, and is both light and versatile. Our current RADICAL collection includes layering systems that strike the perfect balance between warmth and breathability, while protecting you against harsh mountain weather. 

Discover the DYNAFIT Radical collection:

We have put together a video to show you how to choose the right clothing for a ski tour: