Proper heliskiing attire is critical for comfort and enjoyment during a high altitude, remote, powder packed day of heliskiing. Here are some helpful tips on backcountry ski wear selection, to ensure your backcountry adventure is a success.
Waterproof technical outerwear with space for several layers underneath is best for Heli-skiing and the changing mountain weather. Select modern ski clothing of breathable, water-proof, and windproof fabrics. A system of layering will serve you best; though avoid over-dressing to reduce excessive sweating. Quality goggles, powder gloves, and a wool or fleece hat are a must. Sunglasses and sunscreen are necessary on sunny days in the spring.
Layers: The base layer is a necessity to wick perspiration from your body as you become more active. Chances are good that you will wear this layer all day, it’s important to wick the moisture away from your body so it can dissipate. Synthetics like polypropylene or natural fibers like merino wool are the best options. Popular brands include: The North Face, Under Armour, and Patagonia.
Ski Pants: Soft-shell ski pants are a good choice for Heli-skiing. Select materials that have good abrasion resistance, also treated with a durable water repellent. Though if you choose a hard shell pant, look for designs that include a good venting system and high breathability. Popular brands include: Arc'teryx, The North Face, and Patagonia.
Ski Jackets: Most backcountry ski jackets are waterproof, breathable and light-weight, with availability for plenty of under layers. A common feature is the interior laminate; this creates a breathable membrane with holes small enough for vapor to escape though prevent water droplets from entering.
Jackets made with newer soft-touch fabrics are becoming more common, with excellent waterproof ratings, insulation and stretch panels. Look for a jacket with powder skirts feature to stop snow from accumulating around your waist. Also, consider jacket waterproofing factors near 25+psi or 10,000+mm on your outer shell. A DWR spray is available from companies like Nikwax to re-condition your waterproof/breathable garment after washing – try one of these if you notice water soaking into the face fabric. Shell jackets - along with ingenious wicking fabrics worn near to the skin, are the best in choice if you are generating a lot of heat on longer sessions. Popular brands include: Arc'teryx, Mammut, The North Face, and Outdoor Research.
Ski Caps & Hats: Air on a windy day always is cooler than the relative outside temperature, and the quicker the wind, the faster you'll lose heat. Be sure to wear a warm, breathable toque, be sure it fits comfortably under your helmet if you chose to wear one.
Sun Protection: Exposure to harmful UV rays doubles when the sun reflects its rays off the snowy slopes. Add dangerous UVB rays, at higher altitudes, where there is less of earth’s atmosphere to filter the rays.
Ski Gloves: Select gloves that are form fitting, malleable, warm and comfortable. Test various brands and styles and check skier reviews for professional recommendations.
Ski Goggles: Select goggles over sunglasses to protect you from a number Heli-skiing mountain hazards. At high altitudes, the air is thinner and filters less ultraviolet (UV) rays. The sun's reflection on snow is brighter and more intense.
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Posted: Thursday, August 15, 2013