Ski touring clothing – how the multi layer principle works

Ski touring clothing

how the multi layer principle works

Ski touring clothing must cover two very different activities. Going uphill sweating with an elevated heart rate and downhill skiing with a fair wind, cooling you down considerably. In addition, there is the rest at the summit and breaks where you can cool down quickly too. 

Plus: The weather conditions can vary greatly in the mountains in general and at different altitudes. This is why you have to consider everything in advance, because the waredrobe with your clothes stays at home! The much-praised onion principle has proven to be the best. This means that you wear many thin and light layers that complement each other in their function. All layers combined result in good insulation and protection against wind and rain. With the lower one or two layers, which should be breathable, you also adapt to milder temperatures and the high physical strain. Of course, the clothing should also be light, because who wants to carry a heavy backpack when going ski touring.


This is the functional underwear. From merino to synthetics and all the gray scales in between, in the end everyone has to find out for themselves what best suits their personal preferences. However, three-quarter pants that leave room for the ski socks on the lower leg and don’t have extra creases on the shin, are recommendable. By the way, this is usually the only layer (first and foremost the top, of course) that you change when it is sweaty. So at least a second layer should be included on the ski tour. It is space-saving, light and it helps enormously when the skin is dry again.


Fleece or Powerstretch are widely used materials for this, but there are alternatives. Mid-layers ideally feature a full-length zipper, which makes it much easier to change the bottom layer at the summit. This layer is not actually worn on the legs.


down vs. synthetic insulation layer. Down clothing still offers the best weight-insulation ratio and is therefore perfectly suited for the summit rest. If the warming part is worn during the ascent, synthetic materials are often superior. Despite sweat, they do not age as quickly and retain their thermal performance for longer periods, while down collapses when it gets damp and then no longer provides effective protection against the cold. Insulating layers or pants with full-length side zippers are very comfortable in cold temperatures and are worn especially during breaks and downhill skiing.


This is the outer layer, i.e. the weather-resistant skin of the onion. Jackets and pants with membranes protect the layers underneath from wind, rain and snow, while still ensuring a certain degree of breathability. However, you always sweat more under this layer than under all other layers. Some people therefore put on the Hard-Shell only in extreme weather conditions, although good ventilation systems can effectively ensure a balanced temperature balance even before this happens.

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