How to Buy Outerwear for Skiing & Snowboarding by Region

Skiing and snowboarding are fun. That’s obvious. Getting wet and cold on the mountain is obviously not fun. How to dress to stay dry and warm is very dependent on where you are skiing. Skiing in 30 degrees while it dumps snow is very different than bluebird, below-zero conditions. At evo we have employees and customers from all over the country, which inspired us to write this guide on how to dress for each region.

We go into more detail about waterproof ratings and breathability, how to choose insulated garments, and how to choose base layers in our other Size & Buying Guides. For recommendations on what to wear for the climate that you will be visiting for your next ski trip, read below:

Pacific Northwest – Oregon, Washington, B.C.

Here in the PNW, especially West of the Cascades, they say we don’t tan, we rust. The PNW is known for record precipitation totals, which often equates to huge quantities of snow in the mountains. With continuous coastal precipitation coming in, staying dry is the name of the game. With this combination of tons of moisture and temperatures on the warmer side, our staff prefers a good waterproof shell, ideally something with GORE-TEX® waterproof fabric. With this shell as your outer layer, you can easily layer up or down depending on the temperature and intensity of activity. Always try and layer with synthetic or wool layers for greatest moisture wicking power.

Sierras – California, Nevada

Like the Cascades of the Northwest, the Sierras are known for wet, heavy snow and constantly changing temperatures. A good shell is necessary for the ability to layer up or down underneath. Areas like Tahoe do get plenty of sun too, so if this is the only time you ski, you may be able to get away with most waterporoof jackets. For those warm, dry, windy days you might want to consider a soft shell jacket. They provide excellent wind protection and breathability as well as the ability to shed light to moderate precipitation, and  are great for shedding cold snowfall. If you are looking for an insulated layer, go for synthetic as it will stay warm when wet and dry quicker, or ensure that you have a waterproof shell to throw over a down or treated synthetic midlayer. If you ski or ride all the time, being prepared with goggles for both low light and bright light conditions will make your day.

Rockies – Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho

If your destination is the Rockies, you can expect dry, colder temperatures that typically stick around whether it is snowing or sunny. Insulation is going to be more important than breathability in a jacket or pants, so picking an insulated jacket with average waterproofing and breathability is ok. You'll also want some warm mid layers and a down jacket will provide you with maximum warmth.

Intercontinental – Utah

Utah, home of champagne powder, gets lots of snow. The typical dry snow requires cold temps, but be prepared for some warmer periods with heavier snow. Get yourself a waterproof jacket, insulated if you tend to run colder. An array of base and mid layers will keep you comfortable on the deepest of days.

Midwest – Michigan, Wisconsin

The Midwest can be a cold and windy place. Get yourself a good insulated jacket and pants and have a nice selection of layers to go with. You will probably want a fleece jacket for both on and off the hill.

East Coast – Vermont, New York, New Hampshire, Maine

The Northeast gets everything thrown at it. Between the many lake-effects, cold air coming in from the north, and Jetstream blowing in the occasional warm fronts, you never know what you are going to get. Be prepared for very cold days with good outerwear and warm mid layers, but waterproof/breathable shells are key for those days when it goes from snow to sleet to rain.

This is evo. We are a ski, snowboard, wake, skate, bike, surf and clothing online retailer with physical stores in SeattlePortland and Denver. Our goal is to provide you with great information to make your purchase easy.

Still have questions? Please give our customer care team a call at 866-386-1590, Customer Care Hours. They can help you find the right skis to fit your needs.