Help dress me for my first IRL snow trip

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So I'm travelling to a snowy ski resort in the USA end of January next year for a week long work event and I've never seen snow in real life let alone walked around in it. I'm going to need to buy a few things to get me through and/or borrow some stuff from friends etc but I'm looking for some realistic advice about what I really need versus what I've got that will get me by. So imagine if you will the paper doll clothing UI in game and help me figure out what to equip on my body so I don't freeze to death or overheat during all the inddor activities.

Parameters - I'm from Australia, a warm part of Australia. It never snows, coldest it gets is just above about 1-2 C for maybe a few hours in the morning in mid winter. I've camped and hiked in about 5 C. I'll be flying out from my summer with avg temps somewhere in the 30 - 35 C range with possibility of 40 C + temps.

In the USA I'll be just outside of Salt Lake City. I'll be outside a bit while walking to different places, waiting for transport and in line to get in other places as well as possibly wandering around in the middle of the night between social events.

Clothes will need to keep me warm outside, but I will be inside quite often, doesnt have to be super dressed up but striking a balance between smartish casual while being warm in the snow. I might go try to ski at somepoint but I think you can hire ski gear?

Starter gear / things I own.

Waterproof breathable hiking boots (I dont think these will be warm enough, not insulated, maybe not grippy enough either)
Merino baselayer, long johns, long sleeve top
Down vest lightweight (sleeveless 550 fill)
Light shell
Thick hoody
Several wool / blend scarves
Beenie (toque, pretty warm wool or blend outside / fleece line inside)
Hiking socks - might be wool (I dont think these are particularly warm tho, not very thick)
Jeans - pretty much all my jeans are denim.

So brains trust, hit me with your clothing expertise.

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I have managed to erase my detailed post so will keep it shorter now. I went through a ski instructor course, and am an avid skiier so I know a lot about the proper winter clothing. Though others who live in these conditions all the time might be more experienced.

You will want to use something we call "onion layer" system of clothing. Just like a real onion has layers, you should layer your clothes, and depending on your activities, you can take them off and put them back on. The added benefit is that there will be pockets of trapped air in between those layers and that helps with skin breathing, and insulation.

1. Inner layer:
Torso - longsleeved undergarments. Should be made out of wool. Can be thin, does not have to be any fancy thermodynamic underwear, but you can go with that as well. Wool because it stays warm even if wet, and because you sweat, your inner layer will always be very wet. Wool also traps pockets of air which help with insulation. It is a breathable material, which means your skin can breath, but it also means it is not at all wind resistant.
Legs - longjohns. Again, can be fancy thermodynamical underwear, or just regular wool longjohns. Again, it should be wool so you keep your temperature.

2. Middle layer:
Torso - most people will recommend wool sweaters or hoodies. Those are a good suggestion for warmth, but unless you will be doing ice fishing, I don't think you need this added layer for warmth.
My recommendation is a light softshell jacket. It still provides ample warmth, but mostly it is very wind resistant and decently water resistant. If you are outside but the weather is really good, and you are feeling hot, you can take off your outer layer jacket and do your activities in your softshell jacket instead. You will not get cold because of the wind. If you only had a wool sweater on, that sweater would be wet from your inner layer, and you would be warm, but the wind would go straight through your clothes, and you would soon feel cold, and more importantly, you could catch a cold. For that reason, I heavily recommend the light softshell jacket. Another benefit of these jackets is that they often have a higher collar that protects your neck. If you are going to buy one, pick one which has a hood that you can remove - because if you will wear another piece of clothing over it, you may want that hood off, but if you will wear this jacket instead, the hood may be useful to have.
(you can add a thin wool sweater under your jacket as a 4th layer but I don't think that will be necessary.)
Legs: nothing here

3. outer layer:
Torso - My recommendation is a high-quality skiing jacket. Should have a decent waterproof layer, and an insulation layer. I don't recommend those "down" type of clothes - they are warm, but once they get wet, they lose almost all of their warmness. So, if you do sports or it starts snowing more heavily, you will need something waterproof. The jacket is the most important piece of clothing, right after boots. So pay extra attention to what you pick. I will post a picture of my skiing jacket in the next post to give you an idea of what accessories you should be interested in. Down vests and jackets are only good for urban activities. It should have a hood - in case it starts snowing. It should have a collar to protect your neck. It needs to have a waterproof level barrier in all both hand and the belly opening - so you can clamp those together and ensure that the jacket is water resistant. I will explain what these levels are with the picture of my jacket.
Legs - jeans are not going to cut it. You will need snow pants. You can choose two types, I recommend the second one. First, there is the softshell type of snow pants. They are decent for urban activities, but the longer you spend outside, the wetter they will get, and eventually, the water will break through their limited water resistance. The second type is proper skiing snow pants - pick something that has high water resistance - if you will do any sports in the snow, or you will go on a hike, you will need something water resistant to last you a while. Again, these pants should have waterproof level layers that you can clip in to ensure they stay waterproof.

Head - Woolen toque or beanie are good enough for warmth. 
Face - you want something to protect your face, too. Synthetic or woolen bandana or balaclava are probably the best. I use cotton "band" bandana around my neck and I pull it over my face when I am skiing and the wind gets really chilly.
Neck: I recommend wool scarf. May not be necessary if you have the bandana, but still, I recommend it. The neck is one of the areas that lose the heat the most. If you have a good jacket with a collar, you might not need it and the bandana along with your layers of clothes will be enough.
Feet - socks: You can spend money on thermodynamic socks but I find that unnecessary. All you need is a pair of thick wool socks and you will be fine.
Feet - boots: Most important part of the clothing, I would say. You need highly water resistant and insulated boots. Something with an inner synthetic or real fur - and synthetic on the outside as well - leather is not really good because if it gets really wet, it gets heavy - and heavy hiking boots on a hike are a serious hindrance. If you chose for leather hiking boots, make sure to properly impregnate them against water.
Hands - gloves: Two types. For normal urban activities, you need a simple pair of wool gloves. But when you start doing sports or go outside for longer period of time, you should also have some bigger gloves to switch your wool gloves for - best materials are softshell, or some water insulated skiing gloves.

You should pay a lot of attention to your clothing and also to wearing it properly, that way you will avoid getting sick in those low temperatures that you are not accustomed to - which could really ruin your trip. I know it is still pretty far away, but hopefully, you will enjoy your trip to the States, and I hope my post was at least of some use to you :) 


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I'll be in neighboring Arizona, I do have to go to higher elevations to get to the temperature range you are describing, but when I do I've been able to use the following and not feel ill prepared.

Base layer shirt and pants - similar to this.

Quarter zip long sleeved shirt - just like this.

Field jacket (w/o liner) - like this.

For pants you can use something that has a fleece liner like this. Don't forget gloves, thick socks, and some kind of hat to cover your ears, all of this stuff you can probably get at a local store if you're not comfortable ordering online.

That's just walking around clothes, if you can rent formal ski gear do it, its probably far more proper and appropriate.

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They've pretty much discussed all the clothing specific stuff, but I'd like to add my thoughts. I've never been skiing, but I've hunted in below zero temperatures.

Be mindful not to overdress because if you get hot and sweaty, all the waterproofing in the world won't prevent you from getting soaked. Too much weight can be a hinderence and also add to this dilemma. You will be walking a ton if you ski so favor wind and waterproofing over insulation.

The best part about cold weather, (and why I prefer it over hot weather) is you can always take layers off if you're warm and add layers if you're cold. In hot weather you have a limit to how much you can take off, haha .

Start with your insulators close to your skin, and then wind/waterproofing on the outside. You can buy cheap disposable handwarmers to stuff in your inner coat pockets in order to warm your hands if they get cold.

Don't breathe on your hands to warm them, the moisture from your breath will stick to them and water transfers heat much faster than air. Also dont wear multiple pairs of thick socks, this will just cut bloodflow to your feet or cause sweating. Do pack an extra pair to change into when the first pair get wet. Cotton loses almost all of its insulation when wet as opposed to wool, which keeps a majority of it.

If your hands/feet do get particularly cold, dont warm them up quickly! Do it slowly. Run a washcloth in hot water, wring it out and just wrap your hands in it, dont rub them. Or place them inside your coat anda against your armpits. Warming too quickly can be quite uncomfortable, from experience.

And last but not least, dont stress about it too much!  (anxiety can reduce bloodflow to your extremities.)

No matter what you will feel chilly, especially in the urban environment where you won't be as focused and active while skiing. 

Have fun!

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quick update.

Trip went well, first thing- I really liked the snow, so awesome. if anything I was mostly overdressed and by then end of the trip managed to get by mostly in minimal gear. It was a tiny bit cold at times but mostly not a big deal. I think I actually prefer being a tiny bit cold to being too warm.

I mainly wore my thermal long sleave shirt and pants. Over that I had a shirt and Jeans. I had an ultralight down jacket as a mid layer with a light shell / semi waterproof jacket over top, Beanie and scarf, gloves. My normal waterproof hiking shoes and some wool socks.

Walking around I'd generally get too warm so would strip off the outer shell mostly, sometime the scarf and beanie. Walking was fine, standing around got a bit cold a few times. Waiting at 3 am in -12C for an uber was about as cold as I ever got. During the day I could walk about in -6C fairly comfortably.

The weather was pretty dry and mostly below 0C - 12C. I only had falling snow a couple of days. turned up after a few days that dumped about 4 foot of fresh snow everywhere.

The day I went skying I got way too hot and by the end just had my merino shirt under the sky jacket & long thermals on the legs under ski pants. I had a fleece mid layer but took it off at lunch. Half the time I had my jacket unzipped too - was doing an absolute beginners course so we weren't going too fast so wind chill wasnt really a thing.

Last Day I was there I went for a small 1 hr hike in about -4C to -6C. In the end I had to take my down jacket off and just have my merino and a t-shirt on. Had just a baseball cap on my head till I realised one of my ears had got a bit too numb from the cold, so put my beanie on instead.

Thanks everyone for your help. 



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Awesome. Yea, I definitedly prefer cold weather to hot one, and the advantage of the layer system of clothing is that you can take it off if it gets too hot. On a very nice, sunny day on the snow, you can get by pretty well just in the inner layer. :) But its never too bad to come over-prepared, the weather in mountains gets tricky and can change at whim :) Hope you had fun. Snow is awesome :D 

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