Cross-country skiing is one of the toughest endurance sports, and one of the hardest to dress for. Unique demands are put on garments to protect from wind and cold temperatures, while efficiently transporting excess heat and moisture away from the body. Based on our longstanding collaboration with the Swedish national XC team, this guide is designed to help you dress for success in the tracks.
Underwear and baselayer
Comfort starts from the inside
Start with underwear made of 100 percent polyester. Polyester transports moisture away from the skin and out through the garment, allowing you to stay dry and warm.
Next, wear a baselayer made of polyester. For optimal function, the baselayer should fit tightly next to the skin. For cold and windy conditions you can choose a baselayer with wind-resistant fabric at the front.
If you prefer a more casual pace, underwear with a mix of polyester and wool is a great option. Wool doesn’t transport moisture as well as polyester but has very good thermal properties, making the combination of polyester and wool the perfect choice for low-intensity workouts in cold temperatures.
We recommend socks made of polyester, or polyester and wool. In cooler conditions, some skiers prefer to wear two thin socks. Others choose to have one thicker wool/polyester sock. See what works best for you. Make sure your socks don’t make the boot fit too tight. This can reduce the efficiency of the insulating properties.
Add a midlayer for insulation
Outside the baselayer you add a midlayer on the upper body to keep you warm. The midlayer should be made of 100 percent polyester to ensure the moisture transport continues through the garment. However, for elite athletes on the starting line of competition or doing interval training, it’s usually sufficient to wear only a thin suit (or light jacket and tights) outside the baselayer
Protection from the elements
For the final layer, we recommend a thin jacket and smooth pants or tights that can block the wind but still allow excess moisture and heat to escape. There are several jackets and pants that feature wind-resistant fabric on the front and elastic, breathable fabric at the back. As a result, the front protects against the cold wind while the back ventilates excess heat and transports moisture from the inner layers.
Hats and gloves
Technical fabrics work best
To regulate the heat and transport sweat from the head and hands, your hat and gloves should have a base of polyester. If it’s really cold, you can wear two hats and two layers of gloves – one layer of polyester closest to the skin and a thicker layer on the outside. Hats with a blend of wool and polyester make a great choice in cold conditions.
Some final tips
Remember that it’s better to wear thinner clothes in multiple layers. This creates layers of air between garments and provides more warmth than one thick garment. And if it gets too hot, you can easily remove a layer.
Before you hit the tracks, take note of the thermometer and which layers work best in those temperatures.. It’s usually better to wear fewer clothes and be a bit cold during the first 5 to 10 minutes of the workout until the body heats up to its working temperature.
No matter how many layers you wear, it’s always important that the clothes are not too loose. Tight, form-fitting layers keep you warm and increase your mobility.
By dressing appropriately from the inside you will stay warm and dry, allowing you to perform better and ski longer.