Smartwool Saves the Day
By. Julie Kehoe
So I’ve been working in a ski shop for years telling customers how important it is that they buy technical long underwear for its moisture wicking properties and such but I never really followed my own advice. I know “cotton kills” but my home hill all of about 300 vertical feet, and no I didn’t leave off a zero. Unfortunately it takes a whopping 30 seconds for me to get down the hill and into the lodge (if I’m taking it easy). Needless to say if I slip into a hypothermic state, when I could throw a snowball and hit the lodge, something else must have gone terribly wrong too.
Being in the industry I’ve sat through I don’t know how many clinics about wool socks, wool long underwear, wool hats, wool you name its. And the product reps carry on about how the fibers are being made much thinner and how they are just as soft as synthetics now, and that wool won’t itch. However, I still had this mindset of anti-wool.
Recently the SmartWool sales rep convinced me that I needed to test out his product. So as I got ready to teach my Thursday night ski club group lesson I unpackaged my brand new Midweight Tights and Midweight Zip T. Reluctantly I put them on thinking that somehow I would end up the victim of some sort of itch attack in the middle of my lesson. Pleasantly surprised, they were very soft. When I got out of my car I was freezing so I made the stupid decision to layer up as if I were about to head out on an Antarctic expedition or climb Mt. Kilimanjaro. As I got out side I was assigned a group of 8 upper elementary aged beginners… thoughts through my head “oh boy, I think I put on too many layers”. Sure enough I ditched my coat within 2 minutes of the lesson starting and was definitely sweating as I was running up and down the bunny hill helping my group on and off the magic carpet.
With the cotton layers when you start to sweat you can basically set the timer and count down to frozen. The moisture absorbed by the cotton fabric stays next to your skin and keeps you feeling damp. Wool is a much quicker drying fabric so the moisture my sweat was creating passed into my midlayers and the wool baselayer next to my skin dried out. Once finished with my lesson, I grabbed my coat, met up with some of the other instructors and skied for another two hours. The only part of my entire body that was chilly was my toes, but I can thank my new race boots for that.
If you’re a person who is constantly cold on the hill I really have to suggest getting a pair of midweight SmartWool base layers and investing in a pair of Hestra mittens (another life saving discovery I’ve made this season). Take it from the girl who wears her ski coat in the office that you’ll be warm.