Thursday, December 30, 2021

When Eyelashes Become Eye-cicles! Extreme Cold Weather Gear Guide @Sun Peaks Resort


Courtesy of Sun Peaks Resort

Time to put the cold weather wearables to the terrible-temperature test! Although the hot tub is winning over skiing at the moment, we had to get out on the Sun Peaks slopes this week if only to try out our new gear gadgets. A whole week of minus 25 - minus 35 C in the Christmas Day forecast! 

For the first time ever, Simon skied in a heated baselayer made by Volt Heat:

"It kept me cosy from the minute I put it on in the house. It warmed up my whole back instantly. Then outside it was like having my own private heated chairlift all the time. It made a big difference as I would normally have been focusing on my frozen extremities but I think that because my torso kept so warm my hands and feet didn't lose circulation even though it was minus 22."

Simon wearing the Volt Heat Tactical 7-V Heated Baselayer

"It's idiot-proof, too, as I managed to switch it on and off without trouble. And I didn't even need it on full, just the third level, so it didn't run out of charge. It's really comfortable - you wouldn't even know you had a battery in your pocket. And it's simple to re-charge when you get home. One thing I would point out is that I had to stretch the neck a bit to get it over my head but maybe it's purposely snug to keep the heat in!"

Winter warmer weapon - Heat Holders Packaway Puffer Jacket - thin enough to wear underneath any ski jacket

Simon was also wearing brand new Heat Holders leggings made from the softest fleecy fabric. These are the Men's Alberto ORIGINAL Thermal Pants made for extreme cold. The lightweight supersoft Heatweaver yarn is brushed both sides for maximum warmth and softness, with multi-directional stretch. Non-chafing flat seams enable easy layering. The fabric feels as velvety soft as baby clothes. 

"They're really cosy, I no longer have a cold butt on the chairlifts. It's like wearing another pair of ski pants underneath but without the volume. They are thick but not bulky and very stretchy and soft. The sort of pants you would like to lounge around the house in, too."

Rupert lounging around in his Heat Holders Alberto ORIGINAL Thermal Top and Pants and quintessentially cosy Heat Holders socks

Decidedly unenthused when initially unwrapping his thermal pants and longsleeved top on Christmas morning, our son Rupert soon changed his tune when he tried them on:

"When I go back home to Vancouver I am leaving my ski gear in Sun Peaks for my next visit. Everything that is except for my Heat Holders gear."

"So, why is that?" asked his somewhat smug mother, concealing a knowing smirk. 

Rupert: "Because they are the comfiest clothes I have ever had. It's like wearing a blanket all the time. I am going to wear them at home indoors and also for my landscaping job when I go back to work while it's still cold. Even to my Improv group because they are so comfortable and warm but thin enough to wear under normal clothes." 

And how were they out on the slopes?

"It was amazing, I wasn't cold at all today. I literally didn't feel at all upset about being outside in this cold weather which is unusual as last time when I skied during the cold spells it was really unpleasant. Today I wanted to go back out again after lunch, it was no problem with the cold and it was a beautiful sunny day and not too many people out there even though it was holiday time."

He actually wore two pairs of Heat Holders socks for skiing (his boots are old enough and worn out enough to fit them in!) as well as his HH baselayers. Apart from that, he wore Volt Heat heated gloves and a down vest made by Alchemy of RIDE underneath his AOR technical jacket

Another winter winner this Christmas Day: Heat Holders spa robes, again velvety soft. The best garb for going out to the hot tub or chatting with family on early morning Zooms, they are made from the supersoft Heatweaver fabric. They are also made for cuddling! 

Heat Holders His and Hers spa robes paired with vibrant ski socks
and the cable-knit roll up pom pom hat lined with supersoft fleece

"These socks are lifesavers," said our younger son, Fergus. "We wear them all the time. I work from home for Vail Resorts, so I wear the thicker ones while I'm sitting at my desk working. If I'm trying to get really toasty, I wear the thick ones with the tacky soles over my normal socks as they double up as comfy slipper socks. Also when I go up to Whistler to ski I wear the thinner ones as my boots are a tight fit.

Alicia couldn't believe how warm the pom pom hat was when traveling to and from Sun Peaks in minus 30: "I couldn't believe the lovely soft fluffy lining material under the cable knit! This toque kept me really warm during -30 temperatures at the resort and also on the journey home - and it looks cute too." 

Volt's new Radiant 5-V Heated Vest for women with Bluetooth controller - I know I've posted this image before but I have seen a lot of heated vests lately and this is definitely the prettiest one out there!! I have their older model - just plain black (below) - which is wonderfully warm but I want this silver one next!

Cranking up the heat on my Volt heated scarf paired with the slimline black Volt Heat heated vest
over my cosy Kari Traa hoodie

My first -30 ski day of the season, I was wearing a lot of layers but none were too bulky or restrictive. I had a Heat Holders baselayer under my trusty Volt Heat heated vest. My extra item, new this year, was my Volt heated scarf - an amazing way to keep the back of your neck warm. It fitted over my face mask easily and tucked inside my jacket. On the lowest level, it stayed warm for the four hours we were out and still had plenty of charge left. 

My other layers included an old Patagonia onesey which I always wear on cold days (sorry, they don't make them any more so no direct link) and a stretchy thin Under Armour shirt, making four layers under my Alchemy of RIDE ski suit. 

My hands were toasty in my Volt Avalanche X heated mitts which I highly recommend as the fingers are able to transmit body heat too as there's no separation between them and, unusually for heated handwear, the thumbs are heated too.  At under $250, these are definitely the best heated gloves on the market for price and for warmth. 

My boots are heated by a Therm-ic heating system which I have had for many years. This was one of those rare days when I needed it cranked up to the top setting and by the time we got home the batteries needed recharging. On a minus 15 to minus 20 C day, I would only have them on level 2 and they would last all day. 

My second day, skiing at minus 28 C, I put on DryGuy Boot Gloves (for the first time ever) as well as having my boot heaters on level 2. I was skeptical to tell the truth. How could a layer of neoprene really make any difference in the low minus 20s? But this combination miraculously worked perfectly so I am now convinced that Boot Gloves work well at keeping heat in. I presume they stop snow getting in too on powder days. I was able to ski the same length of time as the day before without any frozen toes and I never needed to put the heaters on to the top setting so they lasted all day. Result! 

Transpack's Heated Boot Pro

Tip for Toasty Toes:
Heat your ski boots up by a fireplace or other heat source before skiing so they are thoroughly dry inside and warm. Transpack make a heated boot bag which is perfect if you are driving to the ski slopes or for use in your hall cupboard. Never keep ski boots in a vehicle overnight and, when you are driving, have them in the front of the car so the car heater keeps them warm. Even a cold closet can lead to damp liners and stiff shell the next morning, so make sure you treat your ski boots like your own feet! Don't put your ski socks on too early - they can make your feet sweat which later will result in moisture inside the boots which could then freeze. Also, turn boot heaters and sock heaters down in the lodge for the same reason. 

Almost ready for action - cranking up the Volt Avalanche X heated mitts, attached my Helmet Hugger to my Giro Helmet with Glade magnetic goggles - these are great in the cold as they pop off easily so you can clear the lenses of steam or snow without taking off your gloves. And of course wearing The Sky The Sky Alchemy of RIDE ski suit - the easiest way for friends to find you on the slopes! 

Other Optimum Options:
Smartwool is great for warmth as all their products are made of merino wool - I always wear Smartwool socks for skiing (I keep my Heat Holders for home and après). The only thing that was notably cold for me that first day was my head so the next day I tried merino. I wore my Kari Traa merino hooded sweater on top of my Heat Holders baselayer so that I could have the merino hood up under my helmet. I wore a merino Smartwool neck gaiter pulled right up under my goggles so that no skin was exposed, and, to cap it all, put on a faux fur trimmed Helmet Hugger to try to trap warmth inside the helmet. I also wore my Volt heated scarf for neck warmth. This combo was definitely better although I still felt the need to have further heat within my helmet, especially when skiing fast and creating more windchill. Brain freeze is not conducive to good skiing! Perhaps the DryGuy Boot Glove company could focus next on a Helmet Glove? 

Bumping into two equally hardy friends in the Sunburst Lodge, I discovered that Melissa, a fervent fan of heated products, also craves more head heat. Her idea was to attach a hand warmer pack to the outside of her balaclava on the top of her head inside the helmet. Innovative! I may have to resort to this if the cold snap drags on much longer!  

Cold Weather Warmers:
Ski hard not fast - the windchill factor of speeding along easy groomers adds even more cold to the equation and if your goggles have any gaps, it can bring tears to your eyes that can turn into eye-cicles. Focus on turning and technique!

Ski the bumps on an ungroomed run where the difficulty level will help you generate body heat. Or, if you're up to it, do as Rupert suggests: "Hike the Gils at Sun Peaks and ski the side-country snow up there to gain some internal heat."

Whatever you do, listen to your body. If you start to get slow reactions, if your feet, face, hands or any part of your body start to go numb, it's time to go indoors. White skin means frostbite so cover your entire face. If you steam up your goggles when your nose is covered, try mouth-breathing. It works for me. And, big bonus for getting out skiing in cold weather, you'll burn calories just keeping warm so you'll have definitely earned your après! 

Volt heated scarf tucks in easily inside suit. I tested the battery by wearing it on the lowest setting all day and then continued wearing it at home. It lasted around 8 hours! 

If you have any tried and tested tips or recommended garments for combatting the cold, please let me know at: