Photo credits: Torrey Bergman


Proper clothing is a must in Nordic skiing. Dressing incorrectly can make skiing very uncomfortable and jeopardize the athlete’s health. The main goals for dressing are to (1) remain dry, (2) keep movement unrestricted and (3) keep a comfortable body temperature. A layering technique best achieves these goals.

Rule #1: NEVER wear cotton next to your skin!! Synthetics, wool, or silk will keep you warm and wick away the moisture that cotton will hold in. It's not good to be wet outside in a Minnesota winter!

Rule #2: Be prepared to dress in layers. You can always add or take off just a little, without totally changing. You will be warmer than you may think when running or skiing, but cool down quickly when you stop. During dry land training and practices on snow it is important to dress for instructional times (listening) as well as for the activities. Temperatures can change quickly, winds can pick up. Travel to practices or meets with a small backpack or sport bag carrying extra layers, dry socks & mittens, and your fluids.

Base Layer: Wicking fabrics such as Polypropylene-base long underwear, i.e. poly-pro, dri-lete, dri-fit, therma-pro etc. are the best possible base layer for top and bottom. AVOID COTTON. Cotton will absorb moisture and allow for wet clothes on the skin. Skiers will need: Long sleeve top, long underwear bottom, thin socks and wind briefs (for boys). Wind briefs have a wind resistant patch in the crotch…boys, you want this.

Outer Layer: This layer’s goal is to block the wind, breathe, and provide water resistance. Thicker is not necessarily better. Skiers will need a windbreaker jacket and pants. On very cold days a fleece vest may be appropriate over the wind jacket.

Hand Coverings: Gloves and mittens with a leather palm (for durability) made especially for Nordic skiing or cycling work best. Mittens or “lobster gloves” are usually good for colder days, while a lighter pair is good for race days and warmer weather.

Head Wear: A good hat is invaluable. A thin, warm, and comfortable hat is ideal. Ski shops sell a multitude of hats with different styles and ranges of warmth. Again, AVOID COTTON. Some skiers like to extra protection earmuffs will provide under a Nordic hat. Headbands and earmuffs alone will not suffice. Skiers must have a hat! Many skiers use a buff, available at ski shops, for face protection when it is very cold or windy.

REI has great descriptions and illustrations on What to Wear for Nordic skiing. (REI has a good selection of Nordic appropriate base layers, outerlayers, socks, gloves/mittens, ect, but we suggest purchasing skis, boots, and poles at one of our local ski shops.)