- Kyle Hughes
- 16 April 2015
Snow Wear FAQs
The 2014/15 season is done but Korea Snow punters are getting ready for the next one! Lately we've been fielding a few questions from snow newbies about what gear they'll need to keep warm on the Korean slopes. So we thought we'd answer the most common questions here, complete with our tips for saving time and money.
Does it get cold in Korea?
Korea can get cold, really cold. We hit -17C one sunny morning this season. Add wind chill to that up the top of the peaks and you can get to -25C very easily. Depending on cloud cover (and your sense of adventure) a night ski will also plunge you into -20C territory. So yes, it's cold!
What should I wear?
It's a no brainer, you'll need a full kit of thermals (base layer), mid layer, hard shell jacket, pants, gloves, inners (if your hands get cold), wool socks and face cover. This is our regular:
Thermals and Socks
A good pair of thermals goes a long way! We suggest 100% merino wool in a superfine knit with a minimum weight of 200g/m2. Wool weights vary so just remember the higher the weight, the warmer you'll be. That being said, you don't want to get too hot either! Another upside to wool is that it doesn't absorb smell. You might smell, but your thermals won't. We've been known to wear our base layers for a week and have them still smelling fresh as a daisy! We like Icebreaker and Sherpa.
There are some great poly products out now too. Our teens don't like wool so we've decked them out in Burton's Dryride range, which also works a treat and comes in some funky designs. With new stink-proof fabric technology, smell is minimal and when you do have to wash (about every 2 days), they wash and dry easily.
A good second, or mid, layer is equally as important. Any polar fleece product will be fine, and something with a zip up the neck is ideal. We are big fans of the Burton soft shell technical bonded fleece range: it's warm, highly breathable and will keep you dry.
Jacket and Pants
A hard shell jacket at minimum 10,000mm breathability and waterproof rating is our pick. This should keep you dry enough for a Korean winter as the snow is not that wet. Even better, we suggest going with a Gore-Tex or equivalent fabric as this is guaranteed to keep you dry. Look for a jacket with vents, pockets and a powder skirt and you'll be sitting pretty. If you don't like the idea of so many layers underneath, you could go for an insulated jacket.
Look for the same specifications for your pants. The only difference with pants is that you have one layer less covering your lower half. For some, a shell will not be enough to keep the cold from creeping through when sitting on a cold seat. If you do feel the cold particularly harshly, look at an insulated pant. As with thermal products, the higher the insulation weighting / gram, the warmer the pant will be. And make sure you look at a design with vents, because if you do get too warm, you can just open your vents for a short while to cool off!
Hands and Face/Neck
Like your feet, you want to keep your fingers warm and dry. There are lots of good gloves on the market and it really is a matter of personal taste and preference: gloves v mittens, poly v leather etc. We suggest a Gore-Tex or equivalent fabric or waterproofed leather. And if you need extra warmth, try a pair of woollen liners (I love my Icebreaker gloves) or some of those nifty hand warmers.
A smart wool or polytech fabric neck gaiter or balaclava will make sure that every exposed part of your body is covered. If your preference is a balaclava, look for one that is thin (so it can fit neatly under your helmet), has good breathability and a mesh over the mouth (so your mouth piece doesn't freeze over). There are plenty of styles and designs to choose from.
Rent or buy?
Totally up to the individual, but here are a couple of things to think about. If you are just starting out, maybe renting is the way to go. If you are regular snow-goers, you'll want your own gear, but then maybe other travel considerations come into play e.g weight restrictions. We've been known to take all our snow apparel and boots, then rent our equipment. We suggest a minimum level of investment in good base and maybe mid layers, gloves and head wear. It won't take up much space and comes at a reasonable cost and you won't be able to rent this kind of gear.
Nearly all resorts will have full apparel and equipment rental stores conveniently located within walking distance from accommodation and the mountain. The stock is good quality, good brands and will do the job nicely. The bigger resorts invest heavily in named brands for equipment, so you'll get great choice if more experienced. Often discounts will be offered if you are staying on snow or packages will include rentals as well. Not staying on snow? Most towns or villages leading up to resorts will have a number of rental shops to choose from, although no so convenient if you have to run around and organize yourself.
Foot size worth a separation mention. If you have a larger foot size i.e over US 9 or EU42.5, you might look at bringing some boots with you as Korean's don't tend to cater for the larger foot. Ditto for wide-fitting feet.
What about weight?
If you do decide to buy, make sure you also take baggage weight limits, weight of gear and weight of the bag you take your gear in into consideration. We once had a wheelie boardbag that weighed 5kg empty. This was costly when the baggage limit was 21kg. It sounds silly, but weigh each item of clothing and your equipment separately. This will help you maximize your packing. For skiers, take a look at the Douche Bag carry-on boot bag. This has been the BEST investment for the only skier in this house.
If you are starting out and want to buy your own gear, look at shopping end of season sales. You'll get great kit and heavily discounted prices and still look damn fine on the mountain. And last but not least, the most important piece of kit – your helmet. Rent or buy, it matters not. Just don't forget to protect the most important part of your body – your head! And if you're a helmet skeptic, just watch The Crash Reel – that'll give you some perspective!
Happy snow days peeps. And for those in the southern hemisphere, looks like winteriscoming!