What to Wear
Our best advice—don't overdress!
The most common mistake made by beginner cross-country skiers is overdressing. You will be quite active and will generate a good deal of body heat. Dress in layers and don’t hesitate to remove a layer when necessary. Of course, everything you could ever need is available at Great Glen Outfitters, and we’d be happy to sell you an entire new wardrobe. If that’s in your budget, great. If not, we've put together some suggestions (below) for all your important body parts.
A lightweight hat or band is the most valuable article of clothing. You lose most of your body heat through your head, so you want to keep it covered up, but a big bulky hat will make you all sweaty which tends to cool you down when you stop.
Think of this like a three-leaf clover: long underwear, an insulating layer and a light jacket. Synthetic or light wool long underwear is the way to go on the base (i.e.: next to your skin). For your insulating layer, be creative—a fleece vest, a warmer synthetic layer, or a light sweater. We don’t recommend your favorite New England Patriots hoodie as it will be too bulky and just soak up the sweat. On top, any windproof jacket will do. Just be sure it’s lightweight. If you are so warm you’re sweating inside your jacket, you will be in trouble when you slow down or stop, as you'll get chilled from the moisture. For your legs, a pair of windproof pants or lightly lined warm-ups are good for your second and final layer over your long underwear.
No one likes to have cold hands, so be sure you have a good pair of gloves. However, if your gloves are too big and bulky, skiing will be like trying to type while wearing boxing gloves. Cross country gloves are lighter and give more dexterity than bulky alpine gloves. Gloves with a degree of water repellency are best because if and when you fall your gloves will not get soggy. If you are one of those chronic cold-hand types, pick up some hand warmers just in case.
Even worse than cold hands are cold feet. Modern cross country boots are nicely insulated for warmth and comfort, so there's no need to wear big, bulky, wool socks. The same principle that applies to hands also applies here—think about foot warmers on really cold days, as long as they don’t interfere with the fit of your boots.