Layering is the key for effective winter wear. Even if you never leave the ski chalet: Layer, layer and layer some more. The fabrics that are party to your layering ventures are also key and reading your garment labels will prove to be just as shocking as finding MSG in Progresso soup was. If the winter wonderland is beckoning you at all - try to rethink your deeply ingrained organic snobbery against synthetics. Highly scientific laboratories are working hard to help keep our butts warm. These days even acrylic can be spun to feel like cashmere and other synthetics can keep you toasty and dry. The nouveau synthetics tend to be more costly, but tend to last a long time. Patagonia and Dupont seem to be the trailblazers on the frosty fabric frontiers and barring any sudden advances in color choices, most extreme weather pieces are most safely limited to winter whites and blacks. Here's what it all means:
Real glossary of a few synthetic ingredients:
Capilene: Polyester fiber from Patagonia that incorporates a stay dry process known as wicking. The inner core repels moisture from the skin by pushing it to the outside of the fabric where the outer surface is attracting it - spreading the moisture so it dries quickly. Good in underwear, linings and socks. Wicking is a good thing for the icy outdoors.
Entrant: An elastic coat of polyurethane that breathes through microscopic holes. The thicker the coat of entrant - the more waterproof and less breathable the garment becomes. Licensed for flexible winter fowl weather gear like rain jackets and gloves.
Gore-Tex: A thin insulation laminated to a wide range of outer fabrics providing simultaneous waterproofing and sweat escape. Outer and active wear. Rock as socks.
Microfibers: are the supersonic advancement seekers. Tightly woven, very fine fiber that breaths and offers protection against wind and cold. Debuting as active and ski wear and sleeping bag fodder - microfiber is about the singular genius winter fabric that youll ever need.
Microloft: DuPont's synthetic insulating fiber even thinner than human hair. Bonus as highly water resistant, it finds its way into outerwear and sleeping bags often.
Polartec: Polyester fleece based fabrics (over a hundred to choose from) made by Malden Mills available in several weights including a pile, a double-sided microfiber, and a Lycra stretch version. Patagonia calls their version Synchilla - eco-happpily made out of recycled plastic.
Polypropylene: A strong paraffin (read petroleum) based fiber used in underlayers (read good for ice skating) with hearty wicking capabilities.
Primaloft: A lightweight, heat retaining alternative to down made of interwoven polyester microfibers from Albany International.
Thinsulate: 3M's blend of 35% polyester and 65% olefin spun into a thin insulation. Appearing in hats, gloves, outerwear and skiwear.