Compression clothing for skiing – not just tight.

OK, let’s take a break from skills, strategies and concepts. The brain and body can only absorb so much. Let’s hurt something else. Our wallets. Equipment is something that we all can change relatively easily. Compression clothing really does help a skier. I don’t pretend to understand how it truly works but it does. With compression wear, I can ski for much longer without as much exertion at the end of the day to show for it. Placebo effect? Quite likely I thought once. However looking back at several experiences, I stand by my belief that it does make a huge difference.

I first bought a pair of leggings from Skins. It’s an Australian company that retails a pair of leggings for about AUD $140. Not exactly bargain bin prices right. I thought, maybe it’s just the compression effect so I got a cheaper pair of compression leggings for about AUD$20 from a popular clothing brand. I tried it out for a few weeks when I had accidentally misplaced my Skins leggings. My legs were burning for longer after a run, I was much more exhausted at the end of the day and I even started getting painful cramps in the middle of the night. I gave it away to my least favorite instructor.
Snow leggings for men. Has fleece lining for extra warmth compared to other skins.

Snow leggings for men. Has fleece lining for extra warmth compared to other skins.

I’m not a morning person. Never will be. On my days off, I love my sleep ins. But when there’s powder, I’ll drag myself out of bed cos I know it’ll be worth it. Combine a sleepy daze and a frenzied rush to get to the powder, I have occasionally forgotten to wear my skins. On powder days, I go hard, like everyone else. On certain powder days though, I find that I just can’t ski nearly as long as a day at work. Fair enough that I don’t always ski that hard when I’m teaching. But I have. And surely it can’t differ by that much. (I have spent up to 11 hours in boots and 8 hours actual skiing time a day for work on occasion and still gone out for beers after). So when I get home exhausted after a disappointing day’s skiing, I always discover that I had forgotten to wear Skins on that day.
Snow skins top with fleece lining.

Snow skins top with fleece lining.

There’s another good thing I’ve discovered about Skins. It acts as a great wicking layer – as in it draws sweat away from the body. Being the tight ass that I am and living off lowly ski instructor wages, I never bothered to buy the top. 
 I figured I hardly use much muscle in my upper body for skiing anyhow. I mean, if your arms and shoulders ache after skiing, you must be doing some pretty powerful pole plants. However, I did receive a Skins top as a gift and so proceeded to start wearing it. Only after a couple of seasons later did I realise that I wasn’t bothering about how many layers I should wear or take off anymore. Other instructors would be looking out the window saying, “Should I put on an extra fleece? But the sun looks like it might be coming out. I’ll be too hot and blah blah blah”. (Female instructors usually. Not that male instructors don’t think the same. We just don’t think aloud J) I rarely got too hot or too cold anymore. And then I realised why when someone asked me, “Don’t your thermals get wet and subsequently become cold after skiing hard?” And I thought, “No, never really”.
I now layer with skins, a merino wool thermal, a fleece and then a ski jacket. I wear that same combination in almost all conditions. (The only exception is stinking hot spring days above 10 °c). I open my vents when its too hot and close them when it’s too cold.  I’m temperature regulated, don’t get as much leg burn, can ski like a demon for the day and have more energy at the end of the day to go out for a couple of drinks. A happy chappy, thanks to Skins. And yes, they do have shapelier versions for women.

Snow skins top for women

Snow skins top for women

Oh and I haven’t tried it out but they’ve now got ¾ length leggings. I would definitely give it a go if mine ever falls apart (which has started to after about 7 or 8 seasons) My previous ski boots didn’t give me any problems but with my new boots, the seams on the Skins leggings started to cause pain, probably because the new boots have a snugger fit. So ¾ length leggings are a great idea to avoid that problem. 

Snow 3/4 leggings for men.

Snow 3/4 leggings for men.

BTW I’ve  only used the brand Skins. I’ve seen several other brands in a similiar price range but have had no personal experience with them. They could very likely perform just as well or even better. 
So all in all, most of these experiences could certainly be circumstantial. They are hardly scientific nor exhaustive but what the heck, I’m not writing for a medical journal. It’s just a blog. 

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