The ski season is in full swing here in Vail; the lifts are running, and the mountain is open for business. Bridge Street Ski Haus is open as well, providing top-of-the-line ski rentals along with unmatched customer service, all within steps of Gondola One.
Here in the heart of the season, the alpine climate can become a factor for visitors and locals alike. Winter temperatures in the Vail Valley hover near freezing during the day and typically plummet into the single digits overnight. Knowing this, staying warm is more important than ever. Whether you are on the mountain or enjoying the restaurants, shops, and activities around town, you will never regret being toasty warm.
Sure, there are a variety of great solutions to keep you warm during a ski vacation in Vail, included layered clothing, down jackets, lined gloves, and quality footwear. Technology advances in the past few years mean new, better-than-ever options for anyone who spends time outdoors in the cold.
One of the more interesting—and helpful—benefits that come with the combination of outdoor gear and technology is the introduction of heated clothing. Jackets, gloves, boots and other items, powered by rechargeable battery packs connected to integrated heating elements, provide hours of warmth, making for a comfortable day on the mountain.
Heated clothing and gear can benefit skiers and riders, as well as family members or friends who may elect to spend their vacation in town, rather than on the slopes.
There are a lots of options when choosing heated clothing and gear; single-use warmer packs, available at retailers, last a few hours and provide a small “bubble” of warmth for feet, hands, and body. These can be a great choice for a last-minute purchase or children; look for kid-size packs, just the right size to slip into a child’s glove or mitten.
Other possibilities run the gamut from battery-powered pocket-sized warmers to heated socks, gloves, base layers, vests, and jackets. Prices vary, with fine-tuned heating levels, coverage area and battery life each adding to the bottom line. The point is, consumers have plenty of alternatives when it comes to bringing an extra layer of warmth into ski gear.
Most heated items operate on a simple premise. Garments use battery power to spread heat by the use of small wires that run throughout the heated zones. Typical zones include toes, heel, and calf in the feet, the back, palm and fingers of the hand, and the chest, back, and thigh area in body wear. Manufacturers have addressed safety, comfort and design options; many of the items on the market today are designed to be safe even when wet, to guard against overheating, and to provide hours of warmth, at a variety of heat levels.
Heated base and outer layers add comfort and the ability to extend the ski day—after all, a warm skier is a happy skier. Personal preference is part of the decision-making process when choosing a heated garment, whether that’s a base layer such as a shirt or legging, or outer layers, including vests, jackets, and pants. Each provide comfort and extended warmth, with a few differences in fit, feel and performance.
Base layers offer a wicking fabric to pull moisture away from the skin, along with heating elements that warm the chest, back, and sleeves, or thighs. Soft, stretchy fabrics are used to construct these machine washable garments, providing comfort and mobility. Temperature controls offer a variety of heat levels, and battery life can last for hours, with lower heat extending battery life. Base layer prices range from $100-$400 per piece.
Heated jackets, vests and pants provide the outer layer of cold and wind protection. As with base layers, heating elements can be activated or not during wear. Most modern pieces warm up quickly, provided the batteries are charged. Washing instructions vary by model and by the heating system; Some are designed to be machine-washable, others require hand washing.
When shopping for a heated garment, some features to think about include how to access the temperature controls; some controls may be more accessible than others. Also, some models can be controlled by a smartphone, and some may include a troller, similar to a dimmer on a light switch, while others provide several distinct levels of heat. Battery life varies by model, and wiring may deteriorate over time, but, with proper care, these specialty items can last for years. Prices range from $150 to upwards of $700.
Warm hands and feet mean you can enjoy the sport in comfort. Heated gloves, socks, inserts, and ski boots can help you get there, providing varying levels of warmth that can last for hours.
Heated gloves offer up the ultimate in comfort; there are a few choices to make around these small but essential accessories. Some glove designs warm the back and palm of the hand, while other models (such as the Serius Heat Touch, pictured here) heat the fingers and thumbs. Heated glove liners are another option, if you already have gloves, but want that extra bump of heat. Liners and gloves range from $40-$425.
Socks feature battery-operated heat packs, with wires that run into the toe and foot area. Features include varied heat settings, and reinforced, padded areas of the sock, adding to longevity; machine-washable and moisture-wicking materials, and cell-phone controlled heat gauges. Socks can range from $25-$400 per pair.
Boot inserts are typically also battery-operated and are available in a few different configurations. Heating elements can be added to current insoles or orthotics, while flat insoles with heat elements can be easily installed and moved from boot to boot. Supportive insoles with pre-installed heating elements replace existing insoles and offer arch support and a heel cup, making them more supportive than flat insoles. Prices range from $100-$400 per pair.
Heated ski boots provide all the quality of brand-name boot manufacturers, augmented with built-in, programmable heating elements. With a wide range of boot options and heat features, these specialty products offer performance and the ultimate in comfort.
Talk to your knowledgeable friends at Bridge Street Ski Haus when you are ready to make the investment in a piece of heated gear. Along with offering the best quality rental skis, boots and boards in the Vail Valley, the staff is up-to-date on the newest technology in ski wear, and can point you in the right direction for your choice.
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