Can You Wear a Hoodie While Skiing?

woman skier

Do you have a ski trip looming ahead? You may be wondering what you should wear on the slopes. Hoodies are a popular garment, but should you wear a hoodie while skiing? 

You can wear a hoodie while skiing. There is one exception; the hoodie should not be cotton. A cotton hoodie will absorb sweat and is too bulky to fit under other layers. If you choose to wear a hoodie, it should be made of a moisture wicking fabric.

While skiing, you will encounter cold temperatures, wind, snow, and sometimes rain. It is imperative that you wear the proper clothing for this outdoor activity to keep you warm and safe.

Hoodies Appropriate for Skiing

The hoodies you are most likely to come across are made out of cotton. Cotton is not a fabric meant for intense physical activity, but this is even more true for skiing. Cotton retains moisture instead of wicking it away. Thus, a typical hoodie will absorb sweat, which will leave you wet and, eventually, cold. 

Furthermore, cotton hoodies are bulky. Most ski gear is snug fitting. Wearing a cotton hoodie with other layers is not ideal. Your attire would be ill-fitting and uncomfortable. 

However, many brands make activewear hoodies designed to draw sweat away from you. These hoodies are synthetic or wool. Some brands that specialize in ski gear make great hoodies for skiing, like Burton’s Midweight Long Neck Hoodie

Why You Shouldn’t Wear Cotton Hoodies While Skiing

Wearing cotton is discouraged amongst skiers, but it is also frowned upon by people who participate in other sports. Runners use the slogan, “cotton is rotten,” while hikers say “cotton kills.” 

Skiers should avoid cotton hoodies, but they should also avoid all other cotton garments. Cotton comes in many forms, so be aware. Avoid corduroy, denim, flannel, duck, and cotton-polyester blends. 

Generally, clothing keeps us warm as it traps warm air close to your skin. When you sweat, the cotton absorbs it. If the air is colder than body temperature, your damp cotton will make you feel cold. This can progressively lead to disorientation, then hypothermia, and in the most extreme conditions, death. 

man wearing hoodie with ski equipment in mountains

Moisture Wicking Fabric for Skiing

Wicking fabrics are the prime choice for athletes and otherwise active individuals. These fabrics have two goals and do both exceptionally well. First, they move sweat away from your body to the outer surface of the fabric. Second, they dry quickly, preventing the fabric from becoming saturated. 

Wicking fabrics rely on a process called capillary action. In short, wicking fabrics have many tiny spaces within the fabric. Capillary action pulls sweat through those minuscule spaces. 

Moisture-wicking fabrics are synthetic. Below are fabrics frequently found in activewear, including ski wear:

  • Polyester
  • Polyester-nylon blend
  • Polyester-spandex blend
  • Polypropylene
  • Nylon

Of these, polypropylene is the best contender for cold-weather activities such as skiing. It is very effective at moisture wicking and lightweight. What makes it better for skiing than others is its thermal properties. 

Caring for Moisture Wicking Clothing

Moisture wicking garments require some, but not a lot of special care. Read the care label to ensure you are washing your specific garments as recommended by the manufacturer.

For all of the valuable characteristics of moisture wicking, there are some disadvantages of these materials. They are not easy to keep clean and are prone to trapping odor. 

The best way to clean moisture wicking garments and prevent odors is with the proper cleaning routine. Sports-specific detergent is available, but some regular detergents can get the job done. Just be sure there are no whiteners, color enhancers, or other additives in the detergent. If the clothes develop an odor, you can add a cup of white vinegar to the wash. 

Below are some general rules to abide by when washing these kinds of garments:

  • Turn each garment inside out.
  • Machine washes in cold water.
  • Choose powdered detergent rather than liquid.
  • Do not use too much detergent.
  • Air dry or tumble dry. 
  • Avoid high heat.
  • Do not use bleach.
  • Avoid dryer sheets or fabric softener.

Above all else, avoid fabric softener. Fabric softener is a frequently used product but is not good for moisture wicking garments. Fabric softeners coat garments with a waxy film. This waxy film prevents the fabric from wicking, and it traps in stench. 

The Special Case for Wool

Wool is unique. Synthetic clothing wicks moisture away from the skin, but wool does not exclusively wick moisture away. Wool can absorb over 30% of its weight in water yet remain dry. Thus, wool remains insulating even when wet.

These characteristics make wool a suitable fabric for skiing. Merino wool, specifically, is a good choice as it has warming capabilities as well. It is also thinner than traditional wool, making it ideal for layering. 

What You Should Wear Skiing

Choosing the correct garments and gear are extremely important when skiing. There are some basics that every skier should wear to make their time on the slopes safe and comfortable:

  • Wool, silk, or synthetic long underwear
  • Light fleece or wool top (worn over long under underwear top)
  • Wool or synthetic ski socks 
  • Waterproof ski jacket
  • Ski pants or bibs
  • Gloves or mittens
  • Hat. A helmet is preferred and can be worn instead of a hat. 
  • Well-fitting goggles. Sunglasses can be substituted in some situations. 
  • Neck gaiter or balaclava 
young and active brunette skiing in the snowy mountains

The Importance of Layering

The key to dressing for skiing is to layer your clothing with comfort in mind. Layering allows you to remove clothing if you get too warm or the temperature creeps up. Conversely, you can add layers if you get chilled. 

There are typically three layers in this strategy:

  • Base layer or underwear layer. This layer is meant to wick moisture away from your skin. Your base layer keeps your skin dry and prevents hypothermia. 
  • Middle layer or insulating layer. The middle layer protects your body from the cold by retaining heat. 
  • Outer layer or shell layer. This final layer protects you from the elements, like wind, rain, and snow. It also prevents moisture from penetrating to the base and middle layers. 

It is best to have all three layers available; even if you do not start off wearing all three layers, they can be added later if you get cold. Remember, it is impossible to add layers if you did not bring the extra garments. 


A hoodie can certainly be incorporated into your ski apparel. The key is making sure it is the right fabric so that you remain comfortable, dry, and warm. Not only should you avoid a cotton hoodie, but you should avoid all cotton garments while skiing.

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