Skiing Without Socks or Pants: Should You or Shouldn’t You?

by Brandi Allen | Updated On: May 15th, 2020
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Now that you’ve purchased your outerwear, it’s time to think about your base layers. Specifically, will you wear pants under your ski pants or socks with your boots?  On the one hand, the more layers of clothing you’re wearing, the warmer you should be, right? That may not always be the case. Now that you’ve picked the outerwear, it’s time to decide what to wear under your gear, if anything.

Theoretically, wearing more clothes should keep you warmer. However, wearing too many layers, or the wrong kinds of layers can actually restrict your body from moving about freely. Meanwhile, not wearing any pants or socks could limit your freedom later in the day if you want to ditch the wet ski pants or warm up your feet in between runs.

The Pros and Cons Socks

Why Some People Ski Without Socks

There is a lot of debate about whether or not it’s worth it even to wear socks skiing. Some people say that it is better to ski without socks because your feet stay warmer. How is this possible? The theory is that the more room your toes have in the boots, the more they can move around. When your toes have the freedom to wiggle about, circulation increases in your feet. With more blood flowing to your feet, the warmer they will be all around. If your socks are too thick, they might actually constrict blood flow and make your feet feel colder.

Some skiers claim that socks make their feet colder because their feet get sweaty and thus get colder faster. It is especially true if you are using cotton socks. Cotton is a terrible material to wear when you’re skiing because rather than wick away sweat, they soak up moisture and hold the cold to your feet.

If your socks are too thick or if you only have cotton socks, it might be worth a try to ditch them for a run or two and see how it feels. Other skiers prefer direct contact with the boot, stating that they feel more connected with the boot and ski that way.

Why You Might Want to Ski With Socks

Socks do more than keep your feet warm in a ski boot. By wicking away moisture – if you have the right pair of socks – they can prevent blisters and even frostbite. Your feet are going to sweat with or without the socks. If you choose to ditch the socks, where is that sweat settling? It’s going to make your entire boot lining wet. Even if your socks feel wet, you can easily change them out. The same cannot be said for boot linings. You’re stuck with those wet feet all day, not to mention the smell you’ll have to endure later on.

Another reason socks might be the right choice is that they allow your foot to slide in and out of your boot with ease. Once your foot starts to get sweaty, even just a little, it will stick to the edge of your boot, making it difficult to get your boot on and off.

A good pair of ski socks can also prevent your shins and heals from bruising from the pressure your ski boots can often put on your feet and legs. Many come with built-in padding that covers your shin, heel, and toes. The rest of the sock is thin to prevent too much bulk and restriction.

The Pros and Cons of Pants

Why You Might Be Tempted to Ski Commando

If you’ve ever skied with a pair of bulky jeans under your ski pants, you know how uncomfortable it can be. Denim doesn’t move with you the way you need it to when you’re skiing. Not to mention how annoying the metal button is cutting into your gut while you’re sitting on the chairlift.

Thick pants can also cause your ski pants to malfunction. They might not snap shut or fit correctly with the extra material in the way. Next thing you know, you’ve taken a fall, and snow has worked its way under your waistband. It’s no secret that once material like denim gets wet, you’re guaranteed a soggy bottom day.

In these instances, it might be worth ditching the pants altogether. The situation is very similar to socks. If you don’t have the right pants, it might be better to leave all the pants at home.

The Benefits of Wearing Pants Skiing

When you have the right pair of pants, it might be useful to wear them while skiing. However, when we say pants, we are referring to the base layer between your ski pants and your skin. That might include thermals or long underwear. The right pair of pants would fit snuggly and be relatively thin. They should also be made from synthetic materials or wool that will wick away moisture.

When choosing the right pants, you also want to make sure they are not too long. If they have to be tucked into your ski boot, they will add extra bulk and discomfort. ¾ length pants are ideal for skiing.

If you choose to wear this style of pants under your ski pants, you will stay much warmer than if you don’t wear pants at all.

It is also ideal if you need to remove your ski pants before you get in the car to go home. You can simply remove your ski pants and hop in the car instead of getting the seats wet or having to change in the bathroom.

Whether or not your wear socks and pants when you ski is a personal decision. There are pros and cons to both. However, if you choose to wear the right styles and materials, namely light fabrics that wick away and are made for the sport, you’ll find that wearing socks and pants, are quite beneficial.

Simon Naylor, the founder of New To Ski, started skiing in 2005. He has continued to practice his skills and wanted to share his journey and knowledge with other new skiers. He launched New To Ski in 2018 to help first-time skiers have more fun on the slopes and get out and explore the mountains safely.