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Ski Apparel Terms Decoded

Alpine Life Mar 21, 2018

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With so many products out there promising a wide array of performance features, it can be difficult to figure out what all those features actually mean and what you need in your ski apparel. We launched Orsden to simplify this process by offering the quintessential pieces you need in your ski kit at accessible prices. But whether or not you buy an Orsden piece (we hope you do!), here we’ve described what all these performance terms mean in alphabetical order in the least technical language possible.


Simply put, breathability tells you how quickly moisture passes through a fabric. It’s measured by the mass of moisture that passes through a square meter of fabric in 24 hours (g/m²/day). The level of breathability needed really depends on your activity level. Typical breathability ratings range from 5K - 20K+ with 5K likely sufficient if you’re a few runs a day then sitting in the lodge skier, but higher levels are recommended for higher energy skiers. It’s an important feature in ski apparel because you don’t want perspiration and moisture to get trapped between layers causing a clammy effect.


While down is nature’s insulator, look for synthetic insulations in ski apparel as down won’t insulate as well if wet and is slow to dry. Synthetic insulations use compressible, water resistance fibers. The keys here are that synthetic insulations will perform when wet, dry faster, and are more affordably priced. Insulation is measured in grams and indicates the weight of the fill in 1 square meter.

A word of caution on insulation, puffiness does not equal warmth! Lightweight superfine fibers can provide lots of warmth.


Seam sealing tells you how the sewn seams on the garment are finished. Unless the garment is welded, it will have been sewn with a needle and thread. In ski apparel, look for fully sealed/taped items. This means seam tape is applied to every seam, not just “critical” seams. This will help keep you dry.


This is our favorite feature. The stretch shell and lining fabrics of the Orsden gear are what gives it such a responsive, comfortable feel. They also allow for more tailored fits that don’t inhibit performance. The stretch comes from the blend of Spandex (or comparable fibers) with polyester or nylon. There’s both bi-stretch and 4-way stretch options on the market. Look for pieces with 4-way stretch to truly upgrade the look and feel of your gear.


Waterproofness is measured in mm for the max height of water accumulated in a 1 x 1 square tube over a fabric before the water would start leaking through.

The key here is finding the right balance between waterproofing and breathability, so you stay comfortable on the mountain. For example, a rain slicker will give you amazing water resistance, but think of how uncomfortable it would be for any level of physical activity with all your body heat being trapped inside. Look for products with a waterproof/breathable membrane. These laminated membranes have microscopic holes to keep water out, but let moisture escape at the same time. These membranes are combined with a face fabric. The face fabric is the “stylish” part of the jacket you see. Look for face fabrics treated with a DWR (durable water repellent finish), so they don’t soak up water.

In terms of ratings, 5K is the minimum for low water resistance and then it goes up to 20K+.

So, what’s our gear have?

We’ve crafted an all-weather performance system to adapt from the lift to the lodge no matter what mother nature throws in your way.

Orsden All-Weather Performance System

Our pants and jackets features 4-way stretch construction for freedom of movement, 20k/20k waterproof/breathable membranes to keep you comfortable, and lightweight synthetic insulation for warmth without bulk. All are also fully seam sealed and include DWR finishes.

Check them out and see you on the slopes!