The 9 Best Mid Layers for Skiing

Out in the mountains, you need to be prepared for anything. And a big piece of that preparation is having the proper clothing and equipment to adapt to changing weather. A good mid-layer is crucial in keeping you warm and comfortable when you ski. 

I’m Christine, and I’ve been skiing since I was a kid. I’ve used countless layers over the years and know what to look for in a high-quality mid-layer that delivers comfort, warmth, and performance when it matters most.

The ibex Wool Aire Hoodie is my pick for the best mid-layer for skiing this season. This is a very durable and comfortable option that focuses on high performance. It will give you plenty of insulation and is sturdy enough to be used as a shell on warmer days. 

There are many different mid-layer options, and it can be hard to find one that suits your needs if you don’t know where to look. I’ll help you out in this post by providing you with all the best models currently available. 

Let’s zip up and get going. 

Who Should Get This

If you ski often, it’s a good idea to have enough gear and equipment to prepare yourself for just about any condition. A mid-layer is a versatile and comfortable jacket or sweater that will come in handy for many situations on and off the mountain. 

A good mid-layer can be worn on its own when conditions are warmer and will provide great warmth and comfort when the temperature drops.

Modern mid-layers are all lightweight and easy to pack. That makes them good to have around on any ski trip because you can pack it up and have it ready for when the conditions or situation calls for it. 

You might not need a mid-layer for every ski day, but you’ll be glad you have one when you do. 

You can easily ski without a mid-layer if conditions allow for it. If you have a heavy outer shell or a big down ski coat, you can probably get away with just using a base layer and the shell. 

It comes down to preference and your desired level of warmth. If you’re the type who runs warm or skis really hard, you might not need a mid-layer because it will make you too hot.

Best Mid Layers for Skiing Reviewed

Here are all of my top picks for the best mid-layer for skiing. Every option reviewed here will give you a reliable extra layer of insulation. 

1. Top Choice: ibex Wool Aire Hoodie (Men’s | Women’s)

  • Key features: Breathable, warm, wind and water resistant, easy to pack, durable lightweight
  • Materials: Merino insulation, wind and water resistant face fabric 
  • Style: Zip Hoodie 
  • Cost: $$$$

The ibex Wool Aire Hoodie is one of the most versatile mid layers out there. This can be effectively worn in all sorts of skiing situations and will work well for a night on the town at the resort as well. 

It has an athletic fit that won’t restrict your movements on the mountain and is built to be ready for just about anything. Construction features include an elasticized hem, cuffs, and scuba hood to block out the snow. 

The Wool Aire Hoodie is also wind and water resistant, so it can be used as an outer layer or shell on warmer days. It’s also very lightweight and packable, which makes it a solid option to use for travel on your upcoming ski trips. 

The only thing I don’t like about this one is its cost. While it’s super high-quality and comfortable, the price tag will keep it out of reach for the average skier. 

2. Best Overall: Arc’teryx Atom LT Hoody

  • Key features: Lightweight, waterproof, insulated, durable, excellent weather resistance 
  • Materials: Nylon, polyester, elastane 
  • Style: Zip Hoody 
  • Cost: $$$$

One of the best options for a mid-layer for any skier is the Arc’teryx Atom LT Hoody (review). 

The Atom LT is a warm, comfortable mid-layer jacket option built to withstand the rigors of steady skiing. It is a zippered style jacket with a nice hood that makes it versatile and reliable.

The hoody is made from a synthetic blend of nylon, polyester, and spandex for a strong, durable feel. It is also lightweight at just over 11 ounces and offers lots of warmth and weather resistance in a highly maneuverable and free-moving shell. 

It comes in a variety of colors and has fits designed for both male and female skiers – high-quality through and through.

It’s pretty expensive, but that’s really the only downside you’ll find. 

3. Best for Women’s: Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer 

  • Key features: Comfortable, warm, lightweight, women’s fit, packs small
  • Materials: Nylon 
  • Style: Zip Puffer 
  • Cost: $$$

For an excellent mid-layer specifically for women skiers, check out the Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer. 

This is a lightweight down jacket that works as a mid-layer, thanks to the compact design. It weighs in at just under eight ounces, making it an excellent backcountry option or lightweight travel jacket.

The jacket is 100 percent nylon, which makes it durable and reliable. It also comes with ample insulation to keep you warm and dry. 

The collar can get in the way if you have long hair, but the design is solid other than that. 

4. Best Fleece: The North Face TKA Glacier Snap Neck Pullover 

  • Best for: Fleece 
  • Key features: Thin, comfortable, affordable, soft fleece, many color options
  • Materials: Recycled polyester/cotton 
  • Style: Snap-neck Pullover 
  • Cost: $$

If you’re looking for a fleece mid-layer, be sure to take a look at the North Face TKA Glacier Snap Neck Pullover. 

The lightweight fleece pullover is a great choice for a comfortable skiing mid-layer. It is also warm and easily fits under a shell.

The Glacier Pullover is available for both men and women. It has a snap neck design that allows you to increase airflow and breathability on hot days while buttoning up when the temperature drops. 

It features an elastic hem and is available in a variety of different colors, so you can match it to your skiing style if you want to. 

It’s not a waterproof option, so you won’t want to wear it as a shell if it’s snowing. 

5. Budget Option: Columbia Steens Mountain 2.0 

  • Key features: Affordable, comfortable, soft, warm, multiple color options 
  • Materials: Polyester
  • Style: Zip Pullover 
  • Cost: $

A great budget option for a mid-layer is the Columbia Steens Mountain 2.0. Columbia is another brand that has made a name for itself in the outdoor industry, and this fleece mid-layer style jacket will meet the needs of just about any skier. 

This jacket is made from 100 percent ultra-soft polyester, a feature that gives it a warm, comfortable fit, and it has a full zipper and an easy-to-adjust collar. 

It also comes with two side pockets that allow you to easily store any small belongings you want to bring along while skiing. It comes in a variety of different color options as well.

This one is a little on the bulky side, so you’ll want to make sure it fits comfortably under your ski jacket. 

6. Best for Travel: Wantdo Hooded Packable Ultra Light Weight Short Down 

  • Key features: Packable, affordable, comfortable, durable, waterproof
  • Materials: Nylon 
  • Style: Zip Pullover 
  • Cost: $$

The Wantdo Hooded Packable Ultra Light Weight Short Down jacket is a great mid-layer option for travel. 

This option can pack down really small, so you can easily fit it into a bag or backpack for traveling to reach your snow-filled adventures. 

It also has a stylish look that is practical and effective on the mountain and a waterproof coating that makes it function as an outer jacket if needed. 

This isn’t the most durable option out there, but if you’re careful, it should last for several seasons of regular use.  

7. Best for Cold: The North Face Thermoball Full Zip 

  • Key features: Warm, durable, trusted brand, comfortable, insulated
  • Materials: Synthetic 
  • Style: Zip Light Puffer 
  • Cost: $$$

If you’re looking for a cold-weather mid-layer that’s sure to keep you warm when the temperature drops, the North Face Thermoball is an excellent option. 

This jacket is another solid offering from North Face, and it comes in designs for both men and women. The synthetic down insulation makes it warm, but it’s also quite comfortable.

It also has a great fit that isn’t too bulky or in the way. This one will easily fit underneath your outer shell without feeling stuffy. 

Be careful not to get it wet because this will limit its insulating capabilities. 

8. Best Fit: Smartwool Intraknit Merino 200 Crew 

  • Key features: Wool construction, durable, comfortable, soft, form-fit 
  • Materials: Merino wool, polyester, elastane 
  • Style: Crew 
  • Cost: $$$

The Smartwool Intrakit Merino 200 Crew is one of the best-fitting mid-layers I have come across. 

A good fit is nice if you are a very active skier who doesn’t want your clothing to slip and slide around as you ski hard. This crew-style sweater allows for just that, and it will stay in place at all times. 

It also features a Merino wool construction, making it reliably warm and super comfortable. And synthetic fibers to give it a stretch fit that isn’t too tight. 

This one doesn’t have any extra features like zippers, pockets, or a hood. 

9. Best for Backcountry: Ortovox Westalpen Swisswool Hybrid 

  • Key features: Excellent construction, durable, lightweight, good fit, chest pocket
  • Materials: Polyester, Merino wool, elastane, nylon 
  • Style: Zip pullover 
  • Cost: $$$$

If you are looking for a solid backcountry mid-layer, the Ortovox Westalpen Swisswool Hybrid is highly recommended. 

This one has a solid construction that blends natural Merino wool with synthetic fibers to give you comfort, warmth, and performance. 

It’s also super durable to stand up to the rigors of backcountry skiing and very lightweight to not hold you back when you venture far away from the ski resort. This will help you stay warm or dry out quickly if you are sweating uphill. 

It’s expensive, but if you want to get properly geared up for the backcountry, it’s a value pick for sure. 

Best Ski Mid Layer: What to Consider

This section will lay out some important things to consider when choosing a high-quality mid-layer for skiing. 

Thickness

Thickness is critical when picking out a mid-layer. The thicker the layer, the more potential warmth it will provide. We will look at different types of insulation below, but the general rule is that the more material you have on any piece of clothing, the warmer it will be. 

The choice in how thick you want your mid-layer is up to you and can be catered to your personal preferences or the conditions you find yourself in most often.

If you tend not to get cold or have a really warm outer shell, you can use a thinner mid-layer. If you want extra warmth, go with a thicker layer. 

Most mid-layers fall somewhere in the medium thickness area. That’s a good balance to look for because it will keep you warm but not be too thick or bulky while you ski.

Material

Many mid-layers offer different types of insulation. Regardless of which you end up with, remember that the thicker the material, the warmer it will be. 

Some materials are inherently warmer than others, but all of the mid-layers listed here will provide adequate insulation for most skiing circumstances. The most common materials are wool, synthetic, down, and fleece.

A wool mid-layer is a bit old school but is still recommended by many. Wool is a great natural fiber with excellent insulation properties even when it gets wet. A wool mid-layer could be a simple sweater, or you can get a Merino wool variety that is very soft, warm, and comfortable. 

Wool is not as durable as synthetic materials, but it can still hold up for years. Just never wash it in hot water, and don’t put it in the dryer.

Synthetic materials are more and more common in modern mid-layers. Synthetic mid-layers can be less bulky and more comfortable than wool, and they will still provide excellent insulation even when wet. 

There are many different options for synthetic mid-layers, and this type of insulation makes a good all-around choice for those who want something durable, warm, and comfortable.

Down insulation is another old-school material that’s quite effective. Down insulation is made of duck or goose feathers, and this material offers excellent warmth and protection against the cold. 

Down is really good for extra cold days and can keep you warm as long as it doesn’t get too wet. Down insulation can be expensive, but it is an excellent choice for cold conditions.

Fleece is another common material used in mid-layer design. Fleece is a well-known synthetic material used for its warmth and comfort. It is a solid choice for a mid-layer because it has an inherent water resistance due to its fully synthetic construction, and it dries out pretty quickly.

Durability

Most skiing gear is pretty expensive, so you need to look for durability when purchasing a mid-layer. A good mid-layer should last for many ski seasons under normal wear and tear. That strength often comes down to the material.

Natural wool and down mid-layers are warm but tend not to be as durable as synthetic options. Wool fibers can begin to unthread or separate after regular use, and down jackets have been known to get holes and loose feathers. 

Down can also clump up if it gets really wet. Synthetic materials tend to last longer overall, which is why so many skiers choose a blend of synthetic and natural materials for their mid-layer.

Waterproof/Windproof

Another consideration is if you want your mid-layer to be fully wind or water-proof. 

Since this article of clothing is designed to go over your base layer and underneath your outer shell, it doesn’t technically need to be made of water-proof or wind-proof materials. For instance, a wool sweater works just fine.

If you want to wear your mid-layer as a jacket when you’re not on the mountain, you’ll want wind and water-proof properties. 

This is a personal choice, but I always like the versatility of a mid-layer that can also function as a light jacket off of the ski hill. You get more for your money that way.

Fit

You want your mid-layer to fit snugly over your body. If it is too large and baggy, it will let in cold air and be harder to fit under your outer layer. You also want the mid-layer to be comfortable and give you a full range of motion. 

If the garment is too tight, it can restrict your movement while skiing. That can be uncomfortable and affect your abilities on the slopes.

Weight

Weight also comes into play with a mid-layer, especially if you’re a backcountry skier. Many modern mid-layer designs are pretty lightweight and compactable, two aspects that make them great for various situations. 

That also makes mid-layers easy to pack. However, lighter weight can also mean less warmth. If you want something with great insulation, try to get a heavier layer when possible.

Useful Tips & Resources

Layers are key to a successful day on the slopes. They give you the versatility to adapt to changing conditions while also ensuring that you’re fully prepared for anything that comes your way. 

While you can get by without one of these layers in some situations, having all three enables you to prepare for anything.

Layers in and of themselves offer a tremendous amount of versatility, but a mid-layer is perhaps the most versatile. A mid-layer provides extra warmth on cold days, but it can also function as an outer shell in spring or a light jacket in other non-skiing situations. 

Those uses allow you to wear the garment on the street in addition to the slopes. If you want to learn more about layering and how it can help you prepare for skiing, check this out

Depending on which type of material you get for a mid-layer, you also need to know how to wash it properly. Natural fibers can be easy to mess up in a wash, and ski clothing requires additional care. Check out this write-up for more information on the topic.

The video below has some good information on mid-layer basics if you aren’t familiar. 

Final Verdict

The ibex Wool Aire Hoodie is my pick for the best mid-layer for skiing this season. This is a very versatile item that can provide you with a solid layer of insulation or be used as a shell when the conditions allow. It’s comfortable and effective. 

Every skier should have at least one good mid-layer in their closet. You might not use it every day, but it will come in very handy when you need it. The models here are the best you can currently find.

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