No matter what the season, figuring out how to dress for cycling, skiing and running can be a challenge in Aspen—here’s our quick guide on how to dress appropriately in the mountains.
Cyclists who ride on roads and trails in the mountains that start at 8,000 feet elevation through three seasons know how to dress for comfort and efficiency. Especially Dean Hill of Aspen Pro Cycling (aspenprocycling.com), who advises clients about what to wear daily. Here are some of his tips based on season. Local bike shops like Basalt Bike & Ski (basaltbikeandski.com) and The Hub (hubofaspen.com) carry all of the gear you need to stay warm and dry while road cycling or mountain biking. Spring: Remember those chilly starts. Plan on unexpected cold starts and potential cold finishes. Always add a merino undershirt and an under-helmet hat with ear coverings and/or a buff. Wool socks and thermal booties worn over your cycling shoes help keep feet warm and dry. When it looks to stay cold, wear thermal bibs. High-quality thermal gloves lock out water. Summer: Layer up above 9,000 feet. “I always wear an undershirt even during the warmer months—opt for lighter weight—to avoid moisture pooling on climbs and freezing on your descent. Expect the afternoon thunderstorm and exit high elevations by lunchtime. I always bring a rain jacket,” says Hill. Fall: Dress like spring. Expect rides to start later and finish earlier. Choose shorter climbs that mean shorter descents, so you gain vertical but don’t freeze on the downhill. Bring foot and hand warmers to extend your weather window.
Strafe Outerwear (strafeouterwear.com) co-founder John Gaston knows how to layer in the mountains. For most ski days, Gaston subscribes to the layering-system approach, rather than a single bigger, bulkier jacket. Go for one-piece garb. He’s devoted to the Sickbird, Strafe’s one-piece suit that ensures there’s zero chance of snow or cold air seeping in. If it’s cold and he’s riding lifts, he’ll add a Strafe Aero insulator underneath. “It has an unbeatable warmth-to-weight ratio,” says Gaston. Layer up with smart combos. If he’s hiking and in the Highland Bowl (Gaston has the record for most Bowl laps in a day: 11), he wears the Strafe Alpha Direct jacket. And if the mercury drops below zero, he wears both the Aero and the Alpha Direct on top and adds Dynafit insulated shorts under his pants. For cold days teaching his toddler how to ski, Gaston wears Strafe’s warmest combo: the Conundrum jacket and the Summit pants. Dress for ascents and descents. For skinning up the mountain, Gaston says he wears Strafe’s Recon 2 as his first shell, then adds a Deception anorak for the climb on cold days. For the descent, he throws on the Aero insulator and insulated shorts. “It’s extremely effective when you’re banging off laps in cold temps and need to find a way to keep the body temp stable,” he says.
Professional mountain athlete TJ David of Microcosm Coaching (microcosm-coaching.com) is a master of knowing how to dress for running, no matter what the conditions. Here are his tips for running during the chillier months: Protect those digits. “Light gloves for morning runs—even thin material can keep the hands warm,” says David. He recommends Smartwool (smartwool.com) and Le Bent (lebent.com) as great options. Consider arm sleeves. “Light arm sleeves are great, because they keep you warmer in the morning, are generally breathable, and you can remove them and store them in your pack or waist belt easily once that midmorning sun hits,” says David. Go a little bigger for jackets. For runners, a breathable wind layer jacket from Dynafit (dynafit.com)—one size bigger than your regular size—works well. “Size up so you can throw it over your pack, protecting your gear from the elements while keeping you warm. Once you’re warm, take it off and store it in the pack without needing to stop moving or take your pack off,” says David.
Photography by: By Chris Henry on Unsplash