WHAT TO BRING & WEAR
What to Wear in the Rocky Mountains
Regardless of the season or setting, you need to be prepared for the unique circumstances that outdoor activity in the mountains presents. The climate can change quickly, so being prepared is essential to enjoying your day. It's not complicated: well-thought-out adventurers will always prevail. The key? Layers, layers, layers. Please refer to the specific categories below for further suggestions on how to maximize your enjoyment while in the Vail Valley.
What to Wear for Summer Mountain Activities
Weather in the mountains can change on a dime, and a mild, sunny day can quickly turn to a cool, wet afternoon. Being prepared is essential. If you plan an activity that requires exertion, start with a breathable, wicking layer. Bring along a dry top layer - even better if it's quick-drying, like a Gore Tex shell or a windbreaker. Sturdy footwear for your activity is a must, and well-fitted, wicking socks make a world of difference on a long hike or bike ride. A cap to shield your face from the sun is always a good idea, and never forget to wear ample sunscreen (and bring extra). Bug spray is key on hikes in the mountains.
What to Wear for Water Activities
Fun on the river or lake requires the adventurer to come well prepared. Quick-drying clothes are ideal - think Gore-Tex or other materials that don't retain moisture, and a swimsuit underneath is a good idea. (Avoid Cotton Clothing!) Wear sensible river shoes. If you opt for sandals, be sure they are properly secured with a heel strap, or go with a full river sneaker with mesh fittings. Your local sporting goods store likely offers a variety of river-friendly clothing and footwear; if not, plan to visit a Vail Valley river specialty vendor prior to hitting the water.
A dry change of clothes and towel will prove essential at the end of a day. Since a long day on the water can mean hours in the strong Colorado sun, consider a hat, and always bring ample, high-SPF sunscreen. Since Colorado whitewater can be unpredictable, secure your sunglasses with an around-the-neck strap. Valuable items such as cameras and personal belongings should be safely stored in a dry box or dry bag to prevent water damage. Be sure to ask your vendor the best place for safekeeping these items prior to launch.
Layers are crucial in the summer, be prepared for the unpredictable Colorado climate. Bring along a water-resistant shell to keep you dry in the event of rain. When the sun disappears behind the clouds, the temperature can drop significantly, so a light top can come in handy to keep warm.
What to Wear for Winter Activities
Winter in the Rocky Mountains is one of the main draws of visiting the Vail Valley. However, you must be dressed properly to enjoy the multitude of activities that take place in the snowy landscape.
Layers are key. Especially for activities that require exertion, like skiing, snowshoeing and others. You can always shed a layer - you can't add one if you underestimated the elements. Start with a base (or "thermal") layer that wicks sweat away from the skin. Depending on the duration and intensity of your activity, consider next a breathable layer, followed by a sweater or fleece and topped with a waterproof winter jacket. Warm socks are also a must - consider a specific skiing brand, which will be both insular, and capable of wicking moisture if you sweat.
Waterproof gloves or mittens and a fleece-lined hat round out the ensemble, while foot and hand warmers can be purchased to ensure comfort. For especially cold conditions or long exposure to the elements, consider a face mask and/or a gator, which protects the neck and face from wind and cold. Waterproof hiking boots are essential for activities on the mountain if you are not outfitted in ski./snowboard boots. Nothing will become uncomfortable more quickly than wet, cold feet.
Eyewear is an important consideration in winter activities. Goggles may seem like above and beyond depending on your activity, but if the snow starts flying you'll be glad you have them. Sunglasses are essential, and polarized lenses ensure a better view. Always wear sunblock: summer or winter, the rays at this altitude are extremely powerful, and a terrible sunburn will put a damper on any vacation. Be sure to put a good base layer on in the morning, and bring along sunscreen to reapply throughout the day.