Gear Guy

How can I dress warmly without all the extra bulk?

Long time read, first time question. I'm a skinny guy. I love to ski, mostly at resorts but a little OB. My question, then: Is there a jacket-shell combo, or maybe just a jacket, that would keep me warm when it's zero degrees and windy, breathe when it's not that cold, and not make me feel like the Marshmallow Man? Timothy Rockaway, New Jersey

A: You're a lucky man, Tim. Some people have written the Gear Guy dozens of times, yet still haven't been touched by the digital digit of the Supreme Guru. You, however, have become a Chosen One.

So, let me re-phrase your question: Skinny guy skis, seeks something superior for schussing without shivering. Right? The answer, of course, is the 'L' word—layering. You're not going to find a single piece that does all you need. But you can if you layer. Start with a good, warm base layer. Wool might be the ticket here, as in Icebreaker's Tech T-shirt ($110;, a very warm base layer that wicks well. I've been wearing a short-sleeve Icebreaker T-shirt as a base layer for winter cycling and hiking, and it's fantastic. Over that, a mid-weight fleece layer will add a lot of warmth. I really like Polartec's Thermal Pro, a light but very warm material that dries extremely fast if you get sweaty. Try it in Mountain Hardwear's ReCoil Jacket ($115; or Marmot's Core Half-Zip Pullover ($99;

That and a shell will keep you warm in most conditions, without adding too much bulk. But, if it gets really cold, add one more layer made with a synthetic fill. The North Face's Redpoint Jacket ($149; is such a garment—light, compressible, very warm. And not real bulky. It'll slide nicely over the other two layers, and you can add a shell over this. You'll be warm, I guarantee it.