Winter in Niseko can get cold in some months! But without those cold Siberian winds, Niseko powder-snow wouldn't be what it is and we wouldn't be writing this article to help you stay warm on your ski vacation! With a little preparation and maybe a smart purchase or two along the way, you can ensure that you won't need to worry about the cold and you'll be carving down the slopes on even the most blistery of days.
1) Lots of layers
Rule number one is a no-brainer for most. In order to prevent heat loss, the best method is to wear multiple layers rather than opting for thick and heavy jackets or sweaters. Plan your outfits accordingly with multiple layers of different materials, each with specific purpose in mind. Your first later should be a merino wool or polypropylene base. For your base layer, consider options like long johns or even full body underwear. Keep your base layer relatively close fitting, you want it to rest against the skin rather than being loose. Fleece or light down are good choices for your inner layers. On really cold days consider wearing a second or third layer before your final layer and outer shell. Finish with a good jacket and set of pants that will protect you from the wind and moisture. The added bonus to dressing in layers is that if you heat up or the weather warms up, you can always shed one of your inner layers.
2) Stick to one layer of socks
You might think that layering up your feet is in your best interest, especially given point number one, it actually can work in the opposite. If you are just walking around in your hotel room or around the village, a second layer of socks won't do you any harm. On the slopes in a pair of ski boots or boarding boots, that second layer can cut the circulation in your feet, slowing the the heat transfer brought be your circulating blood. Your best bet is to invest in a good pair of thermal socks, the best bet is to look for a pair designed with winter sports in mind.
3) Wear a helmet
While a warm winter hat is always a good choice, you might be surprised to hear that most helmets will keep you warmer on cold days and cooler on hot ones due air vents built into their design. In truth, this should just be a bonus to the more important added safety of wearing a helmet while skiing or snowboarding. Save your winter hat for when you are out and about in the Hirafu village and strap a good helmet on to ensure you stay both warm and safe.
4) Choose mittens over gloves
While many might view mittens as less stylish than a pair of gloves, you'll recoup those points when you're still on the slopes and your friends have gone in early because their fingers were numb! While you do sacrifice some finger dexterity, your fingers will generate and share more heat because they are all within the same compartment rather than split across four (plus a thumb). For really wintery days, look into buying a pair of thermal glove liners and wear them underneath your mittens. If you are looking for a great pair of mitts for the Niseko winter, check out the Oyuki Tamashii Mitt!
5) Don't forget your neck!
One of the most commonly forgotten areas of your body is your neck. A good scarf or neck warmer that fits under your jacket's hood or neck will do you a world of good in keeping in the warmth. If it is a really cold day, add an additional layer to both your head and neck by wearing a base layer like a balaclava.
6) Hand warmers or Kairo
In Japan, hand warmers, called kairo are found in supermarkets, convenience stores, and home centers, too. shake up a pair and pop them into your mittens and you'll keep your fingers toasty for hours! Don't be afraid to slip one or two of them in between your layers at the back of your neck or in the pockets of a fleece liner under your jacket. They are a great and inexpensive way to give yourself a little boost of warmth to help you stay out for longer.
7) Take the hooded lifts or the gondola
We are lucky here at Ki Niseko to be right next to the Hirafu Gondola, a luxury that many others with ski-in and ski-out accommodation are jealous of. To make your options even better, Niseko Tokyu Resort have announced that they will be redeveloping many of their lifts over the next few years. Whether they add new hooded lifts or not, the increased capacity of many of the lifts will shorten the wait time when in line to get back up the slopes!
8) Take short breaks
While it does cut into your time on the mountain, it can sometimes be all you need to recharge and go strong for another hour ore even two. Sometimes, taking the small hit even extends your overall time on the mountain. Swing in to An Dining for a hot cocoa or head over to one of the many on-mountain dining options for a chance to unzip your jacket, stretch your legs, and maybe grab a small bite to eat!