What Should I Wear Skiing in Hakuba, Japan?
27th July, 2013
This may seem obvious but it's a question that we hear quite a lot.
The temperatures we get in Hakuba are perfect for world class quality snow. During the day from mid December till mid March it averages between zero and minus 5 degrees centigrade. Now before you give an involuntary shudder at how cold that is bear in mind that it is under freezing level meaning the snow is dry. This makes a huge difference as no matter how often you fall or crash you can just brush off the snow without getting wet. Compare this to say Australia where the day time temperatures are usually well over zero so the longer you are skiing the wetter you get and the colder you get. Especially the kids.
These not too hot and not too cold average temperatures mean skiing in the Hakuba and Nagano areas of Japan are really quite pleasant. The northern areas of Japan are much colder though, day time temps of minus 15 or more in Niseko and other Hokkaido resorts are not uncommon.
So, what to wear? You need a balance. While skiing you need to avoid sweating if it is at all possible as this will fog your goggles no matter how good they are and it will also wet your inner layers making you cold when you stop sweating. Also, once you're on the lift you need to be able to sit still for up to 20 minutes without getting cold (wet inner layers not good here!).
Everyone is different of course and some people will need more layers than others. It also depends on your skiing style; do you like to stop often and enjoy the view or go hard and fast? Do you ski effortlessly or are you just beginning? Do you ski on your own at your pace or with family and friends of differing skill levels. All these questions will determine how much to wear.
One other important thing to think of; the temperature drops on average 1 degree for every 100 metres vertically you ascend so in Hakuba this means about 12 degrees different from the village temperature to the top of the lifts, quite a lot more than many other Japanese ski resorts.
I hope this info is helpful in making your next trip to Hakuba, Japan a successful one.