Best Base Layer for Skiing and Snowboarding
Your base layers are your first line of defense to stay warm and comfortable while skiing or snowboarding. Base layers (aka – thermal underwear or long johns) help wick sweat and moisture away from your body to keep you dry while also providing a level of warmth. There are plenty of features to consider when choosing the best base layer for skiing and winter activity, so make sure to check out our buying guide at the bottom of this article and check out our article on how to layer for skiing for additional info!
Let’s take a look at our favorite base layers and thermal underwear for skiing that will keep you warm and comfortable out on the mountain!
|Base Layer||Material||Warmth||Components||Gender||Price Range|
|Smartwool Mid 250 1/4 Zip||100% Merino Wool||Medium||Top only||Men & Women options||$$$|
|LAPASA Thermal sets||95% Polyester / 5% Spandex||Light to Heavy||Top & Bottom||Men & Women options||$|
|Thermajane Women's Thermal Underwear||92% Microfiber / 8% Spandex||Light||Top & Bottom||Women's||$|
|Helly Hansen Men's Lifa Stripe Top||100% Polypropylene||Light||Top only||Men's||$$|
|Kari Traa Women's Rose Half Zip Top||100% Merino Wool||Medium||Top only||Women's||$$$|
|HEROBIKER Mens Thermal Skiing Set||90% Polyester / 10% Spandex||Light||Top & Bottom||Men & Womens options||$|
The 6 Best Base Layers for Skiing or Snowboarding
You can’t lose with Smartwool, and this base layer is living proof. It’s made of 100% merino wool, which ensures you’ll stay warm and comfortable. You can wear the top all day without feeling the need to take it off.
The Smartwool is designed to provide maximum comfort. The interlock knit is odor-resistant, which will come in handy if you’ll be wearing the top for a long time. Trust us, do NOT overlook how smelly your winter base layers can get when you are working up a sweat on the ski slopes all day. Additionally, the material is breathable, so you won’t feel suffocated if the weather gets warm.
There’s a ¼ zipper on the top’s front that allows you to let air in wherever you like. It’ll also help regulate your body temperature. Plus, the crew neck offers sufficient protection against the wind and snow.
This Smartwool base layer is for women, but there’s a version available for men. The top is available in a variety of colors to match all tastes. If you aren’t a fan of the zip or high collar, there is a crew version of this base layer as well for both men and women.
If you tend to ski in fierce weather frequently, the LAPASA base layer may be the one for you. It’s a heavyweight top that’s made of polyester and spandex. You’ll feel warm enough to fight the snow and wind on severe days.
The heavyweight construction means that the base layer is bulkier than usual, which may be a hassle for some people to deal with. However, it’ll go well under a skiing sweater, and it’ll keep you comfortable and warm when the temperature drops.
Despite being heavy, the LAPASA is soft and breathable. In addition to that, it offers odor control and moisture-wicking, so you won’t feel sticky if you sweat. Furthermore, the fabric is ultra-soft. It won’t stretch or shrink when you throw it in the washing machine.
LAPASA has additional base layer options ranging from lightweight to heavyweight, some made of polyester and some made of merino wool. Base layers come in both men specific and women specific versions.
If you’re on a tight budget, you may want to consider the ThermaJane Ultra Soft underwear set. It’s affordable, yet comfortable and durable. On top of that, it offers all features you’ll find on high-end base layers.
The set is form-fitting, so you can move while wearing it without having to adjust it constantly. It also has a squat proof design that allows you to move in confidence. As for the fabric, it’s a 4-way stretch material that’s highly breathable. Not to mention that it’s opaque so that you can have peace of mind.
The ThermaJane set is designed with a moisture transport system that assures your body stays dry. You won’t have to worry about being clammy if you sweat in your base layer; the fabric will keep the sweat away.
Lastly, the underwear set’s poly-spandex material won’t irritate your skin, and the seams are tear-resistant.
The Helly Hansen is another noteworthy budget option on our list. It’s packed with useful features that come at a fair price. It features a headliner that’s made of polypropylene, which is excellent at wicking moisture. Additionally, It’s warm and breathable.
The athletic fit of the Helly Hansen makes it suitable for a number of winter activities, such as skiing, hiking, and climbing. It’s also lightweight, which gives you more mobility and freedom of movement.
Unfortunately, the lightweight means the base layer won’t be as warm as other options. It’ll be enough for cold days, but you may need a heavyweight option for severe conditions. Otherwise, you’ll have to provide your body with some sort of insulation.
The synthetic material of the Helly Hensen makes it more durable than options made of wool. Your base layer will last for as long as you wear it.
Kari Traa is known for its form-fitting designs and fun color schemes, and this base layer isn’t any different. The trendy design is the reason a lot of buyers are attracted to it. That’s aside from the high efficiency and high-quality materials.
The half-zip design of the base layer gives it a unique look. It also provides enough space for ventilation, in case the weather gets too warm for your liking. As for the design, it’s form-fitting but soft enough to give you freedom of movement.
There’s a chin guard to keep your neck warm in all conditions. On top of that, the arms are topped off by high-quality cuffs to add to the base layer’s overall attractive look.
The merino wool will keep your body temperature regulated even in severe conditions. Not only that, but it’ll also control your body odor and keep you fresh.
The Herobiker underwear set is made of 90% polyester and 10% spandex, and it has an internal silky fleece lining. This makes it lightweight, warm, and breathable. Not to mention that it’s highly comfortable because it allows you to move freely.
The Herobike features a 4-way stretch compression that gives your body a slim look. Plus, it’ll fit nicely under your sweater without looking bulky. The flat seam will also make your mission more manageable, and it won’t irritate your skin.
The fabric offers excellent moisture absorbance, along with heat insulation. Moreover, they won’t shrink if you wash the base layer in a washing machine, which is a good bonus for extra durability.
More Ski Base Layers
Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose the Best Base Layer for Skiing
If you want to ensure that you’re getting the best base layer for your next skiing trip, there are a few features to consider. We’ve listed the essential ones below.
There are two common materials for base layers: merino wool and polyester. Merino wool costs a lot more, while polyester is more durable. Here are the attributes of each one.
Merino wool is costly, but it deserves every cent you’ll pay for it. For starters, it’s ultra-soft, thereby allowing you to move freely even if the base layer has a snug fit. Secondly, it offers excellent temperature regulation. It’ll keep you warm during sudden temperature drops.
Merino wool is also odor-resistant, which is a useful feature to have on long skiing trips. Not to mention that it doesn’t shrink in washing machines.
The only downside to merino wool is its low durability, compared to synthetic options.
A polyester base layer is an excellent option for buyers on a tight budget. It’s affordable, and it offers great value for money. Moreover, polyester is one of the best moisture-wicking materials. It’ll dry in an instant, so it’s an ideal option for people who sweat a lot.
Despite that, polyester doesn’t regulate the body’s temperature, which may be an issue for a lot of users. However, the substantial gap between its price and merino’s price is too significant to overlook.
If your base layer doesn’t fit you well, it becomes useless. An essential feature to consider when buying is a proper fit. You’ll want your base layer top to have a snug fit so that it can provide you with the needed warmth.
At the same time, you don’t want it to be too tight. That’s why you should ensure that the top is the right fit, just enough to keep you warm and keep snow from getting in.
Some people prefer base layers with loose bottoms, but we recommend tight ones because they ensure the coldness doesn’t hit your body.
Skiing base layers either have crew necks or zippers. The good thing about zippers is that they allow you to adapt to the changing weather. If you feel a bit too warm after a tough climb, you can always unzip and let some air in. On top of that, zippered tops are more accessible to take off than crew necklaces.
However, skiing with the zipper undone will cause the flaps to hit your face if it’s a windy day.
On the other hand, crew necks are more comfortable than zippers. Not all people will be okay with continually feeling the zipper against their bodies. Besides, a lot of users prefer the closed neck design, rather than the zippered one. They don’t want anything to bulk under their sweaters.
Moisture-wicking is an essential feature in base layers for skiing. If your top isn’t moisture-wicking, you might as well bid comfort goodbye.
Moisture-wicking means that the fabric will absorb your sweat and keep it away from your body. That way, your skin won’t feel clammy. Also, this means you won’t catch a cold because your body will be dry as long as you’re wearing the base layer.
Generally, lightweight base layers deal with moisture better than heavy ones. That’s because the material isn’t too thick to trap the sweat on your body. Therefore, a lightweight base layer is recommended if you sweat a lot.
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Winter Base Layer FAQs
What should I wear over a base layer?
You should follow your base layer with a mid-layer. This layer does all the insulation, so you’ll want to look for materials that insulate well.
What’s the difference between the mid-layer and base layer?
The base layer is the one that’s directly on your body. It compresses against you to keep you warm and protect you from the snow. On the other hand, the mid-layer is responsible for insulation and trapping the heat inside. It doesn’t offer any compression, but rather maintains your body temperature.
How should I choose the base layer’s material?
Typically, your goal should be to stay as warm as possible. You may think that the thickest material will provide you with maximum warmth, but that’s a common mistaken belief. The warmest material will be the most efficient one at wicking moisture.
Keeping the sweat away from your body will keep your body dry, thereby protecting you during temperature drops
Our top pick for skiing base layers is the Smartwool Base Layer. It costs a lot, but it’s worth the money you’ll pay for it. It’s comfortable, breathable, and warm. In addition to that, the ¼ zipper will regulate your body temperature and offer you versatility.
If the Smartwool is out of your budget, the LAPASA thermal sets come in a wide variety of warmth options and for both men and women. Entire sets (both tops and bottoms) are super affordable and are a great option to consider. It’s made of microfiber that’ll keep you comfortable and give you enough mobility. They also provide a great heavier weight base layer option for harsher conditions.
Stay cozy out there!