Best Base Layers for Skiing

Base layers are a critical piece of ski gear. While you ski, your body burns loads of calories and you generate a lot of moisture, even though you might assume you won’t sweat because of how cold it will be when you ski.

Skiers sweat because of exertion — even if it is below freezing. Skiers also develop condensation inside their clothing because of the temperature difference between cold air and warm bodies. Therefore, base layers serve an important purpose for being the mediator between your 98.6 degree body and the shell layers protecting you from the elements.

Good base layers are made up of wool or synthetic material that helps to draw moisture away from your body during skiing so it can evaporate.  Moisture-wicking is very important for skiers (or any athlete, for that matter) because the loss of heat can increase by 5x when a wet garment is against your skin. It is important that any base layer fits snugly against your skin but doesn’t make you feel constricted or that it’s too tight. The reason why you need the layers snug is if your base layers are too lose, they will develops pockets of moist air, and you’ll feel cold.

An ideal base layer is both breathable and makes you feel comfortable. However, with a lot of different kinds of base layers available in the market, which should you buy? We have evaluated all these base layers in terms of breathability, comfort, and value.

Here are the best base layers you can buy for your nordic or downhill skiing, based on our survey of the market.

1. SmartWool NTS mid 250 Zip Thermal

It’s safe to say that with the introduction of SmartWool in 1994, the base layer industry was revolutionized and they are known worldwide for their exceptional Merino wool clothing products. With 20 years of manufacturing experience you can easily count on their products and they will never let you down. Another quality that separates SmartWool from its competitors is that their products snug perfectly without feeling like a tight fit. This base layer is a one-time investment and will last you more than five years.

2. Under Armour Men’s ColdGear Evo Long Sleeve Compression Mock

The focus of Under Armor is entirely on synthetic fibers, and they don’t plan to shift to Merino wool anytime soon. Like most of the Under Armor products, these base layers fit perfectly tight and are meant to be worn snug. Having this base layer that is just a little extra tight will keep you warm during skiing while the material absorbs sweat. The bottom line is that Under Armor makes one of the warmest base layers around that are designed especially for skiing.

3. ColdPruf Platinum Dual Layer

Unlike Under Armor and SmartWool, ColdPruf is a less well-known brand, but still provide excellent ski clothing. This tight fitting base layer comes in two colors: black and gray. The shirt fits perfectly providing good support and compression. The pants fit snugly around the ankle, ensuring that they stay in place and prevent snow from getting in while you ski. The pants also feature an elastic waist band that keeps a firm hold. The material used in the making of ColdPruf base layers use different fibers, a mixture of polyester and merino wool.

4. HellyHensen HH Dry Strip Base Layer

HellyHensen takes pride in being one of the oldest manufacturers of outdoor sports apparel and is quite popular among skiers. This base layer is not a compression base layer so it suitable for those who have a problem with the tightness of compression base layers or those who find those kinds of base layers become uncomfortable over time. Therefore, this non-compression base layer, made from synthetic fibers, is a great alternative choice. They are made from propylene, so is very comfortable and soft for extended cross-country skiing adventures.

5. Meriwool Baselayer

This base layer is made up of Merino Wool that has a lot of benefits. Merino wool is beneficial because of its anti-microbial and anti-odor properties. Since this base layer is created from natural material, it is very soft and comfortable and provides the warmth you expect from wool. In addition, by the virtue of being both extremely thin and lightweight this base layer won’t impede your movement or flexibility and it will keep you free from sweat due to its superior wicking properties. Because of all these features, it is a good choice for a base layer as well as adding to your comfort.

Conclusion

Whether you are looking for your alpine ski gear or all-important cross-country skiing staples, a good base layer is a vital requirement. It will keep you warm in the cold as well as being antimicrobial and have wicking properties so that you can be free from the discomfort of sweat.  If you are looking for the best features you can find on the market, these 5 base layers are ideal.