Having the best base layers for skiing is absolutely vital when playing out in the backcountry. However, finding base layers that are breathable, stretchy, moisture-wicking all while regulating your body temperature can be a real challenge. That’s why we’ve compiled our favorite base layers for skiing so you can hit the coldest climates and still feel warm! We’ve made a list of our favorite base layer tops, but all tops have matching thermal underwear if you want the full look!
Or, read the Best North Face Ski Pants here. Or, read Winter Front Porch Decor for 2023.
Best Overall – Smartwool Merino 250 (Women’s/Men’s)
Best Lightweight Base Layer – Smartwool Merino 150 (Women’s/Men’s)
Best Midweight Base Layer – Patagonia Capilene Midweight Crew Neck (Women’s/Men’s)
Best Heavyweight Base Layer – Icebreaker 15.5 Merino Long Sleeve (Women’s/Men’s)
Best Budget-Friendly – Helly Hansen Lifa (Women’s/Men’s)
Best Hoodie Base Layer – Arc’Teryx Rho LT Hoody (Women’s/Men’s)
What are the benefits of wearing a base layer for skiing?
If you’re a regular skier or snowboarder, you know how vital not only wearing a base layer is, but how having the RIGHT one can make or break your experience. If you invest in the right material, base layers act like an extra layer of skin, so your body temperature will be regulated.
For skiing, you most likely want a base layer to keep you warm. However, base layers can also keep you cooler in the right conditions, such as when biking. Therefore, they’re great for cold weather AND warm weather!
What are the best base layers for skiing?
There are so many different types of materials that contribute to a good base layer, whether you’re skiing or snowboarding. Therefore, you want to make sure you’re setting yourself up for success by choosing the right layers when taking on the slopes. So, check out our best material recommendations below, so you can stay warm even on the cold days!
Firstly, synthetic base layers are a great option for both staying warm and being comfy! Typically, synthetic base layers are made from polyester or polyester blends. Therefore, synthetic fabrics are quick drying, lightweight, and have moisture wicking properties so you won’t get wet!
Secondly, if you’re looking for the warmest of base layers – you should check out layers made of merino wool. This material helps regulate body temperature, has natural UV resistance, and they retain heat even when they’re wet. Plus, they’re naturally antimicrobial…so this layering system can be worn for a longer time without getting too stinky. However, that doesn’t mean a few weeks without washing…hah!
Lastly, it may be tempting to throw on a cotton t-shirt from your closet and call it a base layer…BUT DON’T! Trust me, you’ll regret this later into your day on the mountain. For example, cotton soaks up moisture and draws heat away from the body, so you’ll be chilly even on those warmer bluebird days.
Is merino wool a good base layer for skiing?
We went over this briefly above, but yes! Merino wool is one of the best base layers for skiing. Why? Here are some of our favorite qualities about merino wool base layers:
- Odor protection
- Soft on the skin
- Antibacterial properties (so you can wear for longer without washing)
- High-quality wool
- Soft & breathable
Are silk base layers good for skiing?
Silk base layers are not as common as synthetic materials or merino wool base layers. However, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a time and a place for them! Silk base layers are thin, lightweight, soft on your skin, and are moisture-wicking! They aren’t as warm as synthetic or merino wool, so they’re a solid choice for warmer ski days towards the end of the season!
However, one downfall about silk is that it’s pretty delicate. When you’re ripping around the backcountry, going through trees, and hitting the jumps…a silk base layer may not hold up for the entire season.
Therefore, on the best base layers for skiing…
Whether you’re looking for a lightweight base layer, mid-weight, or heavyweight base layer – we’ve got them all for you below! With these best base layers, gone are the days of chafing, terrible tight fits, and being cold while going down the slopes!
Best Overall – Smartwool Merino 250
This mid-weight quarter-zip is the overall best ski layer! It’s a bit on the pricier side, but the splurge is well-worth it. For example, I love that this layer has been updated with shoulder panels to eliminate shoulder seams…making for improved functionality. Throw a ski jacket over this on a bluebird day and you’re good to go!
Best Lightweight Base Layer – Smartwool Merino 150
This all-season favorite is made of 100% merino wool jersey fabric. The side seams wrap onto the front for a slim fit while the stretchy stitching elevates comfort and range of motion.
Best Midweight Base Layer – Patagonia Capilene Midweight Crew Neck
This crew neck base layer is perfect for a mid-layer to suit your après ski trip. It wicks sweat, boasts temperature regulation, and even has thumb holes! Talk about a great base layer top…or pair it with the Patagonia Capilene thermal underwear for some great base layer bottoms!
Best Heavyweight Base Layer – Icebreaker 15.5 Merino Long Sleeve
If you’re looking for a heavyweight base layer to keep you warm and comfortable on the chilliest of days, this is your best option! This thermal has flatlock seams to prevent friction, high neck for added protection, and thumb loops to keep your sleeves in place and hands warm!
Best Budget-Friendly – Helly Hansen Lifa
If you’re looking for lightweight insulation, odor resistance, and breathable, quick-drying fibers, then this HH crew top is for you! It’s made of 100% LIFA, which is Helly Hansen’s polypropylene fabric composition that wicks away moisture at crazy speeds!
Best Hoodie Base Layer – Arc’Teryx Rho LT Hoody
This base layer boasts breathable materials, lightweight design to ensure high performance, and is crazy soft! Personally, I love the neutral colors this base layer comes in…perfect with an outer layer for those colder mornings, or worn solo on warmer days!
In conclusion on the best base layers for skiing…
Hopefully you were able to find a high-quality base layer that will fit all your skiing needs! Seriously, really invest in a well-made base layer, it will make all the difference on a cold day on the slopes!
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