SnowUniverse guide for buying skiing base layers

To benefit from the best protection from the elements when skiing, adopt the three-layer system: the first layer is breathable, the second layer, or mid layer, is warm and insulating, and the third layer, or outer layer, is waterproof and windproof. A technical base layer forms the first layer, in direct contact with the skin. Here are a few tips to help you choose the best base layers for you.

The mission of a technical base layer is to wick away your sweat as quickly as possible to avoid dampness during exercise, while retaining heat to keep the body warm despite cold weather. Unlike cotton, which gets wet quickly and dries slowly, a technical base layer stays dry to prevent skiers from getting cold when perspiration cools down. A technical base layer plays an essential role in influencing the overall effectiveness of the three-layer system.

Choose technical base layers made of quality materials

As noted above, a good technical base layer should sstay warm while wicking away perspiration. Only a technical fabric can meet this demand. There are two main categories of fabric for this —  on the one hand, synthetic fibres made of polyamide, polyester, elastane or polypropylene; on the other hand, new-generation natural fibres such as Merino wool.

  • Synthetic fibres have the advantage of being very resistant and drying quickly, while maintaining heat. The addition of elastane makes it possible to obtain a garment which, in addition to being warm, is stretchy and will mould to your body shape.

  • Merino wool is three times finer than traditional wool. This wool, from sheep raised in New Zealand, has an advantage over synthetic fibre because it adapts better to climatic conditions: it keeps the body warm in very cold weather and adapts to warmer temperatures to avoid overheating. In addition, it has better breathability and odour control, and it is lighter than synthetic fibres.

Choose a technical base layer that fits well

A technical base layer, whether it's a t-shirt with short or long sleeves, or round neck or zipped collar, or a pair of shorts or long johns, is worn snugly against the skin. To ensure correct stacking of the mid and outer layers, the base layer must be a good fit around your waist, to avoid discomfort from tightness or hanging bagginess. This is why you must choose a snug fit,  but not too tight to cut off blood circulation. In this way, sweat can be optimally transported to the outside and body heat retained.

Choose a coverage adapted to your usage and needs

For very cold conditions or for skiers who tend to be cold, it is advisable to wear warm and well-covered base layers. In other words, choose garments with high collars to protect the throat, and full-length long johns to keep your legs warm.

On the other hand, for spring outings or skiers who tend to sweat quickly, choose garments that have short-sleeved cups and round necks, but also specific ventilation in the body areas most prone to perspiration, such as the lower back and armpits.