A good snowboarding base layer is very important to keep you dry and warm so you can be chill on the mountain, as it is able to keep you dry by pulling the sweat and moisture away from your skin. Wearing a heavy insulated jacket, you will still feel freezing cold on the chairlift because of a wet next-to-skin top. A wet layer next to your skin is going to transmit the cold to your body and suck up your body heat when it evaporates.
So yes my dear, choosing the best base layer for snowboarding is just as important as choosing your snowboard jackets. In this article I’m going to guide you through the process and show you what to consider while selecting the base layer that fits, I’ll also share a few of my favorite options.
As usual, I have summed up a bit of all the best picks of this year so you can save some time shopping online.
- Venture Heat – Heated Tri-Zone Base Layer Shirt – a battery heat top that can definitely keep you warm on the mountain.
- Skins Men’s A400 Compression Long Tights and Skins Women’s A400 Compression Long Tights – very lightweight compression tights that serve very well in regulating your body temperature, wicking your sweat out and reducing muscle soreness.
- Under Armour ColdGear Armour Compression Crew – a great price point compression top that can wick the moisture out really quick.
- Icebreaker Merino Everyday Base Layer Long Sleeve Crew Neck Shirt, Zealand Merino Wool – a 100% merino wool base top that’s really soft, comfortable and warm.
Best Base Layer for Snowboarding: What to Look for?
What is a base layer?
It’s basically a warm layer worn next to your skin, they can come in different forms: loose-fitting t-shirts, tight compression leggings, thermals…etc. It’s more your personal choice of picking which types suits you the best. However, We would recommend a combination of full-length leggings and long sleeves so the largest proportion of your skin can be covered. In fact, most people consider the long underwear you are wearing as the base layer when it comes to the world of snowboarding.
Below are some factors you should take into consideration while choosing the base layer that fits you best.
Most snowboarding base top and leggings are composed of synthetic fabrics (like polyester, nylon… etc), merino wool, or a mix of the two. However, both fabrics tend to draw the sweat away and transfer them out to outer surface so you won’t lose your body heat when it evaporates.
Long underwears made with Synthetic Fabrics like Polyester is often cheaper, more durable, sketchy and easier to take care of but aren’t as comfortable or resistant to odor then one made with merino wool, i.e. they are harder and you have to wash more often.
Base layers made up of Merino wool are often very soft and warm, provide better performance in wicking away sweat, and with naturally antibacterial properties. However, they are also more expensive and not as light as synthetic fabric.
Tips: Do Not get a set of cotton long underwear for snowboarding because cotton tends to absorb and retain the moisture. When your sweat evaporates, it’s gonna suck up your body heat too.
2. Warmth (Weight of fabric)
Normally base layers are divided into 3 classes: light, mid, and heavyweight (fabrics’ weight / sq meter). Normally a heavyweight base layer is thicker than a lightweight one, and so to offer more warmth.
- Lightweight – usually made of thin fabric so it wicks and dries fastest, while at the same time providing minimum insulation, they are mostly used as the first next-to-skin option.
- Midweight – can serve as the first next-to-skin layer and the second layer. Providing a combination of insulation and moisture wicking.
- Heavyweight– always worn over a lighter weight layer, they are designed for cold weather and hence focus on providing insulation and therefore come with less wicking properties. A heavyweight layer is thick and normally fall loosely on the body. Some people consider this as a middle layer.
There is no fixed rule when it comes to layer combination, personally, I prefer a lightweight compression next-to-skin layer covered with a midweight second layer than my snowboarding jacket for normal riding days. On a backcountry day, I will switch my second layer to a heavy layer for more insulation.
The fabric of a base layer wicks the best when it’s just laying against your skin so it is better for you to get a relative snug next-to-skin layer while the second layer can be relatively more loosen up.
4. Additional Tech and Features
Some next-to-skin options such as compression layers are specially designed to provide more protection and functions on your snowboarding day. Just like snowboarding socks, the most common types of special technology are compression and battery heated base layers.
- Compression Base Layer – a specially designed layer for regulating body temperature and reduce muscle soreness by compressing the muscle groups during and after exercise. These base layers are really tight because they compress your muscle groups during and after exercise, however, they work really well in offer more support and protection to muscles and improving your performance.
- Heated Base Layer – same as the heated snowboard socks, these base layer come with a rechargeable battery system and you can control their heat level normally. You may be able to choose which zones to heat up for some options. It’s great for those who are very keen on keeping themselves warm, such as backcountry riders.
Best Snowboarding Base Layers in 2018: Top Picks
1. Venture Heat – Heated Tri-Zone Base Layer Shirt
This is a base layer best to fight against cold climates, other than the battery heated system, it performs very well in trapping body heat and wicking moisture away.
• This top can keep you super warm!
• The battery life is long enough for you to ride from early morning to sunset
• It’s more expensive
• It’s heavier because of the battery pack
• The 3 zones heat up at the same time
This is a very lightweight compression long tights that are specially designed to deliver more oxygen-filled blood to your muscles so to make them stronger, at the same time great delivery of temperature and moisture control.
• Very stretchy and flexible
• Fits very well like a second skin for you
• More expensive than other base layers
• Not much color options and very ordinary compression base layer look
• They come in 6 colors!
• Very light in weight
• Those haven’t worn a compression layer before may find this very tight
• A great price point for icebreaker products
• They are so soft and comfy that you can wear it even when you go to bed
• Very sketchy
• Natural anti-odor features
• Less durable than synthetic layers
Saving money golden rule no. 1 — always buy your base layer before heading to the mountain, somehow buying online can save you loads of money too!
Get more than one type of base layers because mountain conditions are changing every day. You may need a heavyweight base layer on a cold and windy day, while a lightweight synthetic layer on a lovely sunny day.
To increase the performance of your base layer, wash them every time after you use. The dirt, sweat hanging around on your tops or tights are going to lower the wickability. And for personal hygiene problem, please do wash them every day!
Also, to extend the life of your base layer, it’s better for you to wash them with care.
How to wash a Merino wool base layer? Here are a few tips for you:
- Use warm or cool machine wash on a normal cycle (Never use a hot wash, this contributes to shrinkage)
- Use regular powder, liquid, or wool detergent
- Better use a normal wash cycle to ensure the full rinse out of the detergent
- Avoid softeners and bleach
- A normal wash cycle is used rather than delicate to ensure the full rinse out of the detergent
- Avoid tumble dry, just line dry them
For more information about merino care, you can click here.
How to wash a synthetic base layer? We’ve got some tips for you too:
- Use warm or cool wash only
- Use mild or specific base layer detergent like Nikwax, depending on the type of material
- Avoid softeners, bleach
- Avoid dry wash
- Line dry your base layer, avoid tumble dry
- Avoid ironing
So I hope you can find this article useful in making your purchase decision of the best base layer for snowboarding.
I cannot stress enough the importance of getting a good base layer because it’s simply your long underwear, think about that they are the immediate layer next to your skin. So yes, please, try to consider these factors before buying: material, weight, and fitting so you can find a nice layer which can offer you both comfort and functions.
O yeah! Do let me know your opinions and questions by leaving a comment here ya! Love ya!
Have a great snowboarding day! Cheers!