I’m Lorraine, a certified snowboard instructor. This is my review of the best snowboarding base layer in 2021.
A good 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 heavily 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.
- Quick Summary
- What is a Base Layer?
- Best Base Layer for Snowboarding: Top Picks
- Best Base Layer for Snowboarding: What to Consider
- Additional Tips
- Final Words
As usual, I have summed up our recommendations so you can save some time shopping online.
- Venture Heat Men’s Heated Shirt Thermal Underwear with Battery Pack – a great battery heat top that can definitely keep you warm on the mountain.
- Skins A400 Compression Long Tights (Men’s | Women’s) – very lightweight compression tights that serve very well in regulating your body temperature, wicking your sweat out, and reducing muscle soreness.
- Under Armour Men Ua ColdGear Compression Crew – a great price point compression top that can wick the moisture out really quickly.
- Icebreaker Merino Everyday Base Layer – a 100% merino wool base top that’s really soft, comfortable, and warm.
What is a Base Layer?
A base layer is 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 you’ll learn more about the factors that you should take into consideration while choosing the snowboarding base layer that fits you best.
Best Base Layer for Snowboarding: Top Picks
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.
The 3 heat levels can provide up to five hours of heat on a single charge, long enough for you to ride from morning to sunset. Because of the battery pack, this base layer will be a bit heavier.
These are very lightweight compression long tights that are specially designed to deliver more oxygen-filled blood to your muscles so as to make them stronger, at the same time great delivery of temperature and moisture control.
It’s very stretchy and flexible and fits very well like a second skin for you. On the downside, it’s pricer than other base layers, you don’t have many color options and the look is just very ordinary.
From the famous brand Under Armour, this is a great price point top made of synthetic material. It’s very sketchy, flexible, wicks sweat and dries very fast, and comes with anti-odor features. It comes in seven different colors so you have many color choices. It’s also very light in weight.
On the downside, those of you who haven’t worn a compression layer before may find this one very tight.
A 100% merino wool base layer, very soft, comfortable, and yet can keep you warm and dry when you go snowboarding. With a relatively loose-fitting, you can have more room for your movements. They are so soft and comfy that you can wear it even when you go to bed.
This is a great price point for icebreaker products, very sketchy with natural anti-odor features. On the downside, you’ll find it less durable than synthetic layers.
Best Base Layer for Snowboarding: What to Consider
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 the 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 moisture. When your sweat evaporates, it’s gonna suck up your body heat too.
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 falls 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 relatively snug next-to-skin layer while the second layer can be relatively more loosen up.
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 tech 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 layers 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.
Money-saving 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 layer 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 you use them. The dirt, sweat hanging around on your tops or tights are going to lower the wickability.
And for personal hygiene, 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:
- 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.
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.
Try to consider these factors before buying: material, weight, and fitting so you can find a nice layer that can offer you both comfort and functions.