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What’s this thing called a baselayer?

Surely an old t-shirt and a pair of cotton leggings will do the job of keeping me warm beneath my ski wear? Surely not! These days the smart skier – and snowboarder – will be snug, warm and, most poignantly, dry in one of a range of made-for-the-purpose baselayers. You see, modern technology and fabrics have created a 21st century baselayer that fits snug against the skin keeping all your body warmth in but also allowing the damp and pongy sweaty stuff out. Here’s our guide to all you need to know about a baselayer. And why you might need one.

A baselayer comes in all shapes, sizes and designs:

  • The top half: Short-sleeved or long-sleeved, with a crew neck, quarter zip or full zip and in lots of colours and patterns. all varieties of zip
  • The bottom half: Long, three-quarter or shorts
  • The underwear: Vests, crop tops and pants.

Why is it called a baselayer?

A baselayer goes on below all you other clothes, so it’s a base layer. Get it? A base layer can also be layer. So you can wear several thin baselayers on top of each other and add or peel off as your body temperature and surroundings dictate. You could, of course, where a cotton t-shirt instead but you’ll find that the cotton soaks up your perspiration and stays wet and then gets cold and makes you shiver.

Can’t I just wear a thick fleece and a ski jacket?

Yes, of course, you can. And don’t let us stop you. But if you’d prefer to stay at a lovely, cosy yet not-too-hot temperature for your days of skiing and snowboarding we suggest you try the layering system. The more thin layers you have the better you’ll be able to control your body temperature. So, for example, you set off for a day of skiing. To start with you’re a bit chilly because you have just started out. So you wear a couple of baselayers, a thin fleece and your skiing jacket. On your lower half you have baselayer leggings and ski trousers. As you start to whizz down the slopes you’ll build up body heat and you’ll probably start to sweat. A good baselayer will keep your body heat in but let the sweat escape. And then  if you’re still too hot you can simply take off one of the layers and stow it in your rucksack or a pocket (baselayers are often small and lightweight and stuff easily into a large pocket.) Then, at higher altitude, the wind picks up and you begin to feel a bit chilly again so you put your second base layer back on, adding another layer of warmth.

What are baselayers made of?

Effective baselayers are NOT made from cotton. Effective baselayers ARE made of a range of different materials that keep you warm and let the sweat wick away, so that you stay warm And DRY. These fabrics could be 100% polyester, a polyester/elastine mix, polypropylene and Merino wool. Other benefits of baselayers Most baselayers are also quick drying and many come with an antibacterial finish (to stop them being smelly after a few wears!) Many baselayer brands also have a range of baselayer warmths to suit different seasons and activities.