Picking the best base layer bottoms for skiing should not be taken lightly. Don’t be tempted to buy any old pair of long johns and think they’ll suffice. They likely won't.
Base layers have a tough job.
They’re the key to an enjoyable and comfortable skiing experience, more than any other ski gear you will probably purchase.
They don’t just need to keep you warm but keep you dry too. After all, no one wants sweaty nether regions…
Other skiing related stuff -
Smartwool produces some of the best base layer bottoms for skiing on the market today.
Not only are their products great quality but they produce some of the most fashionable ski base layers around. They’re one of the only brands to offer patterned designs. Just check out these socks and you’ll see what we mean. Obviously, there are more important aspects to your base layers than design...but we all want to look good, right?
Anyway, fear not. Smartwool offers more than just good looks.
There are a few features of the Smartwool 250 active bottoms that you can’t really find in any other pants. At Least we haven’t.
Smartwool’s bottoms don’t sag. Which seems to be an issue with most base layer leggings. Particularly around the knees and groin area. They also don’t get small holes over time or after a few washes, which is understandable when you see that the hem on the pants is double stitched. As we said, Smartwool is all about quality.
They are also, without a shadow of a doubt, the most unobtrusive base layer bottoms we’ve found. Even during the most strenuous of activities such as skiing, you will struggle to notice that you are actually wearing a base layer. Besides the fact of course, that you’ll be as warm as toast, and dry as a bone.
On top of all of this, they get their sizing right. You don’t have to guess what size to buy or think about buying a size smaller than your usual. Whatever size garment you normally are, Smartwool base layers will fit you like a glove...or should we say, like a base layer should.
Minus33 sits comfortably in the mid-price range section for merino wool bottoms.
They’re one of the best on the market at ensuring you keep warm in the cold, and allow your body to breathe in warmer environments. Their durability is as reliable as those from Smartwool.
While they are not quite as unnoticeable to wear as the Smartwool 250s, they are super soft and super comfortable. They’re so comfortable, many people wear them as pajama bottoms in the winter months!
Their loyal fan base is a testament to their quality, customer care and longevity of the base layers they produce.
Meriwool offers some of the cheapest merino wool base layers, and this is likely due to the fact they are a lesser-known brand than the others mentioned here.
They’re comfort, warmth, and ability to wick away moisture are comparable to that of Smartwool and Minus33. But where they fall is in their quality and durability. They are prone to getting small holes in them after a while. However, if you’re looking for a budget pick merino wool base layer to get you through a couple of years worth of skiing, these are your best option.
These synthetic Carhartt base layer bottoms are almost legendary. You will struggle to find anyone who has anything bad to say about these bottoms.
If you don’t like feeling stuffy or restricted in multiple layers, you’ll appreciate these. They are one of the best base layer bottoms to wear under ski pants without feeling bogged down.
They’ll make sure you stay warm in even the coldest of temperatures and, being synthetic, will keep you drier than any other bottoms on this list. We’d definitely say they’re the best base layer for heavy sweating. Perfect for any skier who likes to go a bit heavy on the exertion.
If you don’t like merino wool, can’t afford merino wool, you’re an excessive sweater or find merino wool itchy then you can’t go wrong with these Carhartt’s.
We have chosen not to recommend any other pair of synthetic base layer bottoms for skiing. While there are some decent options out there, for the price of these, nothing else we tried even came close. Well done, Carhartt.
Minus33 have absolutely nailed their merino wool base layer leggings. Whilst more expensive than the budget pick below, they are still much cheaper than some other brands offering the same.
We wouldn’t hesitate to say that these are the best base layer bottoms for skiing you could buy.
They are out of this world comfy, completely itch-free, wash and dry like a dream, excellent at keeping you warm, and even more excellent(?) at keeping you dry.
Meriwool offers some of the cheapest merino wool base layer bottoms on the market.
They are super comfy (though can be slightly itchy to begin with), flexible and sure as hell keep you warm. They’re also super thin so fit great underneath ski pants without making you feel claustrophobic or restricted.
While they absolutely do their job equally as well as their more expensive buddy listed above, they are prone to getting small holes in them after a couple of washes. However, they are quite a lot cheaper than anything else out there at the moment, so if you don’t mind sewing a few holes every now and again, they are a great budget pick.
Under Armour has started to gain some traction again over the years. Focusing more on functional sports gear, instead of trying to beat Nike and Adidas on the fashion stakes.
These leggings definitely show that they take functionality and performance very seriously.
While being all the things they need to be: warm, comfortable and moisture-wicking, they are also some of the best base layers to wear under ski pants due to their thin, slick material. The slick outer material makes it super easy to pull your ski pants over the top of them. And by golly, when you do get your ski pants on, you’ll forget you’re even wearing the base layers.
They are super, super comfy. And super, super warm.
If you’re looking for synthetic, or something a bit cheaper than merino wool then these are definitely your best choice of leggings for skiing.
No skiing gear list would be complete without Columbia being mentioned, right? Well, these Omni-Heat ski base layer leggings are some of the best synthetics out there. Find out what makes Columbia's Omni-Heat technology so great.
As all base layers should be (but are often not), you can hardly notice that you are wearing these under your other layers. They are also extremely breathable and keep you noticeably warmer in the cold.
A base layer is a tight-fitting, thin layer of clothing that sits between your skin and your outer ski garments.
The role of a base layer is not to keep you warm as such (though some base layers do provide great thermal properties), but to keep you dry. When you inevitably stop skiing for a (beer) break and your body temperature begins to naturally cool, damp or wet clothing touching your skin will very quickly make you feel freezing cold.
As such, the material of a base layer is one of the most important factors when purchasing base layer bottoms for skiing. We’re looking for something that does not hold onto water but instead wicks it away.
In short, yes. Base layers should be tight against your skin, but not restrictive. You should still be able to easily move and stretch without feeling discomfort.
Base layers need to be in constant contact with your skin in order to wick moisture away from your skin and onto the surface of the base layer material.
The best material for a base layer is without a doubt merino wool, though it comes at a cost. The second most popular material for a base layer is synthetic materials such as polyester. Synthetic material has the best moisture-wicking properties but isn’t great at retaining heat and has a tendency to become smellier much quicker than merino wool base layers. Synthetic base layers are, however, cheaper than merino wool.
It might seem like we repeated ourselves in this list, but that’s because the elements that matter are the same for each garment. And because we picked only the best base layers based on these factors, they’re all a great choice depending upon your most important needs.
What’s your favorite base layer brand?
Do you love merino wool, or do you find it itchy?
Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!