How to Choose Your Skiing or Snowboarding Base Layers

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The first thing most people think about buying when they’re going skiing or snowboarding is a jacket and pants. That only makes sense, but you’ll also need to give plenty of consideration to your base layer. These are the items of clothing that you wear against your skin; choosing the right ones means staying at a comfortable temperature and enjoying flexible freedom of movement. Here are a few things to take into account before you buy.

Synthetic or Wool?

Base layers can mostly be broken down into either synthetics or wool. Synthetic is lighter, wrinkle-resistant, stretchable, and boasts excellent moisture management properties, though it can’t regulate temperature quite as well as wool and can become smelly if not washed regularly. It’s also a little less eco-friendly.

Wool, on the other hand, is much softer and is a natural fibre. Better yet, it is odour-resistant and regulates both moisture and temperature well. That said, it does dry much slower than synthetic, and you’ll generally find that you pay more for wool base layers.

Short or Long?

After you’ve decided on the material you want for your base layers, you need to think about how much of your body you want them to cover. You can have either short-sleeve or long-sleeve tops and either full-length or three-quarter length trouser legs. Ultimately, you’ll usually just need to take in the conditions that you’ll be dealing with; during the colder parts of the season, full-length base layers are usually preferable.

Lightweight, Midweight, or Heavyweight

Finally, think about how heavy you want your base layers to be. Lightweights wick extremely well and dry faster; they also tend to be a little softer, though this is not always the case. A midweight item will be much warmer, while a heavyweight is something you’ll only really need for expeditions. In general, it’s a good idea to pick a lightweight and a midweight, which can then be worn with the former against your skin and the latter over it if things get really cold. You can also buy a midweight base layer and then use an existing synthetic running top as the layer that will actually rest against your skin.

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