Best thermals and baselayers for skiing
  • About
  • Contact
  • Legal information
Featured: Best Gifts for Skiers

Best thermals and baselayers for skiing

Ski thermals are an essential item for any ski holiday. They are specially constructed and made of very high-quality materials to ensure maximum heat is retained by the body, and moisture can be wicked away from the skin easily. Thermals can be made in a large range of different materials, each attracting a different price tag.

No matter how warm you think you will be, or how well you think you are otherwise prepared, there is never not a reason to leave your thermals at home when you go skiing. The advantages of thermals make them ideal for sports such as skiing, where there is lots of movement and perspiration. This is where good quality thermals come into their own – and I stress good quality. I have talked in more detail about the different options for thermal clothing in the article Base layers for skiing.

Unlike picking a new pair of skis or new ski boots, where the best choice will depend a lot on the individual choosing and what their skiing preference is, when it comes to ski thermals there are clear winners and losers. Merino wool ski thermals will always come out on top for performance both in warmth and moisture absorption/ wicking. There are a multitude of different brands out there that make excellent quality thermals for winter sports, and a range of different materials they are made of depending on what you prioritise in your thermals. Some things you may want to consider when picking your ski thermals are cost, warmth, comfort & moisture wicking.

The warmest baselayers for skiing

Merino wool is the undisputed leader in providing warmth when it comes to baselayers for skiing or any other land-based activity. If the merino sheep in New Zealand can get by using this type of wool to stay warm, you can be fairly sure it is going to keep you warm on the ski slopes as well. There’s a reason this material is found naturally, because it's so good a retaining heat! As I have detailed in the article Base layers for skiing (link to the actual paragraph if possible, not just the general article) Merino Wool is also exceptionally good at retaining heat even when wet. This is certainly something that can't be said about some of merino wool’s synthetic competitors such as Polyester or Nylon.

When you are doing high intensity sports such as skiing or snowboarding, your inner clothes are inevitably going to become wet throughout the day with the build-up of sweat. On top of having a baselayer capable of wicking away moisture and sweat from your body, it is also a bonus to have a baselayer which can keep you warm if it does get wet (not an unlikely scenario on a ski holiday!). Merino Wool comes out on top in this category as well. Synthetic baselayer materials don’t even come close.

Have a look below at a few of the warmest Merino Wool baselayers available:

Icebreaker Men's Merino 260 Tech Long Sleeve Half Zip Thermal Top

Icebreaker Men's Merino Original Long Sleeve Half Zip Top

The best moisture wicking baselayers for skiing

Preventing the build-up of sweat while you are skiing is very important, as not only does it prevent your clothes from smelling, but it also keeps your clothes comfortable for the entire day. There are a number of different options for best performing baselayer material in this category. Merino Wool, Polyester & Nylon are all excellent materials for wicking away moisture and sweat from your skin. This is really important for staying warm on the slopes, as having sweat sitting next to your skin will drain the heat from your body very quickly! The synthetic materials Polyester and Nylon are the more affordable options when it comes to baselayers.

Here are different options of baselayers to consider:

Rab Men's Forge LS Tee

This is a blend of Polyester and Merino Wool to provide an optimised blend of a baselayer. Cheaper than Icebreaker Merino Wool.

Arc’teryx Motus AR Crew LS Men’s

This product from Arcteryx is a Polyester baselayer. Although Polyester is a cheaper material to construct baselayers from, as this is an Arcteryx product with superior construction quality, you can expect this to be reflected in the price. This is a top quality product.

Icebreaker Men's Merino 200 Oasis Long Sleeve Crewe Thermal Top

Or get the warmer Icebreaker Men's Merino 260

Or the lighter Icebreaker Men's Merino 175

These baselayer range from ultralight up to midweight. The number within the name of each item refers to the density of wool. Therefore the larger the number, the thicker the baselayer will be, and therefore the warmer it is going to keep you!

The best odour resistant baselayers

Odours arising from sports clothing is largely impossible to avoid, except for the miraculous and natural ability of Merino Wool. No matter how good your synthetic baselayer is at wicking away moisture from your skin, it won't be able to compete with the natural anti-microbial properties of Merino Wool. This allows baselayers made from Merino Wool to go for days on end of constant use without smelling! It needs to be experienced to be believed. If you are concerned about how bad your ski thermals smell each day after a day on the slopes, and are fed up of having to switch your baselayer every day to maintain any level of self-respect, you need to get your hands on a Merino Wool baselayer.

Icebreaker Men's Merino 200 Oasis Long Sleeve Crewe Thermal Top

Or get the warmer Icebreaker Men's Merino 260

Or the lighter Icebreaker Men's Merino 175

The most affordable high quality baselayers

In general Merino Wool baselayers are more expensive that synthetic baselayers, simply due to the materials they are made out of. Merino Wool is an expensive material. While in my opinion Merino Wool does provide the most advantages and benefits of any of the baselayer materials available, if you are happy to sacrifice some luxuries such as odour-free thermals and some breathability, there are plenty of excellent baselayers made from both Polyester and Nylon on the market which will keep you warm on the slopes.

Have a look at some more affordable yet high-quality baselayers made by some of the world's leading outdoor bands, which won't set you back as much as a Merino Wool baselayer.

Patagonia Men's Capilene® Midweight Crew

This product has the added bonus that it is made from between 50-100% recycled materials.

Helly Hansen HH Tech Crew

This is the perfect example of a reputable brand with an affordable product made using Polyester. While Helly Hansen doesn’t have the reputation it once did, they are still very capable of making top quality products, and if you are looking for a more affordable option which will still wick away moisture, keep you warm and feel extremely light to wear, the HH Tech Crew by Helly Hansen might be what you need as a baselayer.