9 best ski base layers for women
Hitting the slopes this year? Keep warm with our pick of the best base layers
Thermals, long johns, base layers – whatever you want to call them, there’s nothing like a snuggly warm layer next to the skin to help keep the chill of winter at bay. It may sound like something your granny would advise but it really is worth investing in a great set of thermals for cold weather, and they’re especially useful for skiers and snowboarders. Wear below salopettes and a ski jacket for warmth on the ski lifts and breathability when you’re tearing down the pistes.
We’d recommend picking a set of base layers with full-length leggings and long sleeves. It’s definitely worth trying thermals on in person, especially if you’re on the tall or short side – they should hug your body without feeling tight and you shouldn’t feel any restriction around the waistband, ankles, neck or sleeves.
You may find that differently sized or even different branded tops and bottoms fit you best. Some base layers are stretchier than others – we reckoned the former offered more warmth on test as there’s no empty space between fabric and your skin for the pesky cold wind to creep in. Most base layers are synthetic but some are made with either a blend or 100 per cent pure merino wool, a wise (if pricier) choice as merino is very warm but great at wicking away sweat and has naturally antibacterial properties, too. If you’re planning a week of backcountry ski touring far from the nearest shower then merino layers are ideal.
Odlo Blackcomb SUW top: £60, Odlo
Quite simply, one of the best base layers we’ve ever tested. Odlo’s Blackcomb collection is all the things we look for in cold weather clothing – warm and comfortable to wear all day, it wicks away sweat fast and keeps its shape and stretchiness wash after wash. The SUW top looks smart. It’s also available with a built-in facemask, ideal for winter sports.
TOG24 Fixby top and bottoms: £20 each, TOG24
Our top pick on a budget are these simple, flattering base layers – at £40 for the set they’re a steal, and are ideal if you’re off on your first ski holiday or need a spare set of inner layers. They were some of the softest and silkiest base layers we tested, and we like the high zipped neck of the top, the comfortable waist band of the bottoms and the fact that they incorporate carbon fibres to help keep them smelling fresh.
Columbia Titanium Omni Heat top: £70, Columbia
This flattering top may look like a standard base layer on the outside, but inside it all goes a bit space-age, featuring a tight pattern of Columbia’s Omni Heat silver dots to reflect heat back to your body. It feels comfortable, if a little plastic-y, on the skin, and the technology does work very effectively to keep warmth trapped inside. A good choice if you tend to feel the cold.
Van Loon Maxim top: £190, Van Loon
Like to go luxe with your sportswear? This very good-looking base layer is definitely on the pricey side, but it does combine style and substance brilliantly. It’s made from sumptuous Gojira Merino wool, which is soft, wicking and warm, and we love the high neck and retro styling. The base layer a Bond girl would probably plump for – one to wear to apres.
Montane Primino 140 T-shirt: £50, Montane
Montane’s Primino range comes in two weights, 220g and 140g, so you can mix and match according to the weather. We rate their whole collection of tops, bottoms, face masks and gloves, but this short-sleeved teal t-shirt is especially good for warm-weather spring skiing, with merino wool for warmth and odour resistance. It’s just as useful for hiking and running, making it a good investment both on and off the pistes.
Protest Many top: £39.99, Protest
What a good-looker – this is a base layer handsome enough to wear anywhere. The light and silky fabric is comfortable and cool when you’re skiing hard, with a cosy high turtle neck, but the lighter weight is perhaps best for warmer spring skiing. It’s slim-fitting, so we recommend going a size up if you’re planning on eating lots of fondue on the mountains.
Dare2B Solaris top: £29.95, Dare2B
A very versatile choice and for a decent price, Dare2B’s Solaris makes a great addition to your snow wardrobe. It’s light enough to wear alone as a base layer, but the zipped front and fuzzy brushed fabric make it work well as a mid layer on colder days, too. It features a warm high neck and handy pockets. We did dislike the large metal logo stuck on one arm.
Mountain Warehouse Talus bottoms: £9.99, Mountain Warehouse
Incredible value for money from Mountain Warehouse here. The warm, wicking Talus pant is one of the best bottoms we tried out, and is comfy and warm and with good stretch. The knees did start to sag a little after a few washes, but for less than £10 the Talus is totally worth having in your kit cupboard, or taking as a spare pair of bottoms on a ski trip.
Icebreaker Oasis top and bottoms: £75 and £65, Icebreaker
Icebreaker base layers are a cult favourite in the winter sports world, and we can see why. They may sit at the pricy end of the market, but if you take skiing seriously you’ll get your money’s worth out of them – 100% merino wool means they are seriously warm without feeling heavy, and were some of the most breathable and odour-free base layers we tried out. You’ll barely feel them on when you’re skiing up a storm.
The Verdict: Best ski base layers for women
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