Merino Wool Base Layers for Winter Sports

As you prepare for your next winter adventure, your mind might immediately go to outerwear when thinking about what gear to pack. While wearing the right coat is important in protecting you from the elements, the key to a comfortable and warm ski trip starts a few layers below your jacket. 

It's important to build your gear list for winter activities from the base outward. This means taking care of your base layers first and foremost, as they will serve as the functional foundation for your outfit. Although they are buried under warm sweaters, snow pants, and a specialized jacket, the right base layers can bring about many benefits, and will make your next ski trip safer, warmer, and more comfortable. This blog will serve as a comprehensive guide to everything you need to know about base layers for your next winter adventure!


Understanding the role of base layers in winter sports

How base layers work to keep you warm and comfortable

When you’re on the slopes, your only consistent source of warmth is your own body heat. That means to stay safe and comfortable, you need to do everything in your power to preserve and maintain the heat your body produces. Well-designed base layers hug your body in a form-fitting fashion and use specific fabrics, such as Merino Wool, or our proprietary Sterling Fabric, to retain the heat your body produces. While coats and snow pants can also help retain heat, they are more of a last line of defense and are often designed to prioritize keeping the elements out, not necessarily retaining body heat. This is why choosing the right base layers can make or break your time out on the slopes.


Base Layers Have You Covered, Head to Toe

Base layers are simple in that they’re designed to cover us completely from the neck down. You’re likely familiar with the comfort that comes with a warm pair of winter socks. Base layers act similarly for our torso, arms, abdomen and legs in that they fully cover these areas with tightly stretched fabric that comfortably hugs our bodies.

Thus, there are two types of base layers: bottoms, for below the waist, and tops, for above.


Factors to consider when choosing a base layer

The Fit

Perhaps the most important consideration when choosing base layers is how well the chosen base layer will fit you. As base layers act as an insulator against your body, loose-fitting base layers will retain less heat which defeats the purpose of the layers to begin with. However, while-loose fitting layers are unhelpful, base layers that are too tight can limit breathability, mobility and can simply be uncomfortable. To ensure you have the perfect fit, it is best to consult a sizing chart before you pick your base layers!


The Function

It’s important to consider how you’ll be using your base layers before you choose which ones are best for your adventure. When hitting the slopes you will likely need to prioritize retaining body heat and eliminating sweat build up. This means base layers designed for winter sports are going to be better suited than layers you might already have for daily use or other activities.


The Fabric

The last thing you want to worry about when skiing or snowboarding is an itchy fabric three layers under your tightly zipped coat. Nor do you want to be drenched in sweat by the time you reach the bottom of every hill. That is why you should be conscious of the fabrics used to manufacture the base layers you choose. Look for fabrics that are comfortable and effectively wick sweat away so you can focus on enjoying your day in the snow! 


Material Matters

Base layers come in a variety of materials, but not all offer the same level of effectiveness when ensuring comfort, functionality and durability. Synthetic fabrics such as nylon and polyester are commonly used in base layers because both materials are lightweight and quick-drying. However, layers made with nylon or polyester are often known to retain odor, which can result in a short-lived and unpleasant wearing experience. 

For these reasons, you’d likely prefer to use Merino wool base layers when choosing gear for your winter adventures. Merino wool is known for its natural insulating, moisture-wicking and odor resistant properties. Additionally merino wool is often preferred in base layers because of its soft and comfortable feel and its durable nature. When choosing base layers manufactured with wool, it's also important to keep in mind the sourcing of the materials used in the garment. To ensure the fabrics used in wool-made garments are ethically sourced, look out for a Responsible Wool Standard (RWS) Certification when shopping for garments made with wool.

Features to Look for in Base Layers

Moisture-wicking properties

Prioritizing moisture-wicking properties in a base layer goes beyond just feeling comfortable while you snowboard or ski. Wearing wet clothes in freezing temperatures can result in hypothermia. Ensuring you stay dry when it's cold out helps your body regulate temperature much more effectively.


Owning a hefty coat might deter you from prioritizing base layers, but it's important to remember that insulation starts at the skin, and the layer closest to your skin is going to take the brunt of the work in keeping you warm!


When setting out for a ski adventure, you want to pack gear you can rely on. Owning base layers that retain comfort and functionality after multiple uses and washes is going to be a sound investment that you can enjoy for years.


Having fun and getting exercise is what draws so many to winter sports. Both of these goals are dependent on you feeling comfortable in the gear you are in. So be sure to choose base layers that make you feel comfortable and confident!

Layering Techniques

Tips for layering effectively

Once you have your base layers covered, you can move outward to determine what’s going to keep you comfortable and safe for your day on the slopes. For a mid layer you should choose something warm but not bulky to further retain body heat and maintain full mobility; a fleece jacket or sweater is a great option. Next, your outer layers, such as a coat and snow-pants, will keep you safe from the wind, snow and ice, so be sure to bundle up appropriately to enjoy your snowy adventure!


Final thoughts and advice for staying warm and comfortable on the slopes

Being thoughtful in choosing your base layers has numerous benefits from being safe and warm to being comfortable and confident for your trip to the slopes. Alpine Fit’s merino wool base layers are an excellent option to build out your winter adventure gear! In addition to being comfortable, moisture wicking and durable, our merino wool base layers are crafted with RWS certified wool, meaning you can wear our layers confidently knowing they were ethically made.



Here at Alpine Fit, we're passionate about creating quality gear that can handle your next adventure in the wilderness. Every garment is carefully crafted and tested to ensure it's ready for your next hike. 

We take pride in every piece of gear that leaves our doors and we're committed to ensuring that it's ready for whatever the wilderness may bring.


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