Active Clothing

We Skied in 20 Different Base Layers—These Are the Top 13 That’ll Keep You Warm, on and off the Slopes

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Whether you're a snow bunny who loves the slopes or an indoor cat who prefers après, we can all agree on one thing when it comes to winter: surviving it requires warmth. Even now, at the end of February, the temps are still chilly with no relief in sight. Tack on last-minute ski trips or a romantic mountain cabin getaways, and you better get that winter wardrobe dialed if you haven't already.

Enter, base layers, the thermoregulating superstars that can keep you snug as a bug, in and out of the snow. But with an avalanche of layers on the market—wool layers, spandex layers, fleece-lined layers, one-piece layers—figuring out which ones are worth your time and attention certainly isn't easy.

As a skier myself who happens to date a fellow skier, this blizzard of base layers made us wonder: which ones are the best of the best? Which ones are actually going to keep us warm mid-snow squall, and not make us get sweaty on spring days? Which ones live up to the hype, and which ones are better left to chill in the ski lodge?

Thus began our journey of finding the best of the best base layers for men and women. My boyfriend Zac and I tested 20 different base layers skiing in Salt Lake City this winter. From white out conditions with temps in the teens, to bluebird, sunny days in the 50s, we've worn these layers through it all, to narrow it down and crown our winners. Find our top 10 picks below.

The best base layers for skiing and cold weather

Best women's base layers

Kari Traa, Smekker Wool Top + Bottom — $110.00

Of all the base layers I’ve tried this season, I keep coming back to my Kari Traa Smekker set Both the long-sleeve top ($110) and bottom ($110) are made from 100 percent merino wool that’s lightweight and breathable, but so warm. This means it’s also antimicrobial, so even when I’m sweating coming off the mountain, it doesn’t smell (I think I’ve washed my set only three times all season?). Layer on the adorable pattern and chic piping, and it’s become my go-to set to trot around in at après long after I’ve gotten off the slopes.

Editor rating: 10/10

Knix, Merino SculptWool Seamless Top + Bottom — $98.00

Knix launched its new line of merino base layers a few weeks ago, and I’m more than impressed. The long sleeve top ($98) and matching leggings ($98) are made from a buttery merino wool blend called SculptWool, which smooths and stretches against your silhouette. When I tell you these things are soft… slip them on under your snow pants or even a pair of jeans and you’ll forget they’re even there.

Editor rating: 10/10

Obermeyer, Discover 1/4 Zip Baselayer Top + Tight — $89.00

Obermeyer is beloved in the winter sports community for its high-quality gear that holds up over time. The Discover 1/4 Zip Up ($89) and Tight ($79) have quickly become my go-to for layering on warmer days when I don’t need as much insulation. Both pieces are made in a breezy polyester brushed in a peachy fleece that feels really dreamy when it’s on. The top is also feature-friendly, complete with thumbholes and a chin warmer (!) when you need to get out of the elements.

Editor rating: 9/10 — If you run cold, it might be a tad lightweight for resort skiing.

Aerie, Chillside Base Layer Bodysuit — $40.00

I’ll be honest—I thought this bodysuit was going to be all fashion, no function. I was wrong—this suit is so warm and just makes layering super easy. The inside is lined in a cloud-like fleece that’s soft and smooth, never itchy or uncomfortable. My personal fave is the high mock neck which zips up all the way, keeping me warm and snug even when the wind is whipping. For $40, adding it to your cart is a no-brainer.

Editor rating: 9/10 — TBH, getting it off when you have to pee is a bit of a hassle. But damn, it looks good.

Outdoor Voices, Frostknit Pullover + 7/8 Legging — $118.00

I’m an Outdoor Voices evangelist and will sing its praises from the rooftops. Unsurprisingly, I’m quite fond of my FrostKnit Pullover ($98) and 7/8 Leggings ($118), which are both made from a stretchy, sculpting lycra brushed in a cozy lining. It has everything you want in a good set: ample pockets, room for movement, even reflective piping. My only hang-up is it is a little bit stiff (the material is thick, which isn’t the most comfortable for layering underneath heavy ski gear). But for winter jogs and cold-weather hikes, it’s a solid bet.

Editor rating: 8/10 — The material is kinda stiff, but it won my heart for warmth.

Best men's base layers

Ibex, Woolies 2 Zip + Bottom — $145.00

Surprise, surprise—Ibex landed itself on the top of this list. The brand is a goldmine for merino wool goodness, like the Ibex Woolies 2 Zip ($145) and Bottoms ($135). Zac says even when he sweats (which is a lot), he’s kept warm and dry. And again, since it’s wool, stink doesn’t cling to it like it might other fabrics.

Editor rating: 10/10

Burton, Midweight X Base Layer Long Neck Hoodie + Pant — $90.00

Next on the list is the Burton Midweight X Base Layer Hoodie ($90) and Pants ($70), both which come in a stretchy, forgiving material that’s warm but breathable. Unlike the Dakine, it’s not bulky or fleecy. But it’s not as thin as others either—it’s truly about as mid-weight as you can get. “The built-in gaiter is pretty nice,” Zac says. “I like it for storm days when I want to have my face covered.” Noted.

Editor rating: 10/10

Dakine, Liberator Hoodie + Pants — $80.00

“Unbelievably soft, I love them,” says Zac. “I wear them around the house, but can also wear them under my snow pants… Please don’t steal them.” I haven’t stole them yet but I have tried them on and can confirm—they’re really freakin’ soft. And they’re made from recycled fabrics, making them an eco-friendly option, too. Tl;dr—there’s not much to dislike about this plush combo.

Editor rating: 9/10 — They are heavy, so if you run hot you might get a little toasty.

Jack Wolfskin, Sky Thermal — $24.00

If you’re on a budget for end of season base layers, check out this thermal from Jack Wolfskin. “It’s $24—that’s, like, nothing,” says Zac. “It’s a little thin as a base layer by itself, but under a sweatshirt or as a sun shirt, it’s great. I wish there were matching pants.”

Editor rating: 8/10 — A bit thin but really affordable and versatile for all seasons. Wish there were pants…

 

Duluth, Buck Naked Performance Top + Pants — $35.00

If you run hot, or just want a thin layer to throw on underneath your snow suit, give Duluth’s Buck Naked system a look. It trades wool or cotton for a stretchy nylon-spandex blend that feels, well, Buck Naked. “It’s not thick enough to be on its own, but it’s a great first piece of the system,” Zac says. “Underneath another layer, it’s pretty comfortable.”

Editor rating: 8/10 — You’ll definitely want to pair it with another layer, but the light material is perfect for sweaty treks.

Best socks

No layering system is complete without a good pair of socks. If you're going skiing (or boarding, or sledding) these are the *only* ones we recommend.

Bombas, Merino Wool Ski & Snowboard Sock (Pack of 3) — $72.00

Zac and I both love our Bombas, thanks to that signature hex. Whether we’re skiing, hiking, or walking around, that little band of extra support goes along way. Mind you, we have very different feet—mine are flat and narrow, his are high-arched and wide. That’s how you know Bombas are the real deal—they feel good no matter what kind of hooves you have.

Editor rating: 10/10

Darn Tough, Snowburst Over-the-Calf Midweight Ski Sock — $27.00

I also love my Darn Tough socks, which are designed to absorb shock while you ski, step, and skate. They’re mid-weight, so they’re heavy enough to stay warm and plush but not so heavy you can’t feel your feet. And compared to other ski socks, they’re $27, which is pretty affordable.

Editor rating: 10/10

Comrad, Merino Wool Compression Socks — $32.00

If there’s one compression sock Zac and I fight over, it’s our Comrads. These things are so comfortable, designed to support circulation and keep blood pumping when you need it most. For outdoor activities, we love the merino wool ones which wick sweat and keep stinky feet at bay.

Editor rating: 9/10 — They’re not as thick as the others, but they’re soft and ultra-compressive, which feels amazing whether you’re skiing, hiking, flying, or laying on the couch.

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