What to Wear Under Ski Pants: Looking at the Warmest Options

When hitting the slopes, it is important to be comfortable in order to have an enjoyable experience. Uncomfortable clothing will put a quick end to your day on the slopes and no one wants that.

There are a few different options for what to wear under ski pants, including thermal underwear, leggings, and tights. Each option has its own benefits. Let’s look at the options of base layers to wear under your ski pants and I’ll even reveal what type I wear at the end.

base layers under ski pants

Do You Need a Base Layer Under Ski Pants?

A base layer is a necessary component of any ski outfit—it helps to keep you warm and dry while you’re out on the slopes. Not only should skiers wear a base layer under their jackets, but they also should be under their pants.

But with so many different types and styles of base layers available, it can be tricky to know which one is right for you.

A good base layer will wick away sweat and moisture, keeping your body temperature regulated as you move between the cold air and the heat of exercise. There are certain things to consider when picking a base layer. You shouldn’t just be throwing on any pair of sweatpants under your ski pants.

What to Consider When Picking a Base Layer Under Ski Pants

Minus33 Merino Wool 719 Saratoga

When picking a base layer to wear under ski pants, there are multiple factors to consider. The most important factor is the material the base layer is made out of. The material will determine how warm the base layer will keep you.

Another factor to consider is how thick the material base layer is. A thicker base layer will be warmer than a thinner one but this isn’t to say to throw on your sweatpants under your ski pants. That is way too bulky. Finally, consider what kind of skiing you will be doing.

If you will be doing a lot of backcountry skiing, you will need a warmer base layer than if you are just going to be skiing on groomed trails. Why? If you are in the backcountry then you are nowhere near the firepits or running inside the resort to warm up.

The Material of the Base Layer

When it comes to the base layer, what you wear can make a big difference in how comfortable you are while skiing. The base layer is the first layer of clothing that you put on, and it should be made of a material that will wick away moisture and keep you warm.

There are a few different materials that make great base layers under your ski pants, but one of the best is merino wool. This natural fiber is not only excellent at wicking away moisture, but it’s also very good at insulating your body heat.

As an added bonus, merino wool is also antibacterial, so it will help keep you feeling fresh even after a long day on the slopes. I reveal the merino wool base layer I wear at the end but just a heads up, I get a small commission if you buy using the link.

Another great option for a base layer material is synthetics. Think about something like Under Armour Cold Gear which is designed with skiers in mind. The synthetic fabric is also very good at wicking away moisture and keeping you warm. I do find it a bit scratchier than merino though.

Picking a Warm Base Layer

When it comes to picking a warm base layer for cold weather, look at the material. Ski brands like Burton and Patagonia make great base layers for under your ski pants. Just keep in mind that you won’t need the same base layer under your ski pants in December that you will need in spring skiing.

Think About Wicking Moisture

SAXX Viewfinder Base Layer Tights

Most people are familiar with the concept of wicking moisture away from the skin. This is the basic idea behind base layers under ski pants. If you haven’t skied before then you might not understand how important this is. You don’t want to be a wet mess from sweat and have that sit close to your body.

A good base layer fabric is designed to draw moisture away from the body, keeping you dry and comfortable. Ideally, the heat and moisture should work their way out of your ski pant’s vents.

There are a few things to keep in mind when choosing clothing with this feature. First, make sure that the fabric is breathable. If it isn’t, the moisture will just be trapped next to your skin. Second, choose a fabric that’s comfortable against your skin. You don’t want something that’s going to irritate you when it’s wet.

As I mentioned, for whatever reason, I do find the Cold Gear bottoms to be tight and itchy sometimes whereas merino wool always seems to be comfortable to me. You’ll have to try both and see what you like. And finally, make sure that the fabric is durable.

You want something that will stand up to repeated washings and wears after taking laps on the slopes.

Don’t Forget Comfortable When Looking at Base Layers

When you’re out on the slopes, the last thing you want to worry about is whether or not your base layer is comfortable. You want something that will keep you warm without being too bulky, and that won’t restrict your movement.

Here are a few things to look for, to find comfortable materials.

First, make sure it’s made from a flexible material that will move with you as you ski. You don’t want something that will be constricting and uncomfortable when you’re trying to make those turns.

Second, look for a base layer that fits snugly under your ski pants. Snug kind of contradicts a flexible material but merino base layers to me are tight yet flexible. You don’t want any gaps where cold air can sneak in and cool you down.

Get Multiple Base Layers for Under Your Ski Pants

Obermeyer Lean Crop Base Layer Tights

It is important to have multiple base layers under your ski pants. You don’t want to take just one pair if you are going on a ski trip or plan to do a lot of riding. I have multiple sets of base layer I like since sometimes I am skiing three to four times a week.

Not having the right clothes for a ski trip can really put a damper on the trip. Trust me, you don’t want to be putting your leggings on the window heater every night and have them damp in the morning. Just get multiple pairs instead.

Do Thermal Leggings Work for a Base Layer Under Ski Pants?

When it comes to hitting the slopes, thermal leggings are a great base layer to keep you warm while you enjoy the snow. Some people consider merino wool or Cold Gear to be thermal leggings. I tend to agree and any other fabrics that people use for thermals.

Thermal leggings are made from a variety of materials, but the most popular choice is merino wool. This natural fiber is not only incredibly effective at trapping heat, but it’s also very breathable and won’t make you sweat as some synthetic materials can.

If you’re looking for a great pair of thermal leggings to keep you warm on your next ski trip, be sure to check out what I wear.

So What Do I Wear Under My Ski Pants? Revealed

Icebreaker 260 Zone Leggings

Do I wear Cold Gear, some other fabric or merino wool leggings under my ski pants? If you guessed merino wool base layers then you would have guessed correctly. I have a few pairs of Meriwool’s base layer pants that do the trick.

I’ve found them to be breathable but warm at the same time. Even in below-zero weather, I’ve been fine. If you are going to serious sub-zero temps then you might want to upgrade your ski pants as well.

Final Thoughts on What to Wear Under Ski Pants

Layer up and start with the base layer under your ski pants. If you find yourself still getting cold while wearing thermal leggings then double-check you have good socks and a warm top layer on as well.

As long as you wear the correct clothes under your ski pants, you’ll be set to have a great day on the slopes.

Brianna Lee writes for Proper Peaks and lives in Duluth, MN. Her favorite thing about skiing is glades. If you want to find her out on the slopes then that is the first place you should look for her bright pink helmet.

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