Let’s take a look at the best ski base layer bottoms.
My name is Kate and I have been skiing for over a decade. Today, I will be working with an experienced, NZSIA certified ski instructor Aspen, APSI and CASI certified snowboard instructor, our ski school manager of the China and Japan division, to provide you with our most recommended ski base layer bottoms and their detailed reviews.
Aspen has been teaching skiing and snowboarding in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and China for over 15 seasons and she has developed a very useful skis length calculator and size guide to help rookies to intermediate skiers choose suitable gears.
Base layer bottoms play a very important role when it comes to skiing, they should be able to keep you dry, warm, and comfortable when you are out at the big white mountain.
Today, we are going to share our knowledge and experience with you so you can pick one that suits your needs the best.
Sounds great? Let’s get started!
- Best overall: Icebreaker Merino 200 Oasis Thermal Leggings
- Best budget pick: Under Armour – Tactical Base Leggings
- Best blended material: Black Diamond – Solution 150 Merino Baselayer Full Length Bottom
- Best for men: Smartwool – Men’s Merino 250 Baselayer Bottom
- Best for women: Kari Traa – Rose Wool Base Layer Pant
What is a Base Layer?
The base layer can be made with different functional materials, for example, the compression base layer can enhance your blood circulation and performance.
Most ideal base layers are made with quick-dry material with high breathability so they can absorb and evaporate the moisture (sweat) out quickly to keep you warm.
Who Should Get These?
To be very honest, I don’t really recommend first-timer to get these bottoms because you are still not so sure whether you like skiing or not.
For sure, the bottoms mentioned below are great for keeping yourself warm and comfortable over the winter. But then there are many other options out there in the current market as well, and ski wears tend to be more demanding than other sports because of the tough conditions we need to face.
So for a first-timer, just get some thin, tight pants made with quick-dry material and you should be fine.
Once you confirmed your love with skiing (for me it was after my first time skiing down the hill), then you can consider getting these base layers because you will be spending a longer time on the mountain, and these base layer bottoms are just as important as your ski pants.
5 Best Ski Base Layer Bottoms – Detailed Reviews
Now that we understand what factors to consider, let’s look at the best baselayer bottoms for skiing the market has to offer.
Icebreaker Merino 200 Oasis Thermal Leggings
- Best: Overall
- Key Features: Soft merino, Gusset for mobility, Flatlock seams
- Material: 100% Merino Wool
The Icebreaker Oasis Thermal Leggings are loved and highly praised by skiers and people who enjoy other winter sports.
The pants are made out of pure soft merino fibers that regulate body temperature in all weather conditions. This 100% merino midweight jersey will keep you warm while not overheating.
The fabric weighs 200 gsm (200 grams of merino per square meter), making the leggings very lightweight and breathable, yet giving them great technical performance ideal for cold winter adventures.
These leggings come in men’s and women’s cuts. Both are made with gusset to ensure maximum mobility and a brushed elastic waistband for comfort. They have flatlock seams that prevent friction.
As pure merino, these pants are naturally odor-resistant, non-itchy but extremely soft and comfortable. They were designed to contour the body and provide easy flex for maximum movement.
Icebreaker is a renowned brand that makes high-quality products. However, we can’t forget that pure merino tends to be more fragile. It needs to be cared for properly.
Check here for the ladies’ version: Icebreaker Merino Women’s 200 Oasis Leggings
Under Armour – Tactical Base Leggings
- Best: Budget Pick
- Key Features: ColdGear® Reactor, Anti-odor technology, Material wicks sweat & dries really fast, Exposed elastic waistband, Working fly
- Material:Men’s cut 86% Polyester, 14% Elastane, Women’s cut 84% Polyester, 16% Elastane
Tactical Base offers many exciting features. The material blend of the men’s cut differs slightly from the women’s one, but all the important things stay the same. These affordable leggings are made with a synthetic fabric brushed on the inside for warmth and better airflow.
They use ColdGear® Reactor — intelligent insulation that adapts the warmth and breathability of the pants to the level of activity you are doing at any given moment.
The material has good moisture management, dries quickly, and uses a technology that prevents the growth of odor-causing microbes. These bottoms are lightweight, durable, and have a working fly for convenience.
However, they are not as soft and cozy as merino wool, and the fit is very tight. The leggings are not ideal for extremely cold temperatures.
Here you go the ladies’ version: Under Armour Women’s Tactical Base Leggings
Black Diamond – Solution 150 Merino Baselayer Full Length Bottom
- Best: Blend Material
- Key features:NuYarn stretch merino wool, Flatlock stitching, Branded elastic waist
- Material: 78% Merino Wool, 22% Polyester
The Black Diamond Solution Baselayer Bottoms come in both cuts for men and women, respectively. They are made with a blend of materials. That gives them the outstanding natural qualities of merino wool, together with some advantages of polyester fabrics.
Black Diamond (BD) uses the innovative NuYarn stretch merino wool. It utilizes the technology of wrapping a nylon core with extra-fine merino fiber.
As a result, these BD bottoms surpass other fabrics in moisture management and thermoregulation. They are stronger, more durable, and dry faster than traditional merino fabrics. Plus, they maintain their odor resistance and natural antimicrobial properties.
Flatlock seams eliminate chafing. The pants are soft, comfortable, keep you warm and allow a full range of movement. Black Diamond is a well-established brand in the ski gear industry, and it shows in this product.
The only apparent negatives are the higher price and the lack of a working fly.
Check out the men’s version via here: Black Diamond Solution 150 Merino Base Bottom – Men’s
Smartwool – Men’s Merino 250 Baselayer Bottom
- Best: Merino Baselayer for Men
- Key features: Traditional fly design, Flatlock seam construction
- Material: 100% Merino Wool
Smartwool Baselayer Bottoms have 250 gsm of merino. Meaning they are warmer and a bit thicker than products with lighter gsm. However, they remain breathable enough to still be odor-resistant.
The bottoms provide excellent thermoregulation and sweat-wicking properties. They protect you in cold and bad weather conditions.
The pants were redesigned for even better fit and functionality. Flatlock seams minimize chafing. Merino-covered elastic waistband together with traditional fly design allow for next-to-skin comfort.
Smartwool notes on their website that they used ZQ-Certified Merino wool for this product. That means it is responsibly sourced and has the highest standards of animal welfare, social responsibility, and fiber quality in mind.
For the negative part, it is important to mention that they tend to stretch out between washes and are not as durable as synthetic options. These bottoms are a bit heavier, which might make them too warm for intense physical activities.
Kari Traa – Rose Wool Base Layer Pant
- Best: Merino Baselayer for Women
- Key features: Thinner side panels, Strong elastic waistband, 4-way stretch
- Material: 100% Merino Wool
The brand was created by Norwegian former Olympic freestyle skier — Kari Traa. The company’s mottos are “For girls, by girls” or “Dare to Play” and you can feel it in their products.
The Rose Base Layer bottoms have a beautiful Nordic-inspired design and a tight silhouette that perfectly flatters and fits the female body. There is nothing dull about these pants.
The super-soft merino wool is thinner on the side panels, which improves the breathability of these thick and warm pants. They are made with smooth finish fabric, which gives them supreme softness and fit.
Thanks to the 4-way stretch merino and strong elastic waistband, they fit snug but are not restrictive in your movement. The pants are very comfortable and have great thermoregulation and odor resistance.
Similar to other merino wool products, these pants are more expensive and fragile. The lighter colors can be see-through, especially the parts with thinner side panels.
Best Base Layer Bottoms for Skiing – What to Consider?
Before heading out on any winter adventure, you will need to consider what to wear. We need to talk about a piece of clothing that is easy to forget about, but trust me when I say that you won’t find much enjoyment in cold weather without a pair of base layer ski pants.
The main role of a good base layer is to keep you warm and dry throughout your winter activities.
You might ask what makes them different from ordinary leggings and why should you invest in this piece of clothing? Let’s discuss essential functions you need to look out for when buying base layer bottoms and why.
The base layer serves multiple purposes. The arguably most important one is its thermoregulation. It traps the heat and regulates the temperature to keep you warm and cozy in freezing weather.
It protects you from the cold and wind, which is why the base bottoms are always tight-fitting. A good thermal base does all of these things while remaining lightweight and not bulky.
The base layer’s breathability is connected to its thermoregulation. Yes, you want the pants to keep you warm, but you don’t want to overheat. Good breathability improves your overall comfort and allows for moisture-wicking and odor resistance.
Moisture Wicking and Odour Resistance
Another important quality of base layer pants is that they need to be moisture-wicking. The base layer’s fabric is supposed to move moisture away from your body to the outer surface of the pants. The material should therefore be quick drying as well.
An additional feature essential for the base layer is odor resistance. While removing the moisture from the body keeps you warm and comfortable, nobody wants the fabric to smell due to the process.
In this category, merino wool beats the other fabrics. It is naturally odor-resistant and has antimicrobial properties. In contrast, synthetic materials need an added anti-odor technology, which doesn’t always work as great as merino’s natural properties.
Ski base layers are made with different materials, and they all have different pros and cons.
The best material for a ski base layer is superfine-grade merino wool.
Merino provides excellent performance – it has great thermal and moisture-wicking properties, and it is soft, lightweight, and odor-resistant. The only disadvantage of this material is that it is more fragile and expensive than synthetic materials.
Your other option is to find a quality synthetic base layer. They tend to be bulkier and have worse performance, but have better durability and are cheaper than merino. These pants are usually made from polyester or a blend of polyester and elastane.
You can also find a blend of merino and polyester. These products offer great overall performance. They take advantage of all the great properties of merino wool but add some synthetic materials to make the clothing more durable.
They are the sweet spot between merino and synthetic but tend to be the most expensive. If you opt for the blend pants, it is important that you buy from trusted manufacturers.
You need the pants to be soft and stretchy, so they feel comfortable even though they will be thigh. It is crucial that they don’t feel restrictive and they allow you a full range of movement.
Nevertheless, you want your base layer pants to be light and well-fitting. Basically, you are looking for the second-skin feel.
Merino base layers tend to win in this category, but that is not to say that you cannot find a comfortable base layer made from other materials.
Here are some commonly asked questions and their quick answers relating to ski base layer bottoms.
Should base layers be tight?
Yes, a base layer should be tight, especially for skiing and snowboarding. These next-to-skin fabrics work to wick away moisture and keep yourself warm when they are in direct contact with your skin.
How many base layers do I need for a week of skiing?
Three sets of base layers are good enough for a week of skiing. Almost all accommodation in ski resorts has a washing machine, and most base layers are made with quick-dry material.
Sometimes you may need only two sets of base layers because they usually can dry in one day
We highly recommend Icebreaker Merino 200 Oasis Thermal Leggings as the best overall ski base layer bottoms, they are lightweight, comfortable, warm, and breathable. Wearing it can give you maximum mobility.
Base layer bottoms take a very important part in keeping you warm so it is important to pick a high-quality one. All the options mentioned above will guard you well against the freezing cold.
Stay safe and have a great skiing day!