Buying Guide for Long Underwear
By Steve Kopitz
Long underwear or what is often called base layers is the first layer which is worn directly on your skin. This layer being the first is also your first layer of defense to ward off cold weather or keep you sweat free during activity. Here we will go over the different types of long underwear, the different weights available, different materials they can be made out of and just how you are to choose the correct long underwear for yourself.
Long underwear is meant to fit snug, tightly next to the skin, and should have some stretch to it for comfort. Skiing long underwear should wick away sweat and moisture keeping you dry all day.
Different Types of Long Underwear
When talking about different types of long underwear we are talking about actual styles not materials or brands. Long underwear can be found in tops, bottoms and occasionally in full one piece suits.
Long Underwear Tops- These are the shirts which are long sleeved and offer a stretchy fit so you can move freely. Fitting snug to the body these tops are similar to compression tops but typically will not fit quite as tight.
Long Underwear Bottoms- These are the pants which fit snug and wrap tightly at the ankle. These go on first next to the skin and offer great warmth and comfort under snow pants or under a mid layer in extremely cold conditions.
One Piece Suits- Not as common as top and bottom separates but still worn by many skiers. Theses one piece suits look similar to the old footie pajamas but with opened bottom feet. The main advantages are no gaps for snow to get in and easy to throw on.
Different Long Underwear Weights
There is not just a universal weight for long underwear; there are several weights and each is great for different temperatures and conditions. As each persons preference is different there will be different reasons for choosing whichever weight long underwear you choose. No matter the weight all good long underwear will wick away moisture, hold warmth and fit snug. When shopping for Long Underwear on Skis.com use the filtering options on the left side of your screen to see the pieces available in the weight or weights you would prefer.
Lightweight Long Underwear- This is going to be the lightest weight and thinnest type of long underwear available. This style is great for warmer conditions or for those who overheat easily. Lightweight long underwear mainly just wicks moisture away and does not act as much of an insulator.
Midweight Long Underwear- Midweight long underwear wicks away moisture and also works as an insulator. Midweight long underwear is great for most temperatures and conditions. This is the most common style of long underwear and is the most used by skiers.
Heavyweight Long Underwear- Heavyweight long underwear wicks away moisture and serves as the thickest insulator category. Heavyweight long underwear is great for those who get cold easily or for those skiing in the most extreme cold.
Different Long Underwear Materials
There are many different materials that long underwear can be manufactured out of. All these materials can be categorized as either synthetic or natural. Listed below are the most commonly used fabrics in long underwear and you will see no cotton; cotton absorbs moisture, will stretch and lose shape while making you susceptible to the cold.
Synthetic Long Underwear- Synthetic materials include polyester, nylon, lycra and spandex. These materials are very durable, stretchy and wick away moisture very well.
Natural Long Underwear- Natural materials include silk and Merino wool. Not quite as durable as the synthetic materials but still offer great warmth and wicking properties.
Be sure to follow all wash and care instructions to ensure the longevity of your long underwear.
Choosing the Correct Long Underwear for Skiing
When choosing what long underwear to wear for skiing there is two main things to keep in mind; what activity you will be wearing them for and what the temperature is going to be when you take part in this activity.
Activity- If you are skiing leisurely on a cold day you may want a heavier weight long underwear to keep you warm. If you are cross country skiing long distances or skiing long all day you may want a lightweight long underwear set so you will not overheat. Before shopping for long underwear evaluate the type of activity and the amount of time you will be doing this activity. It’s definitely a good idea to stock up on different styles of long underwear for differing conditions.
Temperature- This one is a bit more self explanatory; if you live in the arctic and are going to be skiing in arctic conditions you will want a different set of long underwear than if you ski the Midwest in mid 30 degree weather. When shopping think of the time of the year you go skiing, where you go skiing and the usual weather you can expect.
You are now a Long Underwear Einstein!
Hopefully you have learned a bit about long underwear by reading over this guide. Remember the main goal of any long underwear is to be breathable and wicking to allow moisture from sweat to escape while keeping snow and dampness from getting in. Basically you want to stay dry and warm instead of being damp and cold.