Buying Guide for Women's Long Underwear
By Steve Kopitz
Dressing properly for skiing means dressing in layers that will work to keep you dry, warm and protected under a variety of weather conditions. One of the most important layers is the base layer. The base layer is the first layer you put on and has the most contact with your skin. As a result, it is very important that this layer is lightweight and works to keeps you dry by allowing perspiration to evaporate quickly. In turn, your comfort level will greatly increase. Base layers, or long underwear, should also provide warmth and comfort against your skin. Base layers are designed to be form-fitting with a feminine silhouette. This then will allow for full heat retention, better moisture wicking, and will help to prevent chafing so you can remain comfortable, allowing you to stay out to the wee hours shredding away.
There are two pieces that are essential for base layers and the top is the first. The best choice for this article of clothing is a long sleeve option. Long sleeve base layers will allow for maximum warmth and also make sure to wick away moisture from your core all the way down to your wrists. Tops are offered in different styles such as pull over, crew neck, half zip and turtlenecks. Base layer tops are meant to keep your core as warm as possible under a ski jacket. The great thing about women’s base layer tops is that many are designed to serve as a layering piece but also as a stand alone garment to be worn on warmer days.
The second important base layer piece are the bottoms. Many women will use sweat pants or something of the sort under their snow pants for warmth, but such options will not allow for moisture wicking and can become cumbersome. Pants come in different cuts such as high cut or low rider. It is important to choose long underwear cuts that match the length and fit of your snow pants. This will allow for a more comfortable and even warmer experience on the slopes. Base layer bottoms are also form fitting, creating a look to accentuate womanly areas. Don’t be modest. Base layers serve as warmth and comfort for the active female.
Base layers come in different weights from light to heavy. Choosing the right weight for you depends on the type of skiing you do and the weather conditions you encounter.
Light Weight Long Underwear
A light weight base layer will provide the moisture wicking that you need, but keep in mind that it will not keep you as warm as possible. Light weight base layers are very thin and often times feel like a regular shirt when worn. This is a good choice for warmer weather conditions and more intense skiing because you will most likely not need the extra warmth. It will wick away your sweat better in order to keep you comfortable and dry.
Mid Weight Long Underwear
Mid weight base layers are the middle ground between extra warm and simple moisture wicking. Mid weight base layers will keep you dry and comfortable but will also trap more body heat for those colder days on the slopes.
Heavy Weight Long Underwear
Heavy weight base layers are the warmest available. This type of layer tends to be made from special fleece materials for the extra warmth. Heavy weight base layers should only be worn on the coldest of days or when you will be remaining stagnant on the cold for extended periods of time.
Your comfort is key. Base layer garments should be soft, keep you dry, and provide added warmth. Make sure that your base layer covers the basics listed below for the best skiing experience.
Although there are many important technical features included in the creation of base layers, which does not mean that comfort is not also a huge factor in choosing the right base layer. Advances in fabric and fiber technology have made softness a functional requirement of good long underwear. Fleece choices may seem like the natural softer choice, but synthetics can be just as good if the right fabric is chosen.
This is probably the most important function of a base layer. Other layers are made specifically for warmth, but long underwear is closet to your body and has the most contact with sweat so it needs to be able to wick that away and keep you warm. Performance fabrics whisk perspiration away from your body to the outside of the garment where it can more quickly evaporate rather than absorb it which is likely to leave you cold and clammy. When you wear long underwear with moisture wicking ability, a warm, dry area is created between this fabric and the insulating garment you wear over it to keep you dry and comfortable all day.
After long days of skiing it’s typical that you worked up a sweat. But no one wants to go into the lodge reeking of body odor. Anti-odor or anti-microbial treatments make garments resistant to odor-causing bacteria and microbes, including mildews and molds. These treatments are not available on all types of long underwear, but if you plan on doing more advanced skiing or intend to wear long underwear for several days in a row without washing it (as many skiers do during ski vacations), anti-odor/anti-microbial treatments can be beneficial.
These fabrics are man made and are specifically manufactured to meet all the requirements of a base layers, especially moisture wicking. Base Layers made from synthetic fabrics have become very popular as the technology used has improved over the years.
Polyester and other Synthetics:
Synthetic fabrics are usually the best choice for long underwear, since they provide a good combination of moisture management, softness and thermal properties. Polyester is the most common material used, due to its excellent wicking ability. These fabrics are typically given a treatment to give extra moisture wicking abilities.
Natural fabrics tend to have natural moisture wicking abilities and therefore do not need any additional treatments to ensure that you stay dry on the slopes.
Silk is used especially in lightweight pieces. This material is a soft, strong, natural wicking fiber. Silk long underwear is sometimes treated to enhance its moisture wicking ability and also tends to be the softest and most comfortable for light skiing days in sunny, warmer weather.
Wool fiber naturally wicks away moisture and is odor free. It also tends to last a lot longer than other base layers made from different materials. Wool base layers tend to be a bit more expensive but the durability makes it well worth the extra money.
Cotton garments are warm, soft and comfortable when you first put them on, but cotton is not recommended for long underwear or base layer garment use because of its tendency to absorb and hold moisture. This will just weigh you down while skiing. Should the temperature drop, your base layer will become very cold and uncomfortable, impairing your ride.
Blends of these fibers offer the best properties of each and are desirable if you plan to ski under a variety of conditions.
Base Layer Care
Base layers should not be treated as typical clothing as they have special qualities. Make sure to read the label on the inside of the garments, as different fabrics and materials require different washing requirements. It is important to never use fabric softener when washing your long underwear. It will wreck the wicking properties and you will unfortunately not be able to comfortably wear them again. Also, keep in mind that because of the moisture wicking properties, base layers will dry much faster than other clothing.