Why is it important to choose a good snowboard base layer? The main purpose of a base layer is its ability to draw sweat away from the body, pushing the moisture towards the mid-layer which in turn pushes it towards the outer layer which will finally push the moisture out in the air. This is why it’s important to choose all of your snowboard layers well so that moisture can escape your body instead of being trapped within the multiple layers (leaving you cold and miserable as a result).
Our body temperatures fluctuate throughout the day. It’s important to keep the elements out, but it’s equally important to let the moisture created while moving around to escape. The base layer is where it all begins, hence why it’s so important your base layer is made out of wicking materials (a fabric that moves moisture away from your body). It’s also why cotton, with its lack of wicking properties, is not a suitable option for your base layer.
“The main purpose of a base layer is its ability to draw sweat away from the body, pushing the moisture towards the mid-layer which in turn pushes it towards the outer layer which will finally push the moisture out in the air”
Base layers are mainly made out of merino wool, synthetic materials, or a mix of the two. The choice of the fabric may result in differences in the thickness of the base layer. No matter how thick the base layer, however, it should always be tight fitted. This makes it easier for it to trap the air next to the skin and insulate the body from the cold.
Synthetic base layers are often made out of nylon, polyester or a polyester blend. They’ve got great wicking properties. They dry quickly, feel comfortable on the skin and are often more affordable than merino wool. However, synthetic materials do have a slower temperature regulation than wool while also offering little to none odour protection – meaning you’ll be needing to wash a synthetic base layer after nearly every use.
“Realising that a base layer can hold up to that much of your own sweat might sound a bit grim but due to wool’s fibre construction, the material remains breathable”
Merino wool is nature’s answer to keeping us warm. This soft, warm and comfortable material is produced from the wool of Merino sheep. It doesn’t exactly have wicking capabilities as such, but a base layer made out of merino wool can hold up to about 30% of its own weight in water absorption before starting to feel wet.
Realising that a base layer can hold up to that much of your own sweat might sound a bit grim but due to wool’s fibre construction, the material remains breathable – providing both temperature regulation and odour resistance. In fact, merino wool resists odour a lot better than any synthetic material, meaning you won’t need to wash your base layers as often. And as it is a natural material, it is both 100% recyclable and biodegradable too. The only real downside is that it doesn’t dry as quickly as synthetic materials.
It is not uncommon for companies to use a mixture of merino wool and synthetic materials.
Once you’ve chosen the best base layer for you, take a look at our favourite mid-layers for this season. We’ll tell you all about how to choose the right mid-layer for you in our run through of the best snowboard mid-layers.