When it comes to staying warm and dry on the hill, your outerwear is only ever going to be as good as what you put on under it. You can buy the fanciest jacket out there, but if you layer up with a big ol’ cotton t-shirt, chances are you’re going to get sweaty only for that sweat to hang around and start freezing. So, what base layers are best for snowboarding?
"We’d recommend going with something loose fitting for freedom, rather than those figure-hugging lycra abominations"
Enter thermals. Usually made from polyester or wool, these materials both keep you warm and wick away moisture, ensuring you stay as dry as possible. As you’re moving your torso around a lot, we’d recommend going with something loose fitting for freedom, rather than those figure-hugging lycra abominations. This is snowboarding after all, not road biking, and your friends don’t need to see you peeling your dad-bod out of a second skin after a day’s riding.
Luckily, there’s loads of tech and stylish offerings available these days. Through shooting our Buyer’s Guide of biblical proportions over the summer and testing a few more in the pre-season, we’ve selected our favourite top-half base layers for 2017/18. Not only are they a (relatively) inexpensive way of increasing your comfort and enjoyment whilst snowboarding, they also make great Christmas gifts!
Best For: Backcountry Adventures - Airblaster Merino Ninja Suit
If we’ve said it once we’ve said it a thousand times, Airblaster’s Ninja Suit is the bomb. Whilst you might question it’s worth beforehand, once you’ve put one on you’ll never take it off. This ‘Wolverino’ (read: extra-stretchy merino wool) version ensures you don’t have to, as its natural antibacterial properties ensure it’ll remain stank-free, but the USP is clearly the all-in-one design that covers you from crown to ankles.
Not only does it eliminate having your top ride up under your jacket, it traps heat way more efficiently, meaning that on the right days you can ditch a layer and experience way more freedom of movement. We reckon even just having the hood up gains you an extra couple of degrees as the heat has even fewer places to go.
This all makes it perfect for riding powder and splitboarding up, where reliable and effective gear is key. Our video guy wears his well over 50 days a year working and playing in the mountains!
Best For: Shredding Every Day - Mons Royale Coreshot Raglan
Kiwi-brand Mons Royale were the first to make merino stylish. Working from a core belief that technical clothing doesn’t have to look nerdy, their range incorporates great fit, functionality and design flair, creating underwear and mid-layers that work as well as they look.
We say, why spunk mad dolla on a top you’ll only wear for a few days holiday a year? We’re just as happy wearing the Coreshot raglan tee down to the pub or skating in the summer as we are making turns in the winter. It fits nice and loose under a jacket, but the 100% merino wool fabric is thick enough to retain heat whilst wicking moisture and also has that quality feel to the touch. You know straight from the off that this ain’t no cotton or polyester blend.
As suited to park and powder laps as it is to party in after, if you’re off for the season (or know someone who is, hint) this’ll be the top you’ll spend most of the winter in. Guaranteed.
Mons also do a similar base layer with a hood, the Yotei, which we’d absolutely recommend if you feel the cold more than normal, or if you’re heading out somewhere chillier than Europe this winter.
Best For: Bringing The Apres Game - Burton Midweight Merino Button Up
Sometimes, turning up at the apres bar and taking off your jacket to reveal some baggy old thermal doesn’t quite cut it. Enter Burton’s button up base layer, pure style points cut from 100% merino wool. If there’s riding underwear with more swag than this, we’ve yet to find it.
Not only does it look p.i.m.p., on test it performed as well as any other thermal and kept near bone dry even on super-humid snowy days pre-season. With a slightly looser fit it also scored high with our tester for splitboarding, as having an adjustable breathability from the buttons turned out to be a game changer for hikes in the sunshine.
Best For: Fer Da Gurls! - Mons Royale Boyfriend LS
It's a sad but true fact that we haven't currently got any female staff members here at Whitelines Towers, but never fear - we have an army of trusted testers that consistently provide us with quality gear reviews for the fairer sex. This time instructor Chloe Hardy hit us back with her thoughts on the Mons Royale Boyfriend Longsleeve - bearing in mind that if you're working on the hill all hours of every day, you need to depend on your kit.
"I'm absolutely in love with this thermal; it's super soft, really warm and dries mega fast. The shape is great, it's nice and long and has a loose, comfortable fit. It's perfect for spending a whole day shredding and looks great for après, too. Plus, you can wear it for plenty of other activities too, like hiking, running and yoga."
Best For: Budget Price - DaKine Yoder Thermal
If your budget doesn’t stretch to merino, then we highly recommend this affordable alternative from mountain gear specialists DaKine. A combination of polyester and cotton makes it dry lightning-quick, and there’s an added odour-fighting treatment in the mix too.
We tested this in extremely cold conditions, and it never felt like it was coming up short. Plus its retro graphic looks great when you’re cooling off in the bar after the session, and you can thrash it in springtime slush without worrying about ruining something expensive.