How to Buy Base Layers

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With all the options out there for styled-yet-technical layering pieces, there’s no reason to swamp it up in cotton and freeze this winter. Many companies, from Dakine to Burton to Airblaster and ThirtyTwo, have cast aside the skin-tight gym-rat look and are taking a shred-savvy approach to layering. All tout their tech-layers’ ability to wick away moisture, breathe, disperse or trap heat, and repel stink. And keep you looking like a snowboarder, slopeside or streetside.

The Forum Body Bag one-piece under layer suit. Fashion meets function.

Fashion and Function

On the slopes, fashion is more functional than ever due to this hybrid approach to layering that’s dominating the snowboard apparel market the last few years. Designers are using that foundation as a jumping-off point, then using their creative vision to mold first layers into unique products, including women’s-specific and eco-inspired layers. Today’s most functional fabrics are culled from wool, bamboo, polyester blends, and even discarded coconut shell husks.

Dakine’s Ridge Crew and Pant is a great example of a light to midweight base layer

Burton’s AK series base layer features heavier weight material for colder tempatures

Linking up your Layers

Take a calculated approach to building up your base layers; think about how cold or warm it’s going to be, first and foremost. Start with a pair of breathable boxers/underwear available from companies like Burton and ThirtyTwo. Add baselayer pants and shirt—go with the heavyweight option for extra cold days, medium weight for average winter weather, and lightweight in the spring. Or you can mix and match top layers by wearing a thin, lightweight layer like an undershirt and adding warmer layers on top until you reach your comfort level.

Customize your setup until you find what works for you. Or go for one-piece, full-body coverage with one of Airblaster’s Sumo Suits. And don’t forget snowboard socks made of breathable, moisture-wicking material to keep your feet dry and warm.

Insider POV

If you like riding with a heavy, insulated down jacket, many days you can get away with wearing a performance short sleeve base layer shirt, available from Burton and a number of other manufacturers. Try it.


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