7 Tips For Choosing The Right Thermal Base Layer 

Staying warm is critical for various outdoor activities, including hiking, camping, skiing, and snowboarding. The right clothes ensure comfort and protect you from the harshness of nature’s constant changes. As such, appropriate thermal base layers help your body maintain heat in cold conditions.  

They make the fundamental step when planning activities in a freezing environment. You will have less stress, better performance, and an overall more enjoyable experience. 

But are all base layers the same? Must you opt for a specific type? You will learn everything concerning these undergarments and how to find the best for your needs. Also, you will understand the effects of wearing the wrong thermal base layers. Following are seven steps to finding the perfect thermal base layer. 

1. Fabric  

The material affects many aspects of your base layer, including insulation and comfort. Generally, wool and synthetic fabrics, such as polyester and polypropylene, are the best options. Wool is light yet provides excellent insulation, while synthetic fabrics improve flexibility without compromising protection from the cold. 

Material choices also determine washability and durability. Wool is resistant to damage but does require special care when washing. Synthetic fabrics are wrinkle-resistant. You can wash them by hand, machine, or both. They can withstand multiple washes and maintain their shape. However, the lifespan of polyester and polypropylene is much shorter than wool. 

2. Proper Fit 

Undergarments are not your office suit. They are more of an extra skin layer to enhance warmth and comfort. So, should base layers be tight? And how tight-fitting is too much? Your best bet is to select garments that fit but not aren’t too close. Snugly fitting pieces will help you retain heat and cause minimal irritation. 
Going for extra tightness is a nice trick. However, this approach often has a different effect. It restricts your movement, further exposing your body to the cold and weakening performance. Also, a loose fit will not provide the needed insulation. It may even make you feel colder since it traps air instead of heat. 

3. Design and Weight 

How cold is your region, and how extensive or intensive is your activity? People in colder places need more vigorous activities to generate enough heat to keep going. As such, they need thicker base layers. On the other hand, lighter versions will be more appropriate for milder climates and less demanding tasks. 

Determine your desired design, such as a full-body suit or separate tops and bottoms. For example, look for a pair of pants and a jacket if you are a skier. Furthermore, pick the weight that suits your needs; lightweight, midweight, or heavyweight. That helps you make the most of your thermal base layer. 

4. Breathability and Moisture-Wicking 

You may wonder why you must worry about sweating in a cold environment or during the cold seasons. Understand that workouts generate heat and water as by-products, and that causes sweating. You do not want the sweat to freeze and cause further discomfort. 
Breathability becomes significant when selecting thermal base layers. It ensures that moisture can escape quickly instead of getting trapped. Also, opt for garments with moisture-wicking properties; they will draw sweat away from your skin and help you stay dry all the time. But note that breathability and moisture-wicking are not the same things. 

5. Layering 

How does the base layer fit into your overall layering system? What other forms of insulation will you wear over it? Consider adding a mid-layer, such as a fleece pullover or a wool sweater.  

These pieces increase insulation but also add bulk. However, you may also need the base layer before wearing your suit to the office. Determine the weight and shape of other layers before you decide. 

6. Extra Features 

Well, you will not be wearing the base layer alone. But you can do that when hiking, climbing, or exercising in hot and humid areas. Those activities demand moisture-wicking and breathable layers to help you stay cool. Therefore, you may want one with a chest pocket, zip, or hip length. The extra features will depend on the activity you engage in during the day. 
Other considerations include fabric technology. Some fabrics have anti-odor properties that keep bad smells away and make them more durable. Natural materials with odor resistance are ideal for outdoor activities. 

7. Budget 

Everything is fancy and attractive until you come to the cost. You may want to get everything and end up ruining your budget. So, determine how much money you want to spend before you settle on the base layer to buy. Research and find a rough estimate of what quality pieces will cost you. That will help you narrow your options to items within your price range. 


A thermal base layer is a significant wardrobe component during the cold season. It will keep you warm and enable you to perform your tasks without feeling cold or discomfort. Buying one can be challenging if you have no idea what to look for. However, this guide provides the necessary information.  

Consider fabric weight, breathability, layering options, and extra features. Also, climate, activity level, and budget should help you make a perfect choice.