How to choose the best base-layers for cold weather

Did you know base-layers are actually not meant to keep you warm?Find out more about how to choose the best base-layers for your winter holiday here!

To create the perfect layering system to keep warm, we need to get started with the basics—your base-layer.

If you’re looking for tips on how to layer effectively, read more about how to dress for winter.

Before we get started on our base-layers, there is just one simple misconception that we need to clarify:

Base-layers are not meant to keep you warm

They are actually meant to keep you dry as you perspire (yes you still perspire in the cold!), and help regulate your body temperature.

This will prevent you from getting cold by transferring perspiration from your skin to the outer layer of the fabric.

A good base-layer keeps you dry, comfortable & warm. 

To be effective, find a base-layer that is made of wicking materials – these are special fabrics that help draw perspiration away from your body, pushing the moisture out to your middle & outer layers.

These fabrics are made to provide better absorption of perspiration using a 3D structure as compared to other natural fabrics like cotton, which makes it easier for your perspiration to evaporate. 

The quicker it wicks away your perspiration, the warmer you'll feel!

How To Choose The Best Base-Layers For Cold Weather

But what if i want a base-layer to keep me warm?

If you’re looking for a base-layer that keeps you both dry and warm, then look out for thermal base-layers.

Thermal base-layers are made up of a two-ply fabric which allows it to trap more body heat than normal base-layers.

Here are 3 essential things to look out for when choosing a good base-layer:

1. Skin-tight

For effective perspiration wicking, your base-layer needs to have as much contact with the skin as possible—which means you need to have a base-layer that is tight fitting. 

This is why base-layers are also known as your ‘second skin’! 

This allows the cold to transfer to your base-layers, instead of your own skin due the evaporation process :)

2. Perspiration wicking

A good base-layer also needs to be absorbent on the inside to draw perspiration away from the skin as quickly as possible!

3. Quick drying

Once the fabric draws the perspiration away from your skin, it also needs to dry quickly so it doesn’t become damp. 

Once your base-layer becomes damp, it’ll start cooling your skin and make you even colder!

How To Choose The Best Base-Layers For Cold Weather

So what material is good for a base-layer?

1. Merino wool

Merino wool is one of the most popular choices of base-layers in recent years – it is warm, lightweight and breathable!

It wicks away moisture pretty well, but it is not as effective as polyester. They also take longer to dry when it gets wet.

However, one major upside to merino wool is its odor-free properties! The wool is naturally antibacterial, so you won't smell even if you don’t wash it :)

However, it’s important to note that merino wool items are usually much more expensive. So prioritise your needs accordingly!

2. Synthetic fabrics

The most common synthetic fabric that you’ll find out there in base-layers is polyester.

There are also base-layers that include elastane to offer you greater freedom of movement and comfort, while still being skin-tight. Synthetics are also much more affordable than other materials :)

Synthetics are great for wicking away your perspiration, and they are the most effective in this area amongst the different materials.

However, while some synthetic fabrics offer some sort of odour-control—it is not as effective as merino wool.

Tip: Always try to avoid using cotton as your base-layer in cold countries. It absorbs perspiration but has zero perspiration wicking properties.

This will cause your base-layer to become damp and draws away heat from your body, making you feel even colder!

How To Choose The Best Base-Layers For Cold Weather

Will my planned holiday activities affect my choices of a base-layer?

Yes it will!! Besides the type of material, a major consideration is your own activity level.

Your needs will definitely differ depending on whether you are having a relaxing holiday in the city, or if you are being adventurous & going skiing.

For when you’re just chilling in a cold country

Since you won’t be doing much strenuous activities, ventilation would not be of a top priority for you.

Look for thermal base-layers that will offer you extra warmth to keep you comfortable and toasty throughout your trip!

Our 500 Series base-layers would be great for this :)

For when you’re having an adventurous winter holiday

If you’re going on a skiing or snowboarding trip, then consider base-layers that allow for greater breathability.

You’re probably going to generate a lot more heat, and you want that heat to escape as quickly as possibly to avoid perspiration and getting your base-layers damp.

You can also look out for base-layers are mixed with elastane—this ensures that your base-layer will not constrict your movements while still being skin-tight!

Check out our FreshWarm Series if you’re planning to go for a winter sport holiday :)

If you’re getting ready for your winter holiday, check out Decathlon’s collection of winter wear in Singapore from affordable winter jackets to longjohns. You can Click & Collect your orders in just 2 hours, or even enjoy free same-day delivery on orders above $60!

The best views come after the hardest climbs.

We would love to hear about your winter hiking adventures!
Join our Decathlon Singapore Hiking Club by liking our Facebook page to do so! Or tag us in your Instagram Posts! :)

Till then, happy hiking! :)