What to Wear Under Ski Pants

Cori Gramms
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The Purpose of a Base Layer

A base layer, also know as a base shirt or base layer shirt, is the first layer you wear when you’re going skiing.

This is the closest layer to your skin and keeps you dry and comfortable by wicking (moving away) moisture away from your body and trapping body heat around your core. Base layers made of merino wool and synthetic materials are your best options.

The base layer is extremely important because it keeps the warmth inside and the cold out. If you wear a layer that is too thick, it will keep the cold out but it will also make you too warm.

As a result, the best base layer is that one that gives you optimum warmth without being too warm. Make sure that you choose one that fits you right. The sleeve length should be right, most base layers have thumb holes to ensure that it is right where it needs to be but a base layer that is too long can be uncomfortable. Your base layer should fit snugly; it shouldn’t be too tight but it also should be loose enough so that you can manoeuvre.

Thermals and Long Johns

Skiing is a great sport. There’s the rush of adrenaline when you reach top speed, the dramatic views from the top of a ski resort, and of course, there’s the downhill run itself. There’s a lot to like about it, is the point.

But for every skier out there, there’s also one thing you don’t: The cold. Although the sport involves traveling downhill quickly, skiing also involves spending a lot of time standing around. And if you spend much time outdoors, you know that standing still and cold don’t really mix well.

In fact, when you’re sking, you’ll be spending so much time outside, that you might even forget that skiing is fun, especially when it’s really cold.

To avoid that kind of situation, you’d want to get that ski resort job with the drive through ski racks. And if that doesn’t work out, you’ll want to make sure that your outdoor gear is suitable for the weather.

Fabric Matters

I know it can be tempting to put anything under your ski pants. No wonder I learned to dress warmly after giving in to that temptation and with a light poly-blend t-shirt promptly contracting a case of frostbite.

The importance of choosing the right material didn’t really sink in until I decided that full-length ski pants were one too many fashion items in my otherwise sensible wardrobe.

My initial quest for winter-weather safety led me to seek out the thickest, warmest fabric I could find. And so I commenced my quest for thick, cozy ski pants …

Only to find an unexpected scarcity of my most obvious choice, an ideal thickness for outdoor winter sports.

Don’t be fooled by the word “ski” in the name. The world of skiing is filled with confusing lingo. As it turns out, pants that are labeled as “ski” wear are often nothing more than glorified cargo pants.

And “ski” pants are not necessarily designed to be warm. Especially if they’re made of polyester.

There are three basic types of materials used for ski pants:

nylon (a lightweight fabric ideal for summer wear);

Weight and Length

Often, you can find recommendations for the “ideal” weight and length of a ski pant. And since we are all fond of lists, these numbers always seem like the ultimate goal to strive for, so you can find out the “right” pant for you.

But when you actually start looking around, you will see that there is a broad spectrum of fit and length in ski pants. Unfortunately, there are no standards with which to compare the fit. It can be tough, as all these variables make it difficult to find the perfect fit.

One of the main reasons that pants fit so differently is the geometry of the fabric. There are pants designed as tight as leggings and some with lots of room and volume.

What underwear do you wear under your ski pants? Pantyhose? Tighty Whities? And wearing anything at all is a good option, too, depending on personal preference.

What Not to Wear

Wearing the wrong clothes under ski pants could be a potentially dangerous hitch in your winter-sports fun. When you wear clothing with the wrong insulation, you can run the risk of getting hypothermia while you’re out on the slopes.

The worst thing you can wear under your ski pants is cotton. There are very few things that are worse for you when you’re dressed in cold-weather ski gear than cotton because the material doesn’t retain heat very well. It doesn’t help either if your pants are lined with cotton because it’s both bulky and ineffective for keeping you warm.

The best kind of insulating fabric you can wear under your ski pants is synthetics and wool. A blend of nylon and wool is worth investing in, and it’s also a smart idea to buy thermal underwear made from polypropylene. If your pants have a liner sewn in, then you don’t have to put on an extra pair of underwear.

Don’t put on long underwear because they hang off the outside of the pants and could be a potential snag hazard. It’s also a good idea to wear new pants under your ski gear to ensure that you’re protected in case you fall.

Nothing At All

Don’t believe the hype that ski pants should always be worn under your ski jacket.

Most of the latest model ski pants can keep you warm even in temps as low as -30 F (that’s -34 C, for you Celsius users). If you’re a bit chilly around the outposts on the lift, a good pair of ski pants can take care of that problem.

The biggest problem you’ll have in wearing them instead of your ski jacket is ventilation. Proper insulation might keep your skin warm, it can also trap sweat and make you even hotter, especially on warmer days. So, for those of you who have a tendency to overheat easily, it might be more comfortable wearing a thin base layer under your ski pants. This will keep you a lot cooler than a full ski jacket possibly could.

As for the ladies, if you’re brave enough, there’s an extra option that you can try. Just wear nothing at all under your ski pants. After all, women tend to be a lot colder than men are. So, a lot of women ski the mountain without a coat or costume under their pants.


At the end of the day, we believe that everyone should be able to enjoy the outdoors and engage in any sport they want. There are many options for affordable, high quality backcountry skiing gear. In our opinion, the best backcountry skiing gear are the ones that let you move and feel fully comfortable.

SnowTrekker Creations focuses on designing high quality, affordable resort and backcountry skiing gear that will have you feeling comfortable, confident, and allow you to move effortlessly.

Our goal is to provide you with high quality products that will last for years, without breaking the bank. Our gear is designed by avid riders that ride comfortably and help keep our environment healthy.

Thanks for visiting our site, and we wish you a safe ride!!