How to Choose a Base Layer

Posted on 14 October 2015

by Tara Pietrykowski

How to Choose a Base Layer

Whether you’re about to ski down a powdery slope, go for a winter run or build a snowman with the kids – staying warm is essential! Watson’s has been in the base layer/bodywear business since 1863, so we know a thing or two about keeping well insulated and today we’re sharing that knowledge with you!


What is a base layer?

A base layer is an article of clothing that you wear next to your skin. Its purpose is to keep the warmth in and the moisture out while allowing for movement as well as comfort. A good base layer is designed to trap warm air against the body and will wick away moisture to prevent dampness and cold from setting in.


Types of Base Layers:

There are three types of base layers. Choosing between them depends greatly on what kind of activity you’re engaging in.


  • Merino

A super fine, incredibly soft, warm wool. Merino can be found in a lot of high quality athletic wear, such as Watson’s Merino 150. Known for providing incredible insulation when worn against the body and for its wicking ability. Like cotton, wool absorbs water, but unlike cotton, it retains warmth when wet. Additionally, its effective moisture management reduces the opportunity for odours to develop. The best option for rigorous outdoor adventures!
Best used for: Moderate to Heavy Activity.
-Skating           -Hiking             -Running         -Skiing             -Cycling          
-Snowboarding            -Mountain Climbing


  • Synthetic

Synthetic materials have amazing moisture wicking properties, keeping you dry and warm all day as well as being incredibly soft and sleek against the body. They can also carry special antimicrobial treatments, like in Watson’s Performance Base Layers, which control the growth of bacteria. These treatments keep the garment fresh and odour free. Generally made from polyester or polyester blends, a synthetic base layer keeps the wearer warm down to -10 degrees, when worn in combination with ski outerwear.

Best Used for: Heavy Activity.

-Skiing             -Snowboarding          

 -Mountain Climbing          -Winter Running


  • Cotton Blend

Cotton blend base layers, such as Watson’s Double Layer and Waffle, are generally made for less strenuous outdoor activity. Cotton absorbs moisture easily and is slow to dry out. This causes the wearer to become cold. The blend with a synthetic material adds its moisture wicking properties and helps combat that. A Double Layer garment is designed to trap air and form a thermal barrier between the layers. A waffle is also designed to trap and retain body heat, keeping you warm both while indoors and outside.

Best Used for: Minimal Activity

-Walking          -Watching a Parade          -Building a Snowman


Last But Not Least…Sizing:

Look for a tight fit! Base layers work to trap air next to the skin and insulate your body from the cold. Buying base layers in your usual clothing size is key as they are made slightly smaller with this in mind.


There you have it, folks! Check out our selection for women’s, men’s, girl’s and boy’s base layer clothing at Hang on, we have layers for toddlers, too!

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