What to Wear Under Ski Pants

what to wear under ski pants

What to wear beneath your ski pants is one of the most important decisions you have to make before hitting the slopes. Beginners often ignore its importance, but it makes a significant difference in your level of comfort and enjoyment when you are skiing.

In this post, I’ll go through a few options of what to wear under ski pants. We’ll also give you some pointers on what to look for while deciding.

Before you read on, make sure you know how should ski pants fit and you bought the correct size.

What to Wear Under Ski Pants 

Most ski pants are three-layered and the outer shell is made out of a long-lasting, waterproof fabric layer with a bonded waterproof membrane and the insulating layer is followed by the liner. 

Wearing anything beneath your ski pants creates the ideal barrier between your skin and the snow trousers. It keeps you dry, comfortable, and, most importantly, riding all day. 

  • When deciding what to wear under ski pants, there are a few factors to consider. The first consideration is insulation. You want to ensure that you have enough to remain warm but not so much that you overheat. 
  • The second feature is moisture wicking. When you ski, you will be sweating more than normal, so be sure your garment will wick away the perspiration.
  • The final factor to consider is comfort. You want to be comfortable in your clothes so that you can focus on enjoying the experience.
wear base layer under ski pants

The best garment to wear under ski pants is a base layer and I’ll get why it’s best a little later. However, at the beginning or end of the season when the weather is a little warmer, a pair of lighter-weight or active leggings might be better and for really cold weather, a pair of fleece-lined trousers could be worn over thermal leggings.

Why Wear Base Layers Under Ski Pants?

Base layers are one of the few garments that fits all the factors we have to consider. Base Layers will give you a layer of insulation that keeps you warm and most importantly, it will absorb and remove your sweat. Plus, they are comfortable!

Here’s a brief guide on how to choose base layers to wear under ski pants:

If you want to learn more about how to layer for skiing, check out this post.

Choosing A Base Layer 

The fabric, weight, and mix of your pants are the most important factors you need to consider when choosing the base layer.


Polyester and merino wool are the two most common textiles used in the baselayer market for men’s and women’s ski thermals. Each has advantages, so let’s go over them one by one.

Choosing A Base Layer for ski pants
  • Polyester textiles can be combined with elastane or spandex to increase their elasticity. They are lightweight, breathable, and moisture-wicking. Polyester can be a good alternative for those who engage in more demanding sports, such as trekking in the backcountry.
  • Merino wool is a popular choice for base layers due to its benefits and desired natural qualities. It’s not as quick-drying or wicking as polyester, so it could become a touch sweaty on those hotter days. Merino should be the first choice for anyone who feels chilly easily.

Types, Form And Fit

Another consideration when deciding on your preferred base layer is whether you want to go with an actual ‘base layer’ or if you prefer to go with long underwear or even leggings.

  • The form-fitting polyester base layer will be less visible when worn, yet it will cling to your skin all day. Looser foundation layers may be more visible, but they will allow your skin more room.
  • If you need something warmer than a normal polyester base layer, your leggings will suffice. Their shorter hems go well with ski socks, and their offset flat lock seams prevent chafing in the gym. And the structure is designed to wick away all of the sweat that an intensive spin class can dish out.
Types, Form And Fit
  • When it comes to long underwear, you want something that provides both support and comfort. These are often boxer shorts or underwear with long legs, sometimes known as long-johns. They don’t always come in merino, so if you were expecting woolly underwear, we’re sorry to disappoint.

What to Wear Under Shell Ski Pants?

What to wear under shell ski pants depends on where and when you want to ski as well as how cold the weather is going to be. However, base layers are the most popular garment skiers wear under Shell ski pants.

Thermal leggings are also an excellent choice if it’s going to be cold. Additionally, Merino wool leggings with their excellent wicking and breathable characteristics, are ideal for wearing under ski pants and keeps you warm and comfortable.

What to Wear Skiing if No Snow Pants?

Because of their strong wind resistance, wind pants are possibly the best alternative for ski pants. Jeans and other cotton-based pants should be avoided. Other options include rain pants, fleece, trekking, and cargo pants. If the situation is dire enough, sweatpants will have to suffice.

Do You Wear Jeans Under Snow Pants?

Do not wear jeans because they are not made of a flexible material and, when combined with the additional layer of snow pants, may leave you rigid, hindering your ability to turn and move on the slopes.

Sharing is caring!

Lisa Hayden-Matthews

Lisa Hayden-Matthews

An avid Skier, bike rider, triathlon enthusiast, amateurish beach volleyball player and nature lover who has never lost a dare! I manage the overall Editorial section for the magazine here and occasionally chip in with my own nature photographs, when required.

Related Posts

Subscribe To Our NewsLetter!

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x