There is one challenge every skier has to solve. And it is not equipment related. How to keep warm even during coldest days is the question everybody needs to answer. It all starts with the base layer you will wear, no matter if you are going cross-country or downhill skiing. Thermal Shirts and Thermal Underwear is the answer.
How Thermal Shirt Works
I was always curious how shirt from such thin material can keep you warm. But it really can.
Your body tries to keep your temperature stable in every possible condition. Therefore when you start skiing (or running), it will cool the body with perspiration. More extensive exercise you perform, more sweat will be produced by your body to cool your skin.
In winter you do not want to cool yourself, but want to keep the warm your body produced by skiing. Therefore you need to dry your skin from sweat quickly.
Thermal Shirts are made of the material (synthetic fabric or wool) with excellent wicking properties. It will dry your skin and decrease the cooling effect.
The principle behind thermal shirts is taking the sweat away from your body.
Thermal Shirts Material
As I already mentioned above, wool and synthetic fabric are excellent in absorbing the wet. Thermal Shirts are made usually from polyester (synthetic fabric) and some elastic material. Polyester will do its job in wicking your skin. Elastic material (Elastane or Spandex) will make your thermal shirt elastic and brings the compression effect to fit on your body.
The ratio of Polyester to Elastane is usually 87 to 13 percent, but you can find also other percentual ratios. For example, 95 to 5 percent ratio means that thermal shirt will be better in keeping your body warm, but worse in terms of elasticity.
Besides keeping you warm, there are other features of thermal shirts you will like. Ventilation zones for breathability, no uncomfortable side seams, and odor-neutralizing properties are part of almost all thermal shirts available at the stores now. Every producer calls it differently (©NILIT performance or ©HeatGear) but the purpose is the same. Make you feel as much comfortable as possible.
Looking for all layers for your winter skiing? Check our Best Ski Jackets guide.
Do Not Forget When Shopping Thermal Shirts
Check the size table of every manufacturer, as XL for Under Armour can be different from XL in Tesla Gear. Some manufacturers (TeslaGear) recommend to buy one size up of what you normally wear for a comfortable feel.
Compression shirts are usually very tight, so prepare for uncomfortable feel at the start before you get used to it. And more important the bulges and curves of muscles on pictures are not sold with the shirts 😉
Brand or Price?
A lot of prominent brands are producing thermal compression shirts with prices starting at circa $40. Then you have not so known brands which sold their compression thermal shirts for $15. It is your choice what you prefer, but from my experience, the shirts with prices up to $20 offer the best quality for the price ratio.