Base Layer vs. Leggings
What Is a Base Layer?
Having a suitable base layer is essential to staying warm. A base layer is anything you wear against your skin, either underneath or on clothes. The bottom line is that base layers, or thermals should be made of an insulating material, such as wool, fleece, or silk for warmth and moisture-wicking properties.
The Benefits of a Base Layer
A question that has entered the minds of athletes for years is whether or not to wear base layers or leggings. The answer depends on what type of activity one may be involved in and personal preference. In colder climates, it is typically recommended that a person have at least three layers on during cold weather activities. They'll keep you warm and dry while helping retain your body heat. While leggings may describe the bottom part of a base layer, they aren't equal.
What are Leggings?
How many times have you worn leggings and wondered what they are? Leggings are a form of legwear tight around the lower half of the body. Some say to resemble tights. They typically end just below the knee or at the ankle. Leggings are often worn with a skirt or dress as part of a casual outfit. It is also common to wear them under jeans or pants for warmth and protection from the weather. Are they long underwear? The answer isn't always a yes, as long underwear is made from a different material to help keep you warm and dry.
Base Layers for the Cold
Base layers are a necessity in the winter. Base layers should be worn directly next to the skin when layering, and leggings should be tucked into boots. If you do not have a base layer, it is best to put on a light shirt or sweater to provide insulation. However, a base layer would be best in keeping you warm and dry as they'll wick away moisture to protect you from getting frostbite or hypothermia.
Base Layers are Made to Keep You Warm
Everyone has their preference for layering their winter clothing, but there is something to be said for leggings. Leggings are very versatile in that they can be worn in several different scenarios, which ultimately makes them more economical than the base layer. They work just as well when you're wearing a short-sleeve shirt or sweater or if you need insulation under your snow pants or ski pants. However, a base layer or thermal is explicitly designed for warmth and protection from the cold. Regular leggings won't work as well, no matter how well they look or fit.
The question of base layer vs. leggings has been hotly debated in the running community for years. Some people swear by wool base layers, while others believe that leggings provide a more form-fitting and comfortable option. When you go to the store, it's not uncommon to find entire aisles stocked with different types of both options. Both will work until the temperature drops, then a base layer will serve you better.