For backcountry ski trips, I usually wear three tops: a base layer for wicking away perspiration, a fleece jacket for insulation, and a shell for keeping out moisture and wind. (I also carry a down jacket in my pack.) As I warm up, I remove layers as needed.
When I first started skiing, I experimented with a variety of base layers, but I eventually settled on a long-sleeve T-shirt with a short zipper at the collar.
No doubt many companies make such a shirt, but I happen to wear a model sold by Outdoor Research: the Sequence Long-Sleeve Zip Tee. I was introduced to the Sequence as an OR clothing tester and liked it so much that I bought four or five others, all in different colors.
The Sequence is made of Dri-Release Wool, a blend of Merino wool and polyester. It’s lightweight and comfortable and keeps your skin reasonably dry. OR says the fabric contains something called FleshGuard that prevents odors, but I doubt that anyone would want to sniff my shirt after a ski trip up Mount Marcy.
The thing that sold me on the Sequence is the zippered collar. You can unzip up to eight inches to vent perspiration when you get warm. When fully zipped, the collar is high, like a mock turtleneck, so it keeps you a bit warmer than a regular crew-neck collar.
The Sequence sells for $55 on OR’s website. If that’s too pricey, check out the Techwick shirts offered by Eastern Mountain Sports. EMS says this polyester fabric also wicks well and prevents odors. EMS sells a “Techwick Thermo” long-sleeve T shirt with zippered collar for $49. The company recommends it as a base layer for winter activities. EMS also sells a lighter-weight zippered T for $35, but it is marketed on the company’s website as a base layer for running, hiking, paddling, and “all high-energy activities.” No mention of skiing.
I also own a Techwick shirt that I bought years ago. I don’t know if it’s the Thermo or the lighter-weight shirt. It works fine, but the OR’s wool-blend fabric has a softer feel.