If you’ve spent any time participating in outdoor activities, you already know how important a good base layer is for maintaining comfort. A base layer is your next-to-skin layer and plays a key role in regulating your core body temperature. It also helps keep you comfortable by preventing chafing and wicking moisture away from your skin. It may well be the most important piece of outdoor gear you’ll ever use.
There are a lot of quality base layers available, but choosing from all of the options can seem complicated. That’s why we’ve compiled this practical guide to help you choose the best base layer for whatever activity takes you outside.
Top 10 Base Layers Ultimate Table
|1. Minus33 100% Merino Wool Base Layer 706 MidWeight Bottoms Black Medium||Merino Wool||$$$$||4.7|
|2. Under Armour Women's ColdGear Authentics Mock||Synthetic Fabric||$$$||4.7|
|3. Under Armour Base 3.0 Leggings Black||Synthetic Fabric||$$$||4.7|
|4. CompressionZ Men's Pants - Base Layer Leggings||Nylon and Spandex||$$||4.6|
|5. Duofold Men's Mid-Weight Moisture-Wicking Ankle-Length Layering Pant||Cotton and Polyester||$||4.6|
|6. Tesla Men's Thermal Wintergear Compression Baselayer Pants Leggings Tights||Polyester and Spandex||$$||4.6|
|7. Minus33 Merino Wool Men's Chocorua Midweight Crew||Merino Wool||$$$||4.6|
|8. Under Armour Men's HeatGear Armour Long Sleeve Compression Shirt||Synthetic Fabric||$$||4.6|
|9. Tesla Men's Thermal Coldgear Compression Baselayer Long Sleeve T Shirts||Polyester and Spandex||$||4.6|
|10. St. Eve Women's Thermal Base Layer 2 Piece Set, Celestial, Medium||Polyester and Spandex||$||4.6|
What You Want in a Base Layer
If you want to stay comfortable and dry outdoors, especially in wintry weather, you shouldn’t just throw on any old underwear. In fact, you’ll probably want to ditch your cotton boxers and that souvenir t-shirt.
Cotton, because it retains moisture, is the worst material to put next to your skin as a base layer, especially if you will be engaging in any strenuous outdoor activities. Once your base layer is damp, your core body temperature is in danger of dropping, which could potentially lead to hypothermia.
Damp clothing can also cause uncomfortable chafing.
For optimal comfort, choose a base layer that dries fast and wicks perspiration away from your skin. Choosing a base layer made from one of the following materials isn’t just a matter of comfort. In winter weather, it could save your life.
- Synthetic Fabric. Choosing a base layer made of polyester, or a polyester blend such as nylon, spandex, or rayon, will help keep you dry and warm during rainy or humid conditions.
Synthetics are also a smart choice for a warmer weather base layer. These fabrics are lightweight, soft against the skin, and easy to care for. They do, however, stain easily and hold odors over time, so may not be the best choice for a multiple-day outing.
- Merino Wool. Merino wool has mostly replaced itchier traditional wool clothing with its soft, ultrafine fibers. The tiny spaces in the fibers trap air and moisture; this works to hold in body heat to keep you warm during frigid weather, or to buffer the heat of the sun on a warm day to keep you cool.
Since wool is naturally antibacterial, you can wear a merino wool base layer on consecutive days with minimal odor buildup.
Wool can be expensive, especially when compared to other base layers made from synthetic fabric.
- Silk. Silk is an excellent choice for moderate activities in cool weather or indoor lounging. One major benefit to a silk base layer is its luxurious texture. It also layers well without adding uncomfortable bulkiness.
Silk doesn’t wick moisture as well as some other material choices. Particular care is also required for silk garments to prevent shrinkage. Some even require handwashing, and since silk needs to be laundered after each use to avoid odor, this can be more hassle than some users are willing to invest.
Top 3 Best Base Layer Reviews
Minus33’s midweight, 100 percent Merino Wool bottoms are designed with comfort in mind. It is comfortable, breathable, and soft on the skin. The flatlock seams help prevent chafing, and the tagless labeling puts an end to that uncomfortable scratching that comes with a traditional tag. With a natural elasticity, these bottoms stretch with your body’s movements almost like a second skin, and the reinforced cuffs keep them from riding up at the ankles.
This base layer is conveniently machine washable. Just throw it in the washer and then toss in the dryer. No special care necessary.
The comfort, quality, and simplicity of this Marino wool pant makes it the best base layer for just about any cold weather activity you can think of. Try them for hiking, climbing, hunting, or just waiting outside for the bus. They are guaranteed to keep you feeling cozy and dry, even when the weather doesn’t want to cooperate.
The soft brushback knit fabric is designed to keep you warm and comfortable. It is smooth on the outside, yet soft on the inside. Four-way stretch construction allows the garment to stretch and move with you without losing its shape, even with prolonged usage. It is lightweight and not the least bit restrictive. Perfect for use with multiple layers.
The fitted style with flat seams isn’t just comfortable, it is attractive, too. Designed with the support that women need, it also has a stylish feminine look and feel.
If you’re looking for maximum warmth in extremely cold weather with minimal bulk, look no further than Under Armour Base 3.0 Leggings. Made from heavyweight 7-ounce fabric, these leggings have a smooth exterior for easy layering, but a soft inner layer for comfort and warmth against your skin. It fits snuggly but doesn’t feel constricting.
Whether your plan is skiing, hunting, ice fishing, or some other winter outdoor sport, Under Armour will keep you warm and dry without restricting movement. These pants also prevent the growth of odor-causing microbes, so you can wear these all day without feeling or smelling sweaty and gross.