If you are looking for the best base layers for your next hunting adventure then look no further. We’ve tested and reviewed the top 10 options on the market, ranging from tops to bottoms to full suits, to bring you the best choices.
If you are in a hurry you can check out our top ten table below to quickly choose the best option. Please read further for our complete buyer’s guide and review section.
Top 10 Best Base Layers for Hunting Summary Table
Before we had into the in-depth reviews of each of the items on our list, let’s take a dive into why base layers are important and how choosing not only the right amount of layers to wear but also the right material can make or break your hunting experience.
What makes the perfect base layer?
Cold weather can be an issue for hunting if you haven’t come prepared to withstand the temperature. Wearing the right base layer allows you to stay warm and more importantly dry during cold weather.
Keeping dry is extremely important and wearing a base layer in tandem with a waterproof jacket will bulletproof you in this respect, meaning you can stay out for longer and be more comfortable and safe.
It can be very difficult to find the right base layers, particularly if you are on a budget. Cheaper base layers tend to be made of synthetic material, unlike the more expensive brands that utilise natural materials such as wool. Natural materials have better intrinsic properties to keep you warm, which comes as no surprise.
In addition to finding the right price range for your budget, it is equally important to get the right fit. If you choose a size too small, your movement will be impaired and you’ll lose out on manoeuvrability which is crucial during a hunt.
Choosing a size too large will not restrict your movement but can cause air to be released which will lower the amount of warmth you will keep in and render the base layers useless. Thankfully most of the products on our list come in a wide variety of sizes, so you should be good to go!
Now you know some of the key buying points when purchasing base layers for hunting, let’s take a deeper look into materials and how to properly wear the base layers.
What is the best material for a hunting base layer?
A quick browse around and you’ll see one of the most popular options is synthetic material such as polyester and spandex. These materials are of great value due to the cheap production costs of the fabrics used, which makes them great if you’re on a budget.
It’s worth noting though that in our opinion natural materials like wool are preferred because they have better thermal properties – you can’t go too far wrong using natural materials.
We think Merino wool is the best option there is when it comes to base layers for hunting. This wool comes from Merino sheep typically farmed in Australia and is world-renowned for its thermal properties and quality. Its also almost 7 times more durable than cotton and is great at regulating your temperature, meaning you can wear it throughout the year.
You’ll need to first understand the types of Merino wool before you decided to buy a base layer made from it because there are quite a few options when it comes to this material.
Merino wool is categorised by the grams of wool per square metre:
- 320 to 400 grams per square metre is suitable for sub-zero temperatures
- around 240 to 300 grams per square metre is suitable for colder temperatures above zero
- around 180 to 240 grams per square metre is suitable for warmer climates
- anything less than 180 is suitable for hot temperatures
Be sure to keep this in mind, you might need to get a couple of different pairs for the different months or locations you plan to go hunting in.
How many layers should you wear?
When it comes to deciding how many layers you should wear, it all comes down to the weather conditions where you live. If it’s quite warm outside you can either wear a base layer just on its own as they have great ability to wick sweat away, or you can just wear your normal t-shirt and avoid a base layer altogether. The choice is up to you and how well you can cope with warmer temperatures.
In colder climates, it is recommended to wear a base layer jacket and pants, followed by a warm fleece layer and then a waterproof coat on top. Depending on the type of base layer material you choose to buy you might end up needing to wear two layers of base layer underneath your clothing to give you added insulation.
In-Depth Review of the Top Ten Best Base Layers for Hunting
Now you know what features to look out for when buying a base layer for hunting, let us guide you through the top ten picks to suit a wide variety of needs. We’ve included everything from the best pants for women to the best base layers for juniors so you’re sure to find what you’re looking for.
An excellent long sleeve base layer top is crucial for any hunting trip. This 100% New Zealand merino wool base layer top from Merino 365 is simply the best standalone top you could take with you. It comes with a load of different colours options – if that’s your style – and works best next to the skin to give you warmth in the winter and temperature regulation in the summer.
Although 190gsm isn’t necessarily the thickest of Merino wool that you can get, it’s perfect to use as a base layer for your fleece and coat in the winter, or even on its own in the summer if you prefer.
Another great thing about this top is that it is sustainably and ethically produced, so not only are you getting higher quality material but you won’t feel any shame buying this product either. The only downside to this product is that you might prefer to wear thicker wool in freezing conditions, but this is completely based on personal judgement.
Best Men’s Bottoms
There’s no surprise that the best bottoms for men are also made from 190gms Merino wool, a thickness that is lightweight yet has great thermal properties. These pants from 7EVEN are versatile and can be used in the summer as a light base layer or as one of a few layers in extremely cold temperatures.
We particularly liked these bottoms because of their quality and ease of use. They’ll keep you smelling fresh and are easy to wash at home like any other clothes, which is really handy considering how much use they’re likely to get.
As far as base layers go these bottoms are quite stylish and come in a green colour that will provide a decent amount of camouflage if you need it.
Best Bottoms for Women
The best option for women is the Thermajane Women’s Ultra Soft Thermal Underwear Set. Ladies, if you’re looking for a base layer to take with you on your next hunting trip you should definitely look into this option.
Not only does this come as a complete set comprising of a long sleeve top as well as bottoms, but its fleeced lined which makes them just that bit more comfortable. Although these aren’t made from Merino Wool, the price point for the amount of quality that you’re getting makes them well worth the purchase.
You’ll struggle to find a better set out there at this price point for the quality that you are getting. There’s a load of colour options as well which is always a nice selling point.
Just remember these aren’t the highest quality that you’ll find out there but they are certainly worth the money and then some.
Best Compression Bottoms for Men
As we all know some people prefer the feeling and aesthetics of compression clothes, which is why we’ve decided to include these compression bottoms for men by TSLA.
They are fleece lined and provide plenty of warmth for hunting, just keep in mind that they are made from polyester and spandex which aren’t the greatest for insulation. They will keep you warm, but you’ll have to add a couple more layers in the winter time to keep your legs protected.
There’s plenty of designs available to suit anybodies taste and at this price point its hard to argue against picking up a pair, you could even use them for other activities outside of hunting if you wanted to.
Best Full Body Layer for Men
If you’re not bothered about picking and matching a top and bottom base layer individually then this set will do the job. Available in loads of different styles and colours, this full base layer set includes a fleece-lined top and bottom to give you complete coverage.
The main benefit of this set is that it is resistant to abrasions and stretching, which is a lifesaver when hunting. Every hunter wants to know that their gear is durable and will last, and this set will achieve just that.
This set is made from a blend of polyester and spandex which gives a stretchy and comfortable fit, but again this is not Merino wool and as such you might require a few more layers in colder weather. Regardless we think this is a great starting point and at this price range its difficult to find any alternatives that are worth purchasing.
Best Affordable Option for Men
Understandably not everybody wants to spend a small fortune on their base layers. We’ve included this full base layer set by TSLA as an affordable option – but don’t worry. We’ve made sure that the quality has not been compromised.
Sure, it’s not made from Merino wool but it does come with ultra-soft microfiber blended with spandex which fits and looks the part. Its got fleece lining too to give you some much-needed protection from the elements when you’re out and about hunting.
To say there’s such a large selection of colours and given the price point, we think this set is a steal. Like some of the other products that we have recommended that aren’t Merino wool, you might have to layer up in winter to get the full benefit of keeping warm.
Best Mild Weather Top
If you want a great quality base layer top that you can wear on its own in mild weather then this Smartwool Merino 250 Base Layer Crew is the option for you. It comes with Merino wool which can keep you warm in mild weather just on its own without getting too hot and is stylish with fitted shoulder panels if you choose to wear it alone.
We particularly liked this top because it is so versatile, not only can you wear this in all seasons but it makes a great skin base layer if you plan to go hunting in the cold with a few layers above it.
The only downside to this shirt is that it does cost quite a lot, but you are really getting what you pay for when it comes to this quality of material.
Best for Everyday Use
If you’re looking for a pair of functional leggings that you can wear every day no matter the conditions outside then these leggings by Icebreaker Merino are the way to go.
They are made from 100% 175gsm Merino which is enough to keep you warm in any season. They’re also great to exercise in, so if you want a pair that you can take go hunting in as well as run or go to the gym these are your best bet.
Not only are these leggings functional but they look the part too. They have an elastic waistband for comfort and have a brushed appearance that makes them look sporty.
Again the only issue with these leggings is that they are quite expensive but if you view the purchase of new clothes as an investment then these are well worth the money in the long run.
Best Option for Juniors
This Junior Set by Helly-Hansen is a great option if you’ve got kids who are just starting to learn how to hunt or who have spent a few years learning. There’s tons of fun options for juniors including the classic camouflage look or even bright pink.
In terms of quality, these are second to none. There are two layers which include an internal layer of LIFA fibres, the original Helly-Hansen base layer, alongside an external layer of 100% Merino wool. This mix of synthetic and natural fibres means that this base layer retains a lot of heat which is important as juniors can tend to get quite cold easily in the outdoors.
Again quality doesn’t come cheap, but they are sure to last for many years to come.
Last in our top ten round-up is the AIRBLASTER Men’s Merino Ninja Suit which we’ve included if you’re looking for something packed with all the features you could ask for.
This suit covers your entire body and has a hood with neck protection, giving you total protection from the elements. By using a blend of Merino Wool, Tencel and Spandex not only will you get the quality of the Merino Wool but the strength and quick drying of the other materials.
Although this is the most expensive item in our list, if you want to go all out and get something that will be more than enough coverage for any hunting trip then you can’t go far wrong with this.
Make the Most of your Cold Weather Hunting
Now you’ve got the right base layers for hunting in the cold weather, its important to consider a few things when you’re actually out on your hunting trip.
1. Always come prepared
Having the right base layer is only one part of the hunting experience, especially in cold weather. Make sure you bring along enough food and drink to last you the whole time, as well as any necessary camping equipment and tools.
2.Bring plenty of layers
You might think that you’re ready to go now you’ve got your base layer bought, but there’s much more to it than that when hunting in the cold. You’ve got to consider that the temperature will change throughout the day, which means you need to be ready for it.
Bring an additional 2 or 3 layers along with you to give you that much-needed assurance that if the weather does take a turn for the worse you are ready for it.
Keeping safe is the number one priority in hunting, above anything else. Be sure to pack a survival kit and emergency radio so that you can not only survive if you get lost or there is an accident – but you are able to contact the emergency services.
A base layer will do many things for you but it can’t work miracles, don’t get a false sense of security just because you’re layered up properly.