Best Base Layer

Whether you live in a cold area, travel on skiing trips, play golf early in the morning, or are just prone to feeling cold, a base layer can be a great investment.

This extra piece of clothing acts as a second skin, concealing heat between the material and your body to ensure you stay warm and protected from cold temperatures. They are fairly common to use and an excellent way to stay warm in the cold. 

But with so many different base layers available it can be very difficult to identify which one is the best for you. That’s why we’ve put together this handy guide to the best base layer on the market.

Packed full of all the information you need to know and a sample of the best options on the market for you to choose from. Follow this guide and finding the best base layer for you will be simple. 

Best Base Layer

In a hurry?

If you’re feeling the cold or desperately need a base layer for outdoor activities, you should buy the ColdPruf Men’s Platinum II Performance Base Layer.

We think this is the best base layer currently available on the market as it is packed full of great features, including:

  • Available in over 10 size options. 
  • Choose between 2 different colors. 
  • Built with Silvadur intelligent freshness for odor control and freshness. 
  • Dual-layer system that traps air between the layers to provide a natural barrier of warmth.

Top 5 Best Base Layers

OUR TOP PICK

ColdPruf Men's Platinum II Activewear Long Sleeve Crew Top

Our favorite base layer currently on the market is the ColdPruf Men’s Platinum II Performance Base.

This wonderful base layer is packed full of features that ensure you will be warm while you wear it. It comes in over 10 sizes ensuring there is a fit for everyone and allows you to choose between 2 colors.

This great design consists of 2 layers: the interior and the exterior. The interior layer is 70% polyester with an added 30% of merino wool for extra heat and insulation, while the outside is 100% polyester. 

Once worn this top can easily be washed in the washing machine ready for the next time you need to use it.

It’s built with Silvadur intelligence which provides freshness to the material and controls odors to ensure you feel fresh and dry while you are wearing it.

It comes with a dual-layer design that traps air between the layers and provides added warmth to your body and also means it works well under minimal layers. 

It has stay-put cuffs and a drop tail for coverage and freedom of movement and is the perfect choice for a variety of activities.

Considering all this, there’s no doubt that this is one of the best base layers on the market. 

Pros

  • Lots of different sizes
  • Color choice
  • Silvadur intelligence for odor control 
  • Dual-layer system for warmth
  • Stay-put cuffs and a drop tail for coverage
  • Freedom of Movement

Cons

  • No notable drawbacks

EDITORS CHOICE

Carhartt Men's Force Midweight Classic Thermal Base Layer Long Sleeve Shirt, Black, Medium

Another excellent option is the Carhartt Men’s Force Midweight Classic Base layer. This is another great choice if you want a base layer that comes in a variety of different sizes.

The Carhartt base layer is available in 11 different size options and 5 different colors giving you lots of freedom to choose the best for you.

Similarly to the last product, this base layer is also machine washable ensuring you can clean it easily after you’ve been wearing it for long periods. 

It has a 100% polyester build and comes with a classic waffle knit design to trap heat and ensure your body stays warm throughout the time you are wearing it.

It also comes with an odor control feature so that you don’t need to worry about sweating while you are completing your activities. It has a fast dry feature that wicks away sweat and fights odor, ensuring the top does not become wet and uncomfortable when you are wearing it.

For added comfort, this base layer comes with smooth flatlock seams and a tagless label and has rugged flex technology for ease of movement.

With all these wonderful features considered, it’s clear that this is one of the best options available. 

Pros

  • Lots of size options
  • Available in different colors
  • Waffle knit design traps heat
  • Thumb loop
  • Flatlock seams and a tagless label for comfort

Cons

  • No notable drawbacks

BEST VALUE

Thermal Underwear for Women Long Johns for Women, Base Layer Women Cold Weather Black-Grey

We also loved the NOOYME Thermal Underwear set for women. This is the only base layer on this list which is designed specifically for women, and it’s one of the best women’s base layer sets on the market.

This set is available in sizes small through to extra large. You also have the option of 4 different colors for a sense of personalization. It is designed and built using bamboo charcoal for an extremely thermal fit which ensures warmth every time you wear it.

With ultra-soft fleece lining to keep the cold air out and conserve your body’s heat effectively. 

This set also works to prevent sweat from making you uncomfortable with moisture-wicking technology. It has a highly elastic feel to it with an added range of movement allowing for maximum freedom of movement while also feeling secure.

This set has the added benefit of working to protect your muscles too. It increases blood flow and oxygen in the blood to protect your muscles and reduce the risk of injury from cold weather.

This is an excellent choice for a variety of tasks and a great choice if you’re a woman looking for a new base layer. 

Pros

  • Available in S-XL
  • Color options 
  • Fleece lining 
  • Bamboo charcoal design 
  • Increases blood flow and protects muscles

Cons

  • Only suitable for women

RUNNER UP

LAPASA Men's 100% Merino Wool Thermal Underwear Top Crew Neck Base Layer Long Sleeve Undershirt M29 (Large, Dark Heather Grey.)

You should also consider the LAPASA Merino Wool thermal underwear base layer. This excellent option is available in 5 different sizes with 3 different color choices.

If you are looking for good insulation this is an excellent choice as it is made of 100% merino wool. This wool ensures a comfortable, soft fit while also keeping your skin warm and insulated.

It is an especially good option if you want a base layer to wear in extremely cold weather. 

Despite its extremely insulated design, this base layer is also breathable ensuring you don’t have to worry about overheating, or sweat causing the top to become uncomfortable.

It ensures your body is kept at an optimal temperature so that you can continue your activities without being limited by the temperature.

It is a great option for layering as it comes with a lightweight design and an excellent choice for lots of different outdoor and indoor activities.

If you want a base layer that will keep you very warm you should consider this one. 

Pros

  • 100% merino wool 
  • Effectively insulates
  • 5 different sizes
  • Breathable 
  • Lightweight design

Cons

  • The tight fit might mean you need to size down 

RUNNER UP

HECS Hunting High Performance Base Layer - XX-large

Finally, you should consider the HECS energy concealing base layer.

This set is designed for hunting purposes but is an excellent choice for a variety of other outdoor activities. It is only available in a green camouflage color but comes with 5 different size options.

This set consists of a thermal shirt, pants, and headcover to ensure your entire body is kept insulated from the cold temperatures. 

It is made exclusively in the USA and scientifically proven to conceal heat. It is designed with a conductive carbon grid woven into the fabric of the set to ensure you are comfy when you have to wear the set for long periods.

It also has a patented HECS stealth screen fabric which creates a conductive grid that blocks EMF and keeps you extremely warm and comfy. This might not be the right choice for everyone but it is one of the best thermal base layers on the market. 

Pros

  • Full set of thermals 
  • 5 size choices
  • Comfortable design for long wear 
  • Conceals as well as keeping you warm

Cons

  • Designed for hunting 

Best Base Layer Buying Guide

A base layer can be an excellent investment, especially if you live in cold areas or find yourself prone to colder temperatures.

But there is a huge variety of different base layers on the market which makes it difficult to know which is the best for you.

That’s why we’ve put together this quick buyer’s guide to supply you with all the information you need to know to buy the base layer perfect for you.

Material

If you are looking for a base layer, you will have two main options in terms of materials: merino wool or a synthetic material. The most common options you will come across are merino wool and polyester giving you the choice between a natural or manmade material. 

Merino wool is an excellent choice if your main priority is heat retention. Its build of lots of fine fibers ensures heat is concealed within the base layer and allows the wearer lots of freedom of movement.

It has a soft feel and its natural design means that it comes with antibacterial properties, meaning that the base layer can be worn for days on end without needing to be washed. If you want a base layer with excellent breathability you should consider this material as it allows sweat to evaporate easily and reduces odor. 

Alternatively, you could buy a synthetic base layer. This offers a lot of the benefits that a merino wool base layer does, but it is built with manmade fibers. The most common synthetic fabric used in base layers is polyester as it offers great breathability, and dries quickly.

If you are worried about overheating, a polyester base layer might be a better choice as it tends to be less warm than a merino wool base layer. 

Fit

The fit is extremely important when you buy a base layer.

The base layer has to fit you very well for it to do its intended job so fit is essential. If the base layer is loose on you it will not be able to trap body heat and will also be unable to wick away moisture which will make you uncomfortable.

For both top and pants base layers, all exposed areas must be covered meaning full-length sleeves and legs. You should be able to tuck the base layer inside your outer layers to prevent the cold from breaking through.

In terms of pants, the base layer should reach your ankles. There is no need to size down when buying a base layer as they are designed to be tight fitted to your body size. 

Seasonal Wear 

Different base layers will be more appropriate depending on the time of year you intend to use them.

To give you a basic understanding of when you should use different layers, this is how they tend to differ:

  • The summer base layer - focuses primarily on wicking away sweat and preventing discomfort from moisture. It is usually built with extremely lightweight material. 
  • The spring/autumn base layer - these are transitional layers that combine sweat management with thermal warmth to transition from the two extreme seasons. 
  • The winter base layer - focuses on keeping you warm and insulated above everything else, especially your torso as keeping your chest warm will keep the rest of your body warm too. 

You should consider the seasons and tasks in which you will wear the base layer and buy one which matches the tasks you want to use it for. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you wear a base layer without anything on top of it?

Yes, you can wear a base layer without another top or set of pants covering it.

However, you should only do this if the base layer is appropriate (not made of mesh, etc.).

Base layers are designed with layering in mind, but if you plan on staying inside you can wear a base layer without any additional layers on top. 

At what temperature should you wear thermals?

If you awake and the temperature indoors is below 18 degrees you should wear thermals underneath your normal clothes for warmth.

You should also consider wearing thermals under your pajamas if the indoor temperature is 18 degrees at night. 

What is the best material for a base layer? 

You will find that there are lots of different materials used for base layers, including synthetic materials and wools.

The best material will depend on the activities you intend to use the base layer for and the season you wish to use it in.

Different base layers will have different purposes so you should buy one best suited to you. 

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