Top 8 Best Base Layers For Women To Keep You Dry and Warm

Hey Ladies! Are you looking for the best base layers that will keep you dry, warm and comfortable during all your outdoor adventures? Look no further, we’ve got you covered!

Whether you're shredding the mountaintop, tearing up trails or pounding the pavement, we’ve found the best base layers that will help keep you moving no matter where you are or what you’re doing!

In this ProSurvivalStrategies.com Guide, you will learn:

  • What is a base layer?
  • Why do you need a base layer?
  • Top 8 best base layers for women!
  • And much more!

Check out our Top 8 best base layers in the quick comparison chart below:

ImageProduct
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Smartwool 250 1/4 Zip
  • 100% Merino Wool.
  • Midweight (250 g/m²).
  • Thermoregulating; Moisture-Wicking; Breathable.
  • 100% Merino Wool.
  • Midweight (250 g/m²).
  • Thermoregulating; Moisture-Wicking; Breathable.
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MERIWOOL 250 Base Layer
  • 100% Merino Wool.
  • Midweight (250 g/m²).
  • Thermoregulating; Moisture-Wicking; Breathable.
  • 100% Merino Wool.
  • Midweight (250 g/m²).
  • Thermoregulating; Moisture-Wicking; Breathable.
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Under Armour ColdGear Compression Mock
  • 87% Polyester / 13% Elastane.
  • Lightweight.
  • Moisture-Wicking; Highly-Breathable.
  • 87% Polyester / 13% Elastane.
  • Lightweight.
  • Moisture-Wicking; Highly-Breathable.
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Le Bent Le Base Layer 200
  • 28.5% Merino Wool / 66.5% Rayon from Bamboo / 5% Elastane.
  • Lightweight (200 g/m²).
  • Thermoregulating; Moisture-Wicking; Breathable.
  • 28.5% Merino Wool / 66.5% Rayon from Bamboo / 5% Elastane.
  • Lightweight (200 g/m²).
  • Thermoregulating; Moisture-Wicking; Breathable.
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Kari Traa Rose Half Zip
  • 100% Merino Wool.
  • Midweight (240 g/m²).
  • Moisture-Wicking; Warm; Durable.
  • 100% Merino Wool.
  • Midweight (240 g/m²).
  • Moisture-Wicking; Warm; Durable.
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Arc'teryx Rho LT Zip Neck
  • Torrent (84% Polyester / 16% Elastane).
  • Light/Midweight (185 g/m²).
  • Thermoregulating; Moisture-Wicking; Durable.
  • Torrent (84% Polyester / 16% Elastane).
  • Light/Midweight (185 g/m²).
  • Thermoregulating; Moisture-Wicking; Durable.
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Minus33 Tanana Crew
  • 100% Merino Wool.
  • Expedition Weight (400 g/m²).
  • Thermoregulating; Moisture-Wicking; Warm; Durable.
  • 100% Merino Wool.
  • Expedition Weight (400 g/m²).
  • Thermoregulating; Moisture-Wicking; Warm; Durable.
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VOORMI Base Layer Crew
  • Precision-Blended Wool.
  • Lightweight (185 g/m²).
  • Thermoregulating; Moisture-Wicking; Durable.
  • Precision-Blended Wool.
  • Lightweight (185 g/m²).
  • Thermoregulating; Moisture-Wicking; Durable.
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 OUR #1

TOP-RATED PICK

Smartwool Merino 250 1/4 Zip Base Layer

Specifications:

  • Fit: Slim
  • Style: Quarter-Zip
  • Material: 100% Merino Wool
  • Insulation: Midweight (250 g/m²)
  • Flatlock Seams: Yes
  • Moisture-Wicking: Yes
  • UPF: 50+

Since it was introduced, the Merino 250 1/4 Zip by Smartwool has been one of the best-selling base layers on the market thanks to its ability to balance warmth and breathability, super plush feel and well-designed fit. So it’s no surprise why we chose it as our #1 top-rated pick.

Smartwool has since refined this fan-favorite making it better than ever. With new colors and a new fit, they have improved its functionality while enhancing aesthetics to accommodate different body shapes. 

This updated version features an ever so slightly thicker construction with a tad more length in both the arms and torso. These simple adjustments not only make this top a little warmer but also a bit more stretchier from the previous iteration.

This top has a crew neck with a quarter-zip closure for easy venting and raglan sleeves that offer a full range of motion through the shoulders and arms.

Designed with women in mind, its sculpted side panels and back-to-front body seams offer a more body-enhancing fit. 

Not only does it have flatlock seam construction which helps to minimize chafing, the addition of the shoulder panels eliminate top shoulder seams making it more comfortable when wearing a heavy pack. 

With its quarter-zip closure, it lets you ventilate when you need to, making it more versatile than most crew base layers on the market.

Made with 100% natural Merino wool, it provides one of the most extensive ranges of thermoregulation by keeping you insulated when cold, but cool, dry and ventilated as you start to heat up.

Its wool weave construction means you can wear it for longer periods out on the trail without starting to smell, unlike its synthetic competitors. 

The 250 1/4 Zip is the warmest of Smartwool’s line, perfect for skiing and other winter sports. Besides offering superior comfort next-to-skin, it's remarkably versatile as a midlayer or as a standalone piece in more milder temperatures, making it a great all-rounder. If worn on its own, it even boasts a UPF rating of 50+ so you know you’ll be protected from the sun’s harmful rays. 

While the fabric is super soft and cozy, it does lack durability. If worn as a standalone piece, it is more susceptible to surface scarring while engaging in any sort of abrasive activities. However, we think it’s worth the small tradeoff for the high levels of comfort and performance it provides.

With its impressive moisture-wicking and breathability capabilities, ability to thermoregulate, resistance to odor, not to mention its incredible softness and enhanced fit, the redesigned Merino 250 1/4 Zip from Smartwool certainly delivers.

If you were to choose one base layer that can perform well year-round, the Merino 250 1/4 Zip by Smartwool would be a smart choice. 

Top 8 Best Base Layers For Women.

In a hurry? Check out our top 8 picks below. Keep reading to learn more about each one.

What Is A Base Layer?

A base layer is an article of clothing designed to be worn directly against your skin to regulate your core body temperature. While it does offer a layer of insulation, its primary function is to manage moisture against your skin to keep you dry.

As your next-to-skin layer, it will move moisture away from your body (a process known as “moisture-wicking”), whether it’s caused by sweat or from outside elements, through the fabric to the outside air and evaporate or pass to the next layer. If your base layer is breathable, it will work much more efficiently. Otherwise, that moisture will get trapped inside resulting in a “clammy” and “wet” feeling against the skin, not to mention loss of body heat. This is important to note in cold conditions since it could cause cold injuries, namely hypothermia while engaging in stop and go activities like trail running.

A Base Layer Falsehood: Many retailers and brands alike want us to believe that “base layers” are “super thermal” and will keep us “toasty warm without the added bulk”. If you buy into this notion, you’re most likely going to buy the wrong base layer.

While a base layer will provide a layer of warmth (the warmth level being controlled by the weight of the fabric), it is your midlayer that is the primary keeper of your body heat. A “true” base layer (not so-called “thermals”) is not meant to keep you warm, but instead keep you dry and chill-free. Remember, “keeping dry” is key to “staying warm” or in milder temperatures "staying cool".

If you can accept this simple principle, you’re much more likely to buy the right base layer and be more comfortable while being active.

Base layers come in many styles including tops (long sleeves, t-shirts, tanks, etc.), bottoms (full-length, three-quarter length) or a one-piece style (onesie) and are typically made from Merino Wool and Synthetics. However, there are other materials made for base layers, including Silk and Bamboo. Did you notice I didn't mention cotton?

Cotton is rotten! Base layers made of 100% cotton are unsuitable as a technical base since they have poor moisture-wicking properties, take longer to dry and lose their ability to retain warmth. However, if you prefer the softness of cotton, we recommend base layers made of blends, like cotton and polyester, that can offer you the best properties of both fabrics.

Is There A Difference Between Men’s And Women’s Base Layers?

It’s obvious that the difference between men’s and women’s base layers will be based around the shape of our bodies. A woman’s quality base layer top will have seaming to allow for your bust and hips while a man’s base layer top will be more of a straighter shape. If you prefer a more slim fit, feel free to try out a men’s base layer top.

As for men’s bottoms, well, this could make for an uncomfortable situation. Since a lot of men’s bottoms are made with a fly opening, it can create extra fabric bunching up under your top layers - something you definitely don’t want. In my honest opinion, I recommend wearing women's bottoms since they are made to contour a woman’s buttocks, hips and thighs.

While you can definitely wear a men’s base layer top for a more slimmer fit and if so inclined, a men’s bottom, just keep in mind that women’s base layers are generally tailored for the female body. 

Why Do You Need A Base Layer?

Base layers are essential when it comes to enjoying the outdoors but surprisingly are often overlooked when it comes to putting together layering systems. Hikers, climbers and even mountaineers generally focus on their insulation or waterproofing layers, when in fact, many of the challenges they face can be combatted by a good base layer.

A quality base layer will help regulate your body temperature, wick moisture away to keep you dry, thereby helping your layering system keep you warm. In colder weather, it’s extremely important since it can prevent you from sustaining cold injuries, with hypothermia being the most serious.

So whether you’re working hard carving fresh tracks in the backcountry or exploring new hiking trails, this all-important layer will sure to keep you dry, warm and comfortable no matter how you prefer to enjoy the outdoors.

However, finding the best of the best can seem quite overwhelming. With so many different materials, weights and styles available, choosing the right one for your comfort level can be tricky.

Don’t sweat it! We’re here to make it easier for you by reviewing the best options available on the market and what you should expect from each in terms of fit, comfort and performance.

In this article, we list our best base layer recommendations to help you choose the one that best meets your needs, preferences and budget.

For additional buying guidance to help you make the best choice, check out our in-depth article. From getting the right fit to comparing the various materials and weights, we break down all the factors you need to consider when choosing the right base layer for your individual needs. So check it out!

Now let’s get moving!

Top 8 Best Base Layers for Women Reviews.

1

Top-Rated Pick

Smartwool Merino 250 1/4 Zip Base Layer

Specifications:

  • Fit: Slim
  • Style: Quarter-Zip
  • Material : 100% Merino Wool
  • Insulation: Midweight (250 g/m²)
  • Flatlock Seams: Yes
  • Moisture Wicking: Yes
  • UPF: 50+

Smartwool’s Merino 250 1/4 Zip is our top-rated pick and for good reason. Smartwool has elevated this fan-favorite bringing you more comfort to conquer all your cold-weather activities.

FIT / MOVEMENT
With sculpted side panels and rear body seams wrapping to the front, it now molds to your body for a more snug fit. Its raglan sleeves provide more freedom of movement, perfect for high-intensity climbs or hikes. 

!st Baron Raglan

"Field Marshall FitzRoy Somerset, 1st Baron Raglan'", 1855 Portrait by Roger Fenton.

DID YOU KNOW?

Named after 1st Baron Raglan, a distinguished officer in the British Army, the Raglan Sleeve was invented by Aquascutum who innovatively designed a garment for him to wear after losing his right arm during the Battle of Waterloo. This allowed for greater movement, making it easier for him to dress and to continue using a sword during battle.

With ample length in the arms, you can easily pull the cuffs over your hands for some added warmth. A tad more length was also added to the torso making it easier to tuck in your bottom layers, perfect for skiers and snowboarders.

The 8-inch front zipper also lets you regulate your warmth level. Whether you keep it zipped to stay cozy or you unzip it for some temperature relief, it’s definitely a feature worth having.

MATERIAL / COMFORT
Crafted with 100% Merino wool fibers, its interlock knit fabric provides next-to-skin comfort. It’s simple, but elegant flatlock seam construction reduces any chafing or rubbing, keeping you comfortable as you move.

Thanks to the redesign of the shoulder panels by moving the seams further apart, it not only makes this top more comfortable when wearing a pack but also offers a more accommodating fit for those of you who have broad shoulders. If you’ve ever experienced your pack rub on a seam after a long trek in the backcountry, you’ll thoroughly appreciate this new design.

WARMTH / THERMOREGULATION
This base layer top is extremely warm and offers superb thermoregulation. While it's advertised as a midweight, it's thicker than any other midweight in our list, packed with 250 g/m² of Merino wool, making it exceptionally warm. As soon as you slip into this base layer, its thicker construction immediately starts to insulate. Its super fine fibers not only retains heat but also releases moisture. Since it’s constructed with 100% Merino wool, the material is somewhat porous which allows moisture to escape while moving, ultimately keeping you warm (or cool).

MOISTURE-WICKING / BREATHABILITY
Merino wool is known for its impressive moisture-wicking and breathability capabilities. The construction of this base layer has more of a looser weave as opposed to some other Merino tops, making it surprisingly breathable. The quarter-zip also allows for additional ventilation when you become active. While this base is highly-breathable, its thicker construction doesn’t make it an ideal choice for high-output activities during warmer temperatures. We recommend opting for a thinner build.

ODOR CONTROL
If you’re worried about being smelly with this base layer, “Don’t sweat it!” (literally!) Its wool weave construction means you can wear it longer without starting to stink, even after heavy activity.

VERSATILITY
This Merino wool midweight base performs beautifully across a wide range of temperatures. Trust it on your next ski, hike or a cold morning run. It can also be used as a midlayer for extra warmth or as a standalone piece in milder temperatures. If worn on its own, you’ll be happy to know it boasts a UPF rating of 50+ which will protect you from the sun’s harmful UV rays.

LAYERING ABILITY
This base layer offers decent layering ability due to the slim construction. The quarter-zip design offers more room to fit a tank or shirt underneath, much easier than any crew neck would. 

Now if you want to layer it under a fleece or jacket, you’re gonna have to put in a little effort, especially if it’s tight. This is due to the fabric being fuzzy and having a bit more friction than tops that combine synthetics. However, under a looser fleece or jacket, it will work just fine.

Make it a part of your winter gear and layer it with ease. Just remember to hold the arm cuffs down as you layer to avoid bunching. Once layered, you’re good to go. It won’t ride up and will stay in place all day long while you move.

DURABILITY
While Merino wool is known for its resilience and superior durability, if worn on its own, its more vulnerable to surface scarring, especially against more abrasive activities . So if you enjoy hiking in areas where there is dense vegetation (stunted trees, bushes, etc.), try to be careful not to come in contact with anything sharp (thorns, twigs, etc.), since Merino garments can tear quite fast. Nonetheless, when it comes to performance, nothing offers as good as Merino wool clothing . . . above the treeline.

DRYING SPEED
Merino wool is known to be comparatively slower to dry. This is because Merino wool is “hydrophilic” meaning it absorbs moisture and retains it, making it a little longer to dry out. Due to the “hydrophobic” property (repels moisture), it also becomes slightly heavy when wet (the fiber core “holds” all of the liquid) but that means it’s “drawing” that moisture from your skin ultimately keeping you dry.

ADDITIONAL BENEFITS
Not only is Merino wool naturally odor- and UV-resistant, it is also static-, stain-, flame- and wrinkle-resistant.

OTHER VERSIONS
Due to the overwhelming popularity of the 250, it's made in a number of versions, including the Crew for $5 less. While it offers the same great benefits, many of us appreciate the zip style since it not only makes it easy for us to put on and take off, but also allows us the ability to regulate heat when active.

While many of us prefer the zipper style as it can provide quick ventilation when we start to warm up, others refuse to have anything touching their skin. Rather, they’ll choose to wear it as a midlayer or as an outer layer. It really comes down to your own personal preference.

Now if you feel the 250 is a bit heavy for you, consider the 150 1/4 Zip. It’s similar in design and features but with a slightly lighter weight.
The 250 also came out with a new line of pattern designs. So if you want to add some interest and versatility to your technical gear, check out these fun designs.

BOTTOM LINE
Being a natural fiber, it should come as no surprise that Merino wool isn’t cheap. However, given it’s cozy feel, ability to thermoregulate, insulate when wet and resistance to odor, we feel Smartwool’s 250 1/4 Zip is worth the high price. 

Another reason why we love this product is that Smartwool stands behind everything they make with their “Go Far. Feel Good.™” Guarantee. If your Smartwool gear has not lived up to your expectations within 2 years of purchasing it, simply contact them and they’ll get you into new gear so you don’t miss out on your next adventure. 

So if you’re looking for a Merino wool midweight base layer that offers exceptional comfort and performance, while still looking stylish, consider Smartwool’s Merino 250 1/4 Zip. This humble top will instantly become your trusted adventure companion.

Pros:

  • Super soft and comfortable
  • Flatlock seams
  • Extremely warm
  • Thermoregulating
  • Excels at moisture-wicking
  • Highly-breathable
  • Naturally odor-resistant
  • Naturally UV-resistant
  • Venting features
  • Versatile all-rounder
  • Static-, Stain-, Flame, and Wrinkle-resistant
  • 2-year guarantee

Cons: 

  • Not ideal for warmer days due to thick construction
  • Less durable than some other options
  • Slow-drying 
  • Can feel slightly heavier when wet in warmer weather
  • Expensive (but has value)

2

MERIWOOL 250 Base Layer

Specifications:


  • Fit: Slim/Athletic
  • Style: Crew
  • Material : 100% Merino Wool
  • Insulation: Midweight (250 g/m²)
  • Flatlock Seams: Yes (Except hem)
  • Moisture Wicking: Yes
  • UPF: 50+

Coming in a close second is the MERIWOOL 250 Base Layer. Much like the 250 Crew 1/4 Zip by Smartwool, it offers the same top-quality but at a fraction of the cost. Slip into this base layer and you’ll feel liberated, rather than weighed down thanks to its lightweight feel.

FIT / MOVEMENT
The MERIWOOL base layer comes with an improved fit, designed for the female figure. It has a slimmer, more athletic fit with a stylish flair that can be worn on its own or as a midlayer without feeling too bulky. It also offers a decent amount of stretch for ease of movement.

MATERIAL / COMFORT
Crafted with 100% super-fine spun Merino wool, it’s interlock knit fabric is super soft against the skin. It also has flatlock seams (with the exception of the hem) which prevents any annoying chafing or rubbing when worn next-to-skin providing you all-over comfort.

Comfort Tip: If you are super sensitive to wool, it could feel a bit itchy at first but after a few wears and washes, the itchiness will eventually go away. Slipping a silk base layer underneath can offer some added comfort. 

WARMTH / THERMOREGULATION
Despite being a midweight at 250 g/m², the extra-fine Merino chosen to knit this base layer does make a difference when it comes to its warmth. As a standalone piece, it’s just not as warm as some of its direct competitors. However, while this base layer falls a bit short in terms of overall warmth, it's a standout for its impressive thermoregulation and doesn’t feel heavy. However, if you prefer something a little thicker and warmer, MERIWOOL offers it in a 400 g/m² version. 

MOISTURE-WICKING / BREATHABILITY
Merino wool is known for its incredible moisture-wicking ability and the efficiency with which the fabric is able to transport moisture from the inside to the outside for evaporation. The extra-fine Merino yarn chosen to create this weave only improves that efficiency.

ODOR CONTROL
Being naturally odor-resistant, it will keep you smelling clean and fresh so you can enjoy your favorite outdoor activity longer.

VERSATILITY
This base layer top is super versatile. Not only is this base layer perfect for all your outdoor activities, its flattering shape makes it great for everyday wear. From sun to snow, it’s a fantastic all-rounder. If worn on its own, you’ll be happy to know it boasts a UPF rating of 50+ to keep you protected from the sun's harmful rays.

LAYERING ABILITY
This base layer is perfect for layering. A thinner or tighter shirt can easily be layered underneath this top without feeling bulky. It’s also perfect to layer underneath your favorite down jacket and with its comfy crew neck style and flattering fit, it can be worn as a standalone piece in milder temperatures.

DURABILITY
As with any wool garments, keep in mind that if worn as a standalone piece during any sort of abrasive activities, it's more susceptible to surface abrasions.   However, when it comes to performance, nothing offers as good as Merino wool clothing.

DRYING SPEED
Merino wool is known to be comparatively slower to dry. This is because Merino wool is “hydrophilic” meaning it absorbs moisture and retains it, making it a little longer to dry out. Due to the “hydrophobic” property (repels moisture), it also becomes slightly heavy when wet (the fiber core “holds” all of the liquid) but that means it’s “drawing” that moisture from your skin ultimately keeping you dry.

ADDED BENEFITS
Not only is Merino wool naturally odor- and UV-resistant, it is also static-, stain-, flame- and wrinkle-resistant.

THOUGHTFUL FEATURES
The MERIWOOL 250 includes a convenient loop for hang-drying. This added feature can come in handy while camping, hiking, skiing or partaking in any outdoor activity.

BOTTOM LINE
Not only does the MERIWOOL 250 Base Layer provide exceptional comfort and warmth, its flattering shape will allow you to wear it on its own or layered.

What we also love about this MERIWOOL product is that they offer 30 days to try it out. If you’re not completely happy with it or want to exchange it for a more suitable size or color, simply send it back to the manufacturer. Nonetheless, all of their products come with a 1-year limited warranty that covers any manufacturing and material defects. So at this price point and a 30-day guarantee, why not consider the MERIWOOL 250? They also have bottoms to match! 

Pros:

  • Flattering shape
  • Super soft and comfortable
  • Flatlock seams (except hem)
  • Thermoregulating
  • Excels at moisture-wicking
  • Highly-breathable
  • Naturally odor-resistant
  • Naturally UV-resistant
  • Versatile all-rounder
  • Static-, Stain-, Flame, and Wrinkle-resistant
  • Convenient loop for hang-drying
  • 30-day guarantee

Cons: 

  • Not extremely warm
  • Can feel itchy at first
  • Slow-drying
  • Can feel slightly heavier when wet in warmer weather
  • Less durable than some other options

3

Under Armour ColdGear Compression Mock Base Layer

Specifications:


  • Fit: Compression (the newer version is fitted)
  • Style: Mock Neck
  • Material: 87% Polyester/13% Elastane 
  • Insulation: Lightweight
  • Flatlock Seams: Yes
  • Moisture Wicking: Yes

Are you looking for a synthetic base layer that can keep up with faster-paced hikes and cold-weather trail running? If so, then check out Under Armour’s Compression Mock. This lightweight mock compression base could be just what you need to tackle all your epic journeys.

FIT / MOVEMENT
The compression design of this base layer will hug your body like a second skin without feeling uncomfortable, perfect for layering. Since this base layer is made with 4-way stretch construction, you’ll be able to wear it for plenty of outdoor activities without worrying about it losing its shape. And with a longer torso, it won’t bare skin as you move (perfect for winter runs) or become untucked (a plus for skiers and snowboarders).

Sizing Tip: Some say this base can feel a bit restrictive. For those of you who prefer a little more give, we suggest sizing up one. However, keep in mind that it is a compression base and will feel snug against the body which is ideal for wicking moisture away to keep you dry.  This base layer is available in sizes ranging from XS to XXL.

Newer Model: ColdGear has recently made a newer version of this base layer. Not only has the mock neck been shortened a bit but they also changed the fit from a compression-style to a fitted style. This new silhouette has a streamlined fit that’s not too tight or too loose. It also features mesh underarm panels for added ventilation. So if you found the compression-style version too tight and restrictive for your liking, this updated version may be a better option.

MATERIAL / COMFORT
Made with 87% polyester and 13% elastane, this updated brushback knit fabric is super soft and cozy against the skin. Thanks to its flatlock seam construction, it will prevent any annoying chafing or rubbing when worn next-to-skin providing you all-over comfort.

WARMTH / THERMOREGULATION
As a standalone piece in colder weather, this top falls short in terms of warmth compared to some other contenders in our list. If you plan on doing some leisurely hiking or backpacking, we recommend a wool option for extra warmth.

MOISTURE-WICKING / BREATHABILITY
Lightweight, highly-breathable and fast-drying, this top wicks moisture away from your body quickly, providing thorough and efficient evaporation to keep you feeling dry and comfortable while moving.

ODOR CONTROL
Treated with anti-odor technology, it’ll keep you feeling fresh so you can enjoy your favorite activity longer.

VERSATILITY
Worn as a base layer during any outdoor winter activity or as a standalone piece for high-output activities, this top performs extremely well.

LAYERING ABILITY
Due to its compression fit and smooth exterior, this base layer is easy to layer. Slip it under any sweater, fleece or down jacket for extra warmth.

DURABILITY
Made with synthetic material, this compression mock is quite durable. It can endure more use and washing than any other fabric without losing its shape.

DRYING SPEED
Not only is this fabric made with 87% polyester but it’s also lightweight making this base layer extremely fast-drying.

BOTTOM LINE
This top is perfect for those who enjoy being on the move. Whether you choose to wear it with layers or on its own, its soft fleece-lined interior will provide you with all-day comfort. At this budget-friendly price, Under Armour's Compression Mock is definitely one to consider! Why not complete the look with its matching bottoms?

Pros:

  • Super soft and cozy
  • Flatlock seams
  • Excels at moisture-wicking
  • Highly-breathable
  • Quick-drying
  • Anti-Odor Technology
  • Durable
  • Versatile All-Rounder
  • Easy to layer
  • Great price 

Cons:

  • Fit can feel restrictive
  • Not ideal for low-output activities 

4

Le Bent Le Base Layer 200

Specifications:

  • Fit: Relaxed
  • Style: Crew Neck
  • Material: 28.5% Merino Wool / 66.5% Rayon from Bamboo / 5% Elastane
  • Insulation: Lightweight (200 g/m²)
  • Flatlock Seams: Yes
  • Moisture-Wicking: Yes
  • UPF: 50+

If you’re looking for a lightweight, breathable base layer that offers skin protection from the sun’s harmful UV rays, Le Bent’s Le Base Layer 200 will definitely fit the bill. Le Bent has crafted a technical base that offers unrivalled comfort, performance and style. By blending two of nature’s finest materials, the Le Base 200 delivers maximum breathability and temperature regulation.

FIT / MOVEMENT
Featuring a crew neck, offset shoulder panels and a scoop bottom, the Le Base 200 offers a more relaxed fit, neither too loose or constricting. There is a bit more length in the arms including the torso which is perfect for tucking in your outer layers. Its 4-way stretch construction means you’ll be able to move in any direction without hindrance.

MATERIAL / COMFORT
This lightweight top is crafted with a signature blend of Merino wool and Rayon from Bamboo. Its smoother and rounder fibers make this base layer incredibly soft (like a silky cashmere sweater) and comfortable against the skin, perfect for those who irritate easily by wool. Not only does the flatlock stitching provide you with complete all-over body comfort, but its seams have been accentuated with subtle highlights giving this top a touch of flair.

Bonus: Since bamboo is a naturally sustainable material, you can sleep well knowing you’re supporting a company that is conscious of its impact on the environment.

WARMTH / THERMOREGULATION
Despite being a lightweight base at 200 g/m², it actually performs more like a midweight of 250 g/m². So we suggest reserving this one for those colder days when the extra warmth is welcome.

Thanks to the blend of two of nature’s finest materials, the Le Bent 200 excels at temperature regulation by keeping you warm in the cold and cool in the heat. If you want something a little thicker and warmer, Le Bent also offers it in a Midweight 260 g/m².

MOISTURE-WICKING / BREATHABILITY
It’s moisture-wicking is about average for natural materials. While the fabric does pull moisture away from your skin, you may still feel a bit sweaty due to the extra warmth it provides. Thanks to the fabric's fiber structure, this top is highly-breathable, keeping you dry and comfortable. 

ODOR CONTROL
Even with odor-free technology, it does tend to smell a bit quicker than pure wool options. However, Le Base is still notably better at controlling odor than most synthetic layers.

VERSATILITY
Made from the brand’s signature blend of Rayon from Bamboo and Merino wool, the Le Base 200 is quite versatile. Despite being lightweight, this layer will keep you warm when it’s cold and dry when you start working up a sweat. Use this base on everything from cross-country skiing to trail running to even snow shoveling.

LAYERING ABILITY
The Le Base 200 has a relaxed fit but still hugs the body. You can easily fit a thin tank top underneath but why would you want to? The fabric has a cool buttery soft feel - you’re not going to want to take it off.

This base layer is so warm you can pair it with a lighter windshell and still feel warm and comfortable. On colder days, wear it under a fleece, your favorite puffer, or as a standalone piece in more casual settings.

DURABILITY
Thanks to bamboo’s natural fibers, this base layer will keep its shape no matter how many activities you put it through.

DRYING SPEED
While its fiber structure does make it breathable, it doesn’t dry as quickly as a light polyester or 100% Merino would.

ADDED BENEFITS
Not only is Merino wool and bamboo naturally odor- and UV-resistant, they are also static-, stain- and wrinkle-resistant.

BOTTOM LINE
Super comfortable to wear and incredibly versatile, Le Bent did it right with its simplistic style that you can wear on the slopes or on the street. With a 100-day “feel the difference” guarantee, why not check out Le Bent's Le Base Layer 200 for yourself. Don’t forget the matching ¾ bottoms, perfect for all you skiers and snowboarders out there!

Pros:

  • Super soft and comfortable
  • Flatlock seams
  • Thermoregulating
  • Highly-breathable
  • Naturally UV-resistant
  • Anti-Odor Technology
  • Versatile All-Rounder
  • Static-, Stain- and Wrinkle-resistant
  • 100-Day “Feel the Difference” Guarantee

Cons: 

  • Traps odor more quickly than pure Merino wool
  • Average wicking ability for natural material
  • Comparatively slower to dry

5

Kari Traa Rose Half-Zip Base Layer Top

Specifications:


  • Fit: Slim
  • Style: High Collar w/Deep Half-Zip
  • Material: 100% Merino Wool
  • Insulation: Midweight (240 g/m²)
  • Flatlock Seams: Yes
  • Moisture-Wicking: Yes
  • UPF: N/A

Founded by Norwegian Olympic skier, Kari Traa, the brand was developed “by girls, for girls” and has become one of the fastest growing sports apparel brands in Europe. Combining 100% Merino wool with unique and fun color schemes, Kari Traa base layers are quickly becoming a fan-favorite in the US.

So if you are looking for a durable wool option that can hold up against any type of activity and still look cute and stylish, then check out Kari Traa’s Rose Half-Zip Top. Not only is this top made with 100% Merino wool to keep you toasty on the nippiest of days but is super durable thanks to its tightly woven fabric. These fun and feminine patterns will keep you feeling fashionable and flirty from the slopes to hanging at the après.

FIT / MOVEMENT
With the use of body-mapping, this top is designed to fit perfectly snug against the body and with its 4-way stretch, it allows for a full range of movement.

Sizing Tip: Some say this top is not true to fit and can feel constrictive around the shoulders and chest area. The arms and torso also run a bit short. Part of the reason why the fit may be less than ideal is that the fabric doesn’t stretch as readily as other contenders in our list. So if you plan on buying this base layer, we recommend sizing up.

MATERIAL / COMFORT
The Kari Traa base layer is made with 100% Merino wool. While Merino wool is typically cozy and comfortable to the touch, some say this Merino wool is a bit itchy (especially when wet) and less comfortable than some other options. However, after a few wears and washes, the itchiness will eventually go away. Its smooth flatlock seam construction also reduces any rubbing when worn next-to-skin providing you all-over comfort.

Comfort Tip:  Slipping a silk base layer underneath can offer some added comfort.

WARMTH / THERMOREGULATION
Crafted with 240 g/m² of 100% Merino wool, its super fine fibers trap and lock in warmth for cold days and nippy mornings. Its tightly knit fabric also provides a little wind-resistance, while the stretchy underarm panels and zip-up collar allows for easy venting. While the tightly woven fabric offers fantastic durability, this top actually holds a bit of moisture causing you to cool after exertion. As a result, it doesn’t provide a whole lot of warmth after an activity. While this top does offer decent warmth for standalone use or trekking around town, it’s not a great option for aerobic purposes.

MOISTURE-WICKING / BREATHABILITY
While the fabric is relatively breathable, it doesn’t quite perform as well as some of the other Merino wool contenders in our list. Since the fabric is so tightly knit, it decreases the breathability of the fabric. It also doesn’t wick moisture as well as others. However, while it does fall short in terms of moisture-wicking and breathability, it does make up for with the exceptional warmth and durability it provides.

ODOR CONTROL
Being naturally odor-resistant, it will keep you smelling clean and fresh so you can adventure longer.

VERSATILITY
This midweight base is ideal for cold weather conditions. It can also be used as a midlayer for extra warmth and with its flattering shape and cute designs, it can be worn as a standalone piece in milder temperatures.

LAYERING ABILITY
This top layers better than most Merino wool layers. Its face fabric isn’t very slippery and can grab layers easily. Since it’s tight-fitting, the arms and torso won’t bunch up. This top can easily fit underneath your favorite puffer or shell without adding bulk or causing restriction in movement. A smaller or tighter-fitting shirt can also be easily layered underneath.

DURABILITY
Although wool is typically known to form holes, given this base layer’s tightly woven fabric, it’s extremely durable and can be worn anywhere. It’s relatively snag-resistant and can take abrasion. The fabric is not nearly as delicate as some other Merino wool options, ensuring its use for all your future adventures.

DRYING SPEED
Merino wool is known to be comparatively slower to dry. This is because Merino wool is “hydrophilic” meaning it absorbs moisture and retains it, making it a little longer to dry out. Due to the “hydrophobic” property (repels moisture), it also becomes slightly heavy when wet (the fiber core “holds” all of the liquid) but that means it’s “drawing” that moisture from your skin ultimately keeping you dry.

THOUGHTFUL FEATURES
The zip-up collar with chin guard allows for quick ventilation while the unique stretchy underarm panels provide an escape for heat.

BOTTOM LINE
This 100% Merino wool base layer is super durable and provides exceptional warmth. Although it may not be as comfortable or breathable as other Merino wool contenders and slightly more expensive, it does layer nicely and features fun designs that some of us ladies love. So if you’re seeking a durable Merino wool base layer, consider Kari Traa's Rose Half-Zip.  While it may be slightly higher in price, it might be worth throwing down the coin.  If the Rose Half-Zip caught your eye, it's also available in hooded and button versions. Want to look stylish from head to toe, complete the look with its matching bottoms

Pros:

  • Flattering shape
  • Cute and stylish
  • Flatlock seams
  • Exceptionally warm
  • Naturally odor-resistant
  • Versatile
  • Easy to layer
  • Extremely durable
  • Venting features

Cons: 

  • Uncomfortable fit
  • Less breathable and moisture-wicking than some other wool options
  • Slow-drying
  • Can feel slightly heavier when wet in warmer weather
  • Not ideal for aerobic purposes
  • Expensive (but has value)

6

Arc'teryx Rho LT Zip Neck Base Layer

Specifications:


  • Fit: Trim
  • Style: High Collar w/Deep Half-Zip 
  • Material: Torrent (84% Polyester / 16% Elastane)
  • Insulation: Lightweight 
  • Flatlock Seams: Yes
  • Moisture Wicking: Yes

Are you a hardcore adventurer searching for a base layer to match? If so, then you should consider the Arc’teryx Rho LT Zip. This lightweight base layer top provides a tight fit that locks in warmth thanks to its fleece-lined interior and zip-up collar. Not only does it thermoregulate over a wide range of temperatures, it is extremely durable.

FIT / MOVEMENT
The Arc’teryx Rho LT Zip has recently been updated with a new fit and construction design. Its new trim fit style not only helps keep the warmth closer to the body but also makes it easy for layering. Although the hip length got shortened a bit, it still provides just enough coverage and warmth. A small adjustment was also made to the half-zip neck collar by making it deeper. When zipped, it will keep you warm and cozy when things get chilly and with a quick unzip, some reprieve when you start to heat up. The deeper neck also makes it easier to pull on and pull off.

The zip sleeve pocket has been replaced with a new kangaroo zip pocket located on the left hip. The Elastane in the fabric also provides enough flexibility to allow mobility in the arms, thus facilitating navigating through harsh terrain.

Sizing Tip: Due to its new trim fit design and depending on your body type, you may need to size up.

MATERIAL / COMFORT
This base layer top is crafted with a polyester blend fabric and a super cozy, fleece-lined interior. Constructed with merrow stitching, smooth flatlock seams and shoulder panels, you won’t have to worry about it being itchy or abrading your skin while in motion. With its articulated patterning and gusseted underarms, this top is ideal for a wide range of activities as it won’t ride up or hinder your movement.

WARMTH / THERMOREGULATION
Thanks to its cozy, fleece-lined interior and new trim fit design, it will keep you warmer when needed without overheating you. While the fabric isn’t windproof, it does cut the wind to a certain degree. Consequently, it’s a perfect standalone piece that will regulate temperature as you move and keep you warm while standing still. Its deep half-zip mock neck collar also allows excess heat to escape which helps to regulate your body temperature.

Note: For a synthetic base layer, overall, it provides a decent amount of warmth, but if you’re in need of something warmer, try the Arc'teryx Rho AR. It's a little bit higher in price, but it's the warmest of their base layers.

MOISTURE-WICKING / BREATHABILITY
This top does an excellent job of moving moisture away from your body. However, when it comes to breathability, it doesn’t quite perform as well as some of the other contenders in our list. While it does feature a zip-up collar that allows the release of heat from the body, it doesn’t compensate for the warmth generated by the cozy fleece-lined interior and tightly woven fabric. These two construction features make this top a little less breathable on warmer days or when breaking a sweat. While it does fall short in terms of breathability, it does make up for in the incredible warmth and durability it provides.

DRYING SPEED
Although made with synthetic material and is relatively lightweight, this top is not the quickest at drying.

ODOR CONTROL
Treated with anti-odor technology, it’ll keep you feeling fresh so you can enjoy your favorite activity longer.

VERSATILITY
This high-performing, cozy base layer is a standout on versatility. From ghost-storytelling campfires to hiking mountain peaks, this lightweight base layer will keep you warm and comfortable on the coldest days. It’s a perfect layer for backcountry/resort skiing or running on cooler days. Although not windproof, this base layer can be worn as a standalone piece on warmer days.

LAYERING ABILITY
This top fits tight because of the Elastane in the fabric making it almost impossible to fit anything underneath. While you may be able to wear a thin tank top underneath (anything with sleeves would just bunch), this base layer is best served on its own (it looks cute too!) or with additional layers.

DURABILITY
Arc’teryx has been known for its high-quality materials and superior construction. As lightweight and minimalist in design, this top is extremely durable for its weight due to its well-crafted fabrication. Its tightly woven fabric means you can wash it multiple times without it showing any wear and tear.

THOUGHTFUL FEATURES
This new iteration features a convenient zip pocket on the left hip where you can stash small items like a key, cash or lip balm.

BOTTOM LINE
For a synthetic base layer top, the superior craftsmanship and on-skin comfort goes above and beyond. Not only does it have a super cozy interior with a cute, flattering fit, it is warm and extremely durable. So if you are looking for exceptional quality with warmth and durability to match, the Arc’teryx Rho LT Zip is the way to go. If you want full body warmth, they also have matching bottoms.

Pros:

  • Flattering fit
  • Comfortable and cozy 
  • Flatlock seams
  • Exceptionally warm
  • Thermoregulating
  • Excels at moisture-wicking
  • Anti-Odor Technology
  • Ultra-Versatile
  • Extremely Durable for a Synthetic Blend
  • Handy stash pocket for standalone wear

Cons: 

  • May feel tight for some body types
  • Less breathable for higher-output activities on warmer days
  • Slow-drying
  • Expensive (but has value)

7

Minus33 807 Tanana Expedition Crew Base Layer

Specifications:


  • Fit: Regular
  • Style: Crew Neck
  • Material: 100% Merino Wool
  • Insulation: Expedition Weight (400 g/m²)
  • Flatlock Seams: Yes
  • Tagless: Yes
  • Moisture Wicking: Yes
  • UPF: 50+

Are you looking for a quality base layer that can deliver ultimate warmth during all your cold-weather activities? Combat the cold with the high performance of Minus33 Merino Wool Tanana! Made with 400 g/m² interlock knit construction, this base layer is built to keep you dry and warm when temperatures plummet. 

DID YOU KNOW?

This base layer was named after the Tanana River in East-Central Alaska and is an important tributary to the Yukon River, which is still a vital waterway for commerce.

FIT / MOVEMENT
The Minus33 Tanana features a crew neck with a regular fit that’s not too baggy but has just enough room for the fabric to breathe. Its princess seams also give your body a more shaped silhouette that is flattering for all body shapes and sizes. With stretchable ribbed knit cuffs, it will help keep your sleeves in place, making it easy for layering and allow for ease of movement.

Sizing Tip: This base layer is offered in a wide range of sizes from XS to 3XL.  It runs true to fit so we recommend ordering your normal size.

MATERIAL / COMFORT
Crafted with 100% Merino wool fibers, it’s extremely soft and comfortable, even for the most sensitive skin. Its interlock knit fabric provides extra stretch while its flatlock seam construction and tagless labels reduces any chafing or rubbing when worn next-to-skin, providing you all-over comfort. It also boasts a UPF rating of 50+ to help protect you from the harsh rays of the sun if worn on its own.

WARMTH / THERMOREGULATION
With its 400 g/m² interlock knit construction, this base layer top is exceptionally warm and offers excellent thermoregulation. Now if you feel the 400 g/m² is a bit heavy for you, consider the 230 g/m² midweight. It’s similar in design and features but with a slightly lighter weight and is priced less.

MOISTURE-WICKING / BREATHABILITY
Merino wool is known for its incredible moisture-wicking ability and the efficiency with which the fabric is able to transport moisture from the inside to the outside for evaporation.

DRYING SPEED
Merino wool is known to be comparatively slower to dry. This is because Merino wool is “hydrophilic” meaning it absorbs moisture and retains it, making it a little longer to dry out. Due to the “hydrophobic” property (repels moisture), it also becomes slightly heavy when wet (the fiber core “holds” all of the liquid) but that means it’s “drawing” that moisture from your skin ultimately keeping you dry.

ODOR CONTROL
Its wool weave construction means you can wear it for longer periods out on the trail without starting to smell, unlike its synthetic competitors.

VERSATILITY
This base layer is the ultimate when it comes to versatility as it works well as an outer layer during warmer temperatures, a midlayer for extra warmth or as a base layer in extreme cold environments. From cool hikes to cold winter climbs, this expedition weight base layer will keep the cold from biting at your bones.

LAYERING ABILITY
Since this top has a regular fit, you’re able to easily wear a small shirt or tank top underneath. For those of you who are more sensitive, slip a silk base layer underneath for some added comfort. 

DURABILITY
Constructed with 400 g/m² of interlock knit fabric, this base layer top is extremely durable.

ADDED BENEFITS
Not only is Merino wool naturally odor- and UV-resistant, it is also static-, stain-, flame- and wrinkle-resistant.

BOTTOM LINE
Whether working hard or playing hard in the coldest days of winter, Minus33 Tanana will have your back. It's the perfect choice to keep you dry and warm in the coldest conditions.  For full body warmth, check out their matching bottoms.

Pros:

  • Great size selection
  • Runs true to fit
  • Soft and comfortable 
  • Flatlock Seams
  • Tagless labels
  • Thermoregulating
  • Exceptionally warm
  • Excels at moisture-wicking
  • Highly-breathable
  • Naturally odor-resistant
  • Naturally UV-resistant 
  • Ultra-Versatile
  • Easy to layer
  • Extremely Durable
  • Static-, Stain-, Flame, and Wrinkle-resistant

Cons:

  • Slow-drying
  • Expensive (but has value)

8

VOORMI Long Sleeve Crew Base Layer

Specifications:


  • Fit: Athletic
  • Style: Crew Neck
  • Material: DUAL SURFACE™ Precision-Blended Wool
  • Insulation: Lightweight (185 g/m²)
  • Moisture Wicking: Yes
  • Thumb Holes: Yes

Rounding out our Top 8 comes the VOORMI Long Sleeve Crew. USA-made, the VOORMI Long Sleeve Crew is a high-performing base layer that is unmatched like no other thanks to its DUAL SURFACE™ Precision-Blended Wool. By blending moisture-wicking properties of wool with strategically placed high-performance synthetic fibers, the result is one incredible base layer that offers superior warmth, comfort, moisture-management and durability.

FIT / MOVEMENT
This top has a slimmer, more athletic fit with a stylish flair. Its long fit in both the sleeves and torso offer a full range of movement.

MATERIAL / COMFORT
This top is crafted with a unique blend of domestically-sourced Merino wool and high-performance synthetic fibers providing next-to-skin comfort.

WARMTH / THERMOREGULATION
Despite only being 185 g/m², this base layer packs in an incredible amount of warmth, perfect for cold-weather activities.

MOISTURE-WICKING / BREATHABILITY
Constructed with Dual Surface™ Precision Blending Technology, it’s thin inner layer of high-performance wicking yarns will pull moisture off your body to the outer surface of the fabric and evaporate, keeping you dry and comfortable all day long.

DRYING SPEED
This base layer dries relatively fast thanks to its blend of Merino wool and strategically-placed synthetic fibers. However, while its fiber structure does make it breathable, it doesn’t dry as quickly as a light polyester or 100% Merino would.

ODOR CONTROL
Although constructed with blended materials (one being Merino wool), it's still odor-resistant which means you’ll be able to wear this top at least 6 to 8 times before developing any real odor.

VERSATILITY
This midweight base performs beautifully across a wide range of temperatures. Trust it on your next ski, hike or a cold morning run. It can also be used as a midlayer for extra warmth or as a standalone piece in milder temperatures. 

LAYERING ABILITY
This top can be worn as a midlayer without feeling too bulky. You can also easily layer a smaller or tighter-fitting shirt underneath.

DURABILITY
This base layer is incredibly durable due to the materials used in combination with the meticulous processing and knit/weaving construction. The wool used to construct this base layer is sourced domestically, specifically from the Rocky Mountain Region. The fibers harvested in this region seem to have more “crimp” to them due to their environment making them stronger. Combine that with the painstaking process of removing the shorter fibers with the unique knitting/weaving construction and you have yourself one extremely durable piece of technical apparel. As an added bonus, it also prevents pilling.

THOUGHTFUL FEATURES
If you’re like me and love thumb holes, this base layer comes with integrated hidden thumb holes. Thumb holes are great as they help keep your sleeves secure when layering up, or used as makeshift gloves to help stave off the chill.

BOTTOM LINE
VOORMI Long Sleeve Crew gets very high marks due to the unrivalled comfort and performance it provides. So if you’re looking for a “do-it-all” base layer that can keep you dry and comfortable for all your outdoor and everyday adventures, VOORMI's Long Sleeve Crew hits all the marks. It’s an excellent choice for year-round use that will last you for many years, validating the somewhat expensive price tag. Chase your next adventure wearing a VOORMI base layer! 

Pros:

  • Flattering shape
  • Super soft and comfortable
  • Exceptionally warm 
  • Thermoregulating
  • Excels at moisture-wicking 
  • Relatively breathable
  • Naturally odor-resistant
  • Versatile all-rounder
  • Easy to layer
  • Extremely durable
  • Integrated hidden thumb holes
  • Made in USA

Cons:

  • Slower to dry
  • Expensive (but has value)

DON’T FORGET YOUR BASE LAYER BOTTOMS!

Many base layers on this list have a coordinating bottom (we have included a few for your consideration) with the same design construction and similar or identical price. We only list base layer tops since maintaining a warm core (torso) will do more for your entire body’s comfort than keeping your legs warm. It is your base layer top that will keep you dry which is essential to overall body warmth. 

However, we are definitely fans of bottoms. Not only are they easily available but share the same pros and cons as their top counterpart. 

Base Layer Tips!

  • Choose your normal size as they are constructed smaller. However, if you prefer a looser fit, feel free to size up.
  • Fabrics should cling to your body but not constrict you in any way. A base layer can only function effectively if it fits you properly.
  • Watch out for seams with tags or labels since this can cause irritation or discomfort.
  • Look for fabrics with moisture-wicking and breathability properties since both are essential in ensuring the fabric does its job.
  • Lightweight materials are better at moisture-wicking and are quick-drying.
  • Match your base layer with the level of activity to maintain desired body temperature. 

The Final Layer!

Choosing a quality base layer doesn’t have to be a struggle. If you remember to focus on your personal needs, finding the right one will be that much easier.

Ultimately, the best choice will be one that fits you well and, depending on the weather, your activity level and its design, breathes appropriately to keep you comfortably dry and warm or dry and cool. And with more attention paid to styling, making it even fashionable for casual wear, you won’t have to sacrifice comfort and performance for style.

So whether you’re playing, training or exploring, a well-performing base layer will allow you to enjoy all of your favorite outdoor activities comfortably and healthy.

Adventure on!

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