Top 8 Best Men’s Base Layers (Stay Dry, Warm & Comfortable)

Hey Guys! Are you looking for the best base layers that will keep you dry, warm and comfortable during all your outdoor pursuits? 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 men's base layers!
  • And much more!

In a hurry! 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).
  • Warm; Thermoregulating; Moisture-Wicking; Breathable.
  • 100% Merino Wool.
  • Midweight (250 g/m²).
  • Warm; Thermoregulating; Moisture-Wicking; Breathable.
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MERIWOOL 250
  • 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; Durable; Quick-Drying.
  • 87% Polyester / 13% Elastane.
  • Lightweight.
  • Moisture-Wicking; Highly-Breathable; Durable; Quick-Drying.
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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).
  • Warm; Thermoregulating; Moisture-Wicking; Breathable; Durable.
  • 28.5% Merino Wool / 66.5% Rayon from Bamboo / 5% Elastane.
  • Lightweight (200 g/m²).
  • Warm; Thermoregulating; Moisture-Wicking; Breathable; Durable.
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Icebreaker 200 Oasis Crew
  • 100% Merino Wool.
  • Midweight (200 g/m²).
  • Thermoregulating; Moisture-Wicking; Breathable; Quick-Drying.
  • 100% Merino Wool.
  • Midweight (200 g/m²).
  • Thermoregulating; Moisture-Wicking; Breathable; Quick-Drying.
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Arc'teryx Rho LT Zip Neck
  • Torrent (84% Polyester / 16% Elastane).
  • Light/Midweight (220g/m²).
  • Warm; Thermoregulating; Moisture-Wicking; Durable.
  • Torrent (84% Polyester / 16% Elastane).
  • Light/Midweight (220g/m²).
  • Warm; Thermoregulating; Moisture-Wicking; Durable.
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Minus33 Yukon Crew
  • 100% Merino Wool.
  • Expedition Weight (400 g/m²).
  • Warm; Thermoregulating; Moisture-Wicking; Breathable; Durable.
  • 100% Merino Wool.
  • Expedition Weight (400 g/m²).
  • Warm; Thermoregulating; Moisture-Wicking; Breathable; Durable.
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VOORMI Base Layer Crew
  • Precision-Blended Wool.
  • Lightweight (185 g/m²).
  • Warm; Thermoregulating; Moisture-Wicking; Breathable; Durable.
  • Precision-Blended Wool.
  • Lightweight (185 g/m²).
  • Warm; Thermoregulating; Moisture-Wicking; Breathable; Durable.
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 OUR #1

TOP-RATED PICK

Smartwool Merino 250 Men's 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 by Smartwool has been one of the best-selling base layers on the market thanks to its remarkable ability to balance warmth and breathability. Combine that with a plush 100% Merino wool weave and a well-designed fit and you’ve got yourself one kickass base layer. So it’s no surprise why we chose it as our top pick.


The Merino 250 has recently received an upgrade making it even more functional. A redesign of the shoulder panels now eliminates top shoulder seams making it more comfortable when wearing a heavy pack. It also offers a more accommodating fit for those of you who have broad shoulders. The flatlock seam construction further helps to minimize any chafing keeping you comfortable while enjoying your favorite activity.


Its 10-inch quarter-zip with semi-locking slider also 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, this top 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.


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


The Merino 250 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, and even has a UPF 50+ rating for use as an outer layer in more milder temperatures, making it a great all-rounder.


With impressive moisture-wicking and breathability capabilities, ability to thermoregulate, resistance to odor and incredible softness, the redesigned Merino 250 is definitely the full package.


Up your base layer game with the new and improved Smartwool 250 Quarter-Zip. 

Top 8 Best Men's Base Layers!

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

What Exactly 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 type of fabric and its weight), 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 more likely going 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 did not 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.

As you can see from the above picture, the cotton shirt became saturated in sweat.   Since cotton does not have moisture-wicking properties, that moisture will remain trapped inside, initially leaving your body feeling overly hot and sticky, but once your body naturally cools itself down, you will begin to feel cool and clammy.  

You will also lose body heat which is critical in colder conditions as it puts you in risk of sustaining cold injuries, specifically hypothermia.   With that said, 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.

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. As I mentioned earlier, it’s extremely important in cold weather 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 the activity.

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!

In-Depth Reviews Of Our Top 8 Best Men's Base Layers.

1

Top-Rated Pick

Smartwool Merino 250 Men's 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 is our top pick and for good reason. Smartwool has updated this fan-favorite bringing you more comfort and performance to conquer all your cold-weather activities.

FIT / MOVEMENT
Designed with mobility in mind and a handsome slim fit cut, the Merino 250 is perfect to wear for nearly any situation.

A thoughtful update was also made to the shoulder panels. By increasing the width between the offset shoulder seams, it is now much more friendly to those with broader shoulders.

Despite the lack of underarm gussets, its stretchy weave and new raglan sleeve construction offers more freedom of movement, perfect for high-intensity climbs or hikes.

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 you skiers and snowboarders.

The 10-inch quarter-zip also lets you regulate your warmth level. Whether you zip it to stay warm and cozy or unzip it for some temperature relief, it’s definitely a feature worth having.

MATERIAL / COMFORT
The Merino 250 screams comfort. It is the type of base layer you won't want to take off. You may find yourself waking up in it, wearing it all day on the mountain, out to dinner and back to bed. Its uber-soft, plush 100% Merino wool wraps you up like a warm, cozy blanket. So no matter the activity, you will most likely find yourself reaching for this ultra-versatile top.

It’s simple, yet elegant flatlock seam construction reduces any chafing or rubbing when worn next-to-skin, keeping you comfortable as you move.
Thanks to the redesign of the shoulder panels by moving the seams further apart, this updated version is much more comfortable to wear with a heavy pack. 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 top 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 lightweight base layer.

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. Worn as an outer layer, it will also protect you from the sun’s harmful UV rays thanks to its built-in UPF of 50+.

LAYERING ABILITY
Thanks to its incredible versatility, the Merino 250 Quarter-Zip can easily be worn as a midlayer over a thin base just as easily as wearing it as a next-to-skin base. However you arrange your first few layers, this top is as comfortable under a midlayer or an insulated jacket. On really cold days, pair it with our #8 pick for ultimate warmth.

DURABILITY
While the fabric is super soft and cozy, there is a downside to consider - Merino’s lack of durability. As expected with natural fibers, this top will slouch and sag a bit through consistent wear and washes. To ensure its longevity, special care will be required when washing.

Also, keep in mind that when worn as an outer layer while engaging in any sort of abrasive activities, it’s more prone to surface scarring. 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.

DRYING SPEED
Merino wool is known to be comparatively slower to dry. This is because the internal structure of a Merino wool fiber is “hydrophilic” meaning it absorbs moisture and retains it, making it a little longer to dry out. The wool garment could also feel somewhat heavier when wet since Merino wool can hold up to 35% of its weight in moisture, yet still feel dry to the touch.

ADDED 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, Smartwool has made it in a number of versions, including a Crew ($100) and Hoodie ($135). While they share the same great benefits, many of us appreciate the quarter-zip since it not only makes it easier 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 quarter-zip, 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 ¼ 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 funky designs.

BOTTOM LINE
Being a natural fiber, it should come as no surprise that Merino wool isn’t cheap. However, given its cozy feel, ability to thermoregulate, insulate when wet and resistance to odor, we feel Smartwool’s Merino 250 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, performance and versatility, then up your base layer game with the new and improved Smartwool 250. This humble top will instantly become your trusted adventure companion. For full body warmth, check out their matching bottoms.

Pros:

  • Style and fit
  • Super soft and comfortable
  • Extremely warm
  • Thermoregulating
  • 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 
  • Expensive (but has value)

2

MERIWOOL 250 Men's 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 Quarter-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. It has a slimmer, more athletic cut 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% superfine spun Merino wool, its 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 go away. Wearing a thin base layer underneath can offer some comfort.

WARMTH / THERMOREGULATION
Despite being a midweight at 250 g/m², the superfine 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 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 superfine 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 complimentary style makes it great for daily wear. From sun to snow, it’s a fantastic all-rounder. Worn as an outer layer, it will keep you protected from the sun’s harmful rays thanks to its built-in UPF of 50+.

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 handsome fit, it can be worn as a standalone piece in milder temperatures.

DURABILITY
As with any garment made with natural fibers, it will slouch and sag a bit through consistent wear and washing. To ensure its longevity, special care will be required when washing. And 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, Merino wool is a standout.

DRYING SPEED
Merino wool is known to be comparatively slower to dry. This is because the internal structure of a Merino wool fiber is “hydrophilic” meaning it absorbs moisture and retains it, making it a little longer to dry out. The wool garment could also feel somewhat heavier when wet since Merino wool can hold up to 35% of its weight in moisture, yet still feel dry to the touch.

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 thermoregulation, its complimentary style will allow you to wear it on its own or layered. 

Another reason why we love MERIWOOL products 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 matching bottoms

Pros:

  • Style and fit
  • Super soft and comfortable
  • Thermoregulating
  • Excels at moisture-wicking
  • Highly-breathable
  • Naturally odor-resistant
  • Naturally UV-resistant
  • Versatile all-rounder
  • Static-, Stain-, Flame, and Wrinkle-resistant
  • Loop for hang-drying
  • 30-day guarantee
  • 1-year limited warranty

Cons: 

  • Not extremely warm (as a standalone)
  • Can feel itchy at first
  • Slow-drying
  • Can feel slightly heavier when wet 
  • Less durable than some other options

3

Under Armour ColdGear Compression Mock Men's Base Layer

Specifications:

  • Fit: Compression
  • Style: Mock
  • 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 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.  

The fit on the mock neck provides pretty good coverage and with a longer torso, it won’t bare skin as you move (perfect for winter runs) or become untucked (a plus for you skiers and snowboarders).  

Available Sizes:  UA offers a large size selection ranging from size S to 4XL (newer iteration to 3XL).

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. 

Other Fit: The compression mock is also available in a fitted style. This cut has a streamlined fit that’s not too tight or too loose. So if you found the compression style too tight and restrictive for your liking, the fitted version may be a better option. 

Newer Model:  Under Armour developed a newer model of this compression base. This new version includes a higher mock neck which provides more coverage and warmth.  With a stretch-mesh back and underarm panels, it provides strategic ventilation without sacrificing warmth.  Also featured is a new embroidered logo.  Again - if the newer model is too constrictive for you, UA does offer it in the fitted style.

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 stink-free for days on end.

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, it’s definitely one to consider! Under Armour also offers matching compression leggings.

Pros:

  • Soft and comfortable
  • Excels at moisture-wicking
  • Highly-breathable
  • Durable
  • Quick-drying
  • Anti-odor technology
  • Versatile all-rounder
  • Great price
  • Available in sizes S to 4XL (newer iteration to 3XL)

Cons: 

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

4

Le Bent Le Base Layer 200 Men's

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 super comfortable, lightweight, breathable base layer that offers skin protection from the sun’s harmful UV rays, Le Bent’s Le Base Layer 200 definitely fits the bill.

Le Bent has crafted a technical base that offers unrivaled comfort, performance and style. By blending two of nature’s finest materials, the Le Base 200 delivers maximum breathability and temperature regulation.

Designed with a primary color tone and subtle highlights accentuating its flatlock seams, this base layer not only performs well in the elements, it also looks good while you’re at it! 

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 top's material can be summed up in two words, luxurious softness. 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 and comfortable against the skin, perfect for those who irritate easily by wool. With its flatlock stitching, you won’t have to worry about rubbing or chafing, just complete all-over body comfort.

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
Its 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.

ODOR CONTROL
Although blended with Merino fibers, it does tend to smell a bit quicker than pure wool options. However, the Le Base 200 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 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 it out for yourself. Don’t forget the matching bottoms.

Pros:

  • Comfortable fit
  • Soft and comfortable
  • Flatlock seams
  • Warm (for a Lightweight)
  • Thermoregulating
  • Breathable
  • Durable
  • Naturally odor-resistant
  • Naturally UV-resistant
  • Versatile all-rounder
  • Static-, Stain- and Wrinkle-resistant
  • 100-Day “Feel the Difference” Guarantee

Cons: 

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

5

Icebreaker 200 Oasis Men's Base Layer

Specifications:

  • Fit: Slim (updated design)
  • Style: Crew Neck
  • Material: 100% Merino Wool
  • Insulation: Midweight (200 g/m²)
  • Flatlock Seams: Yes
  • Moisture-Wicking: Yes

Are you looking for a midweight base layer that can carry you through the changing seasons? Icebreaker’s 200 Oasis is the perfect lightweight alternative to its midweight base layers and better-suited for those cool-to-cold conditions.

Designed for shoulder season adventures and mild winter temperatures, the Oasis thrives in the kind of conditions you love the most. 

FIT / MOVEMENT
The 200 Oasis features a crew neck with an updated slim fit design that allows for plenty of layering options. While it does have a drop tail hem for a bit more coverage, it does fall a bit short for those of you who are taller. When reaching above your head, there is a bit of belly and wrist exposure. So if you are tall with long arms or torso, consider our #4 Pick, the Le Base 200, that will offer you better coverage when active.

Thanks to the gusseted underarms, you’ll also have more range of motion where you need it.

Available Sizes:  Icebreaker offers a large size selection ranging from XS to 3XL.

MATERIAL/COMFORT
This top is made with 100% Merino wool that is stretchy and super soft against the skin. While the offset shoulder seams help prevent pack rubs, the flatlock seams prevent 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 during the breaking in period but after a few washes, the itchiness will go away. Wearing a thin base layer underneath can offer some added comfort.

WARMTH / THERMOREGULATION
This top is a great weight for a base layer at 200 g/m². When layered with warmer midlayers, its superfine fibers will trap and lock in warmth and when things start to get steamy, it will keep you dry and comfortable.

This top can perform really well in cold situations with the assistance of proper insulating layers. However, there are warmer alternatives if that’s important to you.  

MOISTURE-WICKING / BREATHABILITY
This top does a decent job of wicking sweat away from the skin and dries pretty quickly. Its tighter weave offers some wind resistance while still keeping impressive breathability.

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

VERSATILITY
The Oasis is extremely versatile. Wear it on your Fall trail runs, spring ski days or sunny snowshoe hikes. It will surely prove itself as an all-around good base layer.

LAYERING ABILITY
The Oasis does a great job layering. Its slim fit allows it to be layered easily under tighter fitting midlayers. Even though it does have a snug fit, the stretchiness of the fabric makes it quite comfortable to even layer over a thinner tank.

DURABILITY
We know Merino wool is not famous for its durability. With that said, Merino has come a long way from the days where you had holes within months.  This top's durability is pretty standard for a high-quality Merino wool base layer.

DRYING SPEED
Merino wool is known to be comparatively slower to dry. However, the Oasis can dry just as fast as any lightweight synthetic option on our list. Now that’s impressive! 

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

OTHER VERSIONS
If you prefer a half-zip over a crew style, Oasis offers this top in a zip-neck version.

BOTTOM LINE
Icebreaker Oasis is a top performer thanks to its ability to balance warmth and breathability. While this top is on the more expensive side for a crew style base layer, it's extremely versatile and more durable than some other base layers in our list which helps justify the cost.

The Oasis is definitely a year-round workhorse that will stand up to every activity and situation you put it through.

Pros:

  • Nice fit
  • Comfortable
  • Flatlock seams
  • Thermoregulating
  • Moisture-wicking
  • Breathable
  • Quick-drying
  • Easy to layer
  • Naturally odor-resistant
  • Naturally UV-resistant
  • Static-, Stain-, Flame, and Wrinkle-resistant
  • Versatile all-rounder
  • Available in sizes XS to 3XL

Cons: 

  • Not extremely warm (as a standalone)
  • Can feel itchy at first
  • Heavy when wet
  • Not the best for taller people with longer arms/torso
  • Lacks durability
  • Expensive (but has value) 

6

Arc'teryx Rho LT Zip Neck Men's Base Layer

Specifications:

  • Fit:  Trim
  • Style: High Collar w/Deep Zip Neck
  • 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 and slight drop hem not only makes it easy for layering but also helps keep the warmth closer to the body. The Elastane in the fabric also provides enough flexibility to allow mobility in the arms, thus facilitating navigating through harsh terrain.

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.

A small adjustment was also made to the zip neck by making it deeper. As temperatures begin to drop, the tall collar seals in warmth while the deep zip neck opens easily for some rapid ventilation. The deeper neck also makes it easier to put on and take off.

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 soft, 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.

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. With its deep zip collar, it 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. However, if you have a tendency to run cold or just want a winter-ready base layer, consider the fleece-lined Rho AR which offers a heavy dose of insulation and cozy loft at an impressively low weight. It's slightly higher in price, but 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 soft 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 underneath (anything with sleeves would just bunch), this base layer is best worn on its own 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 laminated zipper pocket on the chest that’s perfect to store your smartphone or other small items like chapstick and cash.

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, 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. 

Pros:

  • Comfortable fit
  • Super cozy fleece interior
  • Flatlock seams
  • Warm
  • Thermoregulating
  • Moisture-wicking
  • Anti-Odor Technology
  • Extremely durable for a synthetic blend
  • Venting feature
  • Handy stash zip pocket
  • Ultra-versatile

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 Yukon Crew Men's Base Layer

Specifications:

  • Fit: Regular
  • Style: Crew
  • 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 Yukon! 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 Yukon River in East-Central Alaska which is still a vital waterway for commerce.

FIT / MOVEMENT
This top features a crew neck with a regular fit that’s not too baggy but has just enough room for the fabric to breathe. With stretchable ribbed knit cuffs, it will help keep your sleeves in place, making it easy for layering and allow for ease of movement.

Available Sizes: Minuss33 offers a large size selection in a regular fit outfitting anyone from the Hard-at-Work to the Hard-at-Play.  They range from XS to 3XL and Tall Sizes from M-Tall to XL-Tall.   

Sizing Tip: Since this base layer runs true to fit,  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 as an outer layer.

WARMTH / THERMOREGULATION
This base layer top is extremely warm and offers excellent thermoregulation. With its 400 g/m² interlock knit construction, not only is it comfortable next-to-skin, but is exceptionally warm. Now if you feel the 400 g/m² is a bit heavy for you, consider the 230 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 the internal structure of a Merino wool fiber is “hydrophilic” meaning it absorbs moisture and retains it, making it a little longer to dry out.   The wool garment could also feel somewhat heavier when wet since Merino wool can hold up to 35% of its weight in moisture, yet still feel dry to the touch.

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. 

LAYERING ABILITY
Since this top has a regular fit, you’re able to easily wear a small shirt or tank top underneath.

DURABILITY
This top is pretty durable for a Merino wool base thanks its 400 g/m² interlock knit construction. 

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 will have your back. It's the perfect choice to keep you dry, warm and comfortable in the coldest conditions.   From cool hikes to cold winter climbs, this expedition weight base layer will keep the cold from biting into every bone.  Why not check out the matching bottoms for full body warmth. 

Pros:

  • Great fit
  • Super soft and comfortable
  • Flatlock seams
  • Tagless labels
  • Extremely warm
  • Thermoregulating
  • Moisture-wicking
  • Breathable
  • Naturally odor-resistant
  • Naturally UV-resistant
  • Durable
  • Easy to layer
  • Ultra-versatile
  • Static-, Stain-, Flame, and Wrinkle-resistant
  • Available in sizes XS to 3XL and Tall Sizes from M-Tall to XL-Tall

Cons: 

  • Slow-drying

8

VOORMI Men's Base Layer Crew

Specifications:

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

Rounding out our Top 8 comes the VOORMI Base Layer Crew. USA-made, the VOORMI 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.  

If you're not familiar with VOORMI and their high-performance clothing, check out the video below for a behind the scenes look at how they evolutionized a wool-based textile and created a new breed of technical apparel.

FIT / MOVEMENT
This top has a slimmer, more athletic fit with a stylish flair. It has a longer fit in the sleeves and torso that offers a full range of motion.

MATERIAL / COMFORT
This top is crafted with a unique blend of domestically-sourced fine-micron Merino wool fibers 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, its 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, it doesn’t dry as quickly as a light polyester or 100% Merino would. 

ODOR CONTROL
Although constructed with blended materials, 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. If worn as an outer layer, you’ll be happy to know it has UV protection thanks to the fine-micron wool yarns used to construct this base layer.

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 extremely 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 durable garment. As an added bonus, it also prevents pilling.

THOUGHTFUL FEATURES
This base layer comes equipped with integrated hidden thumbholes. Thumbholes are great as they help keep your sleeves secure if you’re layering up, or use them as makeshift gloves to help stave off the chill.

BOTTOM LINE
The VOORMI Base Layer 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, warm and comfortable for all your outdoor and everyday adventures, then consider the VOORMI Base Layer Crew. It’s an excellent choice for year-round use that will last you for many years, validating the somewhat expensive price tag. So why not chase your next adventure wearing a VOORMI!

Pros:

  • Flattering shape
  • Super soft and comfortable
  • Incredibly warm
  • Temperature-Regulating
  • Moisture-wicking
  • Breathable
  • Easy to layer
  • Extremely durable
  • Naturally odor-resistant
  • Naturally UV-resistant
  • Versatile all-rounder
  • Integrated hidden thumbholes
  • Made in USA

Cons: 

  • Comparatively 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 mentioned a few) 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 good 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, colors and designs, making it even fashionable for streetwear, 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 pursuits comfortably and healthy.

Adventure on!

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