Whatever time of year it is, packing the right gear on your outdoor adventures will make the whole experience more enjoyable. Naturally, as the seasons change, you’ll be layering up or down, and base layers are an excellent example of something you can easily add to your kit to keep you a lot more comfortable whatever the temperature outside.
It’s important to look for base layers that are fairly tightfitting and stretchy. You want to keep as much heat as close to your body as possible. Test if any base layer is going to be restrictive by giving it a good stretch as soon as it is first worn.
Base layers are lightweight so look for a good synthetic material blend. Often, they’re made out of polyester and can dry in next to no time. If you’re wanting to spend a little more money, try Merino wool, as it is superbly quick-drying too and, as it’s a natural material, it needs washing less frequently. It also feels comfortable next to your skin.
Key Specs - Fabric: 95% polyester, 5% elastine; Washing: 30 degrees; Ironing? Yes; Wicking? Yes; Colours: 2
Sometimes when out on colder adventures it makes sense to pair a thermal top with associated bottoms to get the most amount of layering performance. We liked the Kathmandu KMDMotion men’s longjohns - they’ve got a woven fabric that’s soft, supple and easy to move around in. The fabric also keeps the garment dry too. For a great price they’re warm, comfortable and highly recommended.
Key Specs - Fabric: 80% Merino Wool, 20% Polyester; Washing: 30 degrees wool cycle; Ironing? Yes; Wicking? Yes; Colours: 3
As with much of their gear, Mountain Warehouse provide excellent kit for those with a bit more of a limited budget. It doesn’t mean they don’t perform however and we liked these high-wicking and breathable leggings as much as some of the products we tested that were double the price. They fold down small and can fit into your rucksack as an alternative option if you already have a ‘go-to’ pair. The downside is they may not have the long-term elasticity of some of their more expensive rivals, but we’d certainly recommend these as a backup.
Key Specs - Fabric: 100% Merino Wool; Trim: 96% Merino Wool 4% Nylon; Washing: 30 degrees; Ironing? Yes; Wicking? Yes; Colours: 3
Designed for hiking, this offer from Kathmadu works especially well when twinned with their thermal bottoms as they’re both made out of Woolmark accredited fabric, which essentially means they’re machine washable Merino. We found them to be warm and slim fitting, actually using them on their own in slightly warmer weather rather than as an underlayer. The flat seams give it a comfortably snug fit, with none of the slight itchiness you can sometimes get around the seams on other base layers. This also means they’re especially good when used for activities with lots of movement.
We really liked the fit of the Berghaus Tech Tee and that’s somewhat down to the fact that its long sleeves add to the warmth and the comfort of the shirt. It’s got a clever knitted fabric structure and the added half-zip provides a nice option of a bit more ventilation on warmer hikes. We’d recommend this base layer for everyday activities - cycling to work would be a good use, as it’d give you that extra bit of warmth on those colder mornings. It’s also a good weight - we’ve used it as a conventional sweater on top of regular tee-shirts and it’s performed well here, too.
Key Specs - Fabric: 50% Merino, 50% polyester; Washing: 30 degrees; Ironing? Yes; Wicking? Yes; Colours: 2
Sprayway are excellent at coming up with efficient, simple, no-nonsense outdoor gear that works, and we were very happy with how the Roola ½ zip performed on recent camping trips. Again, as it’s Merino, it has excellent abilities to dry quickly and we actually found it to be really good to use under the sleeping bag when going to bed in the tent because of how soft and comfortable it felt. Of course, that doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be suited to tougher environments too and we liked how the ½ zip managed to zip up all the way to the top to keep you warm around the neck.
Another impressive offering from Smartwool, and excellent combined with their base layer. They’re made using Smartwool’s warmest weight fabric and feature a comfortable elastic waistband, which we found meant they’re super comfortable if wearing for long periods of time. As they’re made of a heavier weight fabric they’re fantastically warm but it may mean that you have to compromise on mobility a bit - especially when wet. For this reason, we’d recommend these thermals bottoms for use if you have to work outside in the winter, rather than active snow sports.
Key Specs - Fabric: 100% Merino; Washing: Cold; Ironing? Yes; Wicking? Yes; Colours: 6 (3 patterned, and 3 solid colours)
This 100 per cent Merino option is big on warmth. It’s got a little more bulk than some others on this list, but despite this it was a good fit and it packed up nice and small for travelling and camping. It has good wicking abilities and after a couple of wears it didn’t smell at all. Even if it did though, it’s simple to wash and care for. Generally an excellent all-round base layer.
Key Specs - Fabric: 50% Merino wool / 25% PrimaLoft® / 25% Polyester; Washing: 40 degrees with mild detergent; Ironing? Yes; Wicking? Yes; Colours: 3
The Montane Primino Hoodie base layer is a step up from some of the others on this list, and pricey, but we think it’s a great example of when spending a little more pays off. We were skeptical at first but the hooded aspect of this top really helps keep the wind from around the neck and face. With an added buff, it’s a pretty impressive warming layer and we’d trust this up most mountains out there. Merino Wool and Primaloft fabric have excellent wicking properties so this importantly ensures that whilst active in colder climates, you don’t sweat, as that’s when you start to get cold.
If you’re able to spend a little bit more money twinning your thermal base layers, we also really liked the Icebreaker 260 Tech Leggings. They’re easy to care for and made using Icebreakers’s ethical and sustainable methods. Recommended for use in colder mountain conditions or for snow sports, we’d trust these Merino thermals for more active adventures. This is down to their levels of comfort and mobility - the functioning fly and gusset means that although they’re tight fitting, as they should be, there’s a feeling of roominess.
Key Specs - Fabric: Merino wool from New Zealand blended with Capilene® recycled polyester; Washing: 30 degrees; Ironing? No; Wicking? Yes; Colours: 5
100% Polyester Tracksuit Fabric
There’s a clever knit structure to the Capilene Air Crew base layer we really like, boosted by the blended polyester merino fabric that helps regulate temperature. It had a classic fit, with soft-stretch cuffs that did not ride up when putting layers on over the top. Bear in mind that some have reported this to mean that the sizing comes up a little too big, so it may be worth trying a couple of options.
Yoga Bra, Yoga Legging, Sport wear, Wricking Fabric, Shape wear - Yubo,http://www.yubofs.com/