This review discusses the best base layers for hiking currently on the market.
Base layer not only draws moisture away from the body while trekking, but also ensures good regulation of your body temperature.
This article contains affiliate links. If you buy something through the links on this page we might get a small commission. It will not affect your price, but helps keep our site alive!
We reviewed over 12 base layers for this article. Below are the best base layers that made our short list.
Read our complete buyers guide for base layers.
The reason why we put our trust in SmartWool Merino 250 Crew is because the 100% Merino Wool regulates temperature incredibly well, while eliminating the discomfort usually associated with wool.
It is a versatile option, available for men and women.
We enjoy the fact that this layer provides an easy transition between weather conditions, from colder areas to areas that are warmer.
The slimline design gives it a nod above the rest, while being really comfortable and dependable.
With an excellent moisture repellant worked into the knit of the layer, you can understand why it keeps you dry and warm.
It does provide significant UPF and can be used during a hike, or climb too. You can rest assured that working up a sweat is not a concern, as the material prevents odor build-up.
The SmartWool Merino 250 is a reputable, dependable option. It is suitable for a variety of activities and works well on its own or under other layers. The concern would be its longevity.
The synthetic polyester material used in the construction of Patagonia Capilene Lightweight Crew provides breathability when you are on the move.
The benefit of a synthetic option is that it is more durable than a 100% wool choice.
The fast drying capacity and gusseted stretch does not constrict but gives you the freedom to move around while protecting you from the elements.
It is the warmest option and is better suited for activities requiring more rapid movement. So if you need an option that will remove moisture, dry fast have good packability, this is your pick.
The inclusion of flatlock seam designs, loops for your thumb, and a longer torso makes it a great choice for: layering and transferring moisture.
The satisfaction that this layer is a great option for women and men, puts it in the top of the charts too.
Together with the fact that it is less expensive than a merino wool option, it also has a choice of weight options giving you the freedom to invest in the one best suited for you.
A durable, lightweight option. Perfect for layering in cold spaces, or single use in warmer climates. Its breathability makes the strenuous activities more comfortable, as your movements are not restricted.
The flatlock stitching and integration of the design makes WoolX Glacier a winner for extreme cold conditions.
The 100% Merino Wool of this garment ensures that you remain warm and insulated throughout your trip.
Even though it is a thick option it still has really good breathability and the capacity to wick away moisture really well.
You don’t end up sacrificing warmth for a breathable material. The wool is soft against the skin providing you with good comfort.
Together with its great warmth it also has good odor control because it pulls moisture away from the body instead of keeping it close to the skin.
However it isn’t the best solution for high-impact activities, where the heaviness of the material might end up being a liability instead of an advantage.
A nifty thumb hole is included in the design, making sure that your hand is also kept warm which is a nice added benefit.
If you are going on a really cold expedition it's best to choose this one because it is designed specifically for the conditions that are tremendously chilly and you don't want to be left unprepared.
Quite an interesting mouthful, the Arc’teryx Phase AR Crew LS design has a blend of Merino Wool, polyester, and elastane in order to bring you the best of all the fabric worlds.
The cosiness of the wool allows for softness against your skin, elastane and polyester ensures that moisture is not absorbed by the layer but repelled away from the skin.
Elastane enhances the mobility and comfort the shirt provides.
With good weather resistance you can use the Arc’teryx in wet, windy and dry conditions, giving you versatility and peace of mind.
The durability that it provides is found in the construction and design. It is breathable and robust, providing you with the security that it is not going to leave you in the lurch when the going gets tough.
If technicality is what you are after on your trek, then this is a sure win for you. The design blends the benefits of a variety of materials, providing you with a quality option for your trip.
Helly Hansen Lifa Stripe Crew provides you with a budget-friendly option for your next trip. With the Lifa Fibre technique you are guaranteed to have a shirt that gives you significant breathability.
Polypropylene fabric and Merino Wool blend give you a lightweight layer while providing insulation and warmth.
Construction of the shirt includes mesh panelling for ventilation and allows for moisture to be repelled away from the skin instead of absorbed by the material.
The benefit of this technology means that your shirt does not get heavy when wet but remains comfortable throughout your journey.
Included in the design of the shirt means is a crew neck and that provides you with significant comfort and appropriate stretch for mobility.
It's breathability ensures that you are able to go the extra mile without feeling bogged down by the layers that you are wearing.
This shirt is versatile but does need some extra layers because it's not the warmest one available.
The use of Lifa fibre in the Merino blend of this shirt make sure that your experience is breathable and enjoyable. You are provided you with a long-lasting dry shirt during the high-impact activities but it does need extra layering if you are in colder conditions.
It is advisable to consult the following guide to get a glimpse into the features that come together to provide you with a quality base layer.
The material of your chosen shirt is most likely: Merino Wool, nylon polyester or polypropylene. These materials are known to be durable, and breathable while providing you with significant comfort during a trip.
This allows you to get the full experience of the conditions and climate that you are in. With blended materials you are able to extract the benefits from all the materials instead of relying on the benefit of one.
Where Merino Wool is really warm and cosy, nylon and polyester offer a more durable, cost-effective way to stay warm. The benefit of elastane, that's usually included, gives your fabric more stretch which would help you when you are involved in more high impact, high mobility situations.
Because of the nature of the activities that these layers will most likely be used in, it is advised that you keep moisture control in mind. This specifically aims to reduce how heavy the layer gets, and to ensure that it is able to dry quickly.
It is helpful if there is some kind of breathability or ventilation that the layer offers because it is usually worn under other layers, and you don’t want to be burdened by the number of clothing items you are wearing.
It is, thus, ideal to invest in a base layer that benefits your experience and works with, and for you, rather than against you. The degree to which your layer wicks moisture away is a crucial factor to consider especially if you are engaging in high-intensity activities.
The wicking capacity means that you do not feel the moisture retained in your shirt but that moisture is pulled away from your skin so that you are kept dry and comfortable.
The materials that work at repelling odor gives you the comfort of knowing that you're going to get a lot more wear out of your shirt. This is ideal if you are perhaps unable to wash it, often, due to extended trips.
Moreover, the comfort of knowing that your shirt dries quickly makes you aware of the fact that you're getting the best out of the option of your choice and gives you the peace of mind that the layer will not become a burden.
Additional features in the design of the layer gives you some practical, and functional components to think about. These elements include: longer torsos and hemlines so that it stays tucked in regardless of your movements.
It also includes thumb loops, for additional warmth for your hands. Slimline designs complement the contours of one’s body and give you a form fitting option for your convenience.
The loose-fitting shirts will lead to heat escaping, quickly, and that's important to know.
Depending on the activity you are engaged in would either call for these additional features or not, but there is a satisfaction in knowing that these features are made available, should you find yourself needing them.