If you are an outdoor enthusiast, we know, you all love base layers. These garments are pretty cozy and can keep you toasty in your camping tent, along those trails or even on the slopes. They do a great job; way much better than those blankets we have at home. Interestingly, with tons and tons of choices to select from, just like anyone else, you might be wondering what the best base layer is for your outdoor needs.
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How To Choose The Best Base Layers
For starters, here is a rundown of everything that you need to know about base layers; that is how to choose the best and some of the best designs we currently have.
There are 4 primary materials that are used to make layers, and you may want to consider which works best for you. Practically all of them are great and making a choice can be quite a uphill task. To help you make a wise choice today, here is a quick look into each one of them. We will also discuss what each is all about, their pros and cons, as well.
This is one of the most common fabrics. As the name suggests, this is basically a blend of a good number of materials arranging from nylon, rayon and polypropylene. In any case, if you can get a fabric that comes with a spandex, you may want to go fit it. It offers a very comfortable stretch. It can also fit snugly without necessarily feeling constructive. Here are key characteristics of synthetic materials.
- Dry quick: Synthetic fabrics are the best when it comes to wicking sweat. They excel in that and with it, you get the driest feel.
- Durable: If you are looking for the best layer that can serve you now and for years to come, synthetic fabric is the way to go. It is one of the most durable you can get today.
- Odor retention: This, probably, is one of the biggest downsides of this material. Base layers made from this kind of fabric come with a finish that can effectively inhibit the build-up of odor causing bacteria. If you know you are going to hike for days without taking a wash, you may want to stay away from this material.
Thanks to its great softness and ultrafine fibers, merino wool has totally replaced traditional wool we were all used to. The best part, this material can be blended with other fabrics like spandex for great fit and most importantly flexibility. Here is a quick look at some of the characteristic of Merino wool.
- Great wicking: Merino wool comes with great wicking abilities. So if you know you often sweat a lot when hiking, you may want to consider a base layer made from this material. However, before you get all excited, know that some moisture might be retained in the core. This material might take a bit of time to dry when it gets wet.
- Moderately durable: Merino is not as durable as synthetic materials. It is moderately durable, but that does not mean you won’t enjoy a long and happy life.
- Great cooling: Pretty much like most materials Merino wool cools too. The moisture in the core of the fibers are said to be released when temperatures go up. This can offer a bit of cooling in warm weather.
- Odor free. Much better than synthetic materials Merino wool does great when it comes to dealing with odor. This material is highly resistant to odor causing bacteria.
Slowing being faced out; silk is a great material when it comes to base layers. Its softness is still great for low key activities like easy going fall hike. Here are some of its characteristics.
- Moderate wicking: Compared to Merino wool, Silk is not great when it comes to moisture wicking. It comes with moderate wicking capabilities, but if you are not going for those physically demand outdoor activities, this material would still be fine.
- Suppleness: although it shares a number of similarities with other fabrics, silk is not that durable. So if you are looking for something durable, silk base layers are not going to be your thing. You will be disappointed.
- Odor retention. Silk is not great when it comes to resisting odor. You will be forced to wash in between activities.
This is a pretty much new technology. It is a kind of wool that has been embedded with ceramic particles. This material is great for hot weather. How it does it job, makes this material worth checking out. The ceramics is said to attract body heat, then dissipates that heat, helping your stay cool all through.
Local Climate and Seasons
When and where you intend on getting outside is also critical and may have some huge influences on your choice. If you just want your trip not to be spoilt by climate of that area, you may want to consider a base layer that works for that particular weather condition. Normally, the colder, the higher warmth factor you should go for. However be sure you factor in your body temperature, as well.
If you know temperatures can fall below zero, going for merino wool will make a lot of sense. Merino wool is probably the best for it comes with better insulation and is great when it comes to heat trapping. On the other hand, lightweight materials are the best for hot weather, and in this case we are talking about synthetic. Other than keeping you cool all through, synthetic base layers can efficiently wick sweat from your body. The best part, they can dry real quick.
The overall weight of your base layer is important and must be considered at all times. In any case, a number of factors like your activity level and metabolism will come into play. For example, if you are into those physically demanding activities you might want to go for lighter weight. Here are your 3 basic weight options.
First, lightweight is great for moderate to cool temperature. Mid weight is a great choice for cold temperatures and heavy weight is just the best for below freezing temp.
How your base layer fits you is important and must be taken into great consideration, as well. After all, if you want your base layer to efficiently wick sweat from your skin, you may need your base layer to be next to your skin. So when it comes to the choice you make today, you may want to consider a base layer that can comfortably snug fit. In other cases, we know some people would prefer a loose fit, especially when it comes to hot temperatures. While that can be a good thing, you should be ready to sacrifice a number of great features like wicking efficiency.
Pretty much like any other fabric, your base layer need to be properly maintained. As you might all know, silk is extremely delicate and for that, you will find its care to be particularly challenging. Although a good number of garments will need hand washing, machine washing runs the risk of shrinking the material. Synthetic fabrics do come with very little odor resistance. That said, it is obvious you will need regular washing. Sadly, some of the treatment and coating, which are quite common on a number of synthetic fibers, make the fabric more prone to damage from harsh detergents.
Wool on the other hand is pretty much simple; the kind of versatility it comes with is worth every effort. Ideally, wool must be washed with cold water to avoid shrinking. It does not even stop there; wool does not respond quite well to fabric softeners or bleach. So if you want to ensure you wool base layer continues to retain its shape and size, you may want to consider hand drying it.
4 Top Rated Base Layers You Need To Check Out
- Anti-odor merino
- Great price
- Cannot machine dry
Bottom Line: The ICEBREAKER EVERYDAY LONG SLEEVE CREWE is an excellent choice for hikers and resort skiers who need the comfort and great performance of merino at a more reasonable price.
Currently retailing at around $70, the ICEBREAKER EVERYDAY LONG SLEEVE CREWE is one of the cheapest in our list. This base layer shares a plenty of striking similarities with Oasis Crew, but its design is quite cost effective. Unlike most base layers today, it is a little bit loose around the body and is said to fits more like a shirt than a base layer. With that, you get a great casual wear, but you are going to sacrifice a few things. That impacts on its overall performance. Nonetheless, it is a great base layer and worth checking out.
- Anti odor merino
- Great everyday wear
Bottom Line: This is a serious choice for buyers who are looking for something great for winter hiking. Not only does it come with outstanding insulation, but is also quite comfortable. It also fits so well.
Probably the best in our list, the SMARTWOOL NTS MID 250 CREW has continued to enjoy one of the best spots across the market. It is solidly built and differs greatly from other designs in this price range,. It comes with a denser fabric, making it a solid choice for winter hiking. This base layer comes made from 100 percent merino wool fabric that is said to provide one of the best insulation. Moreover, because of its great insulation, this base layer offers a very tight fit which can prevent body warmed air from escaping to the outside. The SMARTWOOL NTS MID 250 CREW currently ranked among the best that does not mean it does not come with few issues. Because of its thick fabric it takes quite a while to dry than those thinner base layers.
- Excellent everyday wear
- Soft for your skin
- Anti odor merino
- Very delicate
- Slim fit
- Cannot machine dry
Bottom Line: Other than its versatility, we do give CEBREAKER OASIS CREWE the edge when it comes to its great softness. It is all about comfort and great performance.
If you are out these combing through places looking for a versatile base layer, the ICEBREAKER OASIS CREWE is exactly what you should be going for. It comes fully made of merino wool. It is impressively soft and comes with outstanding performance fit, making it a great choice for cool weather hiking and skiing, as well. The design is also stunning and flawless. The styling, as well as, an avalanche of colors makes this base layer so cool. In fact, you can wear it as standalone.
- Reasonably priced
- Moisture wicking
- Merino wool
- No odor
Bottom Line: This is a great option for hikers, outdoor enthusiasts and mountaineers. It can be worn under any other garment or even as a standalone shirt.
Pretty much like most base layers in our list, the IBEX WOOLIES 2 CREW is made of 100 percent Merino wool fabric. The wool fibers are said to measure mere 18.5 microns in diameter. With that, you get a very soft touch. Interestingly, the fibers are ridiculously thin, but can effectively wick away moisture from your skin without any problem.