Whether or not that’s a deal-breaker is up to personal preference and your tendency to overheat. There are also hardshell jackets that blur the lines, mixing the weight of a rain jacket with the performance (and extra cost) of a ski jacket.Back to Our Top Baselayer Picks Back to Our Baselayer Comparison Table. Combining polyester with a generous dose of elastane, the zip-neck LT falls between our light and midweight categories, making it an ideal layering piece under a midlayer or shell during low-output activities. But we won’t fault you for being tempted by the idea of a functional and cozy adult onesie—and it’s hard to argue with the protection and warmth at a pretty darn light 14.1-ounce weight.See the Men's Norrøna Wool One-Piece See the Women's Norrøna Wool One-Piece. You’ll need a fabric that won’t stay wet, and merino wool and polyester are the most common choices. In short, this is the intersection of technical performance and feminine styling that the market has long needed. If you only plan to grab your insulating layer during downtimes, such as hanging around camp after the sun goes down, consider a warm and super packable down jacket. When it comes to merino wool, Woolx has always been a bit of an underdog. Polyester blends are cheaper and more durable but aren’t as comfortable or resistant to odor. Icebreaker Ski Socks. In fact, we’ve put ours through six years of climbing abuse—much of the time without a jacket over top—and it has yet to develop any holes or tears. And most importantly, it has handled everything from backpacking to cross-country skiing with ease. ... WoolX. When it comes to merino wool, Woolx has always been a bit of an underdog. Furthermore, $129 is a hefty price tag for a polyester baselayer, and it can often be hard to find in stock online or in stores. This doesn’t mean that your Capilene will get stinky super quickly—and Patagonia has made strides in this area with an anti-odor HeiQ Fresh treatment—but you will find yourself putting it through the wash more often. A variety of enchanting colors to express yourself and stay cozy. For less or more warmth, try the Capilene Lightweight and Thermal Weight versions.See the Men's Patagonia Capilene See the Women's Patagonia Capilene. For optimal performance, baselayers need to have a snug fit. If you do go this route, we love the Woolx Glacier 400 Heavyweight, which is a 400g/m² all-merino baselayer that still breathes decently well. Merino: Very goodBlends: GoodPolyester: Not goodSilk: Not good. Merino wool excels at pulling moisture away from your skin, and less sweat build up means less stink build up. You’ll feel like you are wearing much less baselayer, but the boost in coziness and moisture-wicking capabilities are still there. We haven’t noticed much of a drop in terms of comfort or performance, but merino/synthetic blends are a step up in durability. The commonality of these types is that they are among the highest priced items in this market, so these blends are more about performance than cost savings. The downside is the collars can flop around if you unzip the shirts while running, and having a zipper on your next-to-skin layer isn’t as comfortable as the cleaner crew style. Logically, lightweight baselayers are the best breathers but do the least in keeping you warm. Skiing is a similar story, and conditions will dictate the best midlayer for you. However, not everyone wants to spend $100 or more on a baselayer, which is why we love Patagonia’s Capilene line. The fit and styling clearly have performance in mind, and Craft may be overkill for casual use, but they make go-to baselayers for a lot of serious athletes. We’ll start with the basics: the Ortovox 185 Merino long-sleeve crew is a standard merino baselayer. For $40, the Lightweight Crew offers most of the performance of the more expensive options above in a simple yet functional design. Like the Smartwool 250 and REI Co-op Midweight above, the Kari Traa Rose is made with 100-percent merino wool. Don’t get me wrong, there are many other countries that source merino. That said, one downside to consider is merino’s lack of durability, and particularly if you frequently throw it in the dryer, but we think it’s worth the tradeoff for the high levels of comfort and performance.See the Men's Smartwool Merino 250 See the Women's Smartwool Merino 250. Some performance-oriented brands are experimenting with blends that aim to offer the comfort and performance of merino wool with the durability and moisture-wicking of polyester. But here is where the Rock’N’Wool stands out: first, the Ortovox Wool Promise ensures that their product comes from ethical and certified sheep farms. Made with 100 percent merino wool, this piece is much warmer and more substantial than the midweight and lightweight options on the list. On the other hand, we do give it the edge in next-to-skin softness.See the Men's Icebreaker Oasis See the Women's Icebreaker Oasis. These issues aside, the REI Lightweight Crew is a good way to kit yourself out this winter on a budget.See the Men's REI Lightweight Crew See the Women's REI Lightweight Crew. This is a big 50/50. It’s worth the tradeoff for many people who love the performance and value of this baselayer. Granted, merino wool baselayers are expensive and less durable than the polyester competition, amounting to roughly double the cost. And if you have a tendency to run cold or want a winter-ready baselayer, the fleece-lined Rho AR offers a heavy dose of insulation and cozy loft at an impressively low weight—almost a half-pound less than the all-merino Woolx above. Unfortunately, icebreaker games have earned a negative reputation for a variety of … The same applies for sturdy mid layers you want to wear in harsher weather conditions. Out of all the fabrics we’ve mentioned, merino has the best heat-trapping properties. This helps the fabrics draw moisture away from your skin most efficiently. Material: 230 Midweight, 1 00% Merino Wool. In this video ProLiteGear.com discusses how merino wool can keep you warm when wet, and how if merino wool gets too wet it loses that ability. Norway-based Norrøna’s offering in this category covers you from your head to just about your ankles with incredibly warm, comfortable, and breathable merino wool. The trim and stretchy fit is great for mobility while skiing or climbing (no excess fabric getting in the way), and features like thumb loops and a generous yet low-profile hood add great performance chops. Icebreaker practically invented next level performance using nature’s own materials. Let’s not lie to ourselves: as consumers, we’re always looking for a deal. Moreover, silk is far less durable than polyester and should always be worn under a mid or outer layer to protect from UV rays and abrasion. Of course, merino wool isn’t cheap, and you can save with one of the blends or polyester baselayers below including Patagonia’s popular Capilene. Women's Merino Wool Base Layer Thermal Pants . We don’t recommend wearing the Silk Underwear Crewneck for any sort of high-output activity—it simply does not breathe as well as merino or polyester. Although in theory the polyester make-up of the Capilene Air gives it a bump in durability, we developed multiple holes and runs on our hoody in a matter of weeks. For high-output activities, such as hiking, backpacking and climbing, breathability is top priority. Smartwool PhDs are unrivaled in the merino wool socks world. Category: Lightweight. Material: 100% silk fabricCategory: LightweightWhat we like: Cozy and great for layering.What we don’t: Lacks the performance of merino or polyester. At just $40, it’s one of the cheapest options on this list yet still will keep you dry and decently warm in most conditions. $125 is a high price to pay for a non-merino baselayer (most synthetic options here are about half the cost), and the Rho LT’s trim, technical fit means it doesn’t function well as a standalone piece. Materials: 51% merino, 49% polyesterCategory: MidweightWeight: 6.9 oz.What we like: Amazing warmth in a tiny package; responsibly sourced wool.What we don’t: Expensive; lacks durability. Woolx Outback. There are important considerations when making a purchase: What is your skill level? The shirt conforms to your body like a performance piece should, but it’s far too tight to wear anywhere else. This doesn’t apply that much to some of their accessories. Featuring lightweight polyester with built-in elastane and a breathable panel across the upper back and underarms, this layer is built to keep air moving and moisture wicking during high-output activities. Baselayers are worn beneath a midlayer or shell during the winter months, or as an outer layer during the fall and spring for activities like hiking, biking, and climbing. But for winter mountaineering, extreme cold, or low-output activities around camp, a heavyweight baselayer can be the height of coziness. Minus33 Ticonderoga. Bean’s Silk Underwear is well-made and more durable than most silk options. This means that you’re getting much more baselayer for your money from Woolx compared to just about any other merino brand. Furthermore, silk is so thin that it can easily be worn underneath slim-fitting layers without creating extra bulk. Despite having a lighter fabric weight (200 vs. 250g/m²), it can start to feel muggy when you’re working up a sweat. Our top baselayer pick, the Smartwool Merino 250 ¼ Zip, is 100 percent merino. What we don’t: Pricey and requires good care to last. Under a loaded backpack, the offset shoulder stitching was comfortable and mitigated pressure points, and the thumb loops are sleek and well-constructed. This is where merino wool shines—it does an admirable job of temperature regulation for the weight and thickness. It is machine washable, warm, breathable and feels natural and soft to the skin. Machine washable and dryable. With a balaclava-style hood, seamless construction, and a heat-trapping merino/polyester blend, the Capilene Air provides a massive amount of warmth in a relatively thin and lightweight package. With polyester, you’ll likely have to wash and change your baselayers quite frequently, whereas wool can perform over the course a multi-day backcountry or ski trip. And although the fabric is comfortably silky, it can’t compete with merino or even Patagonia’s Capilene in terms of softness and comfort (and it’s even more prone to holding in body odor). And it doesn’t hurt that Helly Hansen made the look a little less boring than other options on the list, with some fun colors to choose from and a signature stripe design down the sleeve.See the Men's Helly Hansen Lifa Stripe See the Women's Helly Hansen Lifa Stripe. One consideration is that the Glacier does not have a tailored fit like some other baselayers, so it’s more about warmth than anything else. It’s ultra soft and comfortable, has superior temperature regulation, and resists odor. 100% merino! Polyester is decently comfortable but not as soft against the skin, and it doesn’t regulate body temperature or repel odor quite as well as wool. Some people are perfectly OK with sticking to classic colors – black, grey or at most some navy blue here and there. Addie is made of 100% merino wool. The build quality is similar: Smartwool adds 13 percent nylon to the mix for a boost in durability, the weight goes down significantly to 6 ounces (the lack of the zipper matters here too), and you get the same minimalist seams for comfort. The Patagonia Capilene Air, for example, weaves together 51-percent merino wool with 49-percent polyester, while Black Diamond's NuYarn (as seen in the Solution 150 Merino) actually wraps merino fibers around a nylon core, and then weaves this manufactured thread together with polyester. This is one of the most popular brands of women’s Merino wool base layers. Bean Silk Crewneck See the Women's L.L. And climbers and skiers will benefit from a tight hood or balaclava that fits under their helmet. And second, we just can’t get enough of the styling on the Rock’N’Wool—if you want a merino baselayer with some flair, the multi-colored designs really stand out in the conservative and largely bland baselayer market. Merino Wool The REI Midweight Half-Zip is soft, warm, has a good amount of stretch, and wicks moisture as well as any. Some folks like wearing their baselayers for casual use, and that’s when a dedicated performance product like Craft Active Extreme is less useful. The New Zealand merino they use is like silk on your skin (and fingers). There’s a lot to like about this lightweight active baselayer from Helly Hansen. Founder of ToolingFun. Arc’teryx places a premium on high performance, which shows in their baselayer collection. In the typical 3-layer ski clothing system, the midlayer is given the all-important insulating duties. In fact, our biggest gripe with the Solution 150 is its price—at $120, it’s $35 more than Smartwool’s comparable baselayer top, which is why we rank the BD here. Of all of REI Co-op’s in-house products, their merino baselayer is one of our favorites. Furthermore, the extra coverage you get with the raised collar is a nice boost in warmth, and we’ve even found that quarter or half-zip long sleeves have a decent look for around town. Women's … But we give the slight edge to the Smartwool because the dense weave of the Icebreaker’s fabric doesn’t release hot air quite as efficiently. Furthermore, some baselayers even have the capability of blocking sun rays (measured by the UPF rating). Keep in mind that you don’t need all of your insulation from a single article of clothing, and as a result, you can always add warmer layers on top of a light or midweight baselayer. Soft, breathable, overall awesome. Silk Those who prize comfort above all else might choose silk for sleeping, around camp, and other low-output activities. Alright, onwards to the meat of the article with heaps of recommendations! Silk can’t compete with merino or polyester in terms of warmth, moisture wicking, and durability, but it’s not without its place in the baselayer world. Woolx Explorer. A waterproof, breathable, and packable rain jacket is needed for activities like climbing and hiking/backpacking. With the polyester Ghee, you don’t get the odor resistance and temperature regulation of a merino layer, but the lightweight and airy design goes a long way in keeping things feeling fresh while still insulating against a chill. In addition, you get a vibrant snowflake pattern with contrasting underarm panels and your choice between a wide variety of colors (nine on Kari Traa’s website at the time of publishing). It will provide the warmth you need yet still be breathable enough for physical exertion, especially when made with high-quality merino or polyester. Discovered the joy of DIY projects during my 2nd year in college. Their designs offer more pockets for storing gear or personal effects and a longer fit to protect you from snow sneaking through. If you’re looking for outer shells or insulating layers I’d stick to Minus33, Icebreaker or Smartwool. In addition, polyester fabrics don’t regulate temperatures as well, so it’s more important to match the fabric weight with intended use and conditions (more on that below). For the widest variety of conditions, a midweight baselayer makes the most sense. All in all, it’s a great baselayer for skiing and other winter sports, and even has a UPF 50+ rating for use as an outer layer in more mild weather. smart wool vs. icebreaker; If this is your first visit, be sure to check out the FAQ by clicking the link above. And for only $50, L.L. 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