If you work outdoors or in a cold environment, base layer clothing items can help keep you warm. A good base layer insulates without adding bulk, can wick away sweat, and fit the way you want.
There are a lot of base layer options out there – tops, bottoms and suits, lined or unlined, regular or compression, etc. Here are some popular types of base layers:
- Compression – Compression garments provide warmth and also compress the muscles, reducing the build-up of lactic acid while regulating body temperature. These types are popular among athletes and people who do physical labor.
- Base Layer – The “standard” base layer is meant to fit like a second skin. It provides a layer of warmth and moisture resistance without adding bulk.
- Lined – Some base layers are lined with fleece, merino wool, or other materials for extra warmth.
- One Piece – Like our top pick, you can get base layers that are all one piece. This is ideal for those who don’t want to wear two different clothing items.
To help you find the optimal base layer items for your work conditions, take a look at our picks for the best base layer options for men and women below
Best Value: Convallaria Thermal Underwear Set
Carhartt Base Force Classic Thermal Base Layer Union Suit
Top Pick: Our number one pick is this one-piece suit by Carhartt. Carhartt is known for its quality, and durable work wear, and this base layer set is no exception. Made from anti-odor, moisture-wicking waffle knit, this suit is designed to keep you warm from top to bottom without having to wear two different garments.
The rib knit cuffs retain warmth and the fly and back opening feature button closures for convenience.
Under Armour Women’s ColdGear Authentics Compression Mock
Runner Up: Second place goes to Under Armour’s ColdGear compression mock long-sleeved base layer shirt. The 4-way construction promises perfect movement ability, while the updated brushback knit fabric maximizes comfort, and breathability & maintains warmth.
This compression shirt is available in several colors and sizes.
Convallaria Thermal Underwear Set
Best Value: Our pick for the best value is this set from Convallaria. It includes both a long-sleeved shirt and full-length bottoms. The set is fleece-lined and medium-weight, providing warmth without bulkiness. The flatlock stitching prevents abrasion and chafing.
This set also features a tagless design, moisture-wicking fabric, and great breathability.
Terramar Men’s Thermasilk Filament Crew
Terramar uses 100% silk to craft its base layer garments. This long-sleeved crew shirt is lightweight and made with ClimaSense treatment to neutralize odors, regulate body temperature, and wick away sweat.
The fabric of this shirt is built to stretch to avoid bunching and adding bulk. They are available in sizes S – XXL.
Thermajohn Fleece Lined Base Layer Set
Another full set, Thermajohn’s fleece-lined base layers are sure to keep you warm and dry, even in the coldest conditions. They are made from a breathable fabric that wicks away moisture and sweat.
The Thermajohn fleece-lined base layer set has 4 way stretch for movement, ultra soft lining, tagless design, and built-in fly.
Kari Traa Silja Women’s Long Sleeve Base Layer Top
Merino wool is the secret to Kari Traa’s base layer top’s comfortable warmth. This top is designed specifically to fit the female body and is meant to be worn next to the skin. The merino wool provides excellent insulation while retaining a slim profile so it won’t feel bulky.
Kari Traa is an Olympic medal-winning skier who designs her garments with insulation and comfort in mind. The Nordic style print makes this base layer extra stylish.
Smartwool Men’s Merino Base Layer Bottom
Made in the USA with 100% Merino wool, the Smartwool base layer bottoms are extremely popular. They are designed for minimal chafing and maximum warmth and movement. They are temperature regulating and odor resisting, have a convenient snap closure and are machine washable. Smartwool makes both men’s and women’s base layers.
Helly-Hansen Womens LIFA Active Base Layer Pant
These pants are made with Helly Hansen’s 2-layer system for all-season warmth and comfort. LIFA, a proprietary material, provides warmth and insulation, while naturally wicking moisture away.
The fit on these pants is described as neither slim nor oversized and can be comfortably worn under other layers of clothing.
Under Armour HeatGear Leggings
One of the most popular makers of base layer clothing, Under Armour’s HeatGear leggings have thousands of positive reviews. They are praised for their ability to provide warmth and ventilation while being comfortably slim.
Quick drying, moisture-wicking material as well as the ergonomic design and durable construction make these leggings among the best selling in the world.
Thermajane Fleece Lined Base Layer
More than 30,000 reviewers praise this women’s base layer set for its slim profile and warmth. The fleece is designed to be super soft and feels good against the skin, and the moisture-wicking material keeps the wearer dry all day.
This set is available in a variety of colors and in sizes XXS – 3XL.
What To Look For in Base Layers:
- Fit – The most important factor in any clothing choice is fit. If it doesn’t fit the way you want, you won’t be comfortable. Since just about every clothing maker has different sizing, be sure to check the specific size guide for the base layer you intend to buy.
- Warmth Level – You don’t want to get more warmth than you need – or not enough. Most manufacturers provide a warmth guide to assist you with your choice.
- Top, Bottom, or Both – Like with the warmth level, there’s no point getting more than you need. If you’re a person whose legs are always cold, stick with just bottoms, etc.
- Price – Some base layer options can be expensive, but think of it as an investment. The best base layers will help you perform your job, keeping you comfortable and dry, and will last for years if properly cared for. The right base layer can be a game-changer for those who have to face cold conditions on the job.
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