Best Base Layer: Looking for the Best Choices on the Market

There are some days you may be lucky enough to hunt in the warmth. Most of the time you are going to spend your hunting hours waiting in the cold. Some days, it can be frigid, especially if you venture out right at sunrise. Staying warm is a priority for every hunter.

It is a matter of survival. The best base layer can be the difference between you enjoying your trip or hating it. Being cold is just part of hunting.

Male hunter with shotgun

However, being too cold limits your performance. You need to perform at your best to get the kill. Wearing the correct clothing is part of the way you ensure you deliver the best you can. Layering clothes gives you maximum warmth.

If you get the base layer correct, you stand a better chance at enduring the hours outside. It may give you an extra hour, but that extra hour may give you the animal you are hunting.

What are the benefits to wearing a base layer?

  • They are lightweight, so you won’t notice it is on. Base layers don’t hinder your movements.
  • Base layers are snug fitting, so the rest of your clothes fit right over the top. They won’t feel odd or bulky.
  • Wearing a base layer helps to manage moisture. Most of themare made with fabric that contributes to wick away moisture from your skin. You won’t feel wet, but rather your skin feels dry. It is useful during wet weather and warmer times, when you may sweat.
  • If you get too hot, you can remove the other layers of clothing. A base layer is perfectly fine for almost any condition. They are warm but breathable. They allow air to flow in, but they also hold in the warmth.

Thing to Consider Before Buying

The Fabric

Your first decision is what kind of fabric you want for your base layer. It is a personal choice, but there are some reasons you may want one or the other.

  • A woolen base, such as Merino Wool, can keep you cool when it’s hot outside and warm on the coldest of winters. It can repel small amounts of liquid and wicks away moisture. Woolen base layers are durable, naturally resistant to odors and flame retardant.
  • A silk base layer will feel nice and soft against your skin. They are durable and abrasion resistant. Don’t use silk if you plan to be extremely physical that day because it is very absorbent. There are treatments available to make them wick away moisture instead.
  • A polyester or synthetic base layer is a popular choice. They are durable, lightweight, dries fast and easy to maintain. They resist stretching and shrinking, but you will notice it doesn’t feel as natural against your skin. Synthetic choices are breathable and can wick moisture away, plus they are the most affordable choice.
  • Polypropylene is a fabric used for decades for base layers. It is lightweight, breathable, and dries quickly. However, the texture can be off-putting for many people. Most people prefer to use the polyester instead.

Merino wool base layers

The weight

The weight of the fabric you select is important as well. Some prefer a lightweight choice for extreme activity on a cold day. Midweight choices are versatile and give you excellent performance during all kinds of activities.

For the maximum amount of insulation, on days with low activity levels, try a heavyweight base layer. On high movement days, it is a bad choice because it will make you sweat, but if you plan to sit all day, you need a heavyweight layer.

Moisture wicking

Moisture wicking is a MUST HAVE for any good base layer. You will perspire; it is natural. However, it needs to be taken away from your skin, to the outer layer, so that it can evaporate. Otherwise, you are going to be wet, and that’s the last thing you want on a cold day.

Scent (odor) control

Scent control is ideal for hunting. Some fabrics are naturally odor resistant. Scent control stops the animals from sensing your presence. Also, antimicrobial prevents the growth of bacteria while you are out hunting. That feature may not be the most important, but it is great to have.

Non-itch material

Is beneficial as well. Let’s be honest; do you want to sit in the woods, pulling and itching at your clothes? No, you don’t. You will make too much noise, and you may miss your shot.

The Best Base Layer for Hunters

Now, let’s take a look at six great choices for the best base layer. We will highlight the features you need to know about to make the best decision!

CompressionZ Men’s Pants

CompressionZ Men's Pants

Materials:High-Performance Fabric

Sizes Available: S: 28 to 31 inches, M: 31.5 to 34.5 inches, L: 35 to 38 inches, XL: 38.5 to 41.5 inches – These should have a tight fit. If you want a looser fit, size up.

Features:High-Performance Fabric, Anti-Odor, Anti-Itch, Great for Exercising, Ideal for Warmth

Best Use: It is easy to forget your legs when selecting base layers. However, they get just as cold as your upper body. CompressionZ makes a great pair of base layer leggings. They are designed for exercising, but their benefits extend to hunters and outdoor usages as well. CompressionZ used high-performance fabric to help keep your body warm in cold temperatures, but it also will keep you cool during hot weather.

The material is anti-odor and anti-itch. You will be dry and comfortable, even if you are outside for hours. They included flatlock seam stitching that lets you stay flexible and mobile without chafing or irritating your skin.

You also can benefit from these base layer leggings if you exercise. They help your muscles warm up faster due to increased blood flow. They will give your muscles support and greater efficiency. Base leggings encourage blood circulation and reduce any swelling.

Overall, wearing the CompressionZ Base Layer Leggings give you more benefits than just keeping your legs warm while you wait for the biggest buck.

Check the price on Amazon

Just Love Women’s Underwear Set

Material: Polyester Cotton Blend

Sizes: Available in XS up to 3X

Features: Cotton Polyester Blend, Two Piece Set, Perfect for Layering, Well-Made, Comfortable

Best Use: Some women prefer to use a thermal underwear set to keep them warm while out in the woods. The Just Love brand uses a blend of polyester and cotton to keep your body warm, yet cozy and soft.

It is a two-piece, long john underwear, designed for layering. You don’t have to worry about your clothes feeling bulky.

They created the Just Love Layer Thermals to be used under clothes. There is a tapered leg that allows you to wear them with boots.

Cotton, even though not a commonly used material for base layers, provides durability to these thermals. Polyester keeps your warm and allows the fabric to breathe. You can wash them in a machine with no problem. There are no loose threads or skipped stitches because they are well-made. There is an elastic waistband for a comfortable fit.

Check the price on Amazon

ColdPruf Men’s Basic

ColdPruf Men’s Basic

Material: Blend of Cotton and Polyester

Sizes: Available from small up to 3XL – Tall. Fits true to size.

Features: Cotton Polyester Blend, Low to Medium Activity, Cold to Very Cold Temperature

Best Use: If you want a simple, affordable base layer top, the ColdPruf Men’s Basic was created to trap air between the layers of fabric. It creates a layer of natural warmth that will keep you comfortable during the cold days.

The inside and outside layers of the top are made with a blend of ring spun cotton (60 percent) and polyester (40 percent). This blend is comfortable, durable, and warm.

ColdPruf has a thermachoice system that can keep you warm in the cold to freezing weather. It works for low to medium activity. This base layer top is not designed for intense activity. Their goal is to give wearers comfort and warmth in all cold weather environments. Hunters and outdoor enthusiasts believe their motto is right, and they give the ColdPruf Basic Base Layer Top high ratings.

Check the price on Amazon

The North Face Men’s Top

The North Face Men’s Top

Material: 57% polyester and 43% reprieve recycled polyester

Sizes: Available in small through large

Features: Flash Dry Eco, Anti-Odor, Polyester, Provides Great Warmth, Snug Fit, Flexible, Breathable

Best Use: Everyone knows North Face! They make some the best clothing to keep you warm in any weather and temperature. It is no doubt that they would also make a fantastic base layer.

Their zippered long sleeve base layer is perfect for under camouflaged shirts and jackets. It will keep you warm and comfortable. Plus, it is lightweight; you won’t even realize you are wearing more than one shirt.

The North Face Top fits snug, next to the skin, providing you with flexibility as you move around. The material is comfortable, flexible and easy to wear for hours at a time. It is made of polyester, so it will dry fast with their FlashDry Eco. The material also has anti-odor technology; your skin can breathe when wearing it.

Check the price on Amazon

Merino 365  Base Layer

Merino 365 Base Layer

Material: 100% New Zealand Merino Wool

Sizes: Available from XS to XL

Features: Woolen Base Layer, Regulates Temperature, Antibacterial, UV Protection, Hypoallergenic, Renewable Fabric

Best Use: If you want to spend a bit more money for a woolen base layer, the Merino 365 is a fantastic choice. It is made from 100% Merino Wool, perfect for anyone who spends time outside.

Hunters and fishers particularly enjoy this base layer. The Merino Wool comes from New Zealand, from a particular farm on the South Island.

You will stay warmer for longer with the Merino 365. The material can regulate temperatures naturally. Some other significant benefits are it is renewable, biodegradable, fire resistant, antibacterial, provides UV protection, machine washable and hypoallergenic. It is no wonder so many people like woolen base layers.

Merino Wool is breathable and controls moisture next to your skin. In cold weather, it will retain a small amount of moisture, and, using a natural heating process, keep you warmer. If you are out in the sun, it carries an SPF rating of 50+. Overall, despite the higher price, there are so many great reasons that this is the best base layer. You can purchase it in five different colors.

Check the price on Amazon

Duofold Varitherm Thermal Crew

Duofold Varitherm Thermal Crew

Material: 96% Polyester, 4% Spandex

Size: Available from small to XXL

Features: Synthetic, Affordable, Varitherm, Wicks Moisture, Midweight, Versatile, Flatlock Seams

Best Use: If you want a synthetic, affordable base layer, the Duofold is a perfect choice. The Varitherm is their advanced fiber technology that pulls the moisture away from your skin.

At the same time, it locks heat in for comfort and protection while you are outside. You can run, bicycle, ski and a lot of other activities with the Varitherm.

Duofold Varitherm Thermal Crew is a single layer, midweight performance thermal. It is perfect for many different activities. Midweight layers give you versatility. The shirt is tag-free with a stretch top. It has chafe resistance flatlock seams. You get the best of both worlds with this base layer. It gives you great warmth and wicking performance.

You can wear it during cold weather and warmer weather. The fit is snug and won’t create bulk when you put a layer overtop.

Check the price on Amazon

Layer up

Picking the right base layer is important. Without the correct one, staying out in the cold temperatures is nearly impossible. Base layers trap the warmth, allowing you to stay outside waiting for the right shot. However, not all base layers are truly the best.

You may want a woolen base layer. If so, the Merino 356 is a great value. You won’t feel cold at all. The Duofold is an affordable choice for a synthetic base layer. Yet, all of the six choices have positive features you may love. Remember to look at the features that matter most to you. Stay warm in the woods with the best base layer.


Shawn Harrison

Shawn Harrison is our expert in hunting. He was born in Alaska, so hunting was his hobby since high school. Later, Shawn took a Hunter Training at Alaska Department of Fish and Game to structure his knowledge and now he is open to share his knowledge with our readers. Shawn is taking ‘Safety First’ approach on all of his trips, especially is some people are going hunting for the first time.


  • A great option when hunting in the winter very cold and the
    odor control feature I like it I didn’t find this idea in other products
    Actually this is the best base layer for hunting
    and The price is fairly reasonable on the Amazon site
    But why products are not designed to suit desert areas and summer areas
    I have another question whether they need special attention when washing

    • That’s a really good question John. Each type of material made for the base layer has been chosen to ward off the type of weather a person is going to be in. Some materials are good in warding off heat while some materials ward off cold. When it comes to washing, you will need sometimes to pay extra attention. Always look at the clothing label for washing instructions.