Stay dry and comfortable whatever the weather with the best men’s thermal base layers for hiking
The best men’s thermals for hiking
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Base layers sit next to your skin and are designed to be masters of moisture management.
Outdoor activities can cause sweating, so you need your base layer to wick away moisture as quickly as possible and help you stay dry. They should also provide insulation when needed, while maintaining a comfortable body temperature.
We’ve put a variety of base layers through their paces, from quick-wicking merino wool garments to sporty synthetic togs designed for outdoor action. Here are nine of the best.
Snugpak 2nd Skinz CoolmaxÂ® Long Sleeve Top and Long Johns
Snugpak’s toasty offering ticks all the boxes, being lightweight and comfortable with impressive sweat-wicking credentials.
Fit-wise, they lean towards ‘relaxed’ rather than super clingy, so they’ll suit people who prefer a bit of air hissing between their base layers rather than a second-skin style.
Each garment comes in its own zipped carrying case (with handle) which seems slightly superfluous to the requirements, but it makes them easy to locate in an unorganized, overstuffed underwear drawer.
TOG24 Snowdon Zip Neck and Leggings
This smart base layer set from TOG24 is constructed from sci-fi sounding ‘Carbon Infused Particles’ that help eliminate odor and also boasts 50+ UV protection.
Both garments are incredibly soft to the touch and despite the body-hugging fit and thermal nature of the fabric, they feel pleasantly snug, not too tight and restrictive.
We also like the extra long top that helps prevent “hiker bottoms” – unintended exposure of the upper buttocks when bending down to tie boot laces.
Forclaz Men’s Odorless Shirt
Our pick of base layers from online sportswear supplier Decathlon is this long-sleeved top made from merino wool, a fine, natural material with impressive moisture-wicking properties.
Some people may find merino a bit irritating, but we found the weave of this Forclaz shirt to be extremely soft against the skin.
Flat-panel seams also reduce the risk of chafing which can be a problem on cheaper base layers, especially around the shoulders when wearing a backpack.
Encouraged by the ‘odor-free shirt’ claim, we pushed this garment to the limits of personal hygiene, but still found it to stay remarkably fresh, even after many sweaty uses.
PÃ¡ramo Grid Technic Top and Long Johns
This set of quality clothing made in Colombia is what you need when the temperature really starts to drop.
Preferred by mountain guides and outdoor instructors, these garments are made from Nikwax Paramenta G fabric which is woven in a distinctive grid pattern for maximum moisture-wicking efficiency.
Worn under another garment, you will immediately feel the benefits of its warm, fleece-like material, but most surprisingly is the high degree of wind protection it offers when worn as a single layer.
We also love the extra long sleeves with thumbholes and the stand-up collar for maximum neck-to-knuckle protection. The long johns also feature a handy “old fashioned” fly pocket for quick access if you get caught out in the cold.
Eono base layer top and pants
If you’re looking for a cheap and cheerful base layer to ward off the cold, you could do worse than slip into this stealthy black two-piece from Eono.
Featuring elasticated cuffs, pant cuffs and flatlock seams, this set is stylish, comfortable and snug while allowing for a decent amount of stretch.
The 100% polyester construction is beautifully soft and does a great job of wicking sweat, but that means things can get a little static when it’s time to strip down.
No frills – but especially no thrills either.
FÃ¶hn Merino Short-Sleeve base layer
This fast-wicking wonder from FÃ¶hn is crafted from a mid-weight 200gsm merino yarn with a snug, close-fitting fit.
It’s a rather modest looking top and doesn’t have any fancy fabrics it can boast of, but it’s very good at what it does – which is to keep you warm, dry and stink-free. .
In terms of style, the length of the sleeves and the neckline make it more like a casual t-shirt than an underwear.
You could happily wear this top in the pub for a pint after the walk, but when used as a base layer this top has excellent temperature regulating properties.
Helly Hansen Lifa Crew
With its distinctive herringbone sleeves and sleek crew neck fit, the Helly Hansen Lifa has graced the backs of knotty locals for over 40 years.
It is a super lightweight garment that excels at keeping your body warm while providing exceptional sweat wicking qualities.
Flatlock seams mean there’s no risk of chafing, and stretchy Lifa fabric provides unrestricted freedom of movement on and off.
While this base layer is perfect for layering under fleece during intense winter activities, it also performs just as well as a single-layer running top for chilly fall mornings.
Patagonia Capilene Air Hoodie
This high-end, entry-level base layer is a joy to put on. Made from
Made from 51% RWS-certified merino wool and 49% recycled polyester, it’s a luxurious, fleece-lined garment that’s versatile enough to be worn on its own for early fall outdoor action or rolled out as base layer when the temperature starts to dip.
The balaclava-style hood is its secret weapon against winter chills – wear it under a helmet for more extreme mountain activities or use it to keep your ears warm while camping in cold weather.
Inov-8 Base Elite Long Sleeve Base Layer
This tech top comes from Kings of the Mountain Inov-8, an incredibly eco-conscious company based in Staveley, Cumbria.
It’s an ultralight garment made from durable polyester fabric which (we’re told) is made by recycling around 8 x 500ml PET bottles.
Although primarily designed for running – it has reflective panels to the front, sides and back – we find it perfectly suited for wearing a single-layer hiking top in the summer or under a fleece on hikes intense winters.
For warmth, moisture wicking and core temperature management on the trail, this technical top is hard to beat.