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8 Best Base Layers for Cold Weather Hunting According to Experts

We’ve asked 5 hunting experts what base layer they’re using for hunting (and done our research). Here’s the list we’ve compiled as a result.

5 experts interviewed | 15 models considered | 50+ online reviews read

Do you avoid hunting in winter season because there is nothing that can keep you warm enough?

Does cold spoil every single hunting trip for you and your friends?

Say goodbye to those problems, because we are about to introduce you to the top eight base layers that will forever change your hunting experience.

Every single base layer is carefully picked for you to provide the best possible comfort and warm your body in all sorts of conditions.

Want to know more? Just keep reading…

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Best Base Layers For Hunting

Model (link jumps to our review)ImageMaterialFitFabric DensityRatingPriceOrder Online
1. MERIWOOL Baselayer TMERIWOOL Men’s Merino Wool Midweight Baselayer Crew - Charcoal Gray/XS100% Merino woolSlim to average250g/m²
(232 Reviews reviews)
from $44.99Buy on Amazon
2. Smartwool Men's NTS Zip TMERIWOOL Men’s Merino Wool Midweight Baselayer Crew - Charcoal Gray/XS100% Merino woolSlim250g/m²
(232 Reviews reviews)
from $44.99Buy on Amazon
3. Ibex Men's Woolies 1 Crew ShirtIbex Merino Wool Men's Woolies 1 Crew Shirt86% Merino wool; 14% NylonRegular230 g/m²
(1,567 Reviews reviews)
from $80.00Buy on Amazon
4. Under Armour Base 4.0 Crew BlackUnder Armour Men's UA Base¿ 4.0 Crew Black/Battleship/School Bus XXX-LargePolyesterUltra-tightn/a
(234 Reviews reviews)
from $84.95Buy on Amazon
5. MERIWOOL Men’s Midweight Baselayer BottomMERIWOOL Men’s Merino Wool Midweight Baselayer Bottom - Choose Your Color & Size100% Merino woolSlim250g/m²
(187 Reviews reviews)
from $29.99Buy on Amazon
6. Smartwool Men's Baselayer BottomSmartWool Men's NTS Mid 250 Bottom (Black) Large87% Merino wool; 13% NylonSlim250g/m²
(46 Reviews reviews)
$95.00Buy on Amazon
7. Sitka Men's Core BottomSITKA Men's Core bottom, Optifade Open Country, SmallBi-Component Polyester Spandex BlendSlimn/a
(10 Reviews reviews)
$48.75Buy on Amazon
8. EU Men's Compression Tight Base LayerEU Men's Compression Tight Pants Base Layer Running Leggings Black Small85% Polyester; 15% SpandexSlimn/a
(110 Reviews reviews)
$9.58Buy on Amazon

Prices are last updated on %last_update%

FAQ

Base layer is the first layer of clothing you wear on cold winter days. More about base layers you can read here.

There are three types: Synthetic Base Layer, Merino Wool Base Layer and Bamboo Base Layer. For more information about them click here.

Here's Our List of Top 8 Base Layer For Hunting:

This is a hand-picked list of top 8 base layer for hunting that is  based on our author’s objective review and combination of various opinions from users all over the world. Continue reading to see complete reviews:

1. MERIWOOL Baselayer T

1. MERIWOOL Baselayer T

Ranked #1 by the editor
Amazon rating:
(based on 232 Reviews reviews)

Pros:

  • Made of 100% all natural superfine 18.5-micron Merino wool
  • Breathable
  • For easy care, it is machine-washable (cold setting only) and safe to tumble dry (low heat)
  • Wicking and odor resistance
  • Antibacterial
  • Includes a 1-YEAR limited warranty

Cons:

  • Synthetic materials are more durable

Editor’s Review: 

This top is definitely something you will need this hunting season because it fits great, stays in place, wicks while you’re working, and warms when you’re taking a break. It is made of the softest type of wool Merino wool fabric with the density of 250 g/m2, which doesn’t feel scratchy on your skin, but completely soft and comfortable. This wool has natural thermoregulation that will keep you warm while hunting in snowy winter days but won’t let you overheat when you step inside into a warm room just as it regulates the temperature for Merino sheep in both winter and summer. It also feels good knowing that this is not only great for you but for the Earth too.  Taking the wool from merino sheep does absolutely no harm to it, it even liberates them during the hot summer days and just as our hair grows the wool grows too which makes it a highly renewable resource.

Meriwool base layer T-shirt also benefits from other natural performances of Merino wool like wicking, fast drying and the fact that it doesn’t lose the heat when wet. It is also very easy to clean because it is machine-washable, but only in cold water, unless you want it to shrink (the best case scenario).

2. Smartwool Men's NTS Zip T

2. Smartwool Men's NTS Zip T

Ranked #2 by the editor
Amazon rating:
(based on 5 Reviews reviews)

Pros:

  • Made of 100% Merino Wool
  • Breathable
  • For easy care, it is machine-washable (cold setting only) and safe to tumble dry (low heat)
  • Wicking and odor resistance
  • Antibacterial
  • Features a zip to adjust the closeness of the turtleneck

Cons:

  • Not as durable as synthetic fabrics

Editor’s Review: 

The situation here is pretty similar to the previous one. This base layer is also made of 100% Merino wool which means that it benefits from its natural performances like softness, wicking, fast drying, thermoregulation, and heat consistency even in wet conditions, even though it is made of a thick fabric which makes it perfect for winter hunting and other activities in cold weather. The density of 250 g/m2 means that this material provides very good insulation but it also means that the fabric it a bit thick so it absorbs more moisture and takes longer to dry than thinner base layers. However, I wouldn’t consider this as a con, especially because the very thickness gives this fabric the extra softness.

The base layer features a 25 cm center front zipper that allows you to open the turtleneck when sitting in a warm room, but when you are outside hunting in the snow it warms up your neck so that you won’t need an additional layer like a scarf. The fit is slim which is tight enough to cuddle and warm up your body without being too tight which is a perfect measurement of a base layer.

3. Ibex Men's Woolies 1 Crew Shirt

3. Ibex Men's Woolies 1 Crew Shirt

Ranked #3 by the editor
Amazon rating:
(based on 9 Reviews reviews)

Pros:

  • Great combination of materials that complement each other (86% merino wool and 14% nylon)
  • Breathable
  • For easy care, it is machine-washable (cold setting only) and safe to tumble dry (low heat)
  • Wicking and odor resistance
  • Antibacterial
  • Abrasion resistance
  • Comes in three neutral colors

Cons:

  • Has a semi-tight or regular fit

Editor’s Review:

This wool blend base layer top is made of 86% merino wool and 14% nylon carefully blended into one fabric that fits and feels perfect on your body even under heftier layers. This is a very good combination of materials that complement each other in the best possible way. As we said earlier, Merino wool is very soft and cozy and it has a lot of great natural properties that make it the best base layer material but at the same time it is very sensitive and it tears up a lot easier than some other fabrics. On the other hand, nylon, like many other unnatural materials, doesn’t feel very good on the skin and has no antibacterial properties, but it has something that Merino wool misses and that is abrasion resistance.  And while the combination of these two results with a pretty great new fabric, let’s be honest, nothing is completely perfect. It turns out that poor thermoregulation and wicking performances attenuate great wool properties a little, but not nearly enough to make a poor material out of it. The 18.5-micron fibers used to make this base layer top give the fabric not only extraordinary softness but also great wicking performance and breathability which makes up for nylon performance in these areas.

Ibex Men’s Woolies 1 Crew Shirt has a semi-tight or regular fit which is comfortable enough and doesn’t crumple under other layers, but tighter base layers (slim fit) perform better.

Lastly, what I love the most about this top is how much designers thought about small things like removing a tag in order to eliminate any possible rubbing and scratching that could distract you.

4. Under Armour Base 4.0 Crew Black

4. Under Armour Base 4.0 Crew Black

Ranked #4 by the editor
Amazon rating:
(based on 234 Reviews reviews)

Pros:

  • Good combination of materials for more durability and comfort
  • Has a 4-way stretch construction
  • Features an anti-odor technology that prevents the growth of odor-causing microbes
  • Wicks sweat & dries really fast
  • Retains its shape
  • The brushed negative grid interior traps hot air which actually provides the superior warmth
  • Great for hunting in the brutal cold
  • Wash/dryer safe

Cons:

  • It has no thermoregulation
  • Not good for skiing or any other winter sport
  • It can be too tight for certain body shapes
  • Sizing is a little tricky

Editor’s Review:

Here comes one completely unnatural and when I say unnatural I mean that it is made of artificial material, or in this case, materials. Under Armour used 92% Polyester and 8% Elastane to create durable, abrasion resistant fabric that will be able to put up with cold winter hunting. And since it made to our top eight list, you could assume that they’ve succeeded.

I’m not the biggest fan of artificial materials, but I’m aware that there are a lot of you out there that prefer durability to true quality. However, that isn’t the only reason why I’m telling you about this base layer. Believe it or not, I actually like it for more than just its durability.

Polyester fabrics and fibers are extremely strong, resistant to most chemicals, stretching and shrinking, wrinkle resistant, abrasion resistant and basically indestructible. That’s why it is better to use them for sports clothing than something that could potentially harm the environment. This fabric is naturally hydrophobic and quick drying, it retains its shape and it is easily washed and dried which makes it perfect for outdoor clothing for harsh climates. When you add 8% of elastane to this material what you get is a 4-way stretch construction that moves better in every direction and fits perfectly tight on your body, feeling like your own skin. Add to this an anti-odor technology that prevents the growth of odor-causing microbes and you have yourself a great piece of hunting equipment. The brushed negative grid interior traps hot air which actually provides the superior warmth, but as good as this is for hunting in the brutal cold, I DO NOT recommend it for skiing or any other winter sport that requires base layer, because it has no thermoregulation and when your body becomes active and heat naturally this base layer will only increase the heat and you will end up feeling very uncomfortable. You aren’t that active while hunting and even if you run towards your target or something, the base layer won’t bother you, but it isn’t good for active sports.

The most important thing to have in mind when purchasing this base layer is to pick the right size. The top is very tight and it was intended to fir as your own skin but in a comfortable way. If you pick a wrong size (perhaps smaller) you will end up feeling very uncomfortable even though it is stretchable in all four ways. So, just make sure to try it on before buying.

5. MERIWOOL Men’s Midweight Baselayer Bottom

5. MERIWOOL Men’s Midweight Baselayer Bottom

Ranked #5 by the editor
Amazon rating:
(based on 187 Reviews reviews)

Pros:

  • Made of 100% natural super soft 18.5-micron Merino wool
  • Breathable
  • You won’t feel any cold even down at -15 to -20 degrees
  • For easy care, it is machine-washable (cold setting only) and safe to tumble dry (low heat)
  • Wicking and odor resistance
  • Antibacterial

Cons:

  • Not as durable as synthetic materials

Editor’s Review:

I’m feeling sort of a relief now that we are moving on to another product made of Merino wool (I guess that’s how much I don’t like artificial materials). These thermal pants are made of 100% natural super soft 18.5-micron Merino wool that ensures comfort all day long without any itching. Even people with sensitive skin that don’t like feeling the wool directly on it won’t have a problem with these bottoms, that’s how soft this fabric is. Wearing this material, you won’t feel any cold even down at -15 to -20 degrees, but you can also wear it if it’s hotter than planned, thanks to its natural thermoregulation that will keep you warm while hunting in snowy winter days, but won’t let you overheat when you step inside into a warm room.

Base layer pants are definitely a must for winter hunting and I highly recommend this pair (especially paired with MERIWOOL Baselayer Top).

6. Smartwool Men's Baselayer Bottom

6. Smartwool Men's Baselayer BottomCulligan FM-15A Advanced Faucet Water Filter

Ranked #6 by the editor
Amazon rating:
(based on 46 Reviews reviews)

Pros:

  • Made of 100% Merino Wool
  • Breathable
  • For easy care, it is machine-washable (cold setting only) and safe to tumble dry (low heat)
  • Wicking and odor resistance
  • Antibacterial
  • Features covered elastic waistband
  • Very comfortable

Cons:

  • Not as durable as synthetic fabrics

Editor’s Review:

These base layer pants are also made of 100% Merino wool which means that they benefit from its natural performances like softness, wicking, fast drying, thermoregulation, and heat consistency even in wet conditions, even though they are made of a thick fabric which makes it perfect for winter hunting and other activities in cold and snowy weather. The density of 250 g/m2 is what gives this fabric the exceptional softness but that isn’t the only benefit of it. This also means that this material provides very good isolation. However, 250 g/m2 tells us that this material is a bit thick which means that it absorbs more moisture which takes longer to dry than thinner base layers. For some people, this is a huge downside, but I don’t see it that way especially because it stays warm even when wet, so you won’t have any problems with cold even if some snow ends up in your pants somehow.

These pants are very comfortable, not just because of the material but because of the cut that makes them feel like the second skin. Whether you’re running, hiking or riding you will be comfortable and warm all day long. If you think this is a good choice for you I recommend pairing these pants with Smartwool Men’s NTS Zip T to keep your whole body warm.

7. Sitka Men's Core Bottom

7. Sitka Men's Core Bottom

Ranked #7 by the editor
Amazon rating:
(based on 10 Reviews reviews)

Pros:

  • 4-way stitching for flexibility and durability
  • Features Permanent Polygiene® Odor Control Technology that prevents or neutralizes odor
  • Ultra light-weight
  • Quiet
  • Comes in variety of camouflage and colors
  • Open fly
  • Wicks moisture away from skin
  • Features brushed Inner Face

Cons:

  • Fit runs ½ size smaller to true size
  • No thermoregulation
  • Made of artificial materials

Editor’s Review:

Even though this pair of base layer bottoms is made of a polyester blend it still made it to our top eight list, and here is why.

These bottoms have been really popular in the hunting world for quite some time thanks to their great performance and quality. These ultra-lightweight and quiet pants feature Permanent Polygiene® Odor Control Technology that prevents or neutralizes odor. This anti-microbial scent blocking technology works by stopping the growth of odor-causing bacteria and fungi.

The four-way stitching enables freedom of movement for any kind of outdoor activity and prevents stretching out which makes this base layer a lot more durable comparing to those made of Merino wool.

Made with the hunter in mind, Sitka Men’s Core Bottom comes in forest camouflage design, which is important for this kind of activity. The material this base layer is made of has no thermoregulation and in those months when temperature varies you will often overheat in these pants and you’ll probably want to take off the other layers and to be able to remove layers, and still maintain cover is really important for hunting.

8. EU Men's Compression Tight Base Layer

8. EU Men's Compression Tight Base Layer

Ranked #8 by the editor
Amazon rating:
(based on 110 Reviews reviews)

Pros:

  • Stretchable and comfortable
  • Flatlock seams stitching
  • Breathable quick-drying and lightweight
  • Increases circulation
  • Allows motion with no skin chafing or irritation
  • Very easy to clean
  • Durable
  • Retains shape even after a lot of washes

Cons:

  • No thermoregulation

Editor’s Review:

Very stretchable and comfortable EU Men’s Compression Tight Base Layer is a great match for all your sports and activities on cold days. Even though these are also made of artificial materials, 85% Polyester/15% Spandex, they allow motion with no skin chafing or irritation. One of the best characteristics of this base layer is its durability. This artificial material is a lot easier to clean than any natural will ever be, and it retains shape even after a lot of washes.

The fabric is breathable quick-drying and lightweight which makes the pants even more comfortable even for everyday use.

What Is a Base Layer?

The first part of the layering systems on cold winter days is called base layer. It is tight to your skin and features all that’s necessary to keep you warm. You usually layer up when on winter vacation on a mountain, for skiing, hiking, hunting, and similar activities.

There are so many base layers on the market that it is often hard to choose just one that’s ideal for your needs. Some of them like loose fit t-shirts, some are tight, and some are very tight… some are compression fit, some are thin, and some are thick…

The variety of so many different base layers can cause a quite confusion, but we will do our best to help you understand what would be the perfect base layer for your needs.

In this case, we are concentrating on base layers for hunting, so if you are a hunter, just keep reading.

Types of the Base Layers

The term ‘base layer’ refers to both tops and bottoms. What makes the difference between base layers are materials that they are made of and the fit. The only right fit for the base layer is sim and tight because its function is to trap the air close to the skin and isolate the body from the cold weather. They are usually made slightly smaller, so you should just buy the size that you normally wear and everything will fit perfectly. Now, let’s see what materials can be used for base layers:

1. Synthetic Base Layer:

This unnatural material can be used for both outdoors and sports base layers. No matter what you need them for, I’d say don’t go for synthetic. The only advantage of this material is its durability, but once you realize how poorly it performs you’ll pray for it to tear apart so you’d have to buy a new one. It has absolutely no smell control and it isn’t antibacterial but it causes you to sweat even when just sitting. This is the cheapest, but the worst possible option.

2. Merino Wool Base Layer:

The complete opposites of synthetic are the Merino wool base layers. This would be the best possible choice because this material regulates your body temperature perfectly and prevents you from overheating. This wool also retains the heat within the fibers to keep you warm if the weather suddenly changes. Wearing this material, you won’t feel any cold even down at -15 to -20 degrees, but you can also wear it if it’s hotter than planned. Due to its UV resistance, this Merino wool is perfect for hunting and skiing at cold but sunny mountains.

This type of wool also has natural wicking and anti-bacterial properties that help to keep the skin dry and odor free. Now, this is a very important thing for hunters, because the second you start sweating you start to stink and even if you can’t smell it yet, be sure that your target can.

3. Bamboo Base Layer:

This is a relatively new material made of bamboo extracts usually combined with fibers such as cotton, Lycra, and even merino wool. Bamboo base layers fit tighter and hold the shape better than any other base layer out there. This is super soft material and could be a good choice for people with really sensitive skin that can’t stand wool materials directly touching them.

Some users find this material even better than 100% merino wool if it is combined with its fibers, while the others think it is too tight. It looks like it is only a matter of personal preference when it comes down to these two.

How to Choose the Best Base Layer - Buyer's Guide

Here comes the hard part – how to choose the best base layer for your needs. Luckily I have a few tips that will hopefully make this a lot easier.

1. Comfort 

You should choose your base layer as if it was underwear. The best base layers are slim fit, tight to your skin and they should feel soft. Nothing should itch you or cling you; it should feel like your second skin. It should also be very stretchable to allow all kinds of motions and. The most comfortable materials are always natural, so I would always recommend that above any kind of synthetic no matter how great technologies are used for it.

I’ve already said many times, but I’ll say one more time that the best choice for comfort is a base layer made of merino wool, because of its great natural performances.

2. Durability

This is a really important piece of hunting equipment that is going to be worn repeatedly and you certainly don’t want to buy a new one after a couple of uses. My recommendation is not to go for the cheapest possible base layer, but for the one that will provide the best value long term (this also doesn’t mean that you should go for the most expensive one).

As mentioned earlier, synthetic base layers are usually more durable than wool ones, but their durability comes with a few downsides. On the other hand, Merino wool base layers are nearly perfect but less durable. However, with a proper use, you can really extend the life of your natural fabric base layer and enjoy all of its advantages.

3. Fit

Unlike middle layer that is supposed to be a little loose, a base layer should have a slim fit and be really tight to your skin in order to do its job properly. That, of course, doesn’t mean that it should be too tight and stop your circulation, so don’t go a size smaller when making a purchase. Base layers are already made a little smaller, so buying your regular size will be just alright.

4. Practiality

Base layers are something you don’t want to think about while hunting and that’s why it should require a very little care. Ideally, it should be stain resistant, easy to clean, quick drying and antimicrobial. However, if it doesn’t check all the boxes, it at least shouldn’t require some kind of special care.

Experiences of Other Hunters - See What Other Users Say:

I bought the Meriwool shirt about a year ago to replace an old one that was too thin and quickly ripped off, even though it was a well-known brand and wasn’t cheap at all. What I love about this sweater the most is the simple and clean design with great weight and quality. It isn’t too thin or too thick, it is just right. It is also quite versatile, so you don’t have to wear it only as a base layer. I often wear it on its own over a t-shirt, but even when I layer it with hunting outfit I don’t look or feel bulky. No matter how you wear the sweater, it fits and feels great. And even now, a year later, it looks as good as new. There is just one thing I’d like to change about it and that is its length. I took the right size, but it could be a little longer so that I could tuck it in. Other than that everything is just perfect.
customer-testimonilas
Andrew
Wearing the Meriwool Base Layer
I got the Smartwool base layer pants as a gift from my girlfriend last year and I can say that for sure these are the best in the market. They are very soft and comfortable for a variety of temperature levels. I wore these pants during hunting season this year and it was the first time I didn’t have any problems with cold weather. They are so comfortable and feel like my own skin that I wear them not only when hunting but during the whole winter. I feel I should warn you about one thing, though. When I put them in the washing machine for the first time I almost destroyed them. Thankfully, I had my girlfriend near me to stop me from starting the machine. Then, she explained that these leggings are supposed to be washed in cold water. So, apparently, if you don’t want them to tear apart after just a few washings, just wash them in cold water.
customer-testiomonilas
Paatrick
Wearing the Smartwool Base Layer

Conclusion

Deciding on a base layer can be a lot harder than it first appears due to the number of functions it must perform. Not only because of such a wide range of available base layer tops and bottoms but because of their differences and combinations of advantages and disadvantages.

If you are still having a trouble deciding, just seek out features that will make your base layer comfortable and practical at the same time. Also, make sure to select the correct weight for the conditions you expect to hunt in.

If I had to choose for myself, I would go with MERIWOOL top and bottom because both are made of 100% natural Merino wool.

I hope we helped you make the best choice for your next hunting trip! Happy shopping!

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Milica

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