SIX BEST BASE LAYERS
12th November 2018 | Alf Alderson
Last modified on May 18th, 2020
It’s what you wear close to your skin that’s important. Here are Six of the best base layers, tested by our reviewer.
HAGLÖFS ACTIVES MERINO WOOK ROUNDNECK £80 www.haglofs.com
Plain black or grey melange and very minimalist in design.
This base layer from Haglöfs exudes Scandinavian style; even better, it feels lovely against bare skin and, best of all, keeps you warm.
In addition, the fabric mix of 96 per cent mulesing-free merino/four per cent elastane prevents the top from holding odours, so you can wear it for days on end (perfect for those long ski touring trips) and it also has enough stretch to allow unrestricted movement.
A combination of flatlock seams and offset seams in key areas help to prevent chafing, and an understated Haglöfs logo on the chest adds a bit more style in what is a fine base layer for all season use, not just winter.
VERDICT A stylish, understated and effective baselayer from Haglöfs, albeit an expensive one.
HAGLÖFS ACTIVES MERINO WOOL LONG JOHN (MEN’S) £80 www.haglofs.com
Designed to pair with the matching Haglöfs roundneck top which we’ve also reviewed (above), the active cut of these long johns along with four per cent elastane content allow comfortable, unrestricted movement.
The comfort factor is aided further by the use of flatlock and offset stitching in key areas to prevent chafing (and long johns are definitely something that shouldn’t chafe!).
A 96 per cent mulesing-free merino wool content means they’re soft and warm against the skin and they won’t hold odours, so you can take them on your week’s ski holiday without having to worry about washing them.
The plain black or grey melange colourways and understated Haglöfs logo add a bit more style although hopefully you won’t be wandering around in public in them – always nice to have smart undies though…
VERDICT Comfortable, warm, but rather expensive.
ICEBREAKER 200 OASIS DELUXE RAGLAN LONGSLEEVE CREW (MEN’S) £75 www.icebreaker.com *EDITOR’S CHOICE
The review sample we received from Icebreaker was in a cheerful ‘chilli red’ colour (it’s also available in black and Prussian blue) and whilst that makes no difference to how it performs it did add to the appeal, as did the ski-orientated pattern across the chest.
More important than all this though is the super-soft merino wool of the Oasis, which makes for excellent comfort next to bare skin.
Its bright colourway means we’ll also be using our base layer as an outer layer in the summer (the ‘200′ refers to the weight of the material; in this case it’s designed for ‘warm to cool conditions’).
Being merino means the Oasis won’t pong after prolonged wear.
Other useful features include a Raglan sleeve construction for added comfort and unrestricted mobility, flatlock seams to prevent chafing, underarm gussets for additional comfort and mobility and a drop tail hem for added coverage and warmth.
VERDICT The Icebreaker Oasis ticks all the boxes as a base layer and was our favourite for this winter.
ICEBREAKER 200 OASIS LEGGINGS £65 www.icebreaker.com
As with the Oasis top (above), these Icebreaker leggings are 200 weight and as such designed for warm to cool conditions, making them very versatile – indeed, they’re Icebreaker’s best-selling long johns.
They feature 100 per cent merino wool for a soft, flexible fit, which as well as being warm is also breathable and odour-resistant.
A slim fit and gusseted construction provide unrestricted freedom of movement, while a brushed elastic waistband and flatlock seams throughout help to eliminate chafing and add to the comfort of what are an excellent pair of long johns.
And if my own Icebreaker long johns are anything to go by, they also wear well – mine are now into their eight season and still going strong!
VERDICT Comfortable and hard wearing – well worth checking out despite the price.
PATAGONIA CAPILENE AIR HOODY £140 www.patagonia.com
Far and away the most expensive base layer we’ve reviewed thus far.
Patagonia justify the price of the Capilene Air Hoody by the fact that it’s their most advanced baselayer with the greatest range of warmth and comfort along with the ability to insulate when wet and to dry quickly and resist odours.
In use it feels wonderful against bare skin and is a piece of kit you’ll come back to again and again.
As well as the technical nature of the fabric providing great comfort you also get seamless 3-D construction to eliminate any risk of chafing (and this method of fabrication also reduces waste material too).
The Air Hoody uses a blend of 51 per cent New Zealand merino wool and 49 per cent Capilene, which is made from recycled polyester, into which is incorporated a unique ‘airblasting’ technology which increases the yarn’s loft while reducing weight.
The hood is practical and not just a fashion feature – like the body it’s also seamless and has an anatomical fit, and it can be pulled tight in bad weather to protect your entire face.
VERDICT A really great base layer, albeit a very pricey one.
SHACKLETON NELSON £75 www.shackletoncompany.com
This is a lovely, traditional-looking base layer made in the UK from merino wool as a ‘whole knit’ garment, which means it is seamless, and has zero friction for extra comfort.
Add to that the soft, luxurious feel of the Nelson along with an elasticated waist and neckline and you have a supremely comfortable base layer.
Being merino the Nelson is quick drying and breathable, of course, whilst the fit is pretty tight for better performance.
Naturally features are limited, this being a base layer, but you do get thumb holes for better insulation.
And if you were wondering about the Shackleton moniker, yes, the company uses Sir Ernest Shackleton as the inspiration for their range of high quality, British-made outdoor gear.
VERDICT A classic look and great feel make the Nelson one of our favourite base layers this winter.
Some of these Base Layers are for sale on the Ellis Brigham website – Click here to browse through Base Layers.
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