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Your baselayer is your second skin, and picking the right one is the first step to a layering system that works with you instead of against you. Start with the weather and then factor in your plans: A thin, breathable baselayer will do you good on warm days or high-output missions, while a thicker set will help you stay comfortable on colder trips. Start with one of these six picks.
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Best Value: Montbell Super Merino Wool Light Weight Round Neck
When the forecast calls for warmer winter temps and highly aerobic activities, suit up in this ultrathin top. The Super Merino Wool’s sweet spot is hard-charging use from 25°F to 60°F, on its own or under a light shell. Buy the Montbell Super Merino Wool Light Weight Round Neck Now / Read the Full Review
Warmest: Woolx Merino Blizzard ¼ Zip
Even a snowman would warm right up in this toasty layer. We huddled in the heavyweight Blizzard down to -17°F (in a sleeping bag) while winter camping in Colorado’s Collegiate Peaks, and kept comfortable on the trail at 5°F while wearing it under a shell. On its own, it kept us toasty at 20°F. Buy the Woolx Merino Blizzard ¼ Zip Now / Read the Full Review
Best Wicking: First Lite Men’s Wick Longsleeve Crew
No baselayer will stop you from sweating, but this one will at least keep you from marinating in it. The Wick combines a blended fabric (65 percent merino wool, 33 percent polyester, 2 percent elastane) with tiny, embedded grains of volcanic sand (you can’t feel it) that use billions of micropores to increase surface area. Buy the First Lite Men’s Wick Longsleeve Crew Now / Read the Full Review
Most Versatile: Beyond Clothing K2 Celeris Pullover and Long John
This MVP kit delivered exactly what we needed across the gamut of winter and spring activities, from resort skiing in the low teens (with insulation) to mountain biking in the 30s (as a midlayer) to hiking into the 50s (alone). Buy the Beyond Clothing K2 Celeris Pullover and Long John Now / Read the Full Review
Best Hoody: Immersion Research Polartec Power Wool Highwater Hoodie
A hooded baselayer is one of our favorite pieces of winter apparel, for the simple fact it protects against the infamous trio of cold, wind, and sun. The Highwater is one of the most-effective versions of the form we’ve worn, thanks to its just-right fit and highly breathable fabric. Buy the Immersion Research Polartec Power Wool Highwater Hoodie Now / Read the Full Review
Best Leggings: Smartwool Merino Sport Fleece Colorblock Tight
High output, low temps: That’s the sweet spot for these toasty, stretchy, and sweat-zapping tights. They kept us warm into the teens on trail runs in Colorado’s Elk Mountains and breathed well as the temps rose. Buy the Smartwool Merino Sport Fleece Colorblock Tight Now / Read the Full Review