The 6 Best Base Layers of Winter 2012

L.L. Bean Polartec Power Dry Quarter-Zip Lightweight

L.L. Bean Polartec Power Dry Quarter-Zip Lightweight Base Layer    Photo: Courtesy of L.L. Bean

L.L. Bean Polartec Power Dry Quarter-Zip Lightweight Base Layer

Despite costing less than a fancy T-shirt, this lightweight base layer has as its main ingredient Polartec’s classic Power Dry, one of the best wicking fabrics around. The only downside: for a next-to-skin layer, the cut is a bit boxy.

TAGS: FAST-WICKING, NO FRILLS

SmartWool Midweight Hoody

SmartWool Midweight Hoody
SmartWool Midweight Hoody Base Layer   Photo: Courtesy of SmartWool

Assumption: we didn’t think we’d use the hood; we thought it’d just get in the way. We were wrong; we used it all the time. On cool-weather runs. Atop windy ridges while backcountry skiing. On chilly lifts at the resort. Conclusion: we love us some midlayer hood!

TAGS: THUMB LOOPS, WARM HEAD

Helly Hansen Dry Revolution LS Base Layer

Helly Hansen Dry Revolution LS
Helly Hansen Dry Revolution LS Base Layer   Photo: Courtesy of Helly Hansen

There’s skintight bad (suffocating and constrictive) and skintight good (comfy and stretchy). With no seams and an ultrasoft fabric that wicked away moisture as effectively as any next-to-skin base layer we’ve tested, the Dry Revolution is skintight great. The fit is snug enough to wear it underneath any non-body-hugging layer.

TAGS: SEAMLESS, QUICK-DRYING

Columbia Men's Midweight Long Sleeve 1/2 Zip Base Layer

Columbia Men's Midweight Long Sleeve 1/2 Zip
Columbia Men's Midweight Long Sleeve 1/2 Zip Base Layer   Photo: Courtesy of Columbia

Its polyester fabric is lined with silver dots that reflect heat back at you, which made it a bit warmer than a similar base layer without. The trade-off is that it doesn’t wick quite as well, though the silver lining is surprisingly comfy against the skin. 

 

TAGS: SILVER LINING, FORM FITTING

I/O Bio Siggy Full Base Layer

IO BIo Siggy Full
IO BIo Siggy Full Base Layer   Photo: Inga Hendrickson

What we love most about the midweight, merino-wool Siggy is its adaptability. You can ski in it all day, eat and drink in it all night, and repeat. And thanks to wool’s natural antimicrobial properties, it won’t smell as if you haven’t changed your shirt all week.

TAGS: FULL ZIP, VERSATILE

FlyLow Gear Prefontaine 2.0

FlyLow Gear Prefontaine 2.0
FlyLow Gear Prefontaine 2.0 Base Layer   Photo: Courtesy of FlyLow

If a stretchy soft shell and an old-school track jacket had a love child, this is what it would look—and perform—like. Works great as a midlayer at the resort, and the DWR-coated fabric can fend off nastier weather than you’d think.

TAGS: DECEPTIVELY RESILIENT, STYLISH

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