You can’t go wrong with Smartwool’s Merino 150 Long-Sleeve top ($80), which is woven with a touch of nylon for stretch while running or climbing. Like any good base layer, it fits snugly so you can add pieces as the temperature drops.
Down below, we prefer three-quarter-length long underwear, like the Duckworth Vapor 3/4 leggings ($80). Crafted from supremely soft Montana merino, with a stay-put elastic waistband, these long johns won’t overlap with your socks and cause you to overheat.
While we’re on the subject, Stance Stoney Ridge socks ($38) are made with ultralight merino that’s thicker in the toes and shin for added warmth and cushioning.
Eddie Bauer’s EverTherm Down jacket ($249) utilizes a novel approach to insulation. Instead of quilted fabric keeping clusters of down in place, which adds thousands of stitch holes, the down is pressed into flat sheets that don’t sag or migrate. The upshot: a supremely warm layer that’s also svelte. We like the non-hooded version, to avoid extra bulkiness under a shell. And vests may be the most underrated player in the layering game, but the right one can boost your core temperature instantly, without adding the heavyweight feel of another jacket.
Throw on Columbia’s Reversatility vest ($99), which features fuzzy fleece lining and a tough nylon exterior for added wind and water resistance.
With the North Face’s Apex Flex GTX 2.0 jacket ($249), you get the stalwart waterproofing and breathability of a Gore-Tex membrane paired with velvety brushed heather on the inside. The ideal spring piece, the Apex Flex can be worn over a short-sleeved shirt on warm days.
Don’t try to ski in Fjällräven’s hardy wind and water-resistant Barents Pro trousers ($140). They really shine on those cold early-spring days while climbing, hiking, or raking the yard. They’re adjustable and loose enough to wear over long johns, so you’ll be comfy no matter what.
Dynafit Seraks gloves ($50) are stuffed with toasty PrimaLoft insulation for late-season storms.
When the thaw is on, switch to L.L. Bean’s Polartec Liner Touchscreen gloves ($30) for basic protection and the freedom to tap away on your phone.
Top it all off with Skida’s Bearenstein Alpine hat ($36), a fleece-lined polyester-spandex cap that will keep your ears warm on dawn runs.