GearApparel
2021 Winter Buyer’s Guide

The Best Women’s Base and Midlayers of 2021

Keeping your body temperature at a happy equilibrium starts with the right layers

(Photo: Courtesy the Companies)
winter buyer’s guide

Norrøna Equalizer Merino Zip Neck Top ($89)

base and midlayers
(Photo: Courtesy Norrøna)

When the dawn-patrol alarm rings at 5:30 a.m., you want a top you know will get the job done without having to ­cross-reference your outfit with your phone’s weather app. Made from a midweight blend of stink-resistant wicking merino and abrasion-resistant polyester, the Equalizer Zip Neck is a reliable basic that’s just right for all but the hottest and coldest of days. Bonus: the long hem stays put under shell pants.

Buy Now


Terramar Ultra Merino Pants ($65)

pants
(Photo: Courtesy Terramar)

We turn to these full-length bottoms when seriously cold temps threaten to freeze our butts on the chairlift. They’re made from a dual-layer fabric—polyester on the inside to pull moisture from the skin and merino on the outside for its ability to both breathe and insulate. The air between those two layers of fabric further helps trap heat for exceptional warmth that doesn’t stifle. They’re like comfy sweatpants minus the bulk (and the slow-drying cotton).

Buy Now


Columbia Alpine Crux Jacket ($300)

jackets
(Photo: Courtesy Columbia)

Built with a maximal ­warmth-to-weight ratio in mind, the Alpine Crux is everything we want in a technical puffy coat. Responsibly sourced 800-fill down insulation gets a boost from Columbia’s ­heat-reflective aluminum lining, and a ­water-resistant shell fabric fends off light precipitation. No-sew baffle construction eliminates stitch holes and keeps the fill in place to maintain warmth.

Buy Now


Sponsor Content
Black Diamond Alpine Start Hoody ($165)

black-diamond-w-alpine-start_h.jpg

This ultralight softshell saves on weight but doesn’t skimp on protection: Nanosphere® Technology repels water and stretch-woven fabric breathes for when things get cruxy. It packs neatly into a chest pocket and clips easily onto your harness—but odds are you’ll just leave it on because its gusseted construction offers unrestricted freedom of movement.

Buy Now


Burton AK Baker Power Wool Tights ($140)

base and midlayers
(Photo: Courtesy Burton)

You could spend Friday night stressing over how to dress the next day; or you could just wear these Power Wool bottoms. The Polartec fabric—a durable polyester face with a soft, wicking merino grid on the inside—is light and breathable but warmer than you’d expect, so it works on a wide range of days. The thigh pocket keeps your credit card safe during yard sales, so you can ski straight to the bar.

Buy Now


Kari Traa Smekker Half-Zip Top ($120)

base and midlayers
(Photo: Courtesy Kari Traa)

If your winter usually involves just as much sledding and ­bonfire-hanging as it does hard charging, you need a thick, cozy underlayer in your ­wardrobe—the kind that’s perfect for slow-­going in cold temps. The Smekker delivers, with its hefty 100 percent merino wool fabric and wide cuffs, hem, and neckline that mimic the look and feel of your favorite sweater. The seams are all sewn with flat stitching to minimize chafing.

Buy Now


Black Diamond CoEfficient Hoodie ($179)

base and midlayers
(Photo: Courtesy Black Diamond)

There’s a reason the CoEfficient has been one of Black Diamond’s bestsellers for years: it balances breathability and comfort better than most other midlayer fleeces we’ve tried. This year’s update keeps the long cut that tucks under a harness and Polartec’s ­low-profile grid pattern. It traps just enough heat for working hard in cold conditions but not so much that you’ll be removing layers the minute the sun hits. What’s new? The face now incorporates nylon for increased durability.

Buy Now

Support Outside Online

Our mission to inspire readers to get outside has never been more critical. In recent years, Outside Online has reported on groundbreaking research linking time in nature to improved mental and physical health, and we’ve kept you informed about the unprecedented threats to America’s public lands. Our rigorous coverage helps spark important debates about wellness and travel and adventure, and it provides readers an accessible gateway to new outdoor passions. Time outside is essential—and we can help you make the most of it. Making a financial contribution to Outside Online only takes a few minutes and will ensure we can continue supplying the trailblazing, informative journalism that readers like you depend on. We hope you’ll support us. Thank you.

Contribute to Outside
Filed To: Clothing and ApparelBase LayerMid LayerSynthetic
Lead Photo: Courtesy the Companies

When you buy something using the retail links in our stories, we may earn a small commission. Outside does not accept money for editorial gear reviews. Read more about our policy.

More Gear