The Best Base and Mid Layers of 2016
If it’s next to skin, it had better be good
Your ability to have fun playing outside in the cold is only as good as your layering system. A good base or mid layer should be warm, breathable, comfortable, and (ideally) stink-free. These six versatile tops and bottoms deliver.
Icebreaker Zone One Sheep Suit onesie
Onesies bring out our inner kid. Plus they’re warm and won’t ride up under a shell. The hooded wool Sheep Suit is toasty yet breathable, with mesh under the arms and at the knees. When nature calls, just use the two-way zipper and fly—no disrobing necessary.
Under Armour Charged Wool Trek 1/4 Zip shirt
Built from Polartec’s new Power Wool fabric, the Trek is good for everything from subfreezing tours to 60-degree hikes. The material layers wool under synthetic for the warmth-to-weight ratio of natural fibers and the wicking abilities of the man-made stuff.
The North Face Summit L1 pants
Soft as cotton, stretchy as Lycra, and airy as polyester, the L1 is the Superman of the technical-tights world. The North Face achieved this feat by weaving different yarn types together to create a single, versatile fabric with just one seam running along the legs, plus a crotch gusset. Our only gripe? No fly.
SmartWool Corbet 120 midlayer
With the good looks of a retro sweater but the heart of a performance piece, the wool-insulated Corbet kept us warm on walks to the bar and days up on the hill. Wear it under a shell or as outerwear; its stretchy back panels vent heat. When the day’s done, keep it on for rocking après.
CW-X StabilyX tights
During testing, we found that compression tights like the StabilyX provided noticeable support to tired muscles on the trail. The price of all the reinforcement? This base layer runs hot, due to the thick fabric and crisscrossed compression bands, making it most comfortable on sub-45-degree days.
Patagonia Capilene Thermal Weight Zip-Neck shirt
The Capilene line ditches the skintight nordic-racer fit in favor of a looser cut. We’re happy to report that it still strikes a fantastic balance between warmth and breathability, thanks to the Polartec Power Grid fabric’s soft, waffled fleece made with recycled materials.