If the animal you’re hunting intends to keep itself safe, so are you! Whether you’re going to hunt a deer, wild boar, pheasant, or duck, the right clothing choice can ensure a safe, comfortable, enjoyable, and successful hunting trip every time.
Hunting apparels vary depending on your preferred type of game and the hunting season. We recommend that you start a layering system with a base layer and choose something that’s relatively breathable, lightweight, and comfortable.
Here the RangerExpert team reviewed the best base layers for hunting available today. See which options can set the right foundations for being dry, warm, and protected while you’re in the wild hunting.
We Ranked and Reviewed These Top and Bottom Base Layers
Best Base Layers for Hunting (Top)
01 MERIWOOL Merino Wool Men’s Base Layer
The Merino Wool top will be your favorite hunting garment this season. This natural fiber is from Merino sheep of Australia, so it offers plenty of natural benefits. It can wick away sweat better than any other material, helping you to stay cool on warm days and providing warmth during the winter weeks. It naturally adapts to your body temperature such that you are always comfortable despite the weather.
This Merino wool is different as it warms your body but does not create an unwanted odor. It has a natural antimicrobial property that destroys the growth of bacteria while allowing you to smell fresh and clean. With this, you will feel more confident knowing that you are fresh all day.
This first layer is neither too thin nor too thick, allowing you to wear it based on your bodily needs. Besides, the diameter of the fibers is much smaller when compared to other wool types, making it more flexible and soft to the touch.
The finishing and fit were excellent for us. It was not too tight nor too loose on the body. We noticed that the long sleeves had extra length to accommodate users with longer arms. The fabric is 90% wool and 10% cotton, though there is no difference in terms of quality and performance.
We found that it did not provide enough cover for the neck area, but this was not a deal-breaker for us because a good hunting mask worked for us.
This Merino wool is machine washable but for better results and durability, we recommend you hand wash and dry it in the sun. It is also available in various sizes and colors.
- Excellent breathability
- Suitable for both summer and winter
- Machine washable
- Resistant to odor
- Does not protect the neck
The Merino Wool is highly versatile since it maintains constant body temperature in hot and cold weather. Easily affordable, we recommend it for any type of outdoor activity.
02 Icebreaker Merino Men’s Oasis
The Icebreaker men’s base layer is pretty similar to our previous choice. It is made of 100% Merino wool, meaning that it possesses those natural properties like temperature regulation, fast-drying, moisture-wicking, versatility, and softness.
Its density is about 200g/m2, which means it can provide the perfect insulation when hunting during winter. However, 200g also indicates that it is a little thinner than the Meriwool product, so it will absorb less moisture and will dry faster.
This Icebreaker base layer is available in six different sizes to conform to your body shape, so you can always expect a good fit. Unlike other brands that are made of wool, this merino wool layer will hold up for as long as possible, and you can always wash it after wearing it.
As expected, the Icebreaker has superior odor absorbency such that you can wear it for many days without smelling bad.
- 100% merino wool
- Soft and warm
- Durable and lightweight
- Unbeatable odor resistance
- Excellent color choices
- A little pricey
The Icebreaker base layer is perfect for protection and comfort against weather elements since it is breathable, fits tight, and keeps you warm without any itch like other conventional wool. It was hard for us to spot any negative side and with this in your hunting gear arsenal, you won’t have to worry about what to wear when hunting. Though a little expensive, you will not regret trying out this top.
03 Smartwool Men’s Merino 250
The Smartwool Men’s Merino 250 has an innovative design and 100% merino wool with an emphasis on features to keep you comfortable during the coldest winter.
The standout feature of this item is the ¼ front zipper for easy adjustments of the head’s size and freeing of the neck area to regulate the warmth. You will notice that it provides more coverage for the neck area than our previous tops.
Much like our No. 1 model, the Smartwool Merino 250 is well-made, durable, and machine washable, making it perfect for your hunting adventures. It is thicker than the previous model and with Merino wool having better breathability than most polyester fabrics, you will always feel hot.
Priced between $90 to $200 depending on the size, it‘s relatively more expensive than other inner layers here. It is available in many color options but we recommend that you don’t bleach it.
- Breathable warmth
- Fits to skin
- ¼ front zipper design
- Odor control
- Relatively expensive
Great for dedicated hunters as the warmest base layer for hunting, its traditional zipper design allows you to wear it all day without feeling discomfort. It is durable, breathable, and itch-free. Though it costs a few more bucks, its many benefits are compensation for the price.
04 ColdPruf Men’s Platinum II
The ColdPruf Men’s Platinum II base layer garment is manufactured to deliver absolute comfort and warmth in cold environments whether outdoors or indoors.
The interior of the fabric is 100% polyester, allowing you to feel warm even when it’s icy cold out there. The exterior is a combination of 70% polyester and 30% merino wool, a blend that delivers superior temperature management, quick drying, and comfort.
This brand uses the Silvadur antimicrobial Technology to protect the fabric against unwanted odor and bacteria growth. With the flat seam pattern and tagless labeling design, there is no need to worry about irritation when wearing it for hours under strenuous physical activity.
However, a few users complained that the shirts were larger than advertised and you may have to size down a little if you prefer a tighter fit. This product costs between $20 to $45, making it one of the most affordable on the list.
- Silvadur technology
- Extra length
- Super warm
- Machine washed
- Rapid drying
- Dual-layer insulation system
- Not true to size
If you are looking for a super warm, durable, and comfortable base layer for hunting, the ColdPruf Men’s Platinum II is the perfect option for you. It is quite cheap despite the outstanding performance.
05 Smartwool Men’s Base Layer Top Active Crew
This Active Crew is also made of Merino wool to provide warmth and have moisture-wicking properties. Its only separating factor from our previous model is the lack of front zip which implies that it offers complete protection over a wide range of cold conditions.
You will appreciate the built-in shoulder panels which provide an extra soft feel and comfort when carrying a backpack or rifle over a long distance. Besides, this Active Crew offers a traditional slim-fit design and breathability that allows you to stay insulated for the whole day.
It does not itch, and once you sweat, the moisture wicks away from your skin. It also does not shrink despite the number of times you wash it. However, you should follow the manufacturer’s instructions on cleaning to prevent it from piling.
It is amazingly odor resistant, meaning you are free from bad smells irrespective of the frequency of use. Besides, the edges are laid nicely and they do not feel too tight or itchy.
- Comfortable fit
- Warm insulation
- Wicking and odor resistance
- Machine washable for easy care
- Shoulder pads
- No turtleneck
The fit is tight to the body, making it an excellent base layer for any outdoor activity in the cold. It feels soft on the skin while the shoulder pads contribute to its overall comfort. The price point is good for us considering its durability, though it lacks a zipper and turtleneck.
Best Base Layers for Hunting (Bottom)
06 MERIWOOL Mens Base Layer Pants
This pair of pants from Meriwool is packed with all the features you will expect from an ideal base layer. Made of Merino wool so that you can enjoy the benefits of a natural fabric, it feels super soft and keeps you dry and comfortable in any weather condition. This means that people with sensitive skin will not experience any issues with this bottom because of its softness.
It provides superior warmth even at temperatures of -14 to -20 degrees. Besides, it is highly versatile, enabling you to wear it on a sunny day as its thermoregulation properties keep you comfortable in both cold and hot weather conditions. However, when compared to other synthetic fabrics, this one takes longer to dry after washing.
Like our No 1 choice, this Meriwool pant comes with a one-year limited warranty and a 30-day money-back guarantee. So, you can always get a refund when you are not satisfied with these long johns.
- High-quality material
- Natural fabric
- Warm and comfortable
- Long warranty period
- Perfect fit
- Not quick to dry
This Meriwool base layer pair is a must-have and is worthy of getting a spot in your backpack for winter hunting. You can expect great performance when using it with a Meriwool top. Looking at its value, we highly recommend this.
07 Under Armour Mens Base 4.0 Layer
If you want to enhance your performance in the field with a solid legging that would provide maximum warmth and comfort, this Under Armour is the item to buy. It is tailored for outdoor physical activities like hunting, skiing, climbing, and fishing.
This clothing is lightweight, durable, comfortable, and dependable which makes it worth the extra cost. It has a flat-lock stitching design to prevent irritation and discomfort during your working-out session.
This Under Armour base layer pair consists of 92% polyester and 8% Elastane which are entirely artificial materials, so you can expect it to last longer than the models with natural fabrics. Besides, this product is quite hydrophobic which means it does not retain water and dries rapidly after the wash.
The introduction of elastane into its construction allows the cloth to stretch so that it fits tight to the body while ensuring that you move effortlessly in any direction. What’s more, it has an antibacterial technology that prevents the growth of microbes which often causes a terrible odor.
However, the only drawback is the poor thermoregulation which limits its versatility or makes it usable for cold weather only. So, since the warmth will always increase when you are active, you may not use it during summer or when under extreme exertion.
- Good material combination
- Stretch construction
- Dries pretty fast
- Machine washable
- Retains shape
- Lacks temperature regulation
- Limited option for size
It is well-made and hugely reliable for use in frigid environments. However, you should consider other options if you will want to hunt during the summer.
08 ColdPruf Men’s Platinum II Pant
If you hunt under cold conditions, you will want affordable pants to keep you warm and comfortable. So, allow us to introduce you to the ColdPruf Platinum II base layer pant.
This material is a combination of polyester and merino wool, using a dual-layer insulation system to retain air between the layers to provide warmth. It is 100% machine washable and you will not spend a lot of time cleaning it. Besides, it dries faster after a wash than our previous item.
This long underwear sits just below the natural waistline while the further rise at the front and back sides allows you to feel comfortable when moving. It is available in many sizes, so you will always find the perfect fit.
However, we found that buying a size that is a little bigger than average will save you from the issues of getting the right fit. You can always rely on it as the best base layer for extreme cold hunting.
- Strong and durable
- ColdPruf and Silvadur technology
- Tagless labeling for comfort
- Gussets for extra durability
- Machine wash
- Not true to size
It is almost impossible to find a hunter that will not like the ColdPruf products because of their strength, affordability, and warmth. This bottom layer is fantastic, and it might just be the game-changer you need for your next hunting season.
09 Smartwool Men’s Base Layer Bottom
Once you are ready to pay, you can always expect quality products from Smartwool. This layer’s bottom is made of 100% Merino wool which means superb wicking, heat consistency, thermoregulation, and softness.
This is the perfect layer to wear in the most demanding conditions. Like our previous tops from Smartwool, this one has a density of 250g/m, meaning it is incredibly soft and provides top-notch insulation against cold.
However, it is a little thicker than most models on the market, implying that you will enjoy better warmth, but you will also wait longer for it to dry.
Our only concern with this product was the replacement of waist and ankle elastics with the robes which reduced the tightness of the skin. But you may not see it as a problem since the ropes have the advantage of limiting the pressure from the garment on the surface.
It costs between $90 to $180 – a little on the expensive side. But looking at its performance, you will always want to buy it again.
- Great wicking capability
- 100% merino wool
- Thick and durable
- Ideal for extreme cold weather
- No ankle and waist elastics
Worth the cost because of quality and comfort. This layer is designed to make you feel smart and confident whenever you are hunting under extreme weather conditions.
10 Scent-Lok Men’s Thermal Base Layer
Sold around $90, this is another excellent buy for the price. ScentLok is one of the leading designers of hunting and odor-controlling underwear. Its most significant feature is the advanced carbon alloy technology used to absorb odor in order to prevent animals from picking your scent.
One of the best thermal base layers for hunting, it is made of polyester fabric that holds tightly to the skin for comfort and warmth all day long. There are panel inserts on the thigh and rear hip that allow the material to stretch, giving you the maximum comfort when walking in the woods.
Though Scent Lok did not offer many choices in terms of color and size, it is everything you need for your next hunting trip.
- Carbon alloy scent absorption
- 100% polyester
- Dries quickly
- Wick moisture
- Relatively expensive
- Limited use under warm weather
Comfortable, warm, and durable, the Scent-Lok is simply one of the best base layers for cold weather hunting. Just give it a try and thank us later!
Hunting Base Layers Buying Guide
Base layers for sale are made of various fabrics, such as silk, bamboo, wool, cotton, and synthetic materials like polyethylene, polyester, and microfiber fabrics. Since they have different properties, they work differently to deliver warmth.
A product from merino sheep and the warmest of the base layer fabrics. Wool acts as a natural temperature regulator, preventing overheating and keeping you feeling beautiful. There are small holes in the clothing that absorbs heat from the skin, storing the heat in the fibers while keeping you warm and comfortable.
Naturally, wool has antibacterial properties, meaning there will be no offensive odor in the fabric. Also, it has UV protection so that you can wear it on a hot day. It feels soft, making it the perfect underwear for people with sensitive skin.
Merino wool is resistant to stains and wrinkles but will shrink if washed wrongly. However, it is more expensive than synthetic fabric and takes longer to dry.
What’s more, it is prone to moth infestation if kept under poor conditions.
When looking for the cheapest base layer fabric to buy, synthetic is the ideal option. It wicks away faster and dries quickly, making it the perfect material for high-sweating activities.
Being lightweight and flexible, it allows you to move freely. However, it can retain body odor unless treated and does not provide enough warmth as wool, making it unsuitable for freezing weather.
Clothing made of cotton has many fibers which give it excellent moisture-wicking ability keeping your body temperature in check. It is breathable and feels quite comfortable on the skin. But there is a tendency to lose shape and appearance after regular washing.
Silk is so safe since it rarely reacts with the skin. The threads are sturdy, odor-resistant, durable, and not easily affected by bacteria and moths. Just do not machine wash and dry.
- Bamboo fabric
Made from bamboo trees and the newest of all base layer materials, bamboo has many positive features though it is scarce on the market. It fits more tightly than wool and retains its shape better than other fabrics.
What’s more, it is environmentally friendly, dries quickly, is resistant to abrasion, feels very soft, and is ideal for those with highly sensitive skin.
2. Weight of Fabric
Base layer fabrics come in different weights, shapes, and sizes, so the nature of the activity will determine the right one for you.
- Lightweight fabric
Light materials dry and wick faster. They are ideal for outdoor activities as they rest tightly on the skin to draw enough moisture. You can wear a lightweight base layer if you are hunting in a mild environment and have fewer physical exertions.
- Midweight fabric
Serves as a second layer to lighter material. It is excellent in terms of moisture absorption and insulation. When you are not engaging in excessive physical activity, a midweight fabric offers high-quality protection against the cold weather.
- Heavyweight fabric
They are perfect for colder environments irrespective of your level of physical activity. They offer superior insulation and warmth but are worn over a lighter fabric.
Heavyweights are less useful for moisture-wicking but will always keep the body warm.
Top-quality base layers feel soft and fit tightly to the skin. They provide total support and can stretch to accommodate the various movements of the body. You will experience better comfort with natural fabrics than with synthetics.
Besides, for feeling cool on a sunny day, you can choose a heavyweight wool material. If you need more warmth on a cold day, a synthetic layer will be ideal.
Since base layers are washed frequently, the key to getting durable clothing is buying smart, not cheap. It means you should spend a few bucks to buy a material that can withstand all manner of abuse.
You should inspect the quality of the stitching in areas like the knees, ankles, and bottom. Synthetic base layers usually last longer than wool but you can extend their lifespan with proper use and handling.
Your need for warmth will fluctuate with the hunting environment. You should choose a base layer that will suit the weather in the area of the hunt. Besides, you can take off a few layers whenever you are feeling hot and uncomfortable.
The fiber can pull away moisture from your body while keeping you comfortable. Being breathable means better temperature regulation. It is frustrating if the layer is warm but lacks holes for sweat to escape, which means moisture-wicking is an essential feature.
Your base layer should fit tightly to your skin but this doesn’t mean that it must be so tight that it’ll hinder your ability to move.
Always choose your ideal fit by taking a quick look at the size chart and reading base layers reviews from other users to know if the product is true to the size that the manufacturers claim.
8. Ease of Handling
Underwear layers should be easy to clean, stain-resistant, and quick to dry. It should not cause any discomfort like itching, abrasion, or allergies. So, once it ticks these boxes, then you are good to go.
Today’s best hunting base layers often come with antibacterial treatments that create a hostile environment against the growth of these microbes that otherwise would cause an unpleasant smell.
A few of the high-end fabrics have specialized coatings that suppress the multiplication of germs and bacteria.
10. Activity Level
With the weather in mind, you can also opt for a base layer depending on your level of exertion. If your output is low, it is ideal to choose the best wool base layer for hunting as you will not generate much sweat.
However, synthetic fabrics are great for high-level physical activities. They will wick the moisture away quickly from the skin and keep you perfectly warm under cold conditions.
Why Use Base Layers
You should layer up whenever you are out hunting, skiing, mountain climbing, and doing other outdoor activities. Ideally, as you engage in physical activity and different types of hunting, your body heats up and produces sweat.
This sweat should not remain on your skin and that is where the wicking function of the fabric applies, providing an easy path for the sweat to leave your skin. You need base layering for safety and comfort as well. You can only enjoy the hunt and fire the shots if you feel comfortable.
Exclusive fabrics like merino wool and polyester are excellent at maintaining an optimal body temperature despite the condition of the environment. Layering allows you to adapt to various changes in temperature throughout the day.
So by combining different garments’ properties, you can control the effect of the weather on your body and your overall performance as well.
Different Layers for Hunting
a) Base Layer
As mentioned earlier, this layer has direct contact with your skin, helping to expel the sweat outside and keeping the body dry. These fabrics are of materials that can only absorb moisture but will not retain it. They must allow the transfer of heat and fluid to the next garment.
The material should have high elasticity such that it fits and contacts with every part of the body. Also, the finishing should be smooth for other clothes to slide freely over it and have seams on the outside to prevent chafing.
The ideal base layer fabrics are polyester or wool because of their exceptional moisture-wicking abilities. You should not use a cotton material here as it would absorb the sweat but will not allow it to evaporate quickly.
b) Middle Layer
This is the second layer of clothing after the base. It receives the heat from the body and traps it within the fibers to provide warmth. Sweaters, fleece, down coats, and sweatshirts can serve as the middle layer.
Contrary to the first layer, this one should not be tight but snug.
c) Outer Layer
The third layer of the garment protects the body from harsh environmental conditions like snow, wind, and rain. It helps keep the hunter safe from the impact of cold and humidity while the exterior should have unique treatments to enhance its resistance to water.
It should come with zippers and other vents in the armpit for better ventilation. The fabric should be lightweight and less bulky for easy transportation.
Tips on Staying Warm & Safe While Hunting
- Eat well and drink well
Take enough liquid as your body dehydrates faster in the cold. Staying hydrated will keep you active by preventing dizziness, fatigue, and headache.
Your choice of food during the day is crucial as your body uses it to generate heat; so we recommend you take more carbohydrates and fats.
- Wear the right garment
Always use the right layering clothes since each fabric contributes to your well-being and comfort. For example, your base layer should wick sweat away from your body, while the middle and outer layers like a hunting jacket should help keep you warm and repel the elements of weather.
You can take off extra layers whenever you become too warm or sweat more but put them back once you feel cold again.
- Footwear matters
You need the right footwear with enough traction to maintain balance, especially when walking on snowy grounds.
- Stay visible
Since winter is snowy and foggy, your visibility will drop. So, reflective or camo outerwear will make others see you early enough to avoid a collision.
- Avoid extreme cold conditions
Do not stay outdoors for too long if the temperature becomes colder. However, it is essential to seek shelter periodically if you have no option but to stay outdoors for a long time. The few minutes of the break will restore your health while warming you up.
- Sleep and be well-rested
Hunting is a challenging activity and you need enough sleep to stay alert throughout the day.
A Word from RangerExpert
Since weather conditions vary from one region to another, your choice might also depend on the different climatic conditions. Whether you are preparing for summer or winter, there is a suitable garment for you at any time.
Picking a base layer can be harder than you think, considering its performance in specific environments. If you are still having issues with the selection, check the product with the features that will give you the most excellent comfort.
For the most versatile fabric, we recommend the MERIWOOL top and bottom because of the natural benefits that Merino wool offers. If you are cash-strapped now, you cannot go wrong with the ColdPruf top and pants.
1. Should the base layer be tight or loose?
Ans. Your base layer should generally fit snugly but not be overly tight or constricting. The purpose of a base layer is to provide insulation, moisture-wicking, and temperature regulation, so a tight fit will help trap warm air against the skin and prevent cold air from penetrating the fabric. But if the base layer is too tight, it may restrict movement and circulation, which can be uncomfortable and even dangerous in some situations.
2. Is nylon a good base layer?
Ans. Nylon has similar properties to polyester since it wicks, absorbs little water, and dries quickly. However, it is deficient in terms of breathability but more durable than other fabrics.
3. How many layers should I wear in winter?
Ans. Based on the extremeness of the cold weather, it makes sense to wear at least four layers of clothing – regular clothes, base layer, mid-layer, and outer layer. You should also protect your neck, ears, fingers, and toes when the weather becomes freezing.
5. Can a hunting base layer be worn on its own?
Ans. A hunting base layer is meant to be worn as a base layer underneath other clothing layers such as a mid-layer or an outer layer. But if the weather is warm and mild, you will do fine with a lightweight base layer.
6. Should a hunting base layer be camouflaged?
Ans. Yes, you should wear a camouflaged base layer while hunting to blend in with the environment and avoid detection by game. There are many different patterns available to match different types of terrain.