10 best base layers

Whether you’re skiing, cycling, pounding the pavements or just going for a walk in the park, IndyBest finds technical tops for all kinds of winter action

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The Independent Online

With the winter well and truly upon us and showing no sign of relenting any time soon, its time to wrap up warm during for this year’s cold snap. Indybest picks out 10 of the best thermal base layers out there, to ensure you stay snug when braving the great outdoors this January.

Everyone knows the best way to avoid the winter nip is to wear layers, and there is no layer more important than the first. Over the past decade, base layers have increased in popularity and become an essential for anyone who fancies braving the elements. And this increase in popularity has seen a proliferation of thermal base layer products. So, to help you better understand your Merrino wools, from your Stay Dry technologies, to your thermo-conductive inner linings, here is a selection of some of the top base layers out there.


{1} Odlo Revolution Warm Long Sleeve Crew, £33, Snow + Rock


Tight-fitting, lightweight and very warm as thermal layers go, this combination of quick-drying, breathable merino wool and synthetic fabrics keeps you dry, warm and smelling (relatively) fresh – all while feeling like you’re wearing a cotton tee.

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{2} Heattech polo neck long sleeve T-shirt, £10, Uniqlo


If you’re after something to keep you toasty on frosty days outdoors, try Uniqlo’s popular Heattech range. Acting like a second skin, the pieces are designed to ensure that body heat is kept locked in. There is a range of colours and styles to choose from, too, and they are all on special offer.

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{3} Dhb Merino Long Sleeve Base Layer, £30, Wiggle


Here’s a lightweight, superfine merino wool base layer that will keep you dry and warm when you’re out doing your thing. Also available in a thicker version, you’ll be hard-pressed to find better quality for the price.

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{4} Men’s UA ColdGear Infrared Baselayer Crew, £30, amazon


Andy Murray has just signed a deal with clothing brand Under Armour and the former Wimbledon champion certainly knows something about sweating it out. Whether you’re getting active on the court, pitch, park or road, we found this good-looking top warm, really flexible (thanks to the four-way stretch fabric, apparently) and it kept us fresher than most after a  hard workout. 

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{5} Tsepun Zip Tee, £50, amazon


This one is tested by the sherpas of Nepal  but is not just for Everest adventurers. Lightweight and comfortable, the Dryzone material ensures that moisture stays away from your body and the heat is kept in. A proportion of every purchase goes to underprivileged sherpa children in Nepal.

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{6} The Wedze X Warm Ski Base Layer, £7, Decathalon


If you’re skiing on a budget, try Decathlon for well-priced clothing. It has base layers  in a range of thicknesses.  This warm one (still 20 per cent wool, despite the low price) kept us snug as a bug  in the snow.

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{7} Helly Hansen Warm High Neck 1/2 Zip Base layer, £35, Wiggle


If you are expecting to fight the snow, wind or rain this month, then this top, featuring the brand’s distinctive go-faster stripes on the arms, could be the one for you. A two-layer construction that combines the latest Lifa Stay Dry technology and 60 per cent merino wool, it will keep you both dry and warm in wintry conditions.

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{8} Oasis Long Sleeve Crewe Stripe, £60, Cotswold Outdoor


Ice Breaker’s 100 per cent merino wool top doesn’t scream “outdoorsy gear” like some technical wear. Lightweight, cool but – most crucially – cosy, it can be worn  underneath as a base layer or on its own as a casual top. With 10 different colours to choose from, there is bound to be one you like.

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{9} Rapha Winter Base Layer, £55, Rapha


Cyclists, take note. Rapha’s merino base layers are designed with flatlock seams to prevent chafing when riding. They come in a range of sleeve lengths as well as styles. This particular super soft roll-neck can be pulled  up over the face to keep icy winds out.

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{10} Montane Primino 140, £60, Cotswold Outdoor


A combo of merino wool and the breathable, warm insulator Primaloft in this product, makes for a comfy, quick-drying base layer. Montane’s base layers come in various styles depending on how much protection you need from the elements.

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Verdict: For the outdoor type, you can’t go wrong with the Helly Hansen. For runners and cyclists I would recommend the Under Armour Infrared. For bargain hunters, the Dhb is a snip at just over £20. However, for versatility my pick would be Odlo Revolution as the base layer for every situation.

IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing