Choosing the right outdoor clothing for your next adventure can make a lot of difference to your comfort and by extension the overall performance. Our Top 5 Base Layer Tops guide for 2016 aims to tell you what you need to look out for in finding the best one for your needs while showcasing our favourites as well.
Base layers are a key item of clothing for any kind of outdoor activity, even for training or performing a sport indoors. Two main types have been created for cold weather and the other hot weather; the latter tends to have the ability to wick moisture away from the skin as you sweat. Alternatively cold weather base layers can work well in providing insulation when used as part of a layering system.
Some base layers tops offer a loose fit similar to that of a regular t-shirt but many are compression garments that are very close-fitting. This enables the synthetic fabrics to more effectively wick away moisture to the surface to keep the skin cool and dry, or alternatively trap some heat in. It is worth noting that in using any baselayer as part of a layering system that any moisture wicked to the surface can be transferred straight onto the next item of clothing which then becomes wet and heavy. Always be careful in what kind of garment you pair them with. Some more technical base layer tops are able to compress and support muscles in key areas to help increase blood flow for more efficient recovery.
Our best five Base Layer tops for this 2016 guide have been chosen from the current ranges available that were tested on a number of walks, hikes and the occasional climb to determine the top performing ones.
Our 2016 Best 5 Base Layer Tops
Rab Aeon Base Layer Top
This long-sleeved baselayer from Rab is quite popular overall and with its multi-sport design can be used most effectively as an outer layer. Made from hi-gauge, durable polyester fabric the Rab Aeon Base Layer Top is very lightweight yet durable, plus stretches enough so you feel supported rather than constricted. This fabric is also really good at wicking moisture and dries quickly so you feel comfortably dry and cool throughout wear, and with the permanent addition of Polygiene treatment it keeps fresh and odour free. You also get UPF 30+ protection which is handy for walks in the sun and when it goes down, reflective trim details help you stay visible in low to no light.
Under Armour CG Armour Printed Mock Base Layer Top
If you carry on your walks and hikes into colder weather this long-sleeved Under Armour CG base layer top will not only keep you dry but warm as well. Part of the UA Cold Gear collection, this baselayer is a dual-layer synthetic fabric that consists of a brushed interior that keeps warm, yet the outside utilises Under Armour’s Moisture Transport System to wick away sweat fast and drying at the same time. Similar to the previous of our Top 5, this UA base layer top has an Anti-odour treatment that keeps it fresher for much longer. This technical Cold Gear baselayer also has a 4-way stretch construction which enables you to move very freely, practically naturally which is ideal if you need to be active.
Helly Hansen Dry Crew Stripe Base Layer Top
Helly Hansen has been experts in how to keep everyone dry while wearing their products for a very long time and their HH Dry Crew Stripe base layer top is no exception, plus it is the original men’s technical base layer as well so is effectively the forefather of baselayers in general. The longevity of this base layer top has resulted in it being updated with the best new fabrics and technical design features. You also have the advantage of it being multi-sport too. A combination of HH Dry and LIFA Stay Dry technology is exceptional at wicking moisture away and retaining a high level of breathability all while providing a small amount insulation. This Helly Hansen Dry Crew Stripe top keeps you warm and dry whatever the sport.
X-Bionic Energiser Mark 2 Base Layer Top
The X-Bionic Energiser Mark 2 is the most technical out of our 2016 best 5 base layer tops. It has a comfortably secure fit yet enables a full range of natural motion all while being expertly designed to keep you cool or warm but always dry. A lot of testing has gone into the X-Bionic Energiser and you can tell. The different synthetic fabric technologies used in this base layer top which includes a 3D BionicSphere System, AirComplex Zone, AirConditioning Zone and SweatTraps all work together to process more moisture through wicking, hold more warm air during colder weather and in recovery, plus transport air around the garment so you are much drier and cooler than with other comparable garments. It also works quite well all year-round.
Montane Sonic Ultra Base Layer Top
Designed with endurance activities in mind such as climbing, trail running and high altitude hiking; the Montane Sonic Ultra base layer top dries and cools exceptionally quickly. A tailored fit with flatlocked seams ensure chafe-free, next to skin comfort, while a specially designed low-rise collar makes it comfy with a backpack on. Montane’s DRYACTIV Express fabric has been used for this Sonic Ultra baselayer so any sweat is wicked away fairly quick in order for it to remain dry. If you need extra venting there is a quarter length front zip that can be undone quickly which is very handy in hot weather. Polygiene has been used so like most of our best five base layer tops the Montane Sonic Ultra keeps fresh throughout wear. This also has the advantage of a 360 degree Dusk Till Dawn reflective trim to give you greater visibility to others at dusk, or night.
Our Best 5 Base Layer Tops in 2016 will hopefully give you an idea of what to go for as your first technical garment or just help you decide which new one is needed for your next walk, climb or run.
Best Performance – X-Bionic Energiser MK 2 Base Layer
While all of our best five will do the job of keeping you both cool and dry, we felt that the X-Bionic Energiser MK 2 had the edge over them all due to the attention to detail in the varying fabric technologies used. They gave you effective cooling and some insulation in colder conditions all in the right places.
Best Looks – Under Armour CG Armour Printed Mock Base Layer
The majority of base layers are flat colourways as their function and performance is predominant over any fashion element, plus many are worn under other layers. Under Armour however has in recent years started to print designs onto their base layers of their own and others through licensed clothing. This Under Armour Cold Gear baselayer has a stylish, modern technical print on it that makes it stand out from the rest without being garish at all.
Best Value – Helly Hansen Dry Crew Stripe Base Layer
All of our best fives are fairly similar in terms of what they can do and overall there isn’t a huge amount in price difference but the HH Dry Crew is towards the more affordable end. This Helly Hansen base layer top is versatile for year-round wear as it can give not just a lot of breathability and moisture wicking, but some insulation too.