Best Base Layers for Women 2024 - Outdoors Magic

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Best Base Layers for Women 2024

An essential for mountaineering, skiing, glacial walking and winter adventuring alike, here's our thoughts on the best women's baselayers we've tested

They say there’s no pain without gain, which is perhaps why some of the best scenery in the world comes alongside painfully low temperatures. Baselayers are an absolute essential for mountain adventures, and we know we’d rather enjoy those views in comfort, without shivering violently!

But baselayers aren’t just for summiting snowy peaks. They can be a fantastic way to regulate body temperatures on a chilly morning run, or provide a layer of insulation against chilly winter winds. As the nights draw in and there’s a nip in the air once again, we’ve tested out the best baselayers and selected our favourites, ready for your winter adventures.

Related: What To Take On A Winter Hike

How To Choose A Baselayer

The biggest factors to take into account when deciding which baselayer to choose are activity and environment. A trek in the high Himalayas, for example, will require a different level of insulation to what you’d need for winter trail running in the UK. Of course, there are baselayers that act as great all-rounders, and we’ve tested these too. 

Fit is important. To optimise warmth, make sure that you get something that fits you snugly. If your baselayer is hanging off you, it will be letting lots of air in. Plus it will be trickier to layer clothing on top. 

Moisture-wicking fabrics absorb very little water and draw sweat away from the body. This means that often lightweight baselayers made from moisture-wicking fabric can provide much more warmth than their heavier counterparts, because they don’t retain water.



Top Baselayers for 2023 – Our favourites

  • Páramo Women’s Grid Technic 
  • BAM Perform Bamboo 
  • Finisterre Vela Bamboo Long Sleeve Top
  • Howies Women’s Light Merino Base Layer
  • Megmeister Women’s Drynamo Winter Cycle Long Sleeve
  • Artilect Boulder Crew 125
  • Megmeister 2 Drynamo Warm Turtleneck 
  • Jack Wolfskin Snow Sky Halfzip W
  • Smartwool Women’s Merino 25 Plant-Based Dye Logo Crew
  • Mammut Aconcagua ML Tights ¾

BEST BUY: Páramo Women’s Grid Technic

OM tester Anna Richards trying out the Páramo Grid Technic.

Price: £75
Weight: 200g
Material: Parameta® G fabric

Páramo has done it again and surpassed all expectations. At first glance this looks like a midlayer, and we were concerned that it would be heavy and uncomfortable against bare skin. But at just 200g, it’s not heavy in the slightest, and we were surprised to find that even when wearing this without a layer underneath, it regulated body temperatures perfectly. The Grid Technic keeps you cool when undertaking a steep, uphill climb, but warm at altitude. It’s roomy enough that it could also double up as a midlayer with an extra baselayer underneath, saving all-important space and weight in your pack.

Plenty of ventilation meant that sweat escaped easily, so the Páramo Grid Technic never felt damp. The zipped neck saved the need for a buff, and we loved the little design features too, such as thumb loops to stop an exposed strip of skin between gloves and your baselayer. 

It’s described as a three-season baselayer, but if layered and used as a midlayer, we’d say it’s a must for winter Alpine activities too.

Full Specifications:

Fair Trade / fully recyclable through Páramo / variable ventilation / thumb loops / both insulation and wicking properties / zipped neck.



BAM Perform Bamboo

OM tester Anna Richards trying out the Perform Bamboo Base Layer.

Price: £39
Weight: 200g
Material: 68% Bamboo Viscose, 28% Organic Cotton, 4% Elastane

Sometimes simplicity is best, and that’s certainly the case with the BAM Perform Bamboo Base Layer. The close fit means that it traps air against your body, and we were really impressed with the temperature regulation, which meant that it performed just as well on a hilly bike ride as in the cool mountain air. It’s a sleek design that will go with any of the rest of your gear, with good design features such as thumb loops.

BAM is known for producing ethically made clothing, made largely from bamboo, at affordable prices. The only downside for us was that it wasn’t the quickest to dry and isn’t fully moisture-wicking. The cotton content meant that the fabric retained moisture a little.

Full Specifications:

Moisture-wicking / thumb loops / flatlock stitching / naturally hypoallergenic / form fitting / versatile / environmentally friendly.




Finisterre Vela Bamboo Long Sleeve Top

OM tester Anna Richards trying out the Finisterre Vela Bamboo Long Sleeve Top.

Price: £45
Weight: 200g
Material: 68% Bamboo Viscose, 28% Organic Cotton, 4% Elastane

This was very similar in design to the BAM Perform Bamboo Base Layer. The fabric is incredibly soft and we’d have no qualms about wearing this on a multi-day hike – you’re unlikely to experience any chaffing or rubbing from your backpack straps. 

It’s a great all-rounder with good value and would perform equally well for a thru-hike or a trail run. Being simple in design and very flattering, it’s a good baselayer to wear if you’re going straight from trail run to the shops, for example. 

The cotton in the fabric did mean that it wasn’t fully moisture-wicking, however, so it wasn’t the quickest baselayer to dry.

Full Specifications:

Temperature regulating / moisture-wicking / ergonomic flat locked seams / underarm and side panelling / fitted cut / close to body fit.



Howies Women’s Light Merino Base Layer

OM tester Anna Richards trying out Howies Women’s Light Merino Base Layer.

Price: £29
Weight: 180g
Material: Merino wool

In terms of value for money, the Howies Women’s Light Merino Base Layer is unbeatable. Being 100% Merino wool, it was really snug, and the warmth-to-weight ratio is pretty astonishing. As the day heated up, we did find that this wasn’t the best baselayer at regulating body temperature, and we did start to sweat a lot. It wasn’t the quickest to dry either, but being Merino wool it had the bonus that we could wear it for multiple days on the trot without it starting to smell.

We particularly recommend this baselayer for prolonged periods of time in cold conditions (for example, a multi-day trek), when you’re going to need that extra bit of warmth, though it wouldn’t perform so well on a cycle or trail run. In terms of comfort, we found it absolutely superb and really soft against skin.

Full Specifications:

Odour-resistant / moisture-wicking / highly breathable / lightweight / naturally antibacterial / flat locked seams / body temperature regulation / slim fit.



Megmeister Women’s Drynamo Winter Cycle Long Sleeve

Price: £45.46
Weight: TBC
Material: 44% polypropylene Dryarn, 44% nylon 6.6, 12% elastane

Everything about the Megmeister Women’s Drynamo Winter Cycle Long Sleeve Baselayer screams technical and we could tell that it has been designed with extreme physical exertion in mind. This baselayer was jampacked with design features. The ventilation is nothing short of amazing. Back, armpits, chest, under the chest, anywhere that could possibly sweat has plenty of ventilation to let the moisture out. 

This would be a particularly great choice for strenuous sport in cold weather, for example trail running in the midst of Winter. It’s also a fantastic choice for cyclists. The back of this top is lower than the front, meaning that even if you’re hunched over handlebars, you’re not going to risk exposing skin to the elements. The only downside for us was that there was so much ventilation that in windy conditions it let a fair amount of air in.

Full Specifications:

Body mapping ventilation / 4 way stretch / moisture-wicking / ventilating air pockets / thermal insulation / no seams / antibacterial and anti odour functions.


Artilect Boulder Crew 125

Price: £75
Weight: 125g
Material: Nuyarn™ Merino Wool

There’s a new kid on the outdoor clothing block, and Artilect astonished us with the Boulder Crew 125. It was the lightest baselayer that we tried at 25g, but the weight was no reflection on warmth. It almost felt flimsy to put on and sat against our torsos like a second skin. Being made from Nuyarn™ Merino Wool meant that it had all the warming properties of Merino Wool, but at almost half the weight.

It was fully moisture-wicking and dried more quickly than regular Merino wool. We wouldn’t recommend it for snow sports (it’s too thin for that), but it is an incredibly versatile option for thru-hiking and trail running alike. 

We loved the look of it too, the exposed seams made us feel as though we were on a mountain catwalk runway. It came with all the design features that you’d want (including thumb loops). For ultralight fans, this one is going to be a must.

Full Specifications:

Nuyarn merino fabric / ultra lightweight / eyelet knit for increased breathability / moisture-wicking / thumb loops / slim fit / flatlock seams.



Megmeister Drynamo Warm Turtleneck

Price: £51.9
Weight: TBC
Material: 44% polypropylene, 44% nylon 6.6, 12% elastane

The big sister of the Megmeister Drynamo Cycle Base Layer, this one would be more suited to thru hiking and very cold conditions. The turtle neck was a fantastic design feature and saves the need to carry a buff.

This was thicker than many of the other baselayers that we tried, and this was noticeable with the level of warmth that it provided. The ventilation was superbly designed, with plenty of breathability particularly on the back of the top, making it a great layer to pair with a backpack. Another great design feature with both of the Megmeister baselayers is that they’re completely seam free, meaning that there’s no risk of chafing. 

Full Specifications:

Body mapped design with ventilation / ultralight / anti-odour and antibacterial function / thumb loops / light compression fit / moisture-wicking / 4 way stretch / seam free.



Jack Wolfskin Snow Sky Halfzip W

Price: £70
Weight: 300g
Material: 86% recycled polyester, 14% elastane

Unless you’re doing snowsports, we’d describe this as more of a midlayer than a baselayer, but the fabric is soft enough that you can easily wear it directly against your skin and layer it up with hard shells or ski jackets. 

The level of warmth provided was really high, but it was also one of the heaviest baselayers that we tested, which is something to take into account if planning a thru-hike. We’d recommend this for snowboarding, skiing and nordic skiing, or trekking in extremely cold conditions.

The fabric was very breathable and stretchy and dried quickly, so fully moisture-wicking overall.

Full Specifications

Moisture-wicking / eco-dyed fabric / moisture regulating / stretch fabric / fast drying.



Smartwool Women’s Merino 250 Plant-Based Dye Logo Crew

Price: £104.99
Weight: 218g
Material: Merino wool

Being 100% Merino wool, the Smartwool Women’s Merino 250 Baselayer provided excellent levels of warmth. It’s not the lightest Merino wool baselayer on the market, but we did notice the extra layer of insulation and stayed toasty warm all day. 

This comes in several designs and we love how Smartwool has been so creative with their colours. Plain grey or black they are not, and we were also impressed with Smartwool’s commitment to creating functional, eco-friendly clothing and using plant-based dye. 

We’d thoroughly recommend this as a baselayer for multi-day adventures at altitude or in cold conditions. Being Merino wool we can also vouch for the fact that you won’t smell when you return home!

Full Specifications

Plant-based dye / flat lock seams / Merino wool / body enhancing fit / moisture-wicking / interlock knit / odour resistant.



Mammut Aconcagua ML Tights ¾ Women

Price: £75
Weight: 185g
Material: Polartec® Power Stretch® (33% Polyamide, 57% Polyester, 10% Spandex)

Legs get cold too, and we love it that Mammut has designed such a fantastic baselayer to keep our bottom halves comfortable in low temperatures too. The Aconcagua ML Tights were slim fitting which kept air close to the body and made them extremely insulating. The double-sided knit structure also means that they’re not going to go baggy over time (everyone’s worst fear with leggings). 

They felt like a really robust, durable product which would be equally comfortable to wear on a run as on a thru-hike. All in all, we couldn’t believe that such warmth and quality had been achieved on such a lightweight piece of kit.

Full Specifications:

Super-abrasion-proof nylon surface / elastic waist / abrasion resistance / moisture regulation / double-sided knit structure to keep shape / slim fit.




Main Photo: Finisterre


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