Back to Basics: The Best Base Layer for Extreme Cold!




Best Base Layer for Extreme Cold

The one word you’ll always hear when planning a cold weather outfit


Layering, layering, layering. 

When temperatures are low and your body needs warmth, the base layer automatically retains as much warmth as possible, compounding the insulation your outer and any mid-layers provide. 

If you become active and work up a sweat (which is easier than it sounds, as anyone who lives through cold winters can tell you!), the base layer’s unique moisture-wicking properties will allow your sweat to escape rather than remain and freeze your body as your activity level (and therefore body temperature) inevitably drops. 

Maintaining this equilibrium is an important part of staying safe and comfortable during winter, so if you’re looking for the best base layers for extreme cold, keep reading!





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Best Base Layers for Women

Base layers can be expensive, but they are an essential element of any cold weather expedition. Here are our favorite base layers for cold weather that provide the best value, protection, and performance! 


Best Base Layers for Cold Weather 


Keep reading for reviews of each!

 Read more:  What to Pack for New York City in Winter







The Best Base Layer for Extreme Cold

But what does layering – and particularly the base layer – really mean? 

The most obvious and basic purpose of a base layer – which typically refers to a long-sleeve top and long john-style pant worn directly against your skin – is to provide additional defense against extremely cold temperatures. 

This defense takes the obvious form of additional insulation, but also includes a fail safe element as well. If you trip and fall into a snowbank, dousing your outer layer in wet snow, your base layer can offer the warmth you need while cleaning and drying your outer layer. 

More importantly, however, the base layer acts offers the a heat retention-and-release mechanism that is critical for maintaining adequate body temperature in the bitter cold. 


Best Overall Base Layer: Smartwool


Merino wool is the ideal base layer fabric, as the organic fabric is safe for your skin, naturally anti-microbial, and ridiculously comfortable! 

Smartwool is the leading brand for merino wool performance clothing, and their base layer crew is the perfect centerpiece of any cold weather outfit! 

Smartwool Merino 250 Base Layer Crew

Sold on Zappos, Backcountry, Moosejaw & Amazon

Check the latest reviews and see all color options here





Best Crew Neck Base Layer: Hot Chillys 


While merino wool offers attractive qualities for the best base layers for extreme cold, the reality is synthetic fabrics wick moisture better. 

This element, along with the impressive “chamois-like” touch of the Hot Chillys crew neck, makes this a leading choice among polyester base layers! 

Hot Chillys Micro-Elite Chamois 8K Crew Neck

Sold on Zappos & Amazon

Check the latest reviews and see all color options here





Best Zip Neck Base Layer: Arc’teryx


Arc’teryx is probably my favorite and most respected winter apparel brand. The technology, aesthetic, and durability are always on point. 

What I love most about this piece is the subtle versatility offered by the zip neck.

Everyone eventually dresses for blizzards only to encounter shockingly mild weather, so the zip neck adds that extra bit of ventilation perfect for surprisingly balmy days! 

Arc'teryx Rho AR Zip Neck

Sold on Zappos, Arc'teryx, Backcountry, Moosejaw & Amazon

Check the latest reviews and see all color options here





Best Patterned Base Layer: Kari Traa


Hey, you might as well get some flair as long as you’re spending this kind of money, right? 

Famous among Scandinavians for its authentic design craftsmanship, Kari Traa provides a visually refreshing twist among the traditionally all-black base layer options. 

When we visited Norway in winter, it seemed like every stylish woman was sporting Kari Traa baselayers!

Kari Traa Lune Half Zip 

Sold on Zappos, Backcountry, Moosejaw & Amazon

Check the latest reviews and see all color options here





Best Base Layer Pant: Icebreaker


Don’t forget about the buns! 

I typically reserve base layer pants for only the most brutal winter days, but they are absolutely indispensable during these cold snaps. 

With a slim fit and merino wool construction, the Icebreaker base layer pants will regulate your body temperature without disrupting the shape of your overall outfit! 

Icebreaker Oasis Legless

Sold on Zappos, Backcountry, Moosejaw & Amazon

Check the latest reviews and see all color options here





Shop Women’s Base Layers 





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