Best Hunting Base Layers [The Top Pick of 2023]

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The results are in for the best hunting base layers of 2023, and you’re not going to find a better, more efficient summary on the internet than this one below!

A reliable base layer is essential for any cold weather hunt, but today’s best hunting clothing brands have created options that not only keep you warm in the winter, but can now be worn as an outer layer in the spring/summer months.

Those old hunting thermals you have in your bag can now be retired – it’s time to learn about the new materials, designs, and capabilities of today’s base layers so you can start to upgrade!

Check out the summary below that lists out the Top 6 Best Hunting Base Layers. I’m sure there’s a great option in the list below for each and every style of hunting, no matter the time or season.

1. Smartwool 250 Classic Thermal Merino Base Layer

With nearly 96% on Smarwool’s customers recommending this product, the Smartwool 250 Merino Base Layer is the best hunting base layer available on the market right now.

The 250 classic set is one I personally use and wear year around no matter the hunting season or weather. In case you’re wondering, the ‘250’ signifies this as a “Thermal” build – one of Smartwoool’s heaviest, 100% merino wool options. And while Smartwool does offer an “All-Season” option, their “Thermal” solution is one that I feel is most appropriate for any season.

One additional note to keep in mind. This particular thermal is a relatively slim fit. While the fabric does stretch to fit most people, it isn’t going to be a baggy, traditional thermal design.

What Makes Smartwool Unique?

There are a ton of benefits when it comes to merino wool, and Smartwool has done its best to take advantage of these features, while also incorporating a durable construction.

Smartwool’s 100% merino wool design focuses on utilizing and improving four key areas:

1. Enhancing Comfort

2. Providing Breathability

3. Aiding In Thermoregulation

4. Helping With Odor Resistance

There are few brands out there that have focused as much time on improving this foundational layer as Smartwool. Not only are their hunting clothing materials top-rated, they’ll last for years and years to come.

Shop for the complete Smartwool 250 Base Layer Set today!

2. KUIU Ultra Merino 125 Base Layer

When KUIU developed the Ultra Merino 125, they were trying to create one of the lightest merino base layer available to hunters.

This particular model is one of KUIU’s lightest base layers at 125 g/m²; however, it doesn’t sacrifice any performance or comfort. Additionally, the material is great at wicking away odor and has a UPF rating of 40+.

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As mentioned in the paragraphs above, the Ultra Merino 125 is a great base layer that can be worn year around. It’s light and breathable enough to wear as an outer layer on late spring turkey hunts, while also providing the much needed warmth and ability to wick away sweat when things get cold.

What Makes KUIU Unique?

There’s no doubt that the Ultra Merino’s most unique characteristic is the newly designed Nuyarn Merino, which is 70% Merino and 30% Nylon. Surprisingly enough, while the material is lighter, the thicker nylon yarn creates added stability and durability to the fabric’s core.

You can rest assured that this type of material will keep you light and your thermoregulation right where you need it to be.

Shop for the complete KUIU 125 Base Layer set today!

3. Sitka Core Lightweight Layer

Sitka Gear has always catered to the needs of hunters, and this time they focused on the hunter that needed a versatile next-to-skin garment that can adapt to temperature changes. As a result, they engineered a base layer that offers a bare-skin sensation when worn.

The layer involves the use of sturdy polyester bi-component materials coupled with Polygiene® Odor Control Technology to provide efficient moisture management, breathability, and odor control.

This crew is multi-purpose and can be worn as an independent outerwear item or integrated into a complete hunting system suitable for all seasons.

What Makes Sitka Unique?

Sitka’s durability, unique camo patterns, and innovative clothing designs set them apart from a lot of the competition, but what about their base layers?

The most unique thing about Sitka’s lightweight layers it the incorporation of their Polygiene® Odor Control Technology. Since this is constructed of 100% Polyester, Sitka had to figure out how to stamp down odor and that’s exactly what they did with this piece of technology.

It not only neutralizes odors but provides hunters with a high level of breathability.

Shop for the complete Sitka Core Lightweight Layer set today!

4. First Lite Wick Base Layer

First Lite claims their base layers are the “World’s Finest Baselayers”. But we’ll leave that up to you!

Their options are made with a blend of merino wool and synthetic materials (17.5 micron merino wool available with 37.5-activated nylon fibers) to provide both comfort and functionality.

The Wick Base Layer is designed to wick away moisture from the skin, keeping the wearer dry and comfortable, even during intense physical activity. The merino wool blend also provides natural odor control, making it a great choice for multi-day trips.

First Lite offers Wick Base Layer tops and bottoms in various styles and weights, allowing for customization based on the temperature and activity level. They also offer a range of sizes to accommodate different body types.

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What Makes First Lite Unique?

The most unique feature of the Wick base layers is First Lite’s Ultralight 150 Aerowool.

The Ultralight 150 Aerowool is designed to provide maximum comfort and performance in hot weather conditions, with its unique blend of materials helping to regulate body temperature, wick away moisture, and prevent odor buildup. It is also designed with a flatlock seam construction to prevent chafing and irritation during high-intensity activities

Shop for the complete First Lite Quick Wick set today!

5. Under Armour Base 4.0

Under Armour continues to expand and improve their line of hunting clothes, and the Base 4.0 is a great addition to any hunter’s closet – especially those looking for a base layer to wear in extreme cold conditions.

The 4.0 option is Under Amour’s thickest and warmest available base layer, made up of 78% Polyester/22% Elasterell. Of course, I’m not the biggest fan of these since they do not contain any merino wool, but this could be a better option for someone interested in a more synthetic material.

As you’d expect Under Armour treats hunters like athletes and as a result their clothing is built to move in any and all directions. The 4-way stretch material moves better than most options out there which is great for anyone that hunts quick and fast out in the woods.

What Makes Under Armour Unique?

The most unique feature of Under Armour’s Base 4.0 is the UA Scent Control Technology. This addition keeps undetected while out in the woods. Additionally, the brand claims this lasts ten times longer than what is used in carbon-based clothing.

If you’re out there in search of a base layer with scent block and/or controlling technology, this is going to be your best option.

Shop for the complete Under Armour Base 4.0 set today!

6. Stone Glacier Chinook Base Layer

Probably the newest addition and most unknown member of this list has to be the Stone Glacier Chinook base layer. Of course, if you know anything about Stone Glacier you know they’re not going to produce some average level product.

The Chinook thermal is designed out of the Merino6 wool and comes in at 170 g/m² – a somewhat middle weight option when compared to the others above.

One thing to note – the bottom base layers include a “boot-top” length to enhance the comfort when wear tall hunting boots. Additionally, the minimalistic waist band is engineered to not get in the way of heavy packs.

What Makes Stone Glacier Unique?

The most unique feature of the Chinook base layer is the Merino6 proprietary blend offered by Stone Glacier.

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In a similar build to KUIU, Stone Glacier equipped this layer with a 89% merino wool and 11% nylon blend. By doing this you get the soft feel and odor regulation offered by the merino, while the nylon adds increase the moisture-wicking ability and overall durability.

Shop for the complete Stone Glacier Chinook Set today!

Things To Consider When Purchasing Hunting Base Layers

Before you make your final purchase, take a second to review these frequently asked questions and most popular related topics:

1. What Is The Best Hunting Base Layer?

As stated in the section above, the best hunting base layer is the Smartwool 250 Thermal Base Layer. Smartwool is one of most experienced clothing brands in the field of merino wool, and has spent numerous years extracting the materials top capabilities to be used by all hunters.

2. Merino vs. Synthetic Base Layer

IceBreaker provides one of most informative, yet simple, summaries of the differences between merino and synthetic wool. Overall, synthetic provided a new lightweight design when compared to standard wool; however, it was somewhat wet and clammy to touch. Merino wool is now the most used type of wool as it’s lightweight, soft to the touch, and unbelievably resistant to odor.

3. What’s The Difference Between Base Layers And Thermals?

Honestly, there’s really no difference between base layers and thermals. Thermals, or long underwear, might be considered as a type of base layer for some. And these are also typically called “Long John’s”.

In the end, searching for any one of these options will provide you with the same results.

4. How Much Do Hunting Base Layers Cost?

Hunting base layers will cost you anywhere from $80 to $170 depending on the brand and layer being purchased. Of course, underwear base layers are a little cheaper, costing between $30 and $50.

And on a final note, bottom base layers are going to cost you a little more when compared to thermal tops.

5. At What Temperatures Should You Wear Base Layers?

Most hunters are going to start wearing their base layers when temperatures fall below freezing.

However, keep in mind in mind that today’s merino wool can be worn almost year around. The only thing that changes now is the number and types of layers that are incorporated on top of this.

For this reason, I would say that a good base layer can be worn at almost any temperatures. I would just keep incorporating additional mid and outer layers if temperatures begin to drop.

Hunting Base Layer Review Video

Also, for a blog about the Best Hunting Hand Warmers we have that too!

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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>