Best Base Layer For Hunting Tested And Reviewed(2024)

Written By John VanDerLaan 

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Today's base layers are very different from the long johns we used to wear 30 years ago. Technology and innovation have created base layers that are far superior to those from long ago. From lightweight breathable options to Merino wool, these are the best base layers for hunting.

We are a team of REAL HUNTERS and these are the exact base layers that we use to stay comfortable while hunting.

Our Top Picks

Best For Cold Weather

Redhead E.C.W.C.S Military Fleece Thermal Base Layer Top

REDhead E.C.W.C.S military fleece

Best merino wool

Ibex Merino Wool Woolies Base Layer Top

ibex merino wool woolies

Best budget

Rocky Thermal Underwear Base Layer

Rocky thermal underwear

List Of The Best Base Layers For Hunting

How We Chose The Best Base Layers For Hunting

We chose these base layers by having our staff members share the base layers that they use for all the different hunting situations. We then reached out to our readers via email and asked them all; "What are your favorite base layers for hunting and why?"

I then gathered all of these base layers for testing. I then tested them for the following criteria:

  • Warmth
  • Ability To Wick Moisture Away From The Skin
  • Weight To warmth Ratio
  • Price

The base layers below are the ones that came out on top.

Best Base Layer For Cold Weather Hunting: Redhead E.C.W.C.S Military Fleece Thermal Base Layer Crew Tops and Pants

Redhead E.C.W.C.S Military Fleece Thermal Base Layer Top
Redhead E.C.W.C.S Military Fleece Thermal Base Layer Bottoms

I have worn and tested many base layers over the past 30 years and the best that I have found  Is the E.C.W.C.S Military Fleece. I love the combination of traditional fleece warmth with an innovative design. It's more versatile than other fleece base layers and especially comfortable thanks to the lightweight, breathable fabric. It's not overly bulky, so you still have a good range of motion when you put it under your outer layers.

E.C.W.C.S stands for Extreme Cold Weather Clothing System, and we have found this base layer to be perfect for tree stand hunting and ground blind hunting in extreme weather. It is ideal for regulating your body temperature, without leaving you sweaty and hot when the temperature rises.

Features:

  • 100% polyester synthetic material
  • Lightweight fleece interior
  • Friction-minimizing exterior
  • Raglan sleeves
  • Tapered cuffs and waist
  • Silpure odor control
  • Military brown color

What We Liked:

  • The breathable, low-bulk design means you can use it for a range of activities under a lot of different outer layers.
  • The fleece isn't just warm but comfortable too, an important feature for the layer that will be touching your skin.
  • The Raglan sleeves don't bunch up with your overlayers, so you can stay warm while maintaining range of motion.
  • The top effectively transfers moisture from your skin to the exterior. This helps keep you warm during activities that require occasional activity like hunting.
  • The gusset at the crotch gives you the ability to squat, stretch, even run without being restricted or feeling your base layer bunch up.
  • The Silpure odor control keeps sweat from causing smelly bacterial growth that could alert game to your presence.

What We Didn't Like:

  • For most people, the tapered cuffs and waist make layering easier, but it might make the fit tighter for huskier people.

The RedHead E.C.W.C.S. is our recommendation for a base layer for hunting when the temperature plummets. For starters, its fleece design is warm and comfortable. More importantly, it doesn't bunch up or hinder your movements, and if you have to move around a lot and start to sweat, it helps wick away moisture and cut down on odor.


Cabela's Instinct Merino Wool Base Layer Top
Cabela's Instinct Merino Wool Base Layer Bottoms

When it comes to lightweight base layers, this Merino Wool base layer from Cabela's is made for performance. Its main claim to fame is its light weight, but it has a number of other features that promote agility and accuracy while hunting. Of course, it's great for layering under an outer layer and staying warm over long periods as well.

Features:

  • 86% Merino wool blend (11% nylon, 3% spandex)
  • Comfort stretch fibers
  • Temperature regulation
  • Offset side seams
  • Flatlock stitching
  • Moisture and odor control

What We Liked:

  • The Merino wool is definitely our favorite part of this base layer. It's comfortable and versatile for changing weather conditions.
  • It is excellent for active hunting and hiking because it dries out quickly, even when used as a base layer.
  • The addition of spandex and stretch fibers helps the shirt move with you. This prevents chafing, a common problem with wool.
  • We really like the odor management feature.

What We Didn't Like:

  • Made with natural material, the Cabela's merino wool is a little pricier than other wool synthetic blends (though well worth it, in our opinion).

If you're an active hunter, we highly recommend the Cabela's Instinct Merino Wool. This could mean you still hunt in wild, rough conditions, or it could just mean you get a workout in with your climb-up tree stand. Either way, you'll benefit from the merino wool design, which stays warm even if you start sweating. At the same time, it's comfortable and stretchy unlike other wool garments. This is our favorite layering system.


RedHead Elite Midweight Base Layer Long-Sleeve Top
RedHead Elite Midweight Base Layer Bottoms

At Deer Hunting Guide, we really like midweight base layers since they are so functional and versatile, often working for the entire deer hunting season. Of all the midweight base layers we looked at, the RedHead Elite stood out for its great features, low price and hunting-focused design.

Features:

  • 94% polyester blend with 4% spandex
  • Grid technology
  • Built-in stretch
  • 4MOST odor control
  • Flatlock seams
  • Thumbholes

What We Liked:

  • The 94% polyester makes this a durable shirt while the 4% spandex gives it a stretch that moves with your body.
  • The grid technology provides advanced thermoregulation that keeps you warm while you're sitting still and cool when you're moving around.
  • The 3D airflow waistband adds breathability that other polyester base layers don't have.
  • It might be a small detail, but we love the thumbholes. For one, they keep the sleeves from riding up your arms, but more importantly, they combine with gloves to keep your wrists warm.

What We Didn't Like:

  • The polyester design is less breathable than other blends.

If you hunt in a place where deer season involves weather ranging from summer heat to winter freeze, you're going to need to layer. Not only that, but you're going to need a versatile base layer that can keep you warm but also won't immediately overheat when the sun comes out. In this case, a midweight base layer might be a good choice, the RedHead Elite base layer specifically. It has a stretchy design with grid thermoregulation technology.


Best Heavyweight: XPS Expedition Weight Long Sleeve Turtleneck and  Pants

XPS Expedition Weight 3.0 Thermal Zip Mock Long-Sleeve Turtleneck
XPS Expedition Weight 3.0 Thermal Pants

For extra cold weather, you need a heavyweight base layer. Our favorite is the XPS Expedition long-sleeve turtleneck and thermal pants. They are very warm overall, but we like the turtleneck design in particular. It's comfortable and adds extra insulation for your neck.

With micropolyester fabric and hollow-core yarns, the insulation is some of the best for a synthetic garment, but the weight makes it great for layering. Plus, features like odor control make it effective for hunting.

Features:

  • 100% micropolyester
  • Hollow-core yarns
  • X-Odor technology
  • Half zipper
  • Medium collar

What We Liked:

  • The XPS thermal technology provides the warmth of a heavyweight layer without the usual bulk. This way you can easily add more top layers.
  • Heavyweight base layers are even more likely to cause sweating, which could produce odor that could alert game. X-Odor technology is one of the best odor-control technologies we've found on a base layer.
  • The turtleneck design helps insulate your neck, but the half zipper gives you airflow if you start to heat up.
  • Despite being a heavyweight base layer bottom, these pants contour to your body and take up minimal space so you can add multiple layers on top of them.

What We Didn't Like:

  • The arms are a bit tight, and that can limit your range of motion, especially if you're hunting with a bow.

In most of the US, late deer season hunting means cold temperatures, snow and ice. You need a base layer that provides a good foundation of warmth like the XPS Expedition Weight 3.0 while still being thin enough to let you add heavier layers on top. Similarly, if you hunt out west in the mountains, the warmth-to-weight ratio is excellent for these tough environments that still require agility. 


Ibex Merino Wool Woolies Base Layer Top
Ibex Merino Wool Woolies Base Layer Bottoms

If you like merino wool thanks to its ability to regulate temperature and wick away moisture, the Woolies base layer is our top recommendation for merino wool base layers. Made of 100% Merino wool, they are designed to keep you warm, dry and comfortable whether you're hunting during the depth of winter or hiking out on a cool fall morning that will inevitably warm up.

Constructed from 240 gsm 100% Merino wool, it's also durable relative to other wool garments. It has a lot of great features, including baste stitch thumbholes for optional use, offering an extra layer of warmth when needed.

Features:

  • 100% Merino wool
  • Flatlock seams
  • Baste stitch thumbholes
  • Set-in sleeves
  • Next-to-skin fit
  • Odor control

What We Liked:

  • It's hard not to like 100% Merino wool, maximizing this shirt's ability to wick away moisture and keep you warm without overheating or feeling uncomfortable.
  • The fit is versatile and looks good on most people. As a result, you can wear it as an underlayer for hunting or a top layer for casual wear.
  • Even for Merino wool, this shirt is unbelievably comfortable. It'll be hard to wear other shirts afterwards!
  • We love the thumb holes since this lets you layer with gloves. Plus, since they're baste stitches, you don't have to open them if you don't want the thumb holes.
  • The Merino wool's comfort makes the bottoms great for walking around in even though they're fit to skin. This is added to by the flatlock seams that help prevent chafing.
  • This shirt's odor control in addition to the natural moisture-wicking properties of Merino wool makes this an ideal base layer that prevents sweat from ruining your hunt.
  • The two-way fly is convenient for long hunting trips when you may have to… relieve yourself. 

What We Didn't Like:

  • Merino wool raises the price a bit, but we actually found the Woolies to be a good value for what you're getting.
  • The shirt is on the long side, part of the reason it works as a top layer as well. However, this may make layering awkward.

At Deer Hunting Guide, we love Merino wool, so we obviously had to find the best Merino wool base layer for our list. There are a lot of good options, but if you like this natural fabric as much as we do, we can't say enough about the Men's Woolies 2 Crew and the entire base layer it goes with. You can see why it made it to our list of the best gifts for hunters.

It's not just warm. It regulates your body temperature to keep you comfortable in a range of weather conditions and environments.


Best For Tree Stand: Smartwool Merino Wool Base Layer Tops And Bottoms 

Smartwool Classic Thermal Merino Base Layer 1/4 Zip
Men's Smartwool Thermal Merino Base Layer Bottoms

The Smartwool Merino wool base layers are made of 100% Merino wool and made in the US. They combine comfort, odor resistance and, most importantly, warmth by insulating your body heat. This means it'll keep you warm even if you're not moving.

Another big draw is the shirt's resilience. It's machine washable. Similarly, it's easy to pull on without stretching it out thanks to the zipper at the collar.

Features:

  • 100% Merino wool
  • Made in USA
  • Pull-on closure
  • Machine washable
  • Odor resistance
  • Chafe-free design

What We Liked:

  • 100% wool means natural temperature regulation based entirely on your own body heat. It lets you sit for long hours without getting cold.
  • While some wool garments can be itchy or chafing, the Smartwool is smooth and soft. This also lets you sit comfortably in one place all day.
  • The quarter zip allows you to pull it on and take it off easily without stretching out the collar. Plus, you can close off the neck or open it for airflow as needed as the weather changes.
  • Smartwool's design is perfect for climbing up into a tree stand. These bottoms are stretchy and comfortable, so they stay in place while you get into position.
  • For Merino wool, it's hard to find a better price on a base layer.

What We Didn't Like:

  • The zipper can get in the way if you're adding a lot of layers on top, and it serves little purpose if you can't get down to it.
  • The wool material is thinner on this top, so it may wear down faster than similar shirts.

We specifically recommend the Smartwool Merino Wool Base Layers if you're going to be sitting still in the same place for a while. It is an excellent insulator and traps just the right amount of body heat to keep you comfortable during the deer hunting season. This is on top of numerous other great features like the quarter zip design.


Rocky Thermal Underwear Base Layer

A great alternative to a hunting-specific dedicated base layer is thermal underwear. It might be a bit thinner but is often just as warm. This way you can add several other layers on top. In fact, you can sometimes even add another base layer on top of the thermal under.

The Rocky Thermal Underwear is a great choice for a number of reasons, but above all we like the fleece-lined design that makes them soft even when they're weighted down by several other layers. Oh yeah, and we love the price.

Features:

  • 90% polyester blend with 10% spandex
  • Made in USA
  • Pull-on closure
  • Machine washable

What We Liked:

  • The Rocky Thermal Underwear is rated for temperatures below freezing, so it's perfect for late season hunts and cold climates.
  • This is one of the best base layers on our list when it comes to cleaning. Just throw them in the wash with everything else.
  • The Rocky Thermal Underwear is affordable for just about any budget.
  • There are tons of styles and sizes to choose from, so you can easily get the right underwear for your needs. 

What We Didn't Like:

  • The seams on this underwear aren't the best, so you may find them starting to fray if you wear and wash them a lot.

On a budget? You can still stay warm on winter hunts. The Rocky Thermal Underwear can save you a ton of money and is a good option if you like to hunt the entire season but don't need a base layer the entire season. While less durable than dedicated base layers, it's just as warm, if not warmer, and makes layering even easier.


Best For Extreme Cold Weather: Under Armour ColdGear Base 4.0 Base layer Long-Sleeve Crew and Leggings

RELATED: Warmest Hunting Boots 

Under Armour ColdGear Base 4.0 Base layer Top
Under Armour ColdGear Base 4.0 Leggings

Under Armour is a respected brand, especially for athletic wear. Their garments function effectively and last a long time thanks to quality construction.

We were excited to find an Under Armour shirt with features that make it ideal for hunting, like wicking moisture and scent control. Of course, as a base layer it's incredibly warm as well thanks to advanced technology you won't find on cheaper base layers.

Features:

  • 78% polyester blend with 22% elasterell
  • 4-way stretch
  • Micro-grid design
  • Next-to-skin fit
  • Scent control
  • Moisture wicking

What We Liked:

  • The UA ColdGear base layers have one of the best warmth-to-bulk ratios of all base layers thanks to its micro-grid design. It provides the warmth of a heavyweight layer while still being thin enough to add on multiple other layers.
  • The large amount of elasterell in the blend combined with the four-way stretch makes this shirt and leggings fit like another layer of skin. It fits tight yet precisely to your body, so it's comfortable without getting in the way.

What We Didn't Like:

  • There is no fleece or other smooth material on the interior, so the shirt can feel weird on the skin depending on your preferences.
  • We have some staff members that just don't like the Under Armour Material and much prefer merino wool base layers or the E.C.W.C.S base layers from Cabela's when hunting in extreme cold.

If you hunt in extreme weather, the UA ColdGear is  a good choice. The micro-grid design traps in your body heat using thousands of pockets of warm air. Plus, the next-to-skin fit lets you pile on numerous other layers to add to the warmth.


Kuiu Peloton Crew-T
Kuiu ULTRA Merino Bottom

Few people have bad things to say about Kuiu. They make top-shelf hunting gear and at a great value to boot. If you love Kuiu and are looking for a base layer, you're in luck. Their Peloton 118 base layer lives up to their name and is one of our favorites all around. And it's specifically designed for hunting, so you get helpful features and even have several camo patterns to choose from.

The lightweight design is ideal for early season and warm weather hunting conditions.

Features:

  • Lightweight Toray Primeflex material
  • Athletic fit
  • Flatlock seams
  • Side panels
  • Raglan sleeves
  • UPF 50+ sun protection
  • Makspec odor control
  • Moisture wicking
  • Abrasion resistance

What We Liked:

  • The Kuiu Peloton Crew-T does more than just insulate. It protects you from the sun, masks your odor and wicks away your sweat.
  • Like other Kuiu products, this base layer shirt is highly durable, especially thanks to the abrasion-resistant design. This makes it an ideal choice if you hunt often every season.
  • This Crew-T is comfortable up against the skin beneath an outer layer since it has Flatlock seams, side panels and Raglan sleeves. It's good for sitting still or hiking around in the woods.
  • The camo options mean you can take off all your other layers and still stay hidden, further helped by the UPF 50+ sun protection.

What We Didn't Like:

  • This shirt has an athletic fit that may not work for all body types, though we found that it stretched well to adapt to most people.
  • This specific Kuiu model is designed for hot or mild conditions, so it's not the best for the late season unless you add several layers on top.

If you want the quality of Kuiu in your base layer, our choice is the Peloton 118 Crew-T. It's well-made and highly durable, so consider it if you hunt regularly all season long and plan to do so for the foreseeable future. You know that you're getting a base layer designed specifically for hunting with advanced odor control and moisture wicking as well as a comfortable fit that gives you a good range of motion.


Kuiu ULTRA Merino Bottom

Yep, you can get Kuiu quality and Merino wool temperature regulation all in one product. These bottoms are incredibly warm yet simultaneously comfortable, so they're definitely good for hunting. Thanks to their many hunting-specific features, you can add them as an effective base layer beneath your usual camos.

Features:

  • Nuyarn blend (90% Merino wool and 10% nylon)
  • Flatlock seams
  • Crotch gusset
  • Functional fly
  • UPF 50+ sun protection
  • Odor resistance
  • Moisture wicking

What We Liked:

  • The Nuyarn blend means you get the warmth of wool without overheating with a stretch that makes the pants comfortable to walk in.
  • The crotch gusset and flatlock seams minimize chafing or bunching if you're using these pants as a base layer.
  • The functional fly makes things a lot easier if you have multiple layers on top.

What We Didn't Like:

  • These pants are a bit on the thick side, so although they're very warm, they're harder to layer than thinner leggings.
  • The Merino bottoms are a heavier weight than the Peloton Crew-T we listed above. If you want the exact same weight on top and bottom, check out Kuiu's Merino hunting tops.

Kuiu makes a lot of great Merino wool products, our favorite being these pants. They maintain your body temperature even as the weather changes, but their functionality allows you to hunt effectively. Specifically, they're stretchier than other Merino wool garments and have flatlock seams and a crotch gusset.


Sitka Gear Core Lightweight Crew LS Base Layer
Sitka Gear Core Lightweight Bottom

At Deer Hunting Guide, we're huge fans of Sitka gear. They're passionate hunters who test their products in the field and incorporate technology they've developed specifically for hunting situations. For example, the Sitka Core base layers uses their digital camo pattern known as Gore Optifade that has been shown to fool deers' eyes effectively. With a thin design and plenty of temperature-regulating features, this top and bottom is designed as a base layer you can put under heavier garments.

RELATED: Is Sitka Gear Worth It

Features:

  • 100% polyester
  • Pull-on closure
  • Machine washable
  • Stretch knit
  • Gore Optifade digital camo patterns
  • Thumb loops

What We Liked:

  • We love that the Sitka Core base layer incorporates the extensively researched Gore Optifade camo design, so even if you take off your top layers, you're still expertly hidden.
  • The polyester fabric is thin and quick drying, so you can add a lot of layers on top and still stay comfortable.
  • The thumb loops keep the sleeves pulled down over your wrists, which keeps your wrists warm and prevents the sleeves from bunching up at the elbows.
  • These leggings keep you warm on cool mornings, but they wick away moisture as it warms up so you stay dry and odorless.
  • The proprietary Polygiene technology includes antimicrobial silver salt that kills bacteria before they can cause odors that give you a way to a deer's powerful nose. 

What We Didn't Like:

  • Made from 100% polyester, the material can feel a bit sticky at times, especially if you get really sweaty.

We suggest looking through all the camo patterns you can get the Sitka Core base layer in and picking the one that best matches the environment you hunt in. As a thin base layer, you can put layers on top but then take them off as it gets warm while remaining camouflaged. 

RELATED: Kuiu vs Sitka Gear


Best First Lite: First Lite Wick Base Layer Top And Bottom 

First Lite Wick Short Sleeve Crew
First Lite Men's Wick Boot Top Bottom

First Lite makes unique products, and this base layer is no exception. First of all, consider the blend of 65% wool, 33% nylon and 2% spandex. This gives you great all-weather temperature regulation but a feel and look that makes it work as a normal t-shirt or top layer. It's also just well-constructed with mesh panels and durable knitting, not to mention several advanced features.

Features:

  • 65% Aerowool with 33% nylon and 2% spandex
  • Active Particle Technology moisture wicking
  • Next-to-skin fit
  • Mesh ventilation panels
  • Machine washable
  • Solid color and camo designs

What We Liked:

  • The temperature regulation is so good that it works as a warm base layer or comfortable top layer in mild-warm conditions.
  • The mesh panels provide airflow that cools you off in areas more prone to sweat. This keeps you comfortable and minimizes odor buildup.
  • The blend is a perfect combination of functionality and fit. The shirt adapts to the shape of your torso without being too tight, making layering easy and not getting in the way of your other gear.
  • The fabric lining complements the stretch so that the leggings also glide against the skin, making walking and climbing more comfortable yet keeping the leggings correctly positioned.

What We Didn't Like:

  • This is a short-sleeve t-shirt, so you will likely need a mid-layer before your top camos if you're hunting extra cold conditions.
  • If you're not going to wear thick socks and hunting boots, the three-quarters fit bottoms may leave your ankles cold.

This is our favorite base layer from First Lite and one of our favorite all-around Merino wool base layers. Although it is a t-shirt, it still provides a lot of warmth for its bulk. More importantly, it can also work as an effective top layer. It comes in several different camo patterns and has mesh ventilation panels and natural moisture wicking that keeps you cool and dry.


Best Heated Base Layer For Hunting: ActionHeat 5V Heated Base Layer Top And Bottoms

ActionHeat 5V Heated Base layer Top
ActionHeat 5V Heated Base Layer Pants

When the temperature really drops, having a heated base layer can help to keep you warm and save your hunt. There is a lot of junk out there in the heated hunting clothing market, but the best that we have found is the ActionHeat heated base layer.

Features:

  • ActionFlex material constructed of 92% polyester/8% spandex
  • Tri-Zone heating with 3 built-in panels
  • Long-lasting warmth up to a toasty 130°F
  • Touch-button control with 3 heat settings
  • LED power indicators display remaining battery life
  • Powerful, rechargeable 5V batteries
  • Provides warmth for up to 4.5+ hours (on low)
  • Includes power bank, and USB charging kit

What We Liked:

  • We really like the fit on this shirt. It is roomy with enough stretch to be used for bow hunting in cold conditions.
  • We like that it is rechargeable and the batteries charge pretty quickly.
  • We like the easy, touch button control.
  • We like that it has 3 heat settings.

What We Didn't Like:

  • The batteries do not last as long as they are advertised. We only get about 3 to 3.5 hours out of a single charge on the lowest setting.
  • The heating elements are pretty small.

There are not a lot of great options out there for heated base layers, but the Actionheat is our go to here at deerhuntingguide.net.

RELATED: Best Heated Socks For Hunting 


What To Look For When Buying Hunting Base Layers 

RELATED: What Is The Hunter's Most Important Item Of Clothing?

Wool Or Synthetic?

Merino Wool

Merino wool is an ideal fabric choice for a hunting base layer. It's a natural material (if it's good enough for sheep…), so its ability to regulate temperature is unparalleled. In other words, it keeps you warm when it's cold and cool when it's hot. Because the whitetail deer hunting season is in the fall, you often have to deal with cold mornings but warm afternoons, so this is essential.

As an added bonus, Merino wool is naturally odor resistant. Deer can smell better than they can see, so that's a big plus.

Synthetic

On the other hand, synthetic materials like polyester and nylon have certain strengths. Biggest of all is probably just the price. They're a lot less expensive.

They're also lightweight and quick-drying, so while they might not be quite as warm as Merino wool, they can be easier for layering when it comes to base layers.

One thing that is important to mention here is that cotton is the wrong choice for hunting clothes. It doesn't matter if we are talking about socks, base layers or pants. You should never use cotton next to your skin while hunting.

RELATED: Best Rain Gear For Hunting

Lightweight, Midweight or Heavyweight?

Lightweight

A base layer labeled as "lightweight" is a good choice if you hunt in milder climates such as those in the Deep South or bow hunting during the early season. They're designed to be breathable and wick away moisture, which means that if you move around and get hot, you'll still be comfortable. Similarly, they're thinner, so you can put several other layers on top and then take them off when the temperature rises.

RELATED: Best Lightweight Hunting Boots

Midweight

Base layers defined as "midweight" are best-of-both-worlds garments, or at least they try to be. They usually have more warmth than lightweight layers, but they still provide easy layering. 

We recommend midweight base layers for hunters who deal with drastic temperature changes. This is actually true for a lot of deer hunters since deer hunting season is in the fall when nights are cold but days are hot. This is especially true in the Midwest. 

Heavyweight

When the mercury really drops, you want a heavyweight base layer. They're designed to trap in your body heat and keep you warm even in extra cold weather, often below freezing. This is best for late-season deer hunting in December and January and in northern states in particular. a heavyweight base layer can be particularly effective at keeping you warm when paired with a good set of hunting bibs.

Budget

Naturally, your budget is going to play a factor when it comes to base layers. We recommend considering how important a base layer is to your hunt before determining your budget. If you're a bowhunter who's regularly in a stand or blind during the late season, especially in a cold climate, you need a high-performing base layer made of the best materials. However, if you just need one to keep in your closet in case of a cold snap, you can save some change.

After that, keep in mind that you generally get what you pay for when it comes to base layers. Quality materials like Merino wool and extra features like odor control can drive up prices, but they also give you an edge while hunting.

Also keep in mind that a high quality base layer will last for years if cared for and stored properly.

Frequently Asked Questions

What should I wear as a base layer in hunting?

Your hunting base layer should be warm but thin, like the Redhead E.C.W.C.S Military Fleece Thermal Base Layer. The idea is to provide an initial point of insulation to trap your body heat while still allowing you to add other layers on top.

What is the best base layer for upland hunting?

Since upland hunting involves a lot more walking and movement than deer hunting, you want a layer that's warm but still breathable and moisture wicking like the Cabela's Instinct Merino Wool Base Layer. This way you're insulated and warm when you're standing still, but you don't overheat when you start moving. 

What is the best base layer for extreme cold weather?

In extreme cold weather, you need a base layer like the Under Armour ColdGear Base 4.0 Base Layer or the E.C.W.C.S Military Fleece Thermal Base Layer. In other words, you need something that has intense insulation without preventing you from adding even more insulation over it. At the end of the day, extreme cold weather requires numerous layers.

Are base layers warmer than thermals?

Thermals, or thermal underwear, are a type of base layer, and the terms are often used interchangeably. However, hunting-specific base layers are generally thicker and warmer than simple thermals.

What is the warmest material for hunting?

Merino wool is considered by many, including the staff of Deer Hunting Guide, to be the warmest material for hunting. It provides great insulation along with the natural breathability, moisture wicking and odor control. 

That said, modern technology has improved a lot, and synthetic fibers like polyester and nylon can be quite warm. This is especially true if they feature advanced designs like micro-grids.

RELATED: How To Keep Your Feet Warm While Hunting

Final Thoughts

Most hunters need a base layer, especially if they hunt the late season when temperatures drop. Our top recommendation is the Redhead E.C.W.C.S Military Fleece Thermal Base Layer thanks to its high insulation, comfortable fit and easy layering. If you're looking for Merino wool, we also love the Ibex Woolies Base Layer.  These are the hunting base layers used the most by the DeerHuntingGuide.net team.

Photo of author

John VanDerLaan

John VanDerLaan is the managing editor here at DeerHuntingGuide.net. He oversees a team of editors, writers and pro staff that are subject matter experts in hunting and hunting gear. John's expertise includes thoroughly testing all types of hunting gear, as well as hunting all over the U.S. and Canada. While his hunting expertise includes game birds, small game and large game, his favorite game animal is the whitetail deer and he loves to share the knowledge that he has gained over 40 years of chasing the wily whitetail with both archery gear and firearms. John is an active member of the Outdoor Writers Association of America.

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