Finding the best women’s base layer for hiking can be a daunting task with so many fabrics and options to choose from.
Proper base layer clothing is crucial for keeping you comfortable during your outdoor adventures.
We have researched and reviewed the top-rated and recommended women’s base layers to provide you with our top picks for the best women’s hiking base layers available.
Let’s get started on finding the perfect lightweight hiking base layer for your needs.
Weight: 3.17 ounces (90 grams)
Material: 100% Polyester (recycled)
✅ Relatively affordable
❌ Only three colors available
When it comes to finding the best women’s base layer for hiking and outdoor activities, the Montane Women’s Dart Lite Long Sleeve T-Shirt checks all the boxes.
This versatile shirt is lightweight yet provides warmth, breathability, and odor control – everything you need to stay comfortable on the trail.
Made from a eco-friendly blended fabric, the Dart Lite wicks moisture exceptionally well and dries quickly to keep you feeling fresh. The fabric is also treated with odor control to prevent bacterial growth and bad smells, even after long days of wear.
The shirt fits snugly without constriction thanks to its athletic cut and flatlock stitching that prevents chafing. The long sleeves provide protection from the sun and insects, and the overall lightweight design makes it perfect for layering and warm weather hiking.
For women seeking the ideal balance of breathability, temperature regulation, and odor resistance, the Montane Dart Lite Long Sleeve T-Shirt is an excellent choice.
Weight: 6.45 ounces (183 grams)
Material: 100% merino
✅ 100% merino
✅ Resists odor
❌ A bit heavy
❌ Runs small
For hikers looking for a stellar merino wool base layer, the Icebreaker Merino 200 Oasis Long Sleeve Crew is a top contender.
This versatile top is crafted from 200gm merino wool that excels at regulating body temperature during varying conditions on the trail.
The super-soft merino wool construction provides excellent warmth while also being highly breathable and moisture wicking. Even during aerobic activity, the fabric helps maintain comfort by wicking sweat away from the body and dispersing excess heat.
Also the natural odor resistance of the wool helps keep smelling fresh after long days on the trail.
Thoughtful design features make the Oasis Long Sleeve optimized for hiking:
As an added bonus, the sustainable merino wool is lightweight and quick-drying. It’s also machine washable, making post-hike care simple.
The only downside is that the slim athletic fit runs small, so we recommend sizing up if you prefer a looser feel. Overall, the Oasis Long Sleeve is our top choice.
Weight: 3.7 ounces (105 grams)
Material: 100% Polyester
✅ Good for hot weather
✅ Fast drying
❌ Not the warmest option
As avid trail runners and hikers, we demand a lot from our base layers. After testing the RAB Sonic LS Zip, we can confidently say it lives up to our high performance expectations.
The quick-drying fabric perfectly regulates our temperature whether we’re running uphill in the heat or hiking in brisk conditions. We appreciate the 1/2 zip design which lets us customize ventilation on the go.
The athletic fit hugs close without ever feeling restrictive. While the arms run slightly long, the thumb loops come in handy for keeping the sleeves in place.
For dynamic mountain activities like trail running and fast hiking, the Sonic offers the ideal blend of moisture wicking, breathability, and protective coverage. We also love how lightweight and packable it is.
To put it briefly, it has quickly become a staple piece of gear for us whenever we hit the trails.
Weight: 7.69 ounces (218 grams)
Material: 100% merino
✅ 100% merino
✅ Warm option
❌ A bit heavy
❌ The merino feels a bit scratchy
As outdoor enthusiasts, we’re always on the lookout for versatile merino wool base layers that can handle our active lifestyles.
After testing the Smartwool Women’s Classic Thermal Merino Base Layer Crew, we can say it delivers on breathability, and odor resistance.
We appreciate the updated fit accommodating different body types. The added shoulder panels prevent backpack straps from causing friction.
While the wool does shrink substantially after washing, the colors remain vibrant and beautiful. We do wish the fabric was a bit softer, as competitor merino layers like Icebreaker seem less scratchy.
Overall, the Smartwool Women’s Classic Thermal Crew proves to be a solid merino base layer choice for outdoor enthusiasts seeking temperature regulation, and odor control.
The slim fit also makes it a great option for those who prefer a compressed base layer.
Weight: 7.37 ounces (209 grams)
Material: 92% polyester (recycled), 8% spandex
❌ A bit heavy
❌ Runs small
After testing the REI Co-op Women’s Midweight Base Layer Half-Zip, we were impressed by its capabilities as both a cold-weather hiking layer and a standalone top.
The midweight polyester fabric provides ample warmth and insulation for chilly treks, yet the half-zip design allows easy ventilation when temperatures climb.
We got a lot of use out of this piece as a sleep shirt while camping thanks to its cozy warmth. But it also works great as an extra layer under a jacket when the wind picks up on the water.
Design details like flatlock seams and armpit diamond texturing prevent chafing and make for comfortable extended wear.
While the fit does seem to run small, the stretchy material moves with you and retains its shape after washing.
Considering its versatility and functionality across various activities, the value is unbeatable.
For women seeking a midweight base layer that pulls double duty as a hiking companion and standalone shirt, the REI Co-op Half-Zip deserves a spot in your cold-weather rotation.
Choosing the right hiking base layer is your initial step in creating a comfortable layering system for outdoor adventures. This is the layer closest to your skin, crucial for overall comfort. When picking a base layer, consider three key factors:
Base layers come in different fabric options, each with unique qualities:
The weight of your base layer should match your metabolism and activity level: “lightweight” for moderate to cool temperatures, “midweight” for cold temps, and “heavyweight” for freezing conditions or high exertion.
Keep in mind that your primary source of warmth is your insulating midlayer, not your base layer. To become an expert in choosing the right midlayer, explore our detailed guide here.
When choosing a women’s base layer for hiking, look for moisture-wicking tops, bottoms, and long-sleeve undergarments. Key features include breathable, fast-drying fabrics like polyester, nylon, and merino wool blends that keep skin dry. A form-fitting design wicks sweat away from the body for maximum comfort and protection against changing weather. Both lightweight and midweight styles offer versatility forLayering depending on temperature and exertion level. Prioritizing breathability, odor-resistance and thermal regulation abilities will ensure an optimal base is chosen to start comfortable adventure.
When getting ready for mountaineering, winter hiking, or other cold adventures, choose warm women’s base layer tops. Look for midweight or heavyweight merino wool, fleece, or spandex tops that keep your torso and arms warm without feeling too bulky. These fabrics let your body breathe, even in freezing weather. Synthetic polyester fleece blends are also good because they wick away moisture while keeping you warm. Stretchy materials that move with your body are great for activities like mountaineering, skiing, snowboarding, and winter hiking. Pick breathable tops designed to keep you warm and with stretch panels for easy movement.
Optimal women’s base layers for outdoor adventures are moisture-wicking. To check for this key feature, review the fabric composition – look for blends including polyester, merino wool, spandex or polypropylene. These materials pull moisture away from the skin towards the outer layers for evaporation. You can also perform hands-on tests by wearing a layer and checking for sweat buildup. An effective layer will feel dry to the touch as sweat is transported out of direct contact with your body. Proper wicking keeps you comfortable through changing temperatures or exertion levels.