Ask the Gear Guy

Good base layer to keep warm?

Q. Hello Gear Guy, My friends wear Under Armour with shorts and a T-shirt and say they are warm when it is 30 degrees out. Meanwhile I’m freezing with long johns and my uniform and a jacket on! I was considering buying Under Armour. They give me a choice of silk or polyester, which one keeps me warmer? Do you have suggestions of any other products besides Under Armour?
— Arctic Alex, Port Monmouth, N.J.

A. Yo Alex! I’d bet your “warm-blooded” friends might be talking up their warmth a little bit — makes them feel cooler, I guess. That said, a good base layer is indeed the key to keeping warm outdoors. If I were you, I would stick with polyester base layers rather than silk. Sure, silk will keep you warm, but it’s more expensive and usually harder to care for (some require hand-washing!). Most importantly, it’s not quite as quick to dry as polyester and slower to wick sweat away from your body. That makes polyester a better choice for a guy like you who is likely really active when you’re outdoors. While Under Armour does make nice base layers, there are plenty of other very good options out there. One of the most affordable yet high-performance base layers I know of is L.L. Bean’s Polartec Power Dry Base Layer, Midweight Crew top and pants ($35 and up each; Brands like Columbia, Mountain Hardwear, REI and Cabela’s also carry similar products.

Comments about “Good base layer to keep warm?”

  1. Sly Fox says:

    Duluth Trading Company’s “3 Dog” base layer is awesome. Better temp ratings and more durable than U A and at 75% the cost. It’s also a Wisconsin based company.

  2. T41 Scout says:

    merrell shirts from rei

  3. Delta Force says:

    I used under Armour when I served as at Para-rescue man in Iraq. not only does it keep you warm but it keeps you cool as well! the under armor worked great and I still use it today.

  4. bucky says:

    Under Armour is good but if you are looking for a higher quality but expensive base layer some of the Icebreaker brand are v. good.

  5. Made in the USA says:

    Polartec is made in the USA…keep your country employed!

  6. Knife Xpert 157 (aka Chad 101) says:

    under armor is great but that does not mean that other brands are bad!

  7. lorenzo says:

    under armor is the best and all others are bad

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