Best Merino Wool Base Layers For Runners

These Merino tops are insulating yet also breathable and sweat-wicking, making them ideal for those cold weather runs.


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Merino wool base layers are a great choice for runners looking to layer up to stay warm and comfortable, especially if you’re going to be running in cold weather.

Merino base layers are ideal for when you need a durable, thermal-regulating layer of clothing that provides insulation and UV protection while still being breathable, sweat-wicking and naturally odor resistant.

We love that Merino wool can be worn comfortably next to your skin, as it does not itch in the same way as materials such as apparel made from regular sheep wool can – which means it’s also a great fabric for running socks and other cold weather running gear.

As well as being a great choice for running, Merino clothing is also great for other activities including hiking, mountain biking, and snowsports, so you’ll be able to use these best Merino wool base layers a lot through the colder months of the year.

The anti-stink properties of the wool’s natural fibers mean that if you’re going traveling or on a multi-day camping or backpacking adventure then your Merino base layer should stay stink-free for significantly longer than other clothing, without washing.

Another advantage of Merino wool for use in base layers, socks, and other clothing like underwear is that it is a natural, renewable and biodegradable material – although with its durability you won’t need to replace your Merino running gear often.

You can learn more about how Merino Wool yarn is obtained from these special sheep in this Wikipedia article.

Best Merino Wool Base Layers For Runners 1 - Trail and Kale | Trail Running & Adventure

1. Ibex Woolies Pro Tech Merino Base Layers ($115)

These lightweight baselayers are available in men’s and women’s sizes, with short and long sleeved tops, as well as shorts and pants.

Ibex’s ‘Woolies Pro Tech’ Merino base layers are super lightweight, spun using a proprietary spinning technology that makes merino 35% more thermally efficient, 85% more elastic, and 8.8x more durable than its ring-spun counterparts. They are made with 85% Merino wool, blended with a nylon core for added durability.

To learn more about them and see more photos of these baselayers in use, read our Ibex Woolies Pro Tech baselayers review.

Icebreaker 200 Oasis Crew Top Mens Best Merino Wool Base Layers

2. Icebreaker 200 Oasis Crew ($105)

These long-sleeve 100 % Merino tees are bestselling Icebreaker Merino wool tops.

They’re classed as midweight (200gsm), making them well-suited for wearing in cold weather and for winter sports.

We love the attention to detail that was paid in creating these shirts, such as the offset seams that sit away from where your backpack straps rest, eliminating the potential for seam-related irritation.

These Icebreaker base layers are available in men’s and women’s fits and colors, and in a short-sleeved version.

Kora Outdoor Yushu Yak Merino Crew Base Layer Best Merino Wool Base Layers

3. Kora Outdoor Yushu Crew Baselayers ($130)

Kora Outdoor is unique in that the brand specializes in creating clothing with blends of Himalayan yak and Merino wools.

Clothes and base layers made with these blends offer premium warmth and durability for outdoor adventures, especially in the mountains and colder weather conditions.

Their popular Yushu range of baselayers are medium weight (240gsm), and created using 60% yak wool and 40% Merino.

The fit of this base layer is excellent as it comfortably hugs your body, with the long top and sleeve length meaning it stays put and doesn’t ride up like shorter-cut clothing can. It also features attractive details on the right cuff.

Smartwool Classic All Season Merino Base Layer Best Mens Merino Base Layers

4. Smartwool Classic All-Season ($85)

These lightweight (150gsm) men’s and women’s Merino tees are indeed a classic, and Smartwool’s bestselling base layers for year-round wear.

These tops are available in a crew as well as quarter-zip at the neck, in men’s and women’s sizes and colors, with both short and long-sleeve options, and have no shoulder seams, eliminating the chances of pack-strap chafe on your shoulders.

Plus, if you need base layers for your bottom half, they offer matching pants, too.

The primary fabric used to make these Smartwool baselayers is Merino Wool (87%). The wool is blended with nylon, which provides added durability and a softer touch to the material.

Smartwool also sells a warmer thermal midweight version of these classic Merino tees, which is better suited for use when layering clothes for cold weather activities such as winter hikes and skiing.

Showers Pass Apex Merino Tech T Shirt

5. Showers Pass Apex Merino Tech Tee ($99)

These Apex Merino tech t-shirts from Portland-based Showers Pass offer more of a relaxed fit in both men’s and women’s sizes, with either short or long sleeves.

The longer length at the back also makes it great for cycling (reducing the potential for exposing your lower back to the elements as you ride), and also for people who find that wearing a backpack can make their top ride up while hiking.

With a similar lightweight Merino-Nylon blend to the Smartwool top above (87% Merino), this Showers Pass shirt is suited to running and other sweaty pursuits, year-round.

As the founder of Trail & Kale, and seasoned marathoner & ultrarunner, Alastair loves bringing our readers independent running shoe reviews and gear insights to help you run your best. Learn more about Trail & Kale here.


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