Mammut: Kira Pro/Trovat Pro
Review Words : Phoebe Smith | 23 November

The best long-sleeve baselayers on the market

When temperatures begin to plummet, you need a good baselayer underneath to keep you warm. Here’s what to look for in these body-hugging technical tops…

Craghoppers: Gracefield/Fermont 

£30

The test: Though the design may look more ‘fashion’ than technical – given the grandfather-style button fastening – it hides some wizardry. Made from aThermal Control fabric, it contains fibres to distribute warmth and help your body regulate its temperature. It certainly feels one of the warmest when putting it on, and is a tighter fi t than others. The sleeve length is decent, while the seams are flatlocked but do not sit fl at, so you are more aware of them. The focus with this top is less on wicking and venting and more on keeping your temperature right, which explains the heavier weight – at 176g (UK size 10) it’s the fifth heaviest on test. 

Verdict: A great option if you’re headed somewhere cold and don’t intend on getting super active, yet want a top that keeps you warm.

Features: ★★★★✩

Design: ★★★★✩

Versatility: ★★★★★

Comfort: ★★★★✩

Value: ★★★★★

Overall: ★★★★✩


Icebreaker: Oasis BodyfitV (Wanderlust's BEST IN TEST)

£60

The test: Claiming proudly on its packaging to be ‘the world’s best baselayer’, the Oasis has a lot to live up to. Feeling distinctly soft and not at all itchy, it’s surprising to note that the Icebreaker is 98% merino wool (1% lycra, 1% nylon), meaning it’s naturally great at wicking sweat, keeping you warm and controlling odour. It’s also comfy on the body – the seams are flatlocked and sit flush, so you don’t feel them; it’s not too tight and fits well; it has a scooped hem; and the sleeves are a good length. The neck is wide, which some will like while others might not, but it does give it amore casual feel. Weight-wise, it’s fourth lightest (170g; UK size 10). 

Verdict: Comfy straight out of the box, good for odour control and looks casual enough to wear from peaks to pub – a great option for travellers.

Features: ★★★★★

Design: ★★★★★

Versatility: ★★★★★

Comfort: ★★★★★

Value: ★★★★★

Overall: ★★★★★

* Wanderlust's BEST IN TEST


Rab: Interval LS Tee 

 £35

The test: The first thing you notice with this one is the weight. At just 99g (UK size 10) it’s the lightest on test by quite a way. Yet when you put it on this 100% polyester offering feels surprisingly warm. The sleeves are a good length, though the fit is tighter than some of the higher priced options. The bottom is scooped for good back coverage and the zip neck offers venting and a chinguard. The fabric is treated with Polygiene, which stops the growth of smell-causing bacteria, and the grid pattern helps with breathability. Its seams are flatlocked and sit fl at, though I was more aware of them than with some of the pricier tops. 

Verdict: A super-light option that, while lacking some  finishing touches, keeps you pong-free when active and is even kinder on your wallet.

Features: ★★★★★

Design: ★★★★✩

Versatility: ★★★★★

Comfort: ★★★★✩

Value: ★★★★★

Overall: ★★★★✩

 

 

Armadillo: Artemis/Apollo

 £75

The test: Throw in an extra tenner and you get 100% merino, which has great wicking ability and fantastic odour control combined with warmth and breathability. Put it on and it offers a close yet comfy fi t with as light scooped bottom and a long length for good back coverage. The sleeves are quite long and feel thicker at the lower arm, where you need it most – you can also roll them up easily if you get too warm. The seams are flatlocked and flush to the fabric, and you can’t feel any apart from those on the lower arms. It looks nice and casual, too, so is versatile for travellers, though slightly heavier at 178g (UK size 10) – third heaviest. 

Verdict: Comfy, warm and versatile, it only just loses out on the top spot because of the lower-arm seams and its marginally heavier weight. 


Features: ★★★★★

Design: ★★★★★

Versatility: ★★★★★

Comfort: ★★★★✩

Value: ★★★★✩

Overall: ★★★★✩


Bamboo: Thermo ZipNeck 

 £50

The test: For a little more cash you get a natural, softer fabric: bamboo. Good at wicking and absorbing sweat, the fabric is antibacterial – to help with smells – and enviro-friendly, as no pesticides or fertilisers are used to grow it. It’s also good at controlling your temperature, and the top’s ribbed-construction means a close but stretchy – and super comfy – fit. The sleeves are a good length and offer comfy thumb loops for a better fit. The zipped neck has a good chinguard and the length is long, for good back coverage. The seams are flatlocked, though not stitched flat, which is a shame; this was also the heaviest on test (206g; UK size 10).

Verdict: A comfy eco-friendly offering that feels super-soft against your skin, but the heavy weight could be a drawback for some.

 

Features: ★★★★★

Design: ★★★★✩

Versatility: ★★★★★

Comfort: ★★★★✩

Value: ★★★★★

Overall: ★★★★✩

 

 

Paramo: Grid Technic 

 £55

The test: Made from Paramo’s Parameta G fabric (a polyester that is great at wicking sweat from the skin and spreading it, so it dries faster), this feels like a fleecey mid-layer. The idea is to dispense with two separate layers and just use this. The grid pattern allows all-over venting to keep you cool, but add a water- or wind-proof outer layer and it insulates well. The sleeve length is good and has thumb loops (a little tight); length is decent, with a scooped bottom; and the zip has a chinguard. Seams are flatlocked, though feel a little bulkier than some here, and as you’d expect from a double layer, it’s the second heaviest (180g; UK size 10).

Verdict: An innovative idea: why take two layers on your travels? Though some may prefer something more traditional, that’s thinner and lighter.


Features: ★★★★★

Design: ★★★★✩

Versatility: ★★★★✩

Comfort: ★★★★✩

Value: ★★★★★

Overall: ★★★★✩


Mammut: Kira Pro/Trovat Pro 

 £80

The test: For something a little more sporty, there’s this offering from Mammut. It’s made from Polartec Powerwool: a blend of wool on the inside for warmth; great wicking and odour control; and synthetic fabric on the outside to allow lighter weight and stretch. And it does feel great: the inside is much warmer than you’d think; the seams are flatlocked and flush for comfort (though I was more aware of them than with some others); the fi t is close, with some give in the arms so you can roll them up; and the sleeve length is good. Its weight is also light at 158g (UK size 10; third lightest), but the chinguard on the zip is too small.

Verdict: A fantastic fabric at a good weight, but some small design niggles – mainly the zip chinguard – may be a deal-breaker for some.


Features: ★★★★★

Design: ★★★★✩

Versatility: ★★★★✩

Comfort: ★★★★✩

Value: ★★★★✩

Overall: ★★★★✩




Smartwool: NTS Light 200 

 £85

The test: Made from a merino and polyester mix, this option offers the great wicking, odour resistance and warmth of wool, with the comfy stretch and quick-drying qualities of asynthetic – and at a light weight of 152g (UK size 10; second lightest on test). Mesh panels offer ventilation and flatlocked seams mean greater comfort. When on, it is a tighter fit to the body than some, but the ribbing design makes it comfortable, and the zip features a good chinguard. The sleeve length is good and you can roll them up if you get too hot. It certainly feels thinner and less instantly warming than others, but that makes it a great layering piece.

Verdict: A well-designed, light layer with the benefits of both wool and synthetics – though the price may be a little high for some.

Features: ★★★★★

Design: ★★★★★

Versatility: ★★★★★

Comfort: ★★★★★

Value: ★★★★✩

Overall: ★★★★✩



This is what we looked at: 

Fabric 

The ideal fabric will do several things. It will offer a good level of warmth, but more than that, it should work to regulate your body temperature, keeping you warm enough but not too hot. You will also need a moisture wicking fabric (which moves sweat away from the body) to keep you cool when temperatures increase. You’ll want something that manages odour, so you don’t smell too bad when walking into a pub after a day’s adventure; it also means you won’t need to wash it too often on your travels.

Seams 

Look for flatlocked stitching and for the seams to be flush against the fabric, to reduce potential rubbing. The fewer seams the better, as  it means there are not as many areas where this can happen – it’s always a good idea to try a rucksack or bag on with the top to check for potential chafing.

Zip or no zip? 

This is a case of personal preference. But don’t forget that the plus point of a zip is that it allows the possibility of extra ventilation, if needed; but then it also adds weight. If you opt for one, a soft fabric chinguard at the top will often make things more comfortable. 

Weight

A lighter top is good for keeping your luggage weight low, but losing grams can make the clothing less warm, which defeats the purpose of using one at all.

Sleeves 

All baselayers featured in this test are long-sleeved – and the length is commented on in the review. But as with any top, it’s always a good idea to try them on to ensure the length is long enough for your own arms.

How we did the test…

We asked gear manufacturers to submit the long-sleeve baselayers that they felt were most suitable for travellers. Our editor, Phoebe Smith, took the 15 we were sent out on the road to see which performed best. The eight here are all ‘Wanderlust Approved’, with ‘Value Buy’ and ‘Best Buy’ indicated; where names and prices diff er depending on gender are also indicated.

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Main image: Mammut: Kira Pro/Trovat Pro