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Mammut Aconcagua (2015)

£130.00

If you’re a serious hillwalker and you plan on spending a lot of time in deep cold conditions, the Aconcagua (as you might expect from the name) is a perfect choice. There’s Polartec here again, but this time it’s the advanced Power Stretch version which prioritises stretchiness. So it’s incredibly athletic, adapting to your movements smoothly, although it’s not as ...

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Regatta Breaktrail (2015)

£25.00

The Breaktrail is part of Regatta’s Point 214 range – named after the 214 Lake District fells listed by guidewriter Alfred Wainwright. This tells you that it’s firmly designed with British hillwalking in mind, rather than anything more extreme. It’s all one fabric (the dark panels under the arms look like they should be a light fabric for venting, but ...

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The North Face Glacier 100 (2015)

£50.00

A small red triangle logo on your fleece will bump up the price, but as a quick visual guarantee, it is hard to beat. It’s the logo of Polartec, and when it comes to making a fleece warm, breathable and stretchy, Polartec is about the best option on the market. It’s at the heart of this excellent all-rounder fleece, making ...

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Craghoppers Miska II Half-Zip (2015)

£30.00

I wanted to take this off at the end of the day about as much as you might want to get out of a warm bed on a Baltic day, it's so incredibly soft, light and warm. The velvety microfleece is more reminiscent of comfy pyjamas than hardy outdoor kit. The cut is perfect for comfort and warmth: long enough ...

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Berghaus Roseg Full-Zip (2015)

£100.00

The green, bobbly one I tested may have taken its design cues from a dollop of mushy peas, but the Roseg is a top performer on cold, blustery, active days out. The cut is neat and trim, long enough to cover the lower back, even when making agile hops from stream to rock. The hem and cuffs are elasticated so ...

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Patagonia R1 Pullover (2015)

£100.00

The R1 takes an unusual approach by having its fleece fabric on the inside and a smooth, stretchy microfibre face-fabric on the outside. The internal fleece material is called Regulator, and it is soft, extremely light and surprisingly warm. This is in part due to an insulating grid pattern which keeps heat close to your body while still retaining breathability ...

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Montane Volt (2015)

£100.00

The Volt is a joy to wear. It’s called a ‘zoned’ jacket, with the zones being separate panels of material stitched together to make a jacket that moves naturally with you, while keeping the heat where you want it. It uses the warmest version of Polartec, Thermal Pro, which has a honeycomb design that creates air pockets within the jacket ...

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Sprayway W.N.W (2015)

£120.00

At one end of the fleecy scale there's the cuddly cloud-like top, perfect for the pub and light spring days. At the other end there’s the W.N.W, which takes its cues from soft shell and is a dedicated winter weather warrior. At its core is Gore Windstopper fabric, which vies with Polartec for top honours when it comes to fleece ...

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Sherpa Adventure gear Dikila (2014)

£50.00

Though the heaviest base-layer in the women’s group, the Dikila is surprisingly versatile. Using their own blend of synthetic fabrics called Dry-Zone, Sherpa have created a top which can double up in both a summer and winter wardrobe. It kept me warm on low-level strolls during the cold snaps of November, but it’s also breathable enough to cope with warmer ...

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Outdoor Research Echo (2014)

£35.00

A comfy top which ticks most of the boxes for a great price. ‘Stripped-back’ is the word: it’s extremely lightweight, almost tissue-thin, with uncomplicated stitched seams; a lean top for those who like to move light and fast. It isn’t close-fitted at all, in fact it’s rather baggy and shapeless round the waist and at the wrists. This means it’s ...

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Paramo Grid Classic (2014)

£50.00

If you want a warm, clever and versatile top that doesn’t look too flashy, look no further than the Grid. It’s a relaxed fit, but it’s made with a thick, insulating fabric (almost like fleece) which is so comfy I was still wearing it as an outer layer in late autumn. The distinctive grid pattern of this Parameta G fabric ...

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Smartwool NTS Mid 250 Zip (2014)

£75.00

At the top end of the price range, we find this: supremely comfortable merino wool, fitted but not clingy, a completely natural thermostat and easy to wash too. And as a bonus, it's muted enough to hide all its technical brilliance in a top that looks profoundly ‘normal’. I wore it on four separate trips without washing it, and it ...

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Montane Bionic (2014)

£65.00

As its name suggests, this is a top which means business. The Bionic is sleek and technical, with a slightly looser fit than the other base-layers to ensure ease of movement for strenuous days out in the hills. It’s incredibly lightweight and floats against the skin like gossamer – perfect for sweaty climbs on otherwise chilly days. But it’s the ...

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Icebreaker Oasis (2014)

£70.00

Here comes the merino champion: luxurious, comfortable and expensive. Unlike the coarse, itchy wool which comes from your bog-standard sheep, merino sheep produce exceptionally fine and soft wool which feels like silk next to the skin. And with this top, Icebreaker have engineered it into a top-of-the-range, deluxe base-layer. Made from 100% merino, the Oasis is tailored to be snug ...

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The North Face Hybrid (2014)

£45.00

Despite coming in at the lowest price-point of all the base-layers here, the Hybrid boasts some pretty impressive technology. The fabric is mapped out according to the body’s hot and cold spots so that the underarms, for instance, are ventilated while the sides are insulated. Under test, it did a fantastic job of regulating my body temperature at a comfortable ...

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Mammut GoWarm (2014)

£60.00

Here we get a bit more athletic. This is a high-performance technical top and the tightest fit in the men’s group, although it adapted nicely to my body shape after three outings and careful washes. It’s a complex blend: a merino and polyester face fabric plus a polyester-only inner lining, which together offer great temperature regulation on hard climbs. There’s ...

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Montane Prism (2014)

£100.00

Synthetic insulated jackets are ideal as year-round garments, and the Montane Prism is one of the best all-rounders out there. It uses PrimaLoft Eco synthetic insulation that includes 50 per cent recycled fibres. The shell is made from Pertex and when combined with the insulation you get a very lightweight option at just 423g (size L). That weight includes a ...

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Mountain Equipment Bastion (2014)

£190.00

Synthetic insulation cannot compete with down in terms of keeping you warm in the coldest of conditions, but it’s ideal when you need to stay warm while being active. The Bastion uses Mountain Equipment’s own Polarloft synthetic insulation and this is combined with a Gore Windstopper shell, which provides water and wind resistance. There are stretch side panels where there’s ...

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Berghaus Ramche (2014)

£300.00

The Ramche is one of Berghaus’s MtnHaus products, designed by mountaineers for top performance in the fiercest conditions. It features hydrophobic down, which resists water better than normal down, so it’s better able to retain its insulating performance when wet. Offset baffles reduce heat loss from the body core, while square baffles on the upper arms and stitched-through baffles under ...

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Sprayway Reactor (2014)

£80.00

The Sprayway Reactor has a nylon shell and Inso/therm insulation, and comes with a fixed hood and two large chest pockets. The pockets are big enough for OS maps and can be accessed while wearing a rucksack with a hipbelt. The hood gets a volume adjuster and face drawcords, but it doesn’t turn with the head as easily as would ...

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Rab Ascent (2014)

£185.00

The Rab Ascent is a down jacket with an outer made from Pertex Endurance, which is water-resistant enough that the down is protected from melting snow and tent condensation. Inside the size L jacket is 330g of hydrophobic down, which is better able to maintain its performance when wet than standard down. The removable hood gets a volume adjuster so ...

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Alpkit Filo (2014)

£120.00

Alpkit gear is only available directly from the manufacturer, but the price is stunning for what you get. The Filo is very warm thanks to a good amount of good-quality down, which is packed into a shell made of ripstop nylon with a water-resistant treatment. The detachable hood benefits from a wired peak, but there’s no volume adjuster and it ...

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Berghaus Long-Sleeve Zip-Neck Technical T-Shirt (2013)

£32.00

As far as general-purpose base layers go, the Berghaus Long-Sleeve Zip-Neck Technical T-Shirt ticks all the boxes. It’s a good price, it’s reasonably light and, because it’s synthetic rather than merino wool, it’s relatively low-maintenance. The long sleeves and high collar keep the breeze at bay on a cold day, and the long chest zip allows the wearer to cool ...

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Icebreaker Mondo Longsleeve Half Zip (2013)

£70.00

It would seem that the sheep in New Zealand must be some of the nicest-smelling in the world. The merino wool that the Icebreaker Mondo Longsleeve Half Zip base layer is made from can be worn repeatedly over several days without any hint of unpleasantness, then machine-washed. It’s a bit thicker and heavier than the synthetic base layers we looked ...

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Arc’teryx Phase AR Hoody (2013)

£55.00

Base layers with hoods are not that common and won’t appeal to everybody. However, if you like the idea of the all-over protection that a hooded base layer provides, the Arc’teryx Phase AR Hoody is one of the best. It wicks moisture, insulates and is tailored for an active fit with flatlocked seams for added comfort. The clever combination of ...

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