The best trail running base layers

Base layers can do so much more than keep you warm these days. Some are moisture wicking to keep you cool, some have odour controlling microorganisms and most are high-tech garments. Here's our list of the best for trail running.

Female trail runner

by Trail magazine |

Base layers are tricky customers to review. You cannot ignore their looks, after all who will buy something that doesn’t look good? But, and this is important, you also cannot ignore the tech they use.

Essentially, the best layers look good, are comfortable, let you move easily at pace, are breathable, regulate body temperature, and have odour control.

That’s a lot of boxes to tick for what you thought was merely a t-shirt or long sleeve layer you’d wear under a jacket.

The best trail running base layers

Best in Test

Pros: For a t-shirt, this offers an incredible amount of tech
Cons: The price

Black Diamond Rhythm T

Nuyarn mixes responsibly sourced merino wool with Nylon, spun without twisting
the wool fibres. It claims to improve performance and durability over the normal ring spun method, and it’s also lighter. This tee feels soft, breathable and warm, combining an athletic cut with plenty of stretch for a perfect fit.

Pros: A good price point for something so well constructed
Cons: Too light for anything

Montane Dragon T

This super light, smooth-feeling, close fitting polyester tee matches cool, contrasting colours with well thought out features. The longer cut stops it riding up and a low collar protects from pack rub. A quarter zip adds ventilation while reflective detailing and Polygiene odour control keep you safe and fresh respectively.

Pros: Super technical, ready for the mountains
Cons: You may not like the look

Omm Core Vest

Primaloft Next is an ultra-light recycled polyester insulating fabric – like fleece but half the weight. This innovative yet niche appeal vest is warm under a shell but highly breathable, allowing easy and effective temperature regulation through the zips on your jacket. The lack of stretch and slim fit makes it hard to take off, though.

Pros: Uses recycled material, great comfort
Cons: A bit warm for summer

Innov8 Base Elite LS

Made with recycled polyester, this good value, super light, full-length top is surprisingly versatile. Soft and sweat- wicking as a base layer, the sizing and cut also work brilliantly as a lightweight, fast- drying second layer. Thumb loops, reflective details, no-seam hems and anti-odour treatment finish a really useful piece of kit at a good price.

Pros: Sustainable, suitable for everyday use and hiking too
Cons: Not ideal for racing

Patagonia Capilene Cool Trail 

Made from mostly recycled polyester, this tee feels great against the skin. It’s soft, light and breathable, adding a naturally sweat-wicking and antimicrobial layer for year-round wear. Just be warned the lighter colours are a little see-through. It’s Fair Trade-certified sewn too and good value.

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