12 of the Best Merino Wool Base Layer Shirts for Hunting in 2017

Hunters who spend a lot of time sitting in a tree stand or a hunting blind will understand just how cold it can get. If you're not properly equipped with suitable hunting clothes, and key to that is a good quality base layer, you are going to get very miserable very fast.

​Keeping warm in the coldest weather is a primary concern of all outdoorsmen and this definitely includes hunters. To effectively combat the cold the best strategy is to layer your clothing.

​The base layer is possibly the most important layer because it is the one that sits next to the skin. It will keep you warm when you are sitting still, will wick away sweat when you move and should allow easy movement rather than be restrictive.

It is widely acknowledged that the key to an effective base layer is something that is made from wool. And it doesn't get much better than Merino when it comes to wool.​

It’s an important step in the process of ensuring that you stay warm and comfortable throughout the day. So understanding its importance we take a look at the items of clothing that will provide you with the best merino wool base layer for hunting.​

In the list below we have delved into the woollen base layer tops - short and long sleeves - and are presenting them to you as a great starting point to ensure you don't freeze your behind off this winter.​

Merino Wool Base Layer Tops​

Make / Model

Sizes

Colors

MSRP

Smartwool NTS Mid 250 Crew Top

S - XXL

Black
Olive Heather
Deep Navy
Brown
Taupe Heather
Light Gray

$105.00

Minus33 Chocorua Midweight Crew

XS - 6XL

Black
Charcoal Grey
Denim Heather
Desert Sand
Forest Green
Mossy Oak Break Up
Grey
Navy
True Red

$89.99

Minus33 Isolation Midweight ¼ Zip Shirt

XS - 3XL

Black
Charcoal Grey
Denim Heather
Desert Sand
Forest Green
Mossy Oak Break Up
Navy
True Red

$89.99

ColdPruf Platinum Dual Layer Crew Neck

S - XL

Black
Heather Grey

$39.99

Icebreaker Everyday Long Sleeve Crew

S - 3XL

Black
Admiral
Cargo
Cadet

$59.99

Icebreaker Oasis Long Sleeve Crew

S - 3XL

Black
Break-Up Infinity
ChocolateTrail
Heather
+ Many others

$89.99

First Lite Minaret Aerowool Crew Top

S - XXL

Black
Dry Earth
Pine
Fusion
ASAT Camo

$85.00

First Lite Chama Quarter Zip Shirt

 S - 3XL

Black
Dry Earth
Pine
First Lite Fusion
ASAT Camo
Realtree Max-1
Realtree Xtra
Mossy Oak Infinity

$100.00

First Lite Llano Long Sleeve Shirt

 S - 3XL

Black
Dry Earth
Pine
First Lite Fusion
ASAT Camo
Realtree Max-1
Realtree Xtra
Mossy Oak Infinity

$100.00

Icebreaker Ika Half Zip Long Sleeve Shirt

S - XXL

Mossy Oak Break Up
Realtree Xtra
Realtree Max-1

$109.99

Kryptek Merino Baselayer Highlander Top

S - 4XL

​Highlander

$119.99

Minus33 Merino Wool Yukon Expedition Crew

XS - XL

Black

$94.99

Now that we have taken a brief look at the comparison table that lists all of the basic details of these items of Merino wool hunting clothing we will now head a little deeper and go through some of the features of each shirt. Included in these short reviews is the proportion of Merino wool that is included in each as well as what activities you might wear the shirts for.

 

Most Popular Base Layer Tops

Smartwool NTS Mid 250 Crew Top

Click for Pricing Details and Reviews on Amazon.com

This is one of the best Merino wool shirts available on the market today. The Smartwool NTS (Next To Skin) range is notable for its comfort and sleek design. This is the Mid 250 weight shirt which is suitable as a single layer for cold weather performance or a base layer for very cold weather.

The style of the shirt is a form fit so it will sit close to the body and it is an interlock knit with a density of 250 grams / cubic meter. The shoulder panels are designed to eliminate seams and it is made with flatlock seam construction so there is no chafing.

This is the company’s warmest baselayer shirt and benefits from all of the qualities that Merino wool brings such as natural temperature regulation and odor resistance. It is recommended that the shirt be worn as a base layer on the coldest of days and is suitable for use when taking part in snow activities, hunting and hiking.

It should be noted that the fabric is prone to pilling early on in its life so some attention should be given to it the first few times it has been washed.

The shirt is made available in a range of different colors including Black, Olive Heather, Charcoal Heather, Brown, Deep Navy and others. It can be bought in one of 5 sizes from Small to XX Large and customers have noted that the sleeves are generous in their length at all sizes. The shirt has an MSRP of $105.00.​

Minus33 Merino Wool Chocorua Midweight Crew

Click for Pricing Details and Reviews on Amazon.com

This is a midweight crew necked shirt that is one of the best selling and most popular products in the Minus33 range. The midweight nature of the shirt means that it can be worn as a base layer during the colder and wetter months and then, when the sun comes out it will be a comfortable outer layer shirt.

Looking at the numbers, the fabric is 100% merino wool, it is 230 g/m2 interlock knit and consists of 18.5 micron fibers. It has a UPF rating of 50+.

A good mid-layer shirt acts as an insulating second layer that is both breathable and insulated. These are the qualities that the Chocorua brings. Other qualities include the ability to wick moisture away from the body and to reduce odor.

A feature of the Minus33 shirts that is incorporated into this one is the Flat Lock Seams. These types of seams ensures comfort from your base layer clothing because they prevent chafing and will let your clothes move smoothly over the top without rubbing and damaging them, ultimately prolonging their lives.

​The shirt is recommended for use as a base layer in temperatures ranging from 0 to 30 degrees when you plan on high activity and from 30 to 60 degrees when engaging in low activity.

You could wear this shirt when hiking, hunting, fishing or taking part in snowsports.

​The shirt is made in sizes ranging from XS to 3XL. It is also available in a range of colors (pictured above is the Black) that have an MSRP of $65.99 or the Mossy Oak Break-Up Infinity pattern which has a higher MSRP of $80.99.

​Minus33 Isolation Midweight ¼ Zip Shirt

Click for Pricing Details and Reviews on Amazon.com

Another midweight shirt from Minus33, the Isolation is made from 100% 18.5 micron Merino wool. This shirt has been designed to provide you with a versatile layer that can be adjusted as the temperature changes. It can start out as a valuable way of providing heat in cold conditions, but as the temperature rises, you can lower the zip to vent the generated body heat.

​This shirt is designed as a mid-layer piece that offers good value as an insulator. The fabric consists of 230 g/m2 and it has a UPF rating of 50+. The weight of the garment in the large size is 12.8 oz.

The types of activities that the shirt is ideal to be worn when pursuing includes hunting and fishing as well as hiking, snowsports and biking.

The vast majority of people who have worn this shirt have given it high praise. Negative feedback has been returned mainly from taller men who have found that the sleeves are not long enough and it fits too tightly across the shoulders.

​The shirt is made in sizes ranging from Small to XX Large. It is available in a range of colors as well as the Mossy Oak Break-Up Infinity that you see pictured above. The MSRP varies between $75.99 for the plain colors and $89.99 for the Mossy Oak.

​ColdPruf Platinum Dual Layer Long Sleeve Crew Neck Top

Click for Pricing Details and Reviews on Amazon.com

This is certainly a cold weather base layer shirt that has been designed to protect and warm against the most extreme conditions. The Platinum line of ColdPruf clothing is designed with two layers as a way of more effectively providing warmth to the body.

The way it works is through an inside layer that is made from 100% ColdPruf Technical Fiber Polyester with an element the company calls Silvadur Intelligent Freshness and an outside layer made from 70% Polyester and 30% Merino Wool. This dual layer traps air between the two layers to create a warm barrier of air as the warming method.

​The use of the Merino Wool in this case provides a couple of functions by adding warmth to the shirt as well as ensuring it maintains extreme softness. On top of this the blend of materials that is used ensures greater dryness and comfort as well as a natural odor control.

Other features built into the shirt include rib cuffs and a drop cut for added protection against the cold. It is available in a choice of two colors: either black or heather grey and the sizes range from Small to 3XL. The shirt has been released by the company with an MSRP of between $27.00 and $33.00.​

​Icebreaker Everyday Long Sleeve Crewe

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This shirt from Icebreaker has been designed to give the most number of people the type of comfort and warmth they need when they are going on an extended outdoor excursion. The Everyday crew long sleeve shirt from Icebreaker has been marketed by the company as the all-purpose shirt that you will take on every trip. It is versatile enough for use in extreme cold as well as slightly moderate conditions.

The rib fabric is 100% merino Wool and it is a lightweight 200 gsm. The design uses seams that are placed in positions that will not chafe or rub. The sleeves are made to ensure easy movement so that you won’t feel inhibited at all. It is light in weight so it will cost you nothing in weight or space when it is packed in your kit.

It has a number of features to it that are worth a mention including the crew neck, raglan sleeves, forward side seams and flatlock seams that are designed to prevent chafing. The company advises that the shirt is suitable for such outdoor activities as hiking and hunting as well as for travel.

The customer comments are united in pointing out how comfortable the shirt is not to mention the fact that it is very effective at providing a warm base layer that sits nicely underneath heavier layers.

The shirt is available in Black, Blue, Desert and Cargo and there are 5 sizes to choose from ranging from Small to XX Large. It has an MSRP of $69.95.

More information about the many fine products produced by the company can be found by visiting the Icebreaker website.​

Icebreaker Oasis Long Sleeve Crew

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The Oasis model has been designed as a versatile lightweight shirt that may be worn either on its own or as a base layer. The shirt is made from 100% Bodyfit 200 Merino Wool in a Jersey knit and is designed with flat lock seams to prevent chafing.

Thought has also been given to wearing a backpack with the shoulder seams offset so that there is no rubbing. The aim of the weight of the Oasis is to keep the body temperature at an even temperature no matter what the activity.​

The Oasis is available in a choice of 5 sizes from Small to XX Large. It offers the active person a great deal of choice when comes to the look with as many as 15 different colors and color combinations available. Visiting the Icebreaker website will allow you to get a more comprehensive view of the many choices available.

Recommended suggested activities that may be undertaken while wearing the Oasis shirt include snow sports, hiking or hunting with the trim fit ideal to allow plenty of free movement.​

​First Lite Minaret Aerowool Crew Top

Click for Pricing Details and Reviews on Amazon.com

Newly released in 2016, the Minaret is the result of putting together the moisture wicking properties of the 37.5 by Cocona which is used by First Lite as an outerwear material with the odor mitigation ability of Merino Wool to create an Aerowool product.

​Not only is this shirt a perfect warm weather light base layer shirt because it will keep you dry by wicking moisture away from the body but it is also a cold climate base layer. Anyone who has done a lot of active hunting on days where the temperature has become warm will understand the value in wearing clothing that will keep you dry and the lightness of the Minaret will allow the slightest breeze to quickly cool the body.

The shirt is available in Black, Dry Earth, Pine, First Lite Fusion and ASAT Camo patterns and there are 5 sizes from Small to XX Large.​

​First Lite Chama Quarter Zip Long Sleeve Shirt

Click for Pricing Details and Reviews on Amazon.com

This is a versatile mid weight shirt that can be worn either as a base layer or as a stand-alone shirt. It is 100% Merino Wool in construction which means it is a natural fiber and is odor resistant. It is designed to retain the body’s heat so that you will remain warm no matter how long you sit in your stand. The feature of the quarter zip means that you can vent the shirt if you find you are getting too warm. The Charma is available in 8 different colors or patterns.

​First Lite Llano Long Sleeve Crew

Click for Pricing Details and Reviews on Amazon.com

This is a crew necked foundation shirt that has been designed to be worn by hunters who will be exposed to harsh weather conditions and will be spending long hours out there. No matter whether you will be walking over rough terrain or sitting in your tree stand the lightweight Llano will offer warmth and comfort.

​The shirt is made from 100% 17.5 micron superfine Merino wool. It is designed as a tighter athletic fit and is meant to be worn next to the skin. It is the foundation base layer shirt that will be just as comfortable in the cooler morning conditions as it will be as it warms up throughout the day.

​It is made from lightweight interlock fabric and because it is Merino wool it naturally suppresses the microbial activity that causes odor. The wool will also keep you warm even if it gets wet.

​The shirt is available in a range of colors and patterns including Black, Dry Earth, Pine, First Lite Fusion (pictured above) and ASAT Camo. You can buy the shirt in sizes ranging from Small to 3XL and the company has released it with an MSRP of $85.00 for the plain colors and $100.00 for the patterned.

​More information about the base layer shirts and other products can be found by visiting the First Lite website.

​Icebreaker Ika Half Zip Long Sleeve Shirt

Click for Pricing Details and Reviews on Amazon.com​

The Ika long sleeve half zip tee is a lightweight 200 gsm 100% merino wool slim fit shirt. It is soft to the touch and will feel great against the skin. It is a natural fiber base layer and this means that it is odor resistant and breathable to keep you comfortable no matter what the conditions may be. The addition of a zip neck collar means that you will be able to regulate the temperature should you feel as if you are becoming too warm. The shirt is available in three different patterns.

​Kryptek Merino Baselayer Highlander Top

Click for Pricing Details and Reviews on Amazon.com​

This is a base layer top that is made from 95% pure Merino Wool and 5% Spandex. Its design will enable you to either wear it underneath your warmer clothing as an insulating layer or it can be worn as a stand-alone top. It is made to sit close to the skin to provide an athletic fit.

The natural fibers mean that it is naturally antimicrobial to reduce odors. It is a good heat regulator and may be worn in comfort from early season as a stand-alone garment through to the late season where it becomes an essential base layer. It wicks moisture away from the skin and feels soft to the touch yet is also extremely durable. The quarter length zip allows you to vent the top when experiencing warmer conditions.

The shirt comes in a choice of 7 sizes ranging from X Small up to 3XL and is available only in the Highlander pattern that you can see displayed above. The company released it with an MSRP of $119.00.

More information about the hunting apparel along with other related products can be found by visiting the Kryptek website.​

​Minus33 Merino Wool Yukon Expedition Crew

Click for Pricing Details and Reviews on Amazon.com​

The Yukon is a 100% 18.5 micron Merino Wool crew neck made with 400 g/m2 Interlock knit construction. It is a durable expedition weight base layer garment that will rapidly wick moisture away from the body and keep you warm when you are sitting still. The top is only available in black but it is the type of mid- to late-season base layer that will prove to be an invaluable part of every serious hunter’s equipment.

It is a well-known fact that wool is the best fabric to stay warm and comfortable in cool and wet conditions. There are numerous examples of high quality wool hunting clothes that are durable and feel good next to the skin. They will stop the cold from seeping into your bones when sitting for long hours when on stakeout, but they will also ensure you don’t overheat when you’re on the move.

Benefits of Using Merino Wool Hunting Clothing

    • The secret to the success of merino wool for hunting clothing is that it helps to regulate the body’s temperature more effectively. When it is worn against the skin it provides warmth but it doesn’t overheat the wearer. This is possible because of the natural crimps and creases in wool fiber that creates insulating air pockets. 
    • It effectively wicks moisture away from the skin and will retain warmth even when it is wet. It can do this because the fiber can absorb up to 35 per cent of its dry weight in moisture vapor.
    • The wicking process takes place when the fibers of the inner layer start to absorb moisture vapor. When it reaches its absorbing limit any excess moisture is repelled by the layer’s hydrophobic surface and forced into contact with the hydrophilic fibers at the outer layer. In other words, the moisture is transferred quickly from the inner surface near the skin to the outer side.
    • Controlling odor is a significant issue for hunters and the use of the natural wool clothing as a base layer will play an important role in minimizing sweat and its resultant smell. The structure of the wool locks away the odor molecules. Also, due to the fact that the moisture vapor is absorbed by the wool the amount of sweat is reduced anyway.
    • Stains can be washed out very effectively because Merino fiber has a protective layer that prevent stains from being absorbed

    Drawbacks Of Merino Wool Shirts

    ​Although Merino wool shirts are outstanding for keeping you comfortable in cooler or wet conditions, there are a couple of problems associated with them and they are frequently documented in customer reviews.

    • ​They are lightweight garments and so there are issues with their durability. They can get holes in them over time through regular wear or repeated abrasion in the same spot (such as where your backpack straps rub).
    • They require special cleaning instructions to ensure their shape is maintained and to minimize shrinkage. Once you’ve given them a wash you quickly develop a routine that will prolong the life of your Merino wool shirts but there may be a short learning curve involved.
    • Also, merino wool garments are not cheap when compared to cotton or polyester. But you’re paying for their extra special qualities.

    When trying to stay warm and protected against harsh conditions the base layer is acknowledged as the crucial first step. The base layer shirts that have been listed above do not represent a complete range of those that are available in the Merino Wool category, but they do represent the shirts that are most commonly recommended by hunters who have faced the toughest of conditions.

    ​We have also examined outer layer items of apparel too. Here is our listing of the Warmest Insulated Hunting Jackets along with some of the most Waterproof Hunting Rain Jackets available.

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