Merino wool base layers are for sure our number one adventure essential for kids and also for adults. We always add them to our packing list and wear them outdoor adventures. Wool is amazing for regulating body temperature, so it’s excellent to use in both warm and cool weather. It’s also really terrific as a warm underlayer, wicks moisture, and is naturally odor-resistant so can easily be reworn (and dries quickly when it is washed).
We love using merino wool base layers as pajamas when traveling and at home and get tons of use out of them. They’re a really versatile, durable piece of clothing.
We personally prefer merino wool for our base layers because of the above reasons, but those items do tend to be a bit pricier. Still, for us, they’re worth the investment since we’re able to use them a ton at home and when traveling, and we’ve passed ours through multiple kids.
Best Base Layer Brands For Families
Smartwool base layers (found at REI and on the Smartwool site) are my favorites for the whole family. They’re thick, warm, and soft and last a long time. If you prefer a merino wool that isn’t quite as warm (my oldest likes thinner ones as he tends to not get cold easily), the REI Co-op merino wool base layers are also excellent.
I also love this thin merino/silk v-neck because it fits easily under other things. I wear it several times a week at home under v-neck sweaters. I especially love that it works easily for breastfeeding – the neckline is low enough to stretch down so I don’t need to lift from the bottom. It keeps my stomach warm when nursing!
Here are all the base layer items our family loves:
- REI Co-op merino wool base layers
- These aren’t quite as thick and warm as the Smartwool ones, but are great for layering or as pajamas in warmer months.
Wool Socks for Families
Speaking of wool, we’ve been gradually been switching over to almost all wool socks over the past few years. They tend to be more expensive up front than cotton socks, but last significantly longer, and are so warm. Again, they’re great for travel as they can be aired out and reworn, and dry very quickly when they are washed. Perfect for hiking or any outdoors adventure in any weather.
Here are my favorite wool socks for the whole family:
- Smartwool (buy at Smartwool, REI)
- Darn Tough (buy at Darn Tough, REI)
- REI Co-op
- Amazon (these are women’s wool blend socks and while they don’t have as high of a wool content, they’re super soft, stretchy, and warm, and I’ve been surprisingly really impressed with them)
I also love these no-show Smartwool socks – they don’t show outside everyday sneakers so I can wear them with non-athletic clothes, but provide all the same benefits of other wool socks (and they don’t slip down!!).
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