Best Base Layers: Our Favorite Base Layers for Families

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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:

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 really impressed with them – they’re the ones I reach for the most often!)
  • Amazon Kids wool socks (we’ve had these for years and they’re cute and warm)

Non-Wool Base Layers

Merino wool base layers are definitely an investment, so here’s another set that is super warm that we like. These don’t breathe as much as wool base layers, so they’re trickier to rewear, and aren’t as comfortable for changing temperatures, but they are very warm in super cold weather. We also like that they have sizes for men, women, kids, toddlers, and even babies.

Our favorite non-wool base layers



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