If you want to stay warm on the run this winter, your basic instinct should be to layer up
Base layers tested and rated
Columbia Midweight Stretch ½ zip
£50, columbiasportswear.co.uk This top fully deserves top marks. It’s brilliant value, offering anti-odour treatment, flatlock seams, thumb loops and a four-way stretch for comfort. But the standout features are the unbeatable tag team of Omni-heat (metallic dots on the inside of the top that reflect body heat) and Omni-wick, a polyester and elastane weave that quickly moves sweat to the outside so you stay toasty and dry.
FOR HIM 01/ Inov-8 AT/C Merino
£55, inov-8.com If Inov-8 can do a little more work on the fit of this top it’ll have a real winner on its hands. It had a tendency to ride up underneath jackets and bunch a little under a backpack, but in every other respect it was superb. The merino adds natural anti-odour protection, durability and excellent temperature regulation, and this top is so soft and comfortable you could probably wear it to bed.
02/ Helly Hansen Dry Performance Crew
£30, hellyhansen.com Norwegian brand Helly Hansen has been making mid-range, no-nonsense base layers for decades and this is a classic example of its output. On the downside the material is a little scratchy, the fit variable and the seams can irritate, but you can wash it often on any temperature and treat it with disdain without compromising the impressive wicking, warmth, breathability and durability it provides.
03/ Falke RU Long Sleeved Tee
£60, falke.com This top is ideal if you want a more forgiving cut. It gives you room to breathe without being so loose it bunches up under outer layers. It wicks well and is reasonably quick-drying (except when it’s wet through), but the best feature is the ludicrously soft feel against the skin.
04/ Arc’teryx Motus Crew
£60, arcteryx.com The best thing about this super-light top from Canadian brand Arc’teryx is the fit. Ergonomically cut, with a weave that gently stretches with you, it allows maximum freedom of movement. It was one of the best-wicking tops on test – but it’s also on the delicate side, which is not what you’d expect given the rather hefty price.
FOR HER 05/ Gore Essential Windstopper Base Layer
£59.99, goreapparel.co.uk This is a deceptive top: the inner is soft, sleek and covered in laser-cut holes for ventilation, so it’s as comfortable as you could hope for. However, the outer layer, featuring Gore’s patented Windstopper material, covers the chest, arms and kidneys, so the cold weather doesn’t even get a look in. It provides a snug fit and does its job superbly.
06/ Berghaus Thermal Base Zip
£54, trekkinn.com You could wear this top on its own or under an outer garment, depending on the awfulness of the weather. It will appeal to traditionalists, as the weave and the cut are resolutely old-school: thick, lightly ribbed and focused on durability rather than on technical pizazz. As the name suggests it’s extremely warm, and while the neckline is high it’s also soft, so there’s no irritation.
07/ Ronhill Merino Tee
£65, ronhill.com This is rather more expensive than Ronhill’s usual mid-range clothing, owing to the supersoft merino wool. We think it’s worth the money, as it feels dreamy against the skin and is excellent at temperature regulation, wicking and breathability. Only the slightly scratchy seams and boxy cut stopped this from being among the top-rated garments on test.
08/ Craft Active Comfort Run
£31.95, bergfreunde.co.uk A great functional staple for your running wardrobe. This top is not outstanding in any area but it’s solid and dependable – more redoubtable matron than maverick brain surgeon. It’ll stand repeated washing, thanks to the soft but sturdy weave. One notable drawback: our tester found it a little tight around the armpits until it was broken in.
When it comes to base layers, a quick-drying weave is a must.
FOR HIM* R’S EDITO CE CHOI
Look for anti-odour technology wherever possible.