Best Winter Mid & Base Layers

Gear -



If you want to stay warm on your bike this winter, you’re going to need to invest in some quality base layers. Heated gear is a great option, but if your bike doesn’t support it or you want to buy some gear that will keep you warm while off the bike as well, you’ll want to pick up something off of this list.

Sub Sports COLD Men’s Thermal Compression Base Layer Long Sleeve Top ($37) and Sub Sports COLD Men’s Thermal Compression Base Layer Leggings / Tights ($36)
Camping and cycling base layers are a wonderful place to look if you don’t want to spend the big bucks on motorcycle branded gear. While the gear from these segments aren’t necessarily designed with keeping your body warm while exposed to the elements at freeway speeds, sometimes you can pay 50% of the price while getting something 80% as good as dedicated gear. These layers from Sub Sports were designed for playing cold weather sports and to keep your body warm while moving. They are moisture wicking, and the extra compression fit helps keeps blood and oxygen circulating throughout your body, which also helps improve warmth.


WarmSkin Thermal Wind Break Shirt w/Zipper ($89.99) and WarmSkin Skinny Pants ($49.99)
We’ve worn these under full adventure gear while riding through snow-covered mountains and under a simple leather jacket for a chilly night out. The chest panel is made from a material they call Stormgear, which is both windproof and waterproof, while the rest of its construction is a thick microfiber. The off-center zip helps keep the zipper (usually the easiest entry point for cold air) protected, while also making the Wind Break Shirt look really cool when worn solo. The sleeves are extra long and have those nifty little thumb holes, ensuring no cold air ever gets in under your cuff. After a year or so, our only complaint is that ours is starting to pill and we’re going to need another one soon.


Forcefield Tornado+ Shirt ($119) and Forcefield Tornado+ Pants ($89)
Forcefield makes some of the highest quality armor available, so we were very interested when we saw the Tornado+ shirt and pant. They’ve come up with their own windstopper material for the outside and paired it with Thermolite, which they say will keep you warm even if it get’s wet. It’s also anti-bacterial and utilizes flat seams and a soft lining to ensure the most comfortable fit possible. Look for more in-depth reviews in the future.


Dainese Map Windstoper Shirt ($139.95) and Dainese Map Windstopper Pants ($119.95)
Looks like Dainse has been paying attention to the praise we’ve given Schampa, releasing their own line of windstopper base layers. The Map Windstopper shirt and pant utilize a windstopper front with the same Thermolite as the Forcefield base layers. The one big thing we noticed about these layers from Dainese is that they seem to have paid extra attention to the cuffs, ensuring all the tech of the product won’t be wasted by cold air getting underneath.


Aether Space Hoodie 60 – $265
Our good buddy Steve, creator of Wilderness Collective, spent a solid half hour the other night singing the praise of this seemingly simple hoodie. After the adventures that guy has had, and as a former “guy who puts together those lists of cool gear for men’s sites,” we trust his judgment. The Space Hoodie has a microfiber ripstop and shell and is filled with 60 grams of Primaloft insulation. The Space Hoodie looks beautiful and packs down incredibly small, so small that Steve says he leaves it folded into its own pocket and then just tosses the tiny roll in his day bag so it’s always available should the weather change. This will definitely find its way onto our Christmas list.

Which of these pieces best suit your needs? What base layers have you had good experiences with?

Related Links:
How To: Layer for Warmth
Video: Aether Chasing Winter
Gear Round-up: Sean’s Westcoast Roadtrip

  • Beale

    I can’t find any pictures of the Space Hoodie packed into a roll online. Any chance you can get your buddy Steve to post one? Or the packed measurements?

  • Piglet2010

    I like my “Star Trek” jersey – thankfully it does *not* come in red.

  • Aakash

    I don’t like synthetic base layers because they stink up real fast.

    Right now my go-to base layer is the Smartwool NTS (Next-to-skin) series. You can wear them for days without washing and they won’t stink.

    • BigHank53

      Ibex and Icebreaker also make very, very nice merino wool stuff as well. Not at all itchy, and you can wear one for days before it starts to get offensive. Last year’s colors can be found at Sierra Trading Post, and other discounters. It does a lot better than synthetic over a wide temperature range, too: less stopping to pull off a layer.

    • SteveNextDoor

      I really like SmartWool, I own a few pairs of their socks and other items. Well-made and can usually be found for a decent price if you shop around.

      Minus33 is also worth looking at for merino wool items. First Lite too, though they’re aimed at the hunting crowd (they do offer solid colors, though) but their stuff is very well made and has nice features.

      • Brian

        Smart Wool ( or any Merino wool product ) works VERY well. It works even better with a thin shell over top, like a running windbreaker type of shell!

  • Aakash

    For about $100 less, the REI option ain’t bad either (I have one):

  • ThruTheDunes

    Just a couple of insights from camping in NH’s White Mtns in February. Most importantly, NO COTTON! It absorbs moisture and retains it, and that makes for greatly accelerated heat loss. No cotton long johns, jeans, etc

    Second, base layer is wicking layer, thin and synthetic. I use LL Bean because they have tall sizes and I like their guarantee, service, and free shipping. You can also get good deals at camp

    Third, mid layer is the warm layer. How thick/ warm depends on how cold you expect it to be, and how active you expect to be. How well you tolerate cold comes into play, too.

    Of course, the outer layer is what you rely on for windproof/ waterproof.

    Lastly, there are some folks up this way who ride in a snowmobile suit in the winter, as long as there is no snow on the roads.

    • BryonCLewis

      The how well you tolerate cold is a very big factor. I read reviews all the time on the motorcycle store websites (revzilla, motosuperstore, others) on winter gloves and equipment and you need to account for the location of the reviewer. Someone in SC, or FL has a different comparison of winter compared to people in higher elevation or cold weather states like MN, NH, ME.

      • Reid

        lol so true. A cold snap of 35F with a strong cross wind was enough to keep this Florida boy from riding yesterday.

        • Benjamin Reynolds

          I’v been putting up with 30 degree morning commutes for about a month now up here in Illinois.

    • Aaron Brown

      Yes 603! I cross applied a lot of my hiking gear to riding as well driving to MA is for suckers riding is the only way to fly cold or not still beats dying a slow death in traffic..

  • Jorn Bjorn Jorvi

    Before synthetic textiles became the norm, racers used to wear cashmere and wool because it was warm, wicking and remarkably fire resistant.

    Sometimes I’ll wear a thin cashmere sweater like its a T-shirt under my riding jacket. I’m kind of a badass.

  • Thomas Whitener

    I love my UnderArrmor ColdGear ( Very Warm, good compression, and they actually help cut down on wind chill as well. Also quite a bit cheaper than the motorcycle specific ones listed here, and also good for running/skiing/etc.

  • JBXC

    I just bought a Twisted Core top and bottom. I found it to be the best base layer/compression layer outfit I have used. It is made in America too!

  • Austin

    Loving my Fjallraven down shirt under my leather. Super durable outer fabric, no hood flapping in the wind and the collar buttons up.

  • Brian

    your hyper links to the Sub Sports compression wear are broken, or at least didn’t works for me at all.

  • DaveDawsonAlaska

    As much as I love my down jacket on a cold day, nothing beats a heated jacket or vest as a mid layer for comfort. Gerbings and a few others have battery powered options don’t they? Warm n Safe makes a lower voltage set of jackets and pants that’ll work on electrically underpowered bikes too I think.

  • BobbiJane

    Any suggestions for petite women? The above won’t fit and I know they should fit tightly which they wouldn’t on smaller frames.