Base layers for Running

How to choose the best base layers for women

If you want to put together the ultimate layering system, then start by focusing on the foundation of that system—your base layers. Comfort in the outdoors starts with the layer that touches your skin. We will explain how to choose the best base layers for women

You have three key considerations while choosing a women base layer:

  1. Material matters: Fabric is your most important decision. Whether you go with a synthetic or a natural one, you need it to wick well (move sweat off your skin).
  2. Weighty decisions: It’s pretty much lightweight, midweight, or heavyweight base layers with thicker fabrics laying down a little extra warmth.
  3. Fit factors: A wicking fabric has to be in direct contact with your skin to do its job, so you want a snug fit.

Women's Base Layer Fabrics

The material used in women base layers is light, soft, cozy and most importantly specially designed to absorb the moisture and sweat. If you don’t have a strong preference already, then consider the following attributes of each type of base layer fabric:


One of the most common synthetic fabrics for long base layers for women is polyester. You might also see nylon, polypropylene or rayon, or a blend of fabrics. Fabrics that include spandex offer comfortable stretch and can fit snugly without feeling constrictive. Synthetics have the following characteristics:

Super Dry: Synthetics excel at wicking and dissipating sweat, so they give you the driest feel of any type of fabric.
Durable: No base layer is invincible; if you’re looking for your most durable option, though, then synthetics are your best bet.
Odor retention: Some synthetics add a finish that inhibits the buildup of odor-causing bacteria, which helps. If you’ll be going multiple days between washes, it helps to have some tolerance for stinkiness.


Silk’s legendary softness belies the fact that it’s a viable women’s base layer option for low-key activities, like an easygoing fall hike or an evening concert outdoors. Silk has the following characteristics:

Moderate wicking: If you don’t push your heart rate out of your target zone, you should be fine; some silk underwear has an added finish to improve wicking.
Suppleness: Invariably available as a lightweight base layer for women, silk slips easily under other layers; the flipside is that it’s not especially durable.
Odor retention: Silk is not naturally odor resistant, so it needs to be laundered every time you wear the base layer.


Wool that’s embedded with ceramic particles is an emerging technology in base layers for women designed specifically for hot weather. The ceramic attracts body heat, then dissipates that heat quickly to help cool your skin.