Under Armour Base Layer 4.0 is the top of the heap when it comes to heavy-duty expedition weight base layers for cold weather. (Although I’ve been less-than-pleased with how well mine has held up… but I’ll save that story for another article).
The big problem with the Under Armour Base Layer 4.0 is that it’s expensive. If memory serves, I paid about $92 for mine… which is enough money to buy a decent jacket. Normally I wouldn’t blow so much cash on an under garment, but I had a gift card … and I was curious to test the technology.
Well, it works pretty well. You’re not gonna walk through the arctic circle with just a base layer and nothing else, but it’s a good product. But was it worth $91? No.
I found a good alternative though. An alternative that is 90% as good as the Under Armour Base Layer 4.0 and less than 1/4th the price: Wickers Expedition Weight Long Underwear shirt. It’s feels almost the same as the U/A 4.0, although it comes in a loose fit rather than a compression fit.
I’ve had both the tops and bottoms for over a year now and they’ve held up very well. No complaints. Better than the U/A in fact (although to be fair, I probably wore the U/A more).
You can buy the Wickers at Sierra Trading post (not an affiliate link, by the way) for about $20 a piece. Check ’em out:
I haven’t order a pair of these (yet!) but I have some good friends who swear by them. The fire hose material is about as durable as you’re gonna get.
I’m not making any affiliate commission by passing this deal along. I just like to post this stuff because if I’m gonna do it, I might as well share it with the hive.
Goto: Firehose pants — Duluth Trading Company
At the checkout, enter: MARCH50 to get the 20% discount.
I’ve tried the cheap thermal long underwear and I’ve tried the expensive thermal underwear, too. There is a place for both in your wardrobe. But cheap doesn’t have to mean low quality. Here is what I’ve experienced:
For inexpensive thermal long john bottoms:
1. Stick with Hanes. The weight is reasonable and they seem to hold up well.
2. Merona (Target Store brand): Hit or miss. The weight is good, but the fit and wear can be iffy.
3. Fruit of the Loom: Pass on these. They’re way too thin and they wear out too fast. They also have a tendency to tear along the seem.
For thermal underwear tops:
1. Although they’re a little pricier, go with the Carhart thermal tops. It’s worth the extra money and still reasonably priced. The only negative to the Carhart thermal tops is that the hole for your head is unnecessarily big.
2. Starter (Walmart brand) mock turtle neck. This is a polypro/spandex blend that is very similar to the Under Armour base layer. They’re cheap, but warm and they hold up pretty well. I’m on my second season with these and they’re still going strong. These sell for around $12, making them a bargain.
3. Merona (Target Store brand): The tops fit a lot better than their bottoms/pants.
All of these will be good for layering, down to about 20 degrees. Colder temps will require a thicker base layer.