Base-Layer Shirts for Boaters

Wearing a base-layer shirt can help stave off the chill of early-season boating. Here are three worth considering.
Base-layer shirts for boaters
Different materials provide different benefits. Courtesy SmartWool, Helly Hansen, Kora

The key to early-season boating is to dress in layers, and it all starts with picking the appropriate base layer as your foundation for weather protection. Here are three different types of base-layer shirts, made from different materials, to choose from.

Wool: SmartWool Intraknit Thermal Merino Base Layer Crew

The Warmth: Wool is the original when it comes to marine base layers that have stood the test of time for centuries. It sheds water quickly, and retains its insulating properties when wet, so it’s perfect for really cold days on the water, or if you accidentally end up in the drink. The SmartWool is lightweight and flexible, made of 55 percent merino wool, and blends in synthetic materials to keep it rugged and durable. 

The Chill: By far the most expensive of the three. Don’t throw it in the dryer.

Price: $130; $128; Amazon

Synthetic: Helly Hansen HH Lifa Stripe ­Long-Sleeved Crew Base Layer

The Warmth: The Lifa is an all-synthetic option made of 100 percent polypropylene, designed by Helly Hansen specifically for outdoor use. It’s lightweight, stretchable and breathable, and helps you keep your full range of motion while moving around your boat on the water. It’s the least expensive of our choices and a solid option for spring boating.

The Chill: Even though they’re made to resist odor, sometimes synthetic base layers can make you smelly after a long day.

Price: $45; $43; Amazon

Read Next: Boating Shoes for Spring and Summer

Bamboo: Kora Bamboo Base Layer LS Crew

The Warmth: Bamboo is the latest craze in sustainable clothing material, and the Kora base layer is hypoallergenic, and keeps you cool in hot temps and warm in cool temps. It has a 50 UPF rating, so it’s safe to wear in the sun. It’s made of 90 percent ­bamboo and 10 percent spandex, which helps it retain its shape and fit. The Kora is quick-drying and breathable, so it works well should you get splashed or work up a sweat.

The Chill: Great for moderate temperatures, but choose a heavier layer for extremely cold conditions.

Price: $95;