Baselayer tops and bottoms are supposed to transport perspiration from your skin into your midlayer clothing so that you stay drier and warmer when you’re working hard in cold weather. That’s the theory behind layering. But how many times have you pulled off your fleece sweater, only to find that it’s dry and your base layer top is soaking wet? Happens a lot with modern wool and synthetic base layers.
Brynje of Norway, pronounced “Brin-ya,” is a Norwegian company that makes mesh base layers that look a whole lot like fishnet underwear. The spaces in the mesh trap warm air when worn under a mid-layer, just like other base layers. But the mesh, which is available in wool or synthetic propylene, doesn’t hold onto to your perspiration because there’s so much less fabric to absorb it. Instead, it gets passed along to your mid-layer garment, keeping your skin warm and dry, while making your mid-layer garment noticeably damp. It’s a very noticeable effect.
Brynje’s Wool Thermo tops and bottoms take a little reprogramming to get used to if you’ve been bred on merino wool base layers. First off, they’re very form-fitting, although they stretch out a bit once you paint them on (figuratively speaking.) Solid panels in the mesh help increase the durability of high wear areas, such as the knees and shoulders (underneath backpack straps.) The long johns pictured above don’t provide much “support,” so I wear fitted Under Armour boxer under them. I imagine that women may want to wear a sports bra under the tops as well.
I’ve worn the wool tops and wool bottoms on numerous hikes and fat biking rides in cold weather and it’s astonishing to me how much warmer and drier I feel without needing to wear additional insulation layers. Be advised that you may need to rethink your existing “layering stack,” because you will feel warmer with Brynje baselayers and not need as much outer insulation as you did previously.
If you try these baselayers, my advice is to start with a Brynje top, since its easier to adjust or vent outdoors than the bottoms. I’ve found that wearing a mid-weight layer over the mesh works better than a very thin layer because it can absorb more perspiration, but your mileage may vary.
The only real gotcha with these Brynje base layers is clothing care. It’s very old school. You’ll want to hand wash the wool thermo top and bottoms in cold water with a very gentle detergent like Woolite and then hang them up to dry. Whatever you do, don’t put them into the drier. The shrinkage is extreme. You’ll never be able to paint them on again. The good news is that the Brynje Wool Thermo base layers don’t stink up nearly as quickly as solid Merino wool base layers, so you can wear them longer between washes.
High recommended, especially if you run cold in winter.
Disclosure: Brynje provided the author with baselayer garments for this review. But hey, we’re impressed. They’re really great!SectionHiker is reader-supported. We only make money if you purchase a product through our affiliate links. Help us continue to test and write unsponsored and independent gear reviews, beginner FAQs, and free hiking guides.