Staying dry is the key to keeping yourself warm during the harsh winter months when you are outside. Although polyester-based products do a good enough job in that respect, it doesn’t come close to Merino wool. I bought some Icebreakers before I got into the Army, but these cost me an arm and a leg at around $120 CAD apiece. They were probably the best base layers I have ever owned, but I needed a few sets for winter exercises where I needed a change of clothes.

At about the same time that I got an ATMO2 down jacket from Paradox Outdoor, I came upon their Merino-blend base layers, sold at Costco stores in North America. Before I continue, I must say these are not 100-percent Merino like the Icebreakers, but at a fraction of the cost, I thought what the hell. Worst case, I’d just trash them after a few exercises.

Turns out I was wrong. They incorporated just enough Merino wool into a polyester/spandex blend to provide the desirable attributes of the Merino wool. These retail for $29 apiece, so they won’t break your piggybank.

The fit on these is called an athletic fit, so bigger guys might need to purchase a size larger than their usual size to have enough room.


I ran them through my winter warfare course in January, when temperatures plummeted to minus-30 centigrade. I wore them for three days straight before I changed them (ew, I know), and the anti-bacterial feature of the Merino wool kept them odor free.

The only downside I’ve found to this base layer is that the fabric tends to pile after a few washes, even if you properly follow every precaution. Other than that, I have yet to find any shortcomings.

A great option for someone looking for a quality base layer on a budget, the Paradox Outdoor Alive Base Layer is, at the moment, not available from their website. They only have the regular Alive polyester blend available for online orders.

(Featured image courtesy of