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Best shooting thermals and base layers for stalking: how keen Shots stay warm on a bitter day out in the field.

Experienced shooters and stalkers know that keeping warm is all about base layers or thermals. Layers trap the heat so you stay warmer (and if you're too warm you simply take a layer off).

shooting in winter

There’s one thing that’s guaranteed to ruin a day shooting or stalking and that is feeling cold and chill – which is why we’ve compiled this list of the best shooting thermals around (thermals are also known as base layers). Suitable for wearing under your shooting clothing, whether you’re gameshooting, clayshooting or stalking, wearing base layers on your top and bottom half will make all the difference to your comfort. (If you’re looking for the best hunting trousers check our suggestions. You’ll find our list of the best waterproof shooting jackets here.)

Modern technology has given thermal underwear a whole new lease of life. Technical fibres keep you warm, whilst wicking away any sweat and allowing items to be easily washed in a machine. On the other hand there are many fans of merino wool, which is 100% natural and has impressive qualities – more on merino wool below. Read more advice on what to wear shooting here.

How the best shooting thermals work

The best shooting thermals act to trap layers of heat between your skin and your clothing. Rather than wear a bulky coat or sweater over your shirt, you can use base layers to keep you both warm and comfortable – so that your movement won’t be inhibited in any way. You’ll be able to swing through with your gun easily. In addition, layers work well because you can either add more as you need them, or take them off if you become too warm when the sun comes out.

Here’s our list of suggestions of what to wear – with some hints and tips from fellow shooters.

Damart short sleeved T-shirt £17.50 

Damart short sleeved t shirt

Best for budget

  • Size: S/M
  • Colour: Black, light grey
  • Fabric: 70% polyester, 20% polyamide, 10% elastane.
  • Care: Washable

+ Breathable fabric

+ Seamless sides prevent chafing

This t-shirt adjusts to the contours of the body and wicks moisture away. The anti-bacterial treatment will keep you feeling fresh. Damart has been around for a while and has an army of fans, offering well designed products at good prices.


Damart long pants £25

Damart long pants

Best for comfort

  • Size: S, M, L, XL, 2XL
  • Colour: Navy, grey, white
  • Fabric:  50% Polyester , 50% Acrylic
  • Care: Washable

+ Fly front

+ Brushed inside for warmth

When there is a nip in the air put these under your trousers to trap an extra layer of heat. These long pants (or long johns) are soft, supple and comfortable and easily washed in the machine. At this price you could buy a couple of pairs – one on, one in the wash – so you’re never without them.


Musto thermal base layer trouser £40

musto thermal base layer trouser

Best for quick drying

  • Size: XS, S, M, L, XL, XXL
  • Colour: Dark grey marl
  • Fabric: 67% Polyester, 29% Polyamide, 4% Elastane
  • Care: Machine washable

+ Flatlock seams minimise chafing

+ Antibacterial finish prevents odour

You’ll stay warm but not too warm, thanks to the fast-wicking fabric these thermal baselayer trousers are constructed from. They’re easy to wash and the quick-drying fabric means you’ll be able to wear them again very soon.

John Sugden of outfitters Campbells of Beauly is a keen stalker and goes out in all weathers. He says: “I wear Musto thermal trousers as a base layer when it’s really cold in January and I’m stalking hinds and at the ducks.”


Musto merino base layer pant £85

Musto Merino Base Layer Pant

Best for natural fibres

Size: S, L, XL
Colour: Black
Fabric: 100% merino wool
Care: Machine washable

+ Flatlocked seams for comfort

+ Naturally regulates body temperature

– Price

Merino wool has unique natural properties making it ideal for base layers. It wicks moisture away from your skin to keep you dry but also keeps you warm. It is anti-bacterial, anti-odour and beautifully soft.

Liam Bell, chairman of the National Gamekeepers Organisation says: “I am a fan of merino wool underwear for wildfowling, cold wet mornings out feeding, and evenings and nights on a high seat.”

Claire Zambuni, listed as one of The Field’s top Shots, agrees, saying:”I always wear merino wool.”

Best for stretch

Size: S, M, L, XL
Colour: Black, fig
Fabric: 80% wood, 20% polyamide
Care: Machine washable

+ Odour resistant

+ Naturally regulates body temperature

– Price

This top has a bit of stretch (so you’ll be able to swing through) and despite being made from merino wool, you can wash it in the machine. It’s breathable too so you won’t get too warm whilst wearing it.


North Face women's base layer

Best for regulating temperature

  • Size: XS/S, S-M, M-L
  • Colour: Asphalt grey, black
  • Fabric: 49% Polyamide, 48% Polypropylene, 3% Elastane
  • Care: Machine washable

+ Breathable

+ Lightweight

– Price

This long-sleeved top will keep out the chill when you’re standing around on a bitter day and will also wick away any moisture. It has ribbing at the neckline and ventilation patterns which help to regulate your temperature.

Clare Baker is an award-winning gundog trainer who runs Arcklebear Gundogs. She says: “I have a couple of base layers – my favourite is my North Face base layer.  I instantly feel warmth when I put it on.”


The North Face Men’s Easy L/S Top £45

North Face men's top

Best for all-round use

  • Size: S, M, L, XL
  • Colour: Black
  • Fabric: 63% Polyester, 31% Polypropylene, 6% Polyamide
  • Care: Machine washable

+ Moisture wicking

+ Gusset under arms

This top from North Face will regulate your body temperature. There is nothing to rub and chafe because there are no side seams and when you get home you can just put it in the wash.


The North Face Men’s Easy Tights £45

North Face Men's Easy Tights

Best for changing waistlines

  • Size: S, M, L, XL
  • Colour: Black
  • Fabric: 63% Polyester, 31% Polypropylene, 6% Polyamide
  • Care: Machine washable

+ Elastic waistband

+ Easy care

These tights go with the North Face Easy Long Sleeve top shown above. Wear them under your shooting trousers and the wind won’t bite. However you won’t overheat either because they will regulate your body temperature and wick away any moisture. Like the top, they’re easy to wash so you can use them again and again.


Patagonia Capilene Midweight Crew £47.75

Best for sustainability

  • Size: S
  • Colour: Black, forge grey
  • Fabric: 100% Recycled Polyester
  • Care: Washable

+ Diamond Grid Double Knit HeiQ Technology

+ Fresh Tech Durable Odour Control

Richard Scott, a keen stalker and shooter based in Scotland says: “Anyone who regularly works in cold climates will tell you that moving moisture away from the skin is an absolute must, otherwise as soon as you stop moving you will start to cool down and become chilled. The two main choices are synthetic or merino, which you use is personal preference. I like synthetic fabrics, namely Patagonia’s capilene.  I tend to use thin, lightweight base layers I can wear under layers of insulation in the winter.”


What other shooters say about thermals for shooting

Ed Solomons, world champion clayshooter: “I find the key to keeping warm without restricting movement is layers. Depending on how cold it is I will usually have a close fitting cotton base layer (or when really cold a thin thermal) followed by a shirt and a thin merino wool jumper.”


Lady Melissa Percy of Mistamina: “If it’s cold, layers are key. I always wear a vest, followed by a long sleeved t-shirt, a shirt and then a jumper and jacket. If it is a dry day then I find that a warm jumper does the trick over the top of the layers, without the need for a coat. “
Don’t forget a hat either. It will keep the sun out of your eyes and provide a layer of protection and warmth for our heat. Read our suggestions for the best shooting hats.