Best Layer 1 Crypto Projects  | Top 5

By Raj

When it comes to buying cryptocurrencies, I almost always lead with high quality layer 1 crypto projects.

These are my Sleep Well at Night (SWAN) investments. That means, no matter how bad the market may get, and how badly they may perform short term, I personally don’t worry about them.

There are many reasons why I lean toward layer 1 cryptos. However, the primary one is that layer 1s represent an investment in the main structure of a blockchain network.

Quality layer 1s, like Ethereum, are not going anywhere. They are the backbone on which other projects are actively built. They have large teams of developers working on them, nonstop, through good and bad market periods.

Though the drawdown in price of crypto layer 1 coins can be steep during bear markets, their resiliency in new market cycles is often robust.

Purchased at a good price, layer 1 cryptos can be an incredibly lucrative investment.

Let’s dive deeper. 

What is a Layer 1 Blockchain?

A layer 1 blockchain is a common term used to describe the base layer of a blockchain network. The name “layer 1” is derived from the fact that these are the main networks within their ecosystem.

So, for example, Ethereum is a layer 1 blockchain on top of which other layers are built.

There is layer 2, 3 and beyond, networks and decentralized applications that can be built on top of layer 1 blockchains. However, for the purpose of this article, we’ll stick to layer 1 only.

A common problem with layer 1 blockchain networks is their inability to scale as they grow.

If you’ve been in crypto for a little while, you might be familiar with the slowness, high gas fees and overall headaches of the Ethereum network during peak use periods.

It’s important that a layer 1 blockchain can effectively balance what is known as the Blockchain Trilemma: decentralization, security and scalability.

These are elements I’ll touch upon more as we get into some of the specific layer 1 cryptos further below.

However, for now, just know that many new and different layer 1 blockchains that have cropped up recently. And they all place vastly different levels of priority on each of the three different “trilemma” factors.  

How Many Layer 1 Crypto Projects Are There?

As someone who actively invests in layer 1 blockchains and likes to keep up to date on the most promising ones, there are certainly dozens.

However, there are less than a dozen layer 1s that I care to keep a serious eye on. Ethereum, Solana, Cardano, Binance Smart Chain, Avalanche, Polkadot, Elrond, Near and Harmony are notable.

There are also lesser known up-and-coming layer 1s like Moonbeam and Glitch, among many others.    

How Many Crypto Layer 1 Projects Should I Own?

I often ask myself this question.

Those of us who invest now are still “early adopters” of blockchain technology. The fact is we really don’t know which layer 1 blockchain will be the biggest or best within the next several years.

As such, I like to hold a “basket” of several layer 1 cryptos. Often 5-10, as a hedge against one or more of them under-performing or becoming irrelevant altogether.       

Layer 1 Crypto List

The “safest” layer 1 blockchain cryptos are arguably Bitcoin and Ethereum.

However, let’s focus on a few others that are building out robust networks. Ones that have the potential to return even bigger gains than either of the above to investors in the coming years.

Note that the following cryptos are HIGH RISK and the potential to lose all of your investment is real.


Avalanche (AVAX) is a layer 1 blockchain that seeks to address the blockchain trilemma via its Proof-of-Stake mechanism.

The AVAX token is used to power transactions within the ecosystem. Like Solana, it has considerable focus on NFTs and blockchain gaming.

Several things make Avalanche unique, including three separate blockchains. Working in tandem, they help facilitate efficiency of transactions and compatibility with Ethereum via the Avalanche Bridge.

Development of the Avalanche blockchain is led by Emin Gün Sirer, a forward-thinking computer scientist from Cornell University.

Get Avalanche on Binance.US


Polkadot (DOT) is a layer 1 crypto that connects blockchains and allows value and data to be sent across different and previously incompatible networks.

It’s also designed to be fast and scalable thanks to its parachains (parallel blockchains) that can more efficiently process transactions off the main blockchain.

The DOT token serves a few different purposes: it’s a governance token that lets holders have a say in the development of the protocol and it’s used for staking.

Polkadot has a really interesting pedigree in that it was founded by Gavin Wood, the former co-founder and CTO of Ethereum.

This crypto layer 1 is one to watch.

Get Polkadot on Binance.US


Elrond (EGLD) is a layer 1 blockchain platform for distributed apps, enterprise use cases and the new internet economy.

It’s designed to resolve the scalability issue of other networks.

Elrond utilizes a proof-of-stake consensus mechanism, which allows for the ability to process transactions quickly and at a low cost.

In addition, it uses a method called Adaptive State Sharding, which allows transactions to process in parallel and facilitates 250,000 transactions per second. Ethereum on the other hand, can only process 100,000.

Elrond uses the EGLD token to pay all transaction fees on the network and it aims to establish itself as a store of value asset.

This top layer 1 blockchain was co-founded by Benjamin Mincu, an entrepreneur and early blockchain investor.

Get Elrond on Binance.US


Near (NEAR) is a crypto layer 1 that is built for usability and scalability.

It combines proof-of-stake and sharding, in a proprietary technology called Nightshade, that makes it infinitely scalable without compromising decentralization and security.

The NEAR token is used to pay for gas fees and can be delegated to validators to earn a portion of NEAR token emission.

Near was co-founded by Illia Polosukhin and Alexander Skidanov, the former an ex-Google engineer and the latter a two time International Collegiate Programming Contest (ICPS) winner.

Get Near on Binance.US


Solana (SOL) is a layer 1 blockchain known for its speed and efficiency.

It has fast and cheap transactions, and uses a unique algorithm known as proof-of-history to validate transactions.

Solana is an open source blockchain, which means developers can build on it in a variety of ways.

Projects built on the ecosystem include platforms that allow for the minting, selling and trading of NFTs.

Other Solana-based projects facilitate decentralized finance and the building of blockchain-based games with partners like Krafton.

I’m big into NFTs and use the Magic Eden NFT platform on Solana regularly.

Solana makes up my single largest crypto position, as I think it’s in the running to be among the top layer 1 blockchain projects in the future.

Get Solana on Binance.US  

Final Thoughts

If you’re trying to build out a diversified crypto portfolio for the long run, it’s well worth it to look into top layer 1 blockchain networks like the ones above.

While it may be tempting to buy the latest high-flyer defi, gaming and other cryptocurrencies, it’s the layer 1 cryptos that can help create the foundation of a solid, wealth-building crypto portfolio. 

Disclaimer: The above is the writer’s opinion and should not be considered investment advice. Readers should do their own research and/or consult a financial advisor. Any actions taken based on the information above is at the reader’s own risk.

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