What to look out for with baselayers

28 November 2009

Apart from your last purchase from Thongs-R-US, base layers are probably one of the most important items of clothing you can buy.
Don't make your super breathable, massively waterproof jacket useless.Don't make your super breathable, massively waterproof jacket useless.

The world's most expensive jacket would be useless with your fav AC/DC Hell's Bells Tour cotton t shirt underneath as a first layer. Cotton soaks up sweat and doesn't give it the chance to escape through the fancy membrane in your jacket. So you stay wet and cold.

To get the most out of your jacket you need a base layer that wicks moisture rapidly away from your body and dries super quick.
Here's the fabrics you should be looking for:Here's the fabrics you should be looking for:

Merino Wool - is a natural substance that electrically attracts moisture vapour and can take 30% of its own weight in moisture vapour before it starts to feel wet. Also, it's anti-microbial so it doesn't stink as long as you wash it a couple more times than you do those hiking socks in the boot of the car.

Polypropylene - this is the one to choose if you get a bit moist under the arm pits when lacing up your boots. They are usually close fitting and move moisture away from your body at a rapid rate. Very rarely will they feel wet. Good for the gym.

Polyester - wicks very well but can get a bit smelly. Great if the anti-microbial fibre is added to the polyester. Ideal for hill walking because it dries quickly. On a long hike they may get a bit whiffy, but who cares... who needs friends anyway.
Most of this is fairly obvious, but pointing out the obvious has been a life long passion of mine, so here goes.

Cool Weather Base Layer - Long sleeves, long body so your tummy doesn't pop out into the cold and high collar to protect your neck. Ideally a close fit to regulate temperature more effectively.

Warm Weather Base Layer - Short sleeves, deep zip neck for venting or V-Neck, a looser fit gives a little more ventilation.

All year round Base Layer - basically a medium fit baselayer with a zip neck for summer and long sleeves with enough room to roll up.

Thanks for reading.

Ian Young
Our selection of Base layers
Helly Hansen are thought to have produced the original base layer - the Stripe Crew. This is a polypropylene first layer which fits snuggly against your body. Unbelievable at getting the sweat away from your body, the definitive wicking T.

Montane have produced the Bionic T. This a looser fitting merino wool base layer which soaks up moisture and takes a lot of sweat to feel wet.

GoLite have ultra lightweight first layers called Drimove. made from wicking polyester. These are loose fitting and great for all round use.

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