When it's cold out, the most effective way to keep warm and comfortable is with an effective layering system.
Although it would seem that your mid layer fleece and waterproof jacket are the most important parts of this system, the role of your base layer is not to be underestimated. A high quality base layer is essential in keeping warmth in, whilst also keeping moisture caused by active use out. A base layer does both the above by using technical fabrics that work with your body to produce the desired result. This is a guide to commonly asked questions about base layers to help you decide which one might be right for you.
What are Base Layers?
Base layers are items of clothing which are used as a foundation, upon which an effective warmth providing layering system can be built. Usually made from technically advanced fabrics, they will usually have the appearance of being close fitting to the skin to make them as effective as possible.
What is the Purpose of a Base Layer?
These layers are designed to draw sweat away from the skin, in order to make the wearer feel warm, dry and hence, more comfortable in active use or cold weather. How do Base Layers work? The transfer of moisture to a base layer works by a process known as wicking. When the moisture moves from the skin into this layer, it has a greater surface area and will therefore evaporate quickly, leaving the wearer drier and more comfortable than they would otherwise be. The faster this transfer of moisture, the more effective this layer will be.
Types of Base Layers
Our base layers are made of different kinds of materials, resulting in a different effect for the wearer.
Wool - Thermal merino wool is an ideal base layer material; our Merino baselayer is constructed from this dual-layer knitted fabric. Merino wool offers effective moisture transportation, whilst keeping the skin dry and free from irritation. It is a natural base layer which can remain odour-free even after days of use because of its anti-bacterial properties. It comes from merino sheep so is natural and renewable, and its very fine fibres mean it doesn't itch when worn next to the skin. Unlike synthetic fabrics which wick the moisture away, merino wool can absorb lots of it while still remaining comfortable by holding it away from your skin. However, if you are someone who sweats a lot it may be worth going for a synthetic option like our Trail base layer, which actually wicks the sweat out from the item and doesn't hold the moisture within it. Our Bamboo base layer is also highly effective and even better, it's 100% organic and biodegradable.
Thermal synthetic material - Constructed from polypropylene, thermal base layers are recommended for those who engaging in activity that involves frequent transition between cold and room temperatures. Thermal layers offer effective moisture transportation to keep the wearer dry and comfortable at all times. One of our best selling thermal baselayers is our Talus baselayer, which is ideal for wearing under skiwear or just for hiking and walking in England!
A base layer like our Climate Control Base layer is designed for very active use; made from a very high wicking fabric that keeps sweat away from you; it is great for those times when you need to keep cool during very high energy activity.
FIT: Most base layers are cut with movement in mind, but you should still check the collar, cuffs and wrist areas as these should be somewhere between tight and baggy. Whilst base layers don't need to be very tight fitting, they do need to be fairly close fitting to allow the fabric to wick moisture away from your skin. Loose clothing won't allow this to happen and may also disperse warm air rather than keep it inside where you need it.
LOOK: You will have to choose whether you want a round neck, a zip neck or a different style altogether. A high collar can protect your neck from the cold, while in warmer weather short sleeves and a looser style or zip neck will give more effective ventilation. A zip neck top is generally a popular style as it can be worn easily as an ordinary casual top.
COMFORT: You should make sure that the material you choose doesn't cause irritation or pain. Merino wool is an ideal choice for sensitive skin as it is soft and comfortable. Consider also any zips or labels that could cause problems when your exploring the great outdoors.
HINTS: Choose your colours carefully: black can feel very hot in warm, sunny weather while white or light colours reflect heat but get dirty quickly. When washing your base layers, avoid using fabric softeners as they contain silicon to smooth the fibres of the fabric which can alter the fabric's ability to breathe and wick moisture.