Layering and base layers are an essential garment that is often forgotten by amateur hikers and are neglected even more by female walkers. But once you've used a good base layer and understood the benefits you'll wonder how you ever went without. Some hikers will say that they use a cotton t-shirt as these are natural and breathable and will wear them under other layers with disastrous consequences. Cotton is great on a hot summer day when worn alone but if it is worn under a fleece and then a waterproof jacket if will very quickly become damp from perspiration and this will sit against the body leaving you feeling cold and damp.
One of our most common complaints from customers is that their Gore-Tex jacket is leaking because it's wet inside but the majority of the time it is because they're wearing a cotton undergarment that is badly letting them down.
So, baselayers to the rescue! Using a baselayer will not only add that warm layer you need but will also move moisture away from the skin to leave you dry no matter how energetic your hike, walk or trail run is.
We offer womens baselayer tops and bottoms from Icebreaker and Helly Hansen and these two brands really complement each other. Helly Hansen womens baselayers are made from synthetic fabrics which suck moisture from the skin, dry quickly and keep you warm. Icebreaker base layers are made from top quality merino wool which does everything Helly Hansen tops do but also have anti bacterial properties so any smell causing bacteria is stopped in its track and so you'll stay fresher for longer. Merino has a wonderfully luxurious feel to it and because of this there is a price difference so always consider your budget when browsing the range.
We are often asked what is the difference between a synthetic and merino wool base layer and which should they choose, but this really depends on what they expect from their baselayer and where they'll be using it. Synthetic thermal baselayers are made from polyester with some stretch from elastane or lycra which gives a good fit. They're great because they're light, softe to touch and abrasion resistant so won't wear out quickly. They're so easy to care for and you can wash in your machine as usual. The downside? They can build up odour when worn repeatedly so one set won't do you for a week. They also stain easily. Merino baselayers are great because they're light and soft but they're harder to care for. As they're wool, Icebreaker baselayers can't be washed on your usual setting and often need non bio detergents and a delicate setting so always check the label. Washing shouldn't be such a pain as merino wool thermal underwear is stain and odour resistant and can be worn for days at a time without needing to be washed. This is great if you're away for a week camping in the mountains and don't have access to a laundrette! One thing to note is that merino isn't as quick to dry as synthetics so consider this if you'll be doing something very energetic.
Once you've decided if you'll have merino or synthetic consider where you'll be going. To help you find the right product we've split our base layers into Lightweight, Midweight and Heavyweight. This refers to the weight of the garment in grams but most importantly are designed to suit different conditions. Lightweight baselayers will be good for cool conditions whereas Heavyweight base layers are for very low temperatures, wind and snow with Midweights fitting between the two. Obviously if you feel the cold more then opt for one weight up and vice versa.
Finally, we are often asked what does wicking mean? This simply means to 'move away' any moisture from the skin by the fabric. The body's heat then causes the moisture to evaporate from the surface of the fabric which also allows it to dry quickly. Any garment that wicks moisture is great for those high intensity activities.