Outdoor World Direct

Why all outdoorsy people should own a baselayer or two

[ 0 ] 7 September 2012 |

It’s the middle of summer so, you’re thinking, why are they talking about baselayers? Surely a baselayer is the kind of outdoors clothing item that you wear in the winter only? But baselayers, especially the short-sleeved kind, are brilliant in summer.


Tell us more about baselayers

They come in all kinds of shapes and sizes – and colours. And they can also be called Technical T-shirts or Tees.

  • A top: Short-sleeved or long-sleeved, with a full zip, half zip, quarter zip or plain and comfy crew neck.
  • Leggings: Long, three-quarter or shorts
  • Vests and pants: ie underwear.

How do I wear a baselayer?

For best effect (and we’ll tell you what this is soon enough), a baselayer should be worn against your skin. It acts like an extra layer of skin on your body and because it is made of a modern – and, some say, magical! – material it will keep you warm or cool.

Essentially, a baselayer moderates your body temperature to keep it cooler when you’re in very hot conditions and warm when you’re in very cold temperatures.

One base layer, short or long-sleeved, is ideal for many conditions but if you’re looking for extra warmth then two base layers will help to trap more heat between each layer and keep you warmer.

But a baselayer has another advantage: It allows sweat to evaporate through the material. And this means that you’ll stay warm AND dry. See, we said that baselayer fabrics were magical!

What are baselayers made of, then?

Most fabrics are either man-made 100% polyester, a polyester/elastine mix, polypropylene or natural Merino wool.

But what about cotton? Can’t I just wear a cotton t-shirt or long-sleeved top?

While a cotton fabric layer might keep you warm for a while, as soon as you start to sweat it will hold on to the water vapour. This means the t-shirt will eventually become wet – and so will your skin. This means you’ll feel damp and pretty miserable, especially when you stop for a tea break or lunch during a walk in the countryside.

How to walk and wear your baselayers

Depending on the weather conditions, you might want to start with one or two baselayers. As you warm up while exercising you could take off a baselayer. But if you then stop, or walk higher, and find the air temperature drops, you could pop the baselayer back on. This system is so much better than one thick layer because it gives you more choice – and one thicker layer is much more likely to cause you to sweat and end up damp.

What about baselayers in the summer?

A t-shirt or lightweight long-sleeved baselayer is a great asset in summer, too. This is when you’re much more likely to sweat and a good baselayer will allow your sweat to effectively wick away so that your skin remains cool and dry.

Added to this, many baselayers have good defence against the sun’s harmful rays, so you’ll be safe from sunburn, too.

Should I wear my baselayer tight or baggy?

For best effect, a baselayer should fit snugly. This doesn’t it needs to be skin-tight but snug is goo. There are a range of baselayers to suit male physiques and more tailored baselayers for women. If you feel self-conscious, buy a tightfitting baselayer and add a looser fit baselayer over the top.

What activities are baselayers good for?

Whatever your chosen outdoors pursuits you’ll use a baselayer or two or three. They are great for walking, hiking, cycling, running, skiing, horse riding, playing football and pretty much any form of exercise, except swimming. See a full range of base layers here.

Category: Equipment

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