Let’s face it, base layers are an essential for everyone who spends time outside. Long gone are the days of your basic cotton, waffled long johns and bulky layering. It’s nice to know we have options that will keep moisture away from our skin and keep us warm. (Cotton just doesn’t do that.) We all have our personal preferences though, so what’s the best choice for you? Cotton aside, there are three basic fiber options available: wool, silk and synthetics.
Wool is no longer itchy. If you haven’t tried a merino wool base layer, you are in for a pleasant surprise. At Stone Harbor, merino wool base layers such as Ibex and Icebreaker® are excellent options for providing superior warmth on cold days and added comfort on those days when you get hot and sweaty. Wool’s outer fiber sheath resists moisture and feels dry on the skin and is naturally antibacterial. This means you won’t stink even after repeated wears. So, you won’t need to wash your wool after each wear, but when you do, there’s no need to worry. I have washed and dried mine repeatedly and they have maintained their shape and elasticity beautifully. I also appreciate that wool is stain and wrinkle-resistant. Although a merino wool base layer is more of an initial financial investment than your other two options, it is well worth it.
Not sold on 100% merino wool just yet? Then think about trying the Rab® MeCo base layer. It provides the comfort of merino wool with the quick drying of polyester and Cocona® technologies (coconut husks). It has all the properties of pure merino, but dries up to five times faster. The cost of MeCo is similar to that of a wool base layer.
Your next base layer option is treated silk such as our Terramar® SmartSilk®. It is best for moderate cool weather activities and snow sports. Fans of silk are attracted to its smooth texture and its good insulating properties. When treated, silk transports moisture away from the skin and keeps you feeling warm and dry. It is best if laundered after each wear and has moderate elasticity. Treated silk will usually maintain its shape after being stressed. When talking dollars and cents, silk base layers are your middle-of-the-road choice.
Finally, you have synthetic base layer options such as our Terramar® Body Sensors® and HotTotties®. A mix of polyester and spandex, this is your least expensive option. Synthetics dry faster than wool or silk since the nonabsorbent fibers transport moisture over a large area of the garment’s surface to speed evaporation. Synthetic fibers readily collect bacteria though, so be prepared to launder this base layer after every wear. The above-average elasticity will retain its shape after many washings so no worries there.
So there you have it–you’re kind of informed. Now grab a base layer and go out and have yourself a comfortable adventure.