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Best Base Layer??

post #1 of 27
Thread Starter 

So over the past few seasons Ive stepped up my ski gear game, and now it comes time to re-assess my base layer.  I currently wear my wool thermal shirt from the early 80s, with a long sleeve tee and a sweatshirt under my jacket.

 

Im thinking that with all the rave about under armour and their 'wicking' properties, this cold gear they have sounds pretty enticing.  $50 for 1 piece of under armour sounds a little steep for me, but does that stuff really work??

 

Im trying to replace at least 2 layers with 1, would that under armour cold gear do the trick??

 

BTW, I ski in New England, Upstate NY, and occasionally PA

post #2 of 27

Actually, it's hard to go wrong with a wool base layer. Can't imagine what an old wool thermal feels like compared to today's Merino wool base layers. Wool is somewhat wicking and provides warmth even when wet. I have a couple of Under Armour cold gear   And like my merino wool base layers by Ibex and Smartwool better. Get a new wool base layer, a down sweater jacket and a nice shell. 

post #3 of 27

I love Patagonia's Capilene. Tough to beat imo. 

post #4 of 27

How warm do you want to be?  I have 4 different base layers that I use depending on the weather and how warm I want to be.  They are all Patagonia.  Very happy with that set up.

 

 

post #5 of 27

I've been using Under Armour Base 2.0 for the last couple of years. They are very warm, but when you're just walking around with them I find they itch a little. I don't notice it when skiing, but they don't feel anywhere near as nice (to my hand, at least) as the Smartwool or Patagonia merino baselayers.

 

I wouldn't spend $50 on the Under Armour, though. I got 2 of them on a deal from a local shop for $30 and another at TJMaxx last year for $25. For that price, they are worth it. 

 

post #6 of 27
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Jones View Post

How warm do you want to be?  I have 4 different base layers that I use depending on the weather and how warm I want to be.  They are all Patagonia.  Very happy with that set up.

 

 


Ideally whatever base layer I choose, I would like it be be able to take the place of at least 2 layers.  Im looking for max warmth and the least amount of bulk.  I like the 'wicking' properties of the UA, does the Patagonia Capilene work similarly??

 

post #7 of 27

 

I've had a couple pieces of UA and still own several pieces of Capilene.  For me, Capilene is a lot more comfortable and works better.  If you want warmth, Capilene 4 is the expedition weight and really warm.  Depending on the weather forecast I wear a Capilene 2, Capilene 4 or Merino 3(also Patagonia) zip-neck turtleneck as my base layer.  I mostly wear my Patagonia down sweater as the mid layer and a Patagonia Powder Bowl shell on top.  If I get cold wearing that, it's time to quit, but in two years of using that combination I have never been cold.  I don't wear a mid layer below my waist and I honestly don't know anyone who does and my ski pants are not insulated.

 

One thing you need to do right away is lose the long sleeve tee and the sweatshirt.  Cotton can kill you out there.  It does not wick excess moisture and once it gets wet it just stays wet.  Cotton has not business on your body for any winter sports.

post #8 of 27

I'm a big fan of the Arc'teryx Phase series (SL, AR, SV ~> light to heavy)...havent tried the patagonia capilene but I like the phase better than the underarmor cold gear as i find it fits me better and feels like a little higher quality construction.

 

post #9 of 27

I believe Patagonia's Capilene line is now made from Polartec PowerDry fabric, which I think is a great base layer. A number of companies use Polartec PowerDry for their baselayer items, including the REI store brand (which is going to be less costly than Patagonia but may not have some of the other quality features that Patagonia includes). Personally, I use a PowerDry first layer and often use a Polartec PowerStretch second layer. I love PowerStretch for warmth and heat management abilities along with the fact that it is very light weight and stretches really well. Many companies make items out of PowerStretch, including Mountain Hardwear and Cloudveil. Levelninesports.com has some great deals on Cloudveil PowerStretch items right now (I bought a bunch of these for myself and for Christmas gifts).

post #10 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by mtcyclist View Post

 

I've had a couple pieces of UA and still own several pieces of Capilene.  For me, Capilene is a lot more comfortable and works better.  If you want warmth, Capilene 4 is the expedition weight and really warm.  Depending on the weather forecast I wear a Capilene 2, Capilene 4 or Merino 3(also Patagonia) zip-neck turtleneck as my base layer.  I mostly wear my Patagonia down sweater as the mid layer and a Patagonia Powder Bowl shell on top.  If I get cold wearing that, it's time to quit, but in two years of using that combination I have never been cold.  I don't wear a mid layer below my waist and I honestly don't know anyone who does and my ski pants are not insulated.

 

One thing you need to do right away is lose the long sleeve tee and the sweatshirt.  Cotton can kill you out there.  It does not wick excess moisture and once it gets wet it just stays wet.  Cotton has not business on your body for any winter sports.


We sport the exact same set up.  I can't say enough for the Capilene (I haven't had to buy a new set in years--the stuff is fantastic and lasts forever), the down sweater, and Powder Bowl.  Great setup right there!

 

post #11 of 27

I currently use some Minus33 merino wool midweight base layer pants and top for my baselayer and the stuff is great.  The merino wool feels nice against the skin, doesn't smell no matter how much you sweat and packs a lot of warmth for how thin it is.  There are several companies that sell merino wool baselayers, but I think the Minus33 baselayers are a little less expensive than some of the other companies and the quality seems to be top notch.

 

So far this season, I've been happy and warm with just the merino wool baselayer, a thin Smartwool merino wool sweater as a midlayer and my shell jacket and ski pants. I've got a fleece vest that I add if it gets really cold.

post #12 of 27

I got some smartwool merino wool base layers last year, and yes, I do like them, but they are not nearly as comfortable as an REI base layer I just picked up.  They feel soft on the inside, and have 3 different thicknesses, and they are slick (polyester/silkyish) on the outside, so they don't slide up your arm putting other layers on, which is really nice.  I'm a big fan of these.  Here's a link.

 

http://www.rei.com/product/802277/rei-midweight-polartec-power-dry-zip-t-mens

 

post #13 of 27

Merino wool against the skin for skiing works best for me, and no stink.

post #14 of 27
HH Merino Wool all the way. Wash it properly and you can ski 3 days before it starts to smell.
post #15 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by mtcyclist View Post

 

...  If you want warmth, Capilene 4 is the expedition weight and really warm.  

...  I mostly wear my Patagonia down sweater as the mid layer and a Patagonia Powder Bowl shell on top.  If I get cold wearing that, it's time to quit

...  I don't wear a mid layer below my waist and I honestly don't know anyone who does and my ski pants are not insulated.

 

One thing you need to do right away is lose the long sleeve tee and the sweatshirt.  Cotton can kill you out there.  It does not wick excess moisture and once it gets wet it just stays wet.  Cotton has not business on your body for any winter sports.


Good stuff here.  For me, I wear my expedition weight when it's really cold, a mid-weight most of the time and a silk weight in the spring type weather.  Other parts of my body get cold before my core and legs start to feel it.  Boots, gloves and face are my weak spots.

 

I totally agree on the cotton.  I would never wear cotton having switched to Patagonia.  Not even a cotton undershirt, not even cotton underwear!
 

 

post #16 of 27

Merino is the best (I use smartwool but there are lots of good options ranging from expensive to really expensive). As I said, it's expensive, but very durable (I have over 200 ski days on mine and they are still good), wicks like crazy, never stinks and doesn't need to be washed as often as synthetic.  It also stays cool when it is warm out and dries fast.  Think of it as an investment in comfort.

 

post #17 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kase-1 View Post

So over the past few seasons Ive stepped up my ski gear game, and now it comes time to re-assess my base layer.  I currently wear my wool thermal shirt from the early 80s, with a long sleeve tee and a sweatshirt under my jacket.

 

Im thinking that with all the rave about under armour and their 'wicking' properties, this cold gear they have sounds pretty enticing.  $50 for 1 piece of under armour sounds a little steep for me, but does that stuff really work??

 

Im trying to replace at least 2 layers with 1, would that under armour cold gear do the trick??

 

BTW, I ski in New England, Upstate NY, and occasionally PA


PROPS to 80's wool. Are they still in condition? wool is itchy. I always go with Craft baselayers or sometimes icepick.

post #18 of 27

Over the past eight years, I've amassed a collection of various types of polyester base layers (more than a dozen), from micro fleece to Power Dry to compression fleece, and they're all good. I think for their thickness the compression style thermals are among the most effective, but I like to pair them with a looser expedition weight or micro fleece layer.

 

I really like expedition weight Comfortrel Polyester, it's sort of slick on the outside, very soft and fuzzy on the inside, and can be found a very reasonable price on sierratradingpost.com, especially if you sign up for their email deal flyer, which often gives an additional 20-30% discount. I have a number of pairs of Wickers, which use Comfortrel as well as other types of polyester thermal materials, they usually run $23 dollars or less for the expedition weight, zip top, mock-t neck, or less still for lighter weights and crew necks.

post #19 of 27
I've become a supporter of EMS's products; www.ems.com.

For base layers they haver several differ weights and they list them as "techwick" (not sure on spelling). The prices tend to be reasonable, the products work and the customer service is top notch. Several pieces that I have from them are from their "seconds" or factory rejects. For the life of me I can figure out what is wrong with them. I've been using them for about four years now. I have several different weights and mix and match depending on the weather and my activity in it.

I've never had an issue on any of the techwick line. On other products, no matter the issue or how long it had been, I've brought the item to the store and they replaced it on the spot. I walked in with a liner that I had repaired a nd modified because the zipper needed repair. The jacket was 2-3 years old and was out of production. I was more than willing to pay for a new zipper. They insisted I get a new liner because they said "the zipper shouldn't ever do that".

Like similar stores, there sales staff are users of their products; all skiers/riders, backpackers etc. I've used their online store a bit, called them and used their live chat. I have yet to not have a good experience with them.

No I don't own stock in the company.


Ken
post #20 of 27
Hi

I'm wearing helly hansen HH warm crew top and HH dry 3/4 bottoms. Also HH warm neck warmer

Very satisfied, specially the top, which is polypropylene internally and merino externally, which is a rare combination

Got some merino stuff myself but when I tried as baselayer I didn't like, felt itchy, but YMMV

I sometimes use some nike baselayer, not ski specific, called Nike pro combat. It's polyester, feels like fleece, wicks nice (when you remove from washer, you feel the external side wet but inside almost dry. Not so glam as merino or PP but quite ok
post #21 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by IceCookie View Post

I sometimes use some nike baselayer, not ski specific, called Nike pro combat. It's polyester, feels like fleece, wicks nice (when you remove from washer, you feel the external side wet but inside almost dry. Not so glam as merino or PP but quite ok

I like the nike pro stuff, can't beat the price since it can be found for ~$10 at tj maxx
post #22 of 27

Echo the votes for Merino wool every time. I use Icebreaker. They make different weights. It's not cheap but more than worth it and you can wear it for days without stinking. I used a variety of makes before; TNF, Helly, Berghaus etc. but nothing comes close to the Icebreaker stuff. It's really comfortable as well. You ever seen a sheep scratching?

post #23 of 27

I agree with Adie - Icebreaker is my standard base layer. I use the 200 weight crew neck under my jacket. 

Under armour is great stuff too. I have a cold gear base layer as well as a Nike Compat pro. I prefer the icebreaker but it fits a bit large. On very cold days (-15C and below) I'll put that over the icebreaker bodyfit and I'm fine. I bought my first a pair of merino long johns last April and will look for another pair next year.

I prefer merino for base layer but will give the nod to Under Armour vs Nike for synthetics. I use their heat gear base layers for cycling and soccer, have 3 pairs of their compression shorts and 7 pairs of their underwear (4 X 9" and 3 X 6"). I also have one of their coldgear compression tops (bought it on sale). But the Nike stuff is good too and you can find it cheaper than Under Armour.

Next on my wanted list is a Dale of Norway sweater...

post #24 of 27

I've tried several synthetics and natural.  Synthetics can be fairly warm (Capilene is better than UnderArmour and feels better too), but the one thing they share in common is they will all stink quickly.  You gotta keep them clean very regularly, depending on your natural body sweat/odor, or you'll regret it.  Don't miss a day in the wash or nobody will want to go near you.

 

Natural, on the other hand, doesn't stink.  Merino wool is rather soft and works with your body temperature quite well.  I even have used a merino base layer indoors, just watching TV, and I didn't get hot.  My UA base, on the other hand, I would have been overheated.  Merino works great to regulate your temperature I think.

 

Of the merinos, I prefer Icebreaker.  Top quality stuff, great styling, huge product lineup, good corporate ethics.  You do pay more, but absolutely worth it.  HOWEVER, there are a TON of deals around this time of year, usually 50% off on Icebreaker.  Pick one up in the offseason, and it's no more expensive than an UnderArmor Base 2.0.  But UA can't touch Icebreaker/merino.  My UA stuff stays on the shelf, my merino gets used ALL THE TIME for just about anything.

 

Just my $0.02 worth, YMMV.

post #25 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gunnerbob View Post

I've tried several synthetics and natural.  Synthetics can be fairly warm (Capilene is better than UnderArmour and feels better too), but the one thing they share in common is they will all stink quickly.  You gotta keep them clean very regularly, depending on your natural body sweat/odor, or you'll regret it.  Don't miss a day in the wash or nobody will want to go near you.

 

 

I am always amazed that there are people that don't wash their ski wear between uses,  I'm a bit of a dirty hippie, but I would never think of wearing a base layer twice without washing it. eek.gif

post #26 of 27

as stated above, Merino wool is simply the best for many reasons. But just like VA stated, wash it dammit!  nothing worse than being in a gondi with stink!!!!

post #27 of 27

I don't think there is a single base layer that is "best" for every condition.  Layering to suit conditions is the key.  My experiences below address layering under a gore tex or e-vent shell.

 

Next-to-skin I wear a washable silk turtle neck as a base layer.  I have used Teramar, Lands End, Cabellas, whatever brand is on sale cheap (check STP).  I don't see much difference between the silk t-neck brands, although some claim to be thicker than the others.  Don't expect the silk to last more than 2-3 winters and pick dark colors (looks new first winter of use, looks worn by the second winter of use, has small holes by the end of the 3rd winter).

 

On top of the silk t-neck I usually wear a merino crew top.  My favorite merino top is the Ibex ribbies (thicker version of the Ibex woolly).  Unfortunately, Ibex hasn't made the ribby for a couple of years (I haven't seen it available on their web site).  When they make it again, I will pounce.  The ribby is not one of the new, super-fine 18.0 micron or 17.0 micron tops, so it is a bit itchy if it is directly against the skin IMO.

 

Over the merino, I wear zero-to-two layers of fleece, depending on how cold it is.  When two layers of fleece are needed, the bottom layer is a polartec powerstretch top because it layers under other fleece very nicely.

 

For my legs, I have never needed more than a pair of polartec power stretch bottoms + my goretex shell ski pants to stay warm.  My feet get cold, but not my legs, not even when the temps are 10 to 15 degrees below zero on the fahrenheit scale.  What I really mean by that is, my legs never get cold enough to force me into the lodge.  When I get too cold to continue skiing it is almost always due to cold feet, hands or face. 

 

STE

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