An often overlooked, yet crucial bit of kit which will ensure maximum comfort on the slopes is a base layer. The addition of a base layer maximises the efficiency of your top layers ensuring that you feel the benefit of your jackets excellent breathability.
What Are Base Layers?
Designed to wick away sweat from your skin, base layers ensure that core body temperature is maintained. Base layers fall into two main categories, synthetic or merino wool; pick depending on whether your priority is to stay dry, or dry and warm. In synthetic base layers, moisture is moved through to the outer layers quickly through a process of capillary action, known as wicking. Meanwhile in merino layers, warmth distribution is maximised, yet wicking properties are reduced. Whichever you pick, ensure that base layers are tight to the skin to maximise their wicking abilities.
Base layers too expensive when you could just layer your average cotton t-shirt? Think again. Base layers are expensive for a reason. The layers of material, whether synthetic, merino wool or most recently bamboo, ensure effective wicking so, unlike cotton which holds sweat close to your skin keeping you clammy or cold, base layers wick away moisture preventing sweat from sitting on your skin. Investing in a good quality base layer ensures that all the more expensive bits of kit become more effective; a high breathability rating means nothing if the moisture does not reach the jacket. Lastly, without a base layer, optimum core body temperature will not effectively be maintained.
The First Base Layer Manufacturer?
Helly Hansen of course. Their introduction of base layer technology, in the form of LIFA, was revolutionary in the 1960’s and 70’s and led to them being awarded the Nobel Prize in 1963. LIFA refers to the specific yarn spun from polypropylene fibres, a fibre which keeps the skin dry and warm. And from LIFA’s simple origins, Helly Hansen have now adapted LIFA technology to provide cross purpose base layers which have a LIFA technology interior, and a merino wool exterior.by