Stay Warm With Base Layers

This past week has been a good reminder that winter isn’t too far away. Soon, cold temperatures will be standard, and you need the right gear to stay warm. Now is the time when you start to see the big jackets break out of closets. Heavy parkas and puffy downs pop up all over town, and while a good winter coat is crucial for staying warm, it’s the last line of defense against a biting winter cold. Before the jacket, and even before the sweater and pants, you need a solid base layer if you really want to stay comfortable through the coldest months of the year.

The key to staying warm is always layering, but you have to layer correctly. Some folks choose to stack their sweaters or wear two pairs of blue jeans, but this isn’t the best idea. Now, doubling down on your denims might keep you warm, but they will be bulky and really limit your movement. Not only that, but this approach basically limits you to standing motionless or to very limited physical activity. Most clothing designed for warm isn’t designed to be breathable. Once you start moving around hiking or climbing, a pair of sweaters or a couple of corduroys will get way to hot, you will start to sweat ,and your clothes will get damp. Those damp clothes will freeze once you’re done with physical activity, and then you will freeze.

The best option for layering in the cold, is a good base layer. Unlike a sweater or hoody, base layers are designed to regulate your body temperature. This means that they are going to keep you warm, but also they are breathable and will wick away any moisture. This means that any excessive you that you generate will be able to escape, and if you happen to perspire, the base layer will pull moisture away from your skin which will help you stay warm when your body temperature drops.

There are a few different kinds of base layers to consider. The old style union suits are made out of cotton, which isn’t really any more advantageous than wearing a long-sleeved T-shirt. If you want a solid base layer, look for ones made from synthetic fibers, wool, or treated silk. These different materials have different advantages, and you will often see base layers that are a blend of these fibers.

Wool base layers are the best you can buy, and the price reflects it. However, if staying comfortable is important to you, or if you’re outside regularly, wool base layers really are worth the price tag. They are super comfortable, incredibly breathable, and they will keep you toasty. Plus, there are all kinds of advantages when it comes to natural animal fibers.

Silk and synthetic base layers are great too. They won’t be as warm as wool base layers, but they are significantly cheaper. If you’re pretty stoical, or if you’re outside during the winter to walk to and from your car, you will probably be all right with one of these base layers.

We have a great selection of base layers at Uncle Sam’s Safari Outfitters, with brands like Smartwool, PolarMax, and Terramar. Stop by before the winter cold is here to stay!

One Comment

  1. […] Base layer – If you know a hiker who will keep hitting the trail all through winter, be sure to get them a good base layer. […]

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