Outdoor Life

How to base layer for outdoor activity

Info Guru, Catalogs.com

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Stylish SmartWool tops make a great base layer for winter activities
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SmartWool is the smartest way to base layer for outdoor activity this winter

Learning how to base layer for outdoor activity has been a critical component of my success as a skier.  Nothing beats the feeling of breathless exhilaration as the morning sun glints off the fresh powder on that first slope of the day, and the winter scenery speeds by. 

However, the icy wind, cold temperatures and athletic perspiration can conspire to become a skiers worst nightmare, unless one is dressed appropriately.

Thankfully, today there are many options for winter clothing, fabrics, innovative materials, and styles.  If you are planning for an active winter, filled with ski trips and outdoor sports, layering is key and learning how to base layer for outdoor activity is a must. 

Layering is important because it allows one to easily adjust for shifting weather conditions as well as changing activity levels that can directly impact body temperatures.  The layering system consists of three distinct clothing layers:

Layer One:  The Base Layer

Learning how to base layer for outdoor activity is the first step toward comfort on the ski slopes.  Because the base layer is the only layer in immediate contact with your skin, you will want to select a soft, breathable material, and most importantly, a fabric that will serve to wick moisture away from your skin.  Innovative new antimicrobial materials can also be smart selections for base layers because they prevent the growth of bacteria and odor-causing mildew.  Ideal materials for base layers include silk, polyester or synthetics or wool.

Layer Two:  Insulating Tops and Pants

The primary function of this layer is to provide warmth and insulation without bulk or heavy materials that might restrict movement.  As with the base layer, breathable, moisture wicking materials are recommended.  Sweaters and pullovers are examples of insulating layers. 

Ideal materials for the insulating layer include fleece, spandex/Lycra, pile or wool.  One of my personal favorite new materials that makes a great insulating layer.  Back in 1994, a company pioneered this new wool performance product that wicks moisture better than any other products I have come across.  If you still envision wool as a scratchy, bulky material, you are in for a big surprise.  Made of New Zealand Merino wool, This smart wool is an unbelievably soft, revolutionary material that has captured the hearts of serious skiers and outdoor enthusiasts worldwide.

Layer Three:  Outerwear

Outerwear is the final exterior shell over the base and insulating layers.  Outer layers include parkas, jackets, bibs, and shells.  Durable, water repellant and wind resistant fabrics are your best selection when it comes to outerwear.  

Outerwear is available in insulated and un-insulated choices.  Down and man made polyester insulations are both highly effective against cold temperatures. However, an effective base layer and insulating second layer can actually eliminate the need for insulated outerwear, even on extremely cold days.  

In regard to the external fabric of the outerwear, tightly woven nylon or polyester is desireable.  Some garments feature additional waterproof coatings or laminates such as Gore-Tex.  Pockets, zippers and seams are important features to keep in mind when selecting outerwear.

Ultimately, learning how to base layer for outdoor activity is much easier these days with the wealth of information, products and innovative materials available.  If you are planning a winter ski vacation, hiking, snowmobiling, or any other outdoor sports or excursions, thoroughly research materials and products.  Then, select your layer categories in advance and pack your gear with the layering system in mind.  Whatever the conditions may bring, you will be prepared. 

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