Like building a solid house, you need good foundations from which to layer up the walls, the insulation and finally the protective roof. The choice of furnishings, wallpaper and rugs, well that's something else... ok this analogy might be stretching it a bit, but a good, effective base layer is the heart of all clothing layering systems, get this layer wrong and you could be in for a very uncomfortable day.
Base layers are broadly split into natural and synthetic and each have their benefits and drawbacks.
Merino goodness. Sheep don't grow on trees, but wool grows on sheep.
Rewinding slightly...With the advent of synthetic fibres we greeted first Helly Lifawear which made the North Sea that little bit more inviting, then Patagonia happened upon a company using an etched polyester fabric which turned a usually water hating fibre in to a water loving one; a fibre that actually wicked and more importantly one you could clean and care for, bonus. In the face of all this technological achievement, sheep carried on chewing, then when the knitting process became refined enough to create superfine Merino it started to make a come back as a fibre to be reckoned with.
What's so funky about Merino wool anyway? Wool's natural ability to move humidity away from the body keeps you comfortable when you are working hard and its ability to keep you warm when wet makes it ideal for fast changing Alpine conditions, particularly for next to the skin. So Merino is breathable, wicking, fast drying and famously odour resistant. Merino can be worn in the hot, in the cold, in the wet and in the dry. For all round comfort, especially over extended durations, merino is our baselayer of choice.
When it comes to natural layers here at Alpkit we are particularly pleased with our Kepler Merino base layers. For the vast majority we use a 160gsm, superfine (17.5 micron) merino wool and all our merino comes from non-mulesing farms.The Kepler range features a range of products; long sleeve, short sleeve, men's and women's, boxers, long johns and even the Kepler Velo top– a cycling inspired top that is also ideal for a range of activities, with a half front zip for extra venting and rear security pocket and a semi fitted cut.
Men's Merino | Women's Merino
Wool is great and sheep have been perfecting it for years, but not everyone gets on with natural fibres and there may be some occasions where a synthetic product may work best.The polyester fabrics use finer denier yarns which have a much higher wicking action to disperse any moisture and the lighter weights are great for keeping cool, somore suited to warm conditions or to activities where your work rate is high and your skin glistens (or pours) with little beads of sweat! Our Koulin range is made of a fast wicking hydrophobic polyester and features lightweight, high wicking products with zoned fabric for those fast moving activities. Synthetics are also generally faster drying and more durable/easier to care than Merino.
Men's Baselayers or Women's Baselayers
So that's the bases covered, from here you can layer up to give yourself the most flexible solutions for your planned adventures.