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Thread: Base Layer?

  1. #1

    Default Base Layer?

    I'm looking for thoughts, suggestions, based on experience for a good base layer. I'm going NOBO no later than March 1st 2020 and I have all my equipment except the base layer. My clothes are a mixed bag, Smartwool socks, Columbia pants, The North Face rain coat, basically whatever I liked at the time that was wool or synthetic. Some of my choices were based on sale prices but I do want to be warm so I'm not going to just throw something in the cart for the base layer. I'm looking at Underarmour but I'm wondering if anyone has thoughts about synthetic vs wool or has had good experiences with a particular brand of long underwear?
    "I love the unimproved works of God" Horace Kephart 1862-1931

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    Quote Originally Posted by TwistedCF View Post
    I'm looking for thoughts, suggestions, based on experience for a good base layer. I'm going NOBO no later than March 1st 2020 and I have all my equipment except the base layer. My clothes are a mixed bag, Smartwool socks, Columbia pants, The North Face rain coat, basically whatever I liked at the time that was wool or synthetic. Some of my choices were based on sale prices but I do want to be warm so I'm not going to just throw something in the cart for the base layer. I'm looking at Underarmour but I'm wondering if anyone has thoughts about synthetic vs wool or has had good experiences with a particular brand of long underwear?

    I hike in Smartwool merino 150 weight boxer brief underwear and a synthetic short sleeve shirt. Merino shirts seem to wear out fast from the pack.

    I carry a spare pair of underwear and a long sleeve merino wool shirt to sleep in. If it’s going to be cool I carry merino 150 weight long underwear to sleep in.

    If if it’s going to be cold I carry UnderArmor Coldgear long underwear and shirt to sleep in.
    I carry a watch cap and sleep with it except on the hottest nights. When it’s cold I carry and sleep in a UA balaclava plus the watch cap.

    I rarely hike in a base layer, usually just long pants, unless it’s really cold. Just be ready to layer up when you stop.
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    Question Does stink matter to you?

    if anyone has thoughts about synthetic vs wool
    I started my hikes wearing synthetics. When I would take off my base layer after a day of hiking, its smell made me think it would be banned as a chemical weapon. And this was EVERY DAY. Washing my shirt each night used up time, effort, and water -- plus usually leaving me with a soaking wet base layer when I would start my hike the next day.
    I switched to merino wool after a few hikes, and found my base layer would not stink even after several days of hiking.

    Merino is costly, but I've found good prices on ebay. I won't even consider going back to synthetics.

  4. #4

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    Costco has inexpensive merino base layers at times. I use those, Smartwool, and Icebreaker interchangeably.
    "It's fun to have fun, but you have to know how." ---Dr. Seuss

  5. #5

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    Aside from polar vortex weather, or under raingear in lieu of regular pants when it's cold and wet, I have never once hiked in a long baselayer bottom...for long. Meaning I've started out on a cold morning a time or three, wimped out and left on my long bottoms, then had to stop within a couple of miles and strip down to get them off. So I think of them as being for camp in most cases.

    Not a fan of merino wool for an active baselayer. Does resist odor much better, and is also very comfy when inactive, but the claims of superior performance vs. a good synthetic are nothing more than wishful thinking. I don't even use them out West, and certainly not in the SE where the humidity is high. Along with not doing anything better, they also dry much more slowly, and are much less durable.
    I spent hundreds of dollars on merino baselayers after buying into the internet hype some years ago. Let me tell you, tossing a $80pr of bottoms that are falling apart in the trash really adds insult to injury, especially when you have $30 synthetics that look brand new after 5x as much use.
    Still have a few Icebreaker 200wt tops that I use at work, but nowadays the only time I shop merino is when I reload on socks.

    For baselayers, Patagonia Capilene in an appropriate weight always gets my first vote, with Terramar having good budget alternatives. Since I've ended up with a pile of Capilene 2 and 3 bought at ~1\2 price for outdoor use, and a much bigger pile of less expensive brands for work, I don't shop around much any more.

    UA makes some great stuff, btw. I have several Heatgear running shirts and some Coldgear bottoms. Those bottoms are a bit heavy for what you get in terms of warmth(grid fleece is warmer, more breathable and more comfortable), but very well made.

  6. #6

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    Thanks for all the info! I'm going to look at merino for sleep clothes and a synthetic top only for hiking. I wasn't familiar with Icebreaker brand but it looks like they are very reasonably priced.
    "I love the unimproved works of God" Horace Kephart 1862-1931

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