September 25th, 2017
The two most common questions we get asked are how tight should base layers be? and what is the difference between base layers and compression layers? We will deal with the latter question in the next few weeks , but this post will hopefully enlighten you on the correct way to wear base layers.
ARE BASE LAYERS SUPPOSED TO BE TIGHT?
The simple answer is it depends on your definition of tight. To me, tight means restrictive and uncomfortable, which is obviously a hindrance and a distraction when performing an outdoor activity. It has entered the vocabulary of performance clothing as the dividing line between base layers and compression layers has become blurred by marketeers. We try and avoid using ‘tight’ altogether when talking to our customers, preferring a more softer wording such as ‘snug’.
WHY NOT WEAR BAGGY BASE LAYERS?
This is the other extreme. You may think you look cool with your bum hanging out your base layer leggings (obviously a matter of opinion) but they won’t keep you warm. Badly fitting thermals will lead to all sorts of problems such as heat loss, vastly reduced wicking rates (transportation of moisture), and possible skin sores from rubbing of excess material.
HOW SHOULD BASE LAYERS FIT?
Base layers need to be close fitting to prevent warm air trapped between your clothing from being wafted out during movement. A close fitting base layer will also be much more efficient at moisture management due to a higher fabric surface area being in close contact with your skin.
When trying on a base layer you need to understand that the fabric has been designed to be stretchy so it will naturally adjust to most body shapes. What you should be looking for is the correct length in the arms (finishing just over the wrist) and the length of the body resting on the top of your bottom.
A good way to check if the base layer is too tight is to see if you can pinch any of the fabric and pull it away from your body. If this is difficult to do then you more than likely have a size too small. Another area to check is under the armpits. If you cannot get the full rolling movement of your arms and shoulders then you need to try the next size up.
SO HOW TIGHT SHOULD BASE LAYERS BE?
In answer to the original question, base layers should be snug fitting but not restrictive. Warm air needs to be trapped between fabric layers without the possibility of it being wafted out if you are to stay warm – the air is the insulator. At the same time, you don’t want the base layer to be so skin tight that it restricts movement or even blood flow.
So my final piece of advice is if it feels too tight then it probably is.
Tags: base layers, compression layers, correct base layer fit, staying warm, thermals, winter clothing
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September 20th, 2017
Wearing the right layer of thermal clothing for extreme cold situations can be the difference between life and death if you get in trouble. Wear too much insulation and you will overheat, increasing your perspiration, that will rapidly cool your body when your intensity levels drop. Alternatively you may not be wearing enough thermal layers to start with. This can also lead to rapid heat loss unless remedied, forcing your body to shut down to protect its vital organs. As you can see, wearing the correct layers of thermal clothing for extreme cold environments should be taken very seriously.
Base layers are the first line of defence against the cold. Worn directly next to the skin, they need to be soft to prevent rubbing sores from carrying equipment, offer thermal resistance to trap heat, and be effective at transporting perspiration away from the body. They are one of the most important layers of thermal clothing for extreme cold environments.
Our Sub Zero Factor 1 Plus base layers are made form super soft polyamide yarn that has lots of in-built stretch. This allows the base layer to fit the body snugly like a second skin. A water loving chemical is also impregnated in to the yarn during the dyeing process that actively transports moisture way from the skin to the outer layers. This keeps you dry and also speeds up the drying process when washed.
Mid layers are very similar to base layers in that they should be worn close fitting, but they contain more fibres to trap warm air – insulation. They are effectively the work horse in your range of thermal clothing for extreme cold.
Our Sub Zero Factor 2 thermal mid layers are heavily brushed on the inside fabric face to produce an inner fleece layer that insulates your body from excess heat loss. Their very strong flat seam construction helps prevent any pressure points occurring when carrying kit.
Once you have your base layer and insulation mid layer sorted then your choice of outer layer is often determined by the elements.
If you are working hard and still feel a little cool then putting on a lightweight down jacket will help to add extra insulation without adding much extra weight as a burden.
If you are comfortably warm then you may not even need an outer layer at that point in time but you should keep a close eye on the weather and anticipate changes in conditions. Likewise, if you have to stop or your activity levels decrease then you will need to add further layers to compensate for the reduction in heat generation.
One mistake that even the professionals sometimes get wrong is underestimating the power of wind chill on your bodies temperature. It may look lovely and sunny outside but any wind can rapidly cool the body. Carrying a lightweight windproof that can quickly be thrown over your under layers should mitigate a lot of the wind chill effects.
For further information on wind chill visit the Met Office
HATS & GLOVES
It is a myth that you loose most of your body heat through your head, at most it is around 10%. Even though the percentage is a lot lower than most people think, it is a good way to fine tune your bodies temperature. If you start to get a bit warm, remove your fleece hat or balaclava. If you are still warm after a few more minutes of doing this then you know you need to remove a larger layer of clothing.
This also works the other way around. Add a hat if you start to feel cool. If this dosen’t warm you up then you know that a larger item of clothing needs to be worn or that you need to start looking for shelter.
The other reason for covering your head and hands is to help protect your extremities from wind burn and frost bite.
THERMAL CLOTHING FOR EXTREME COLD
Keeping warm and dry in extreme cold weather needn’t be too much of a problem if you listen to what your body is telling you , are aware of your surroundings, and are wearing the correct kit.
Luckily Sub Zero have over 40 years experience manufacturing thermal clothing for extreme cold conditions, with many polar explorers and mountaineers placing their trust in our products.
Tags: base layers, cold weather clothing, down jackets, expedition clothing, mid layers, sub zero, thermals, winter clothing
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