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Archive for October, 2017

Can You Wear Two Base Layers?

October 17th, 2017

Can you wear two base layers? - Sub Zero Factor 1 and All Active worn by a female hiker

At first glance of the question, Can you wear two base layers? You immediately think yes you can but why would you want to? Most outdoors people are well versed in the principles of the layering system – base layer, insulating mid layer, protective outer layer – so why would you ignore this and just wear two base layers. The problem is that in certain situations this layering system can be impractical.

BASE LAYERS FOR AEROBIC EXERCISE

If you are going to take part in a high intensity aerobic exercise in winter such as rowing, it is unfeasible to wear lots of different clothing layers. For a start you are going to get warm very quickly as well as producing a lot of perspiration.  You are also going to need full range of movement which will be hampered with a traditional layering system. Plus there is also the problem of storing all these different clothes when removed.

What a lot of professional rowing teams practice in winter is wearing two thermal base layers at the start of a days training programme. Without being restrictive, these thermal layers will keep you warm whilst also managing perspiration more efficiently. Once the warm up is complete, one of the base layers is removed and easily stored in the bottom of the boat. At the cool down, the discarded base layer can be worn again to reduce rapid cooling.

Even in the coolness of early summer mornings a two layer base layer system is often used. Next to the skin will be worn a summer base layer to manage perspiration, with a thermal base layer as a second layer to provide extra warmth during the warm up.

BASE LAYERS FOR SPRING AND AUTUMN WEATHER

Out of the winter season, the need for a full thermal layering system is usually unnecessary. With the temperatures very rarely reaching freezing, you should be able to get away with just wearing your base layer. However, some early mornings and evenings may see temperatures drop low enough to require wearing extra layers for a boost in warmth. You could pack a thermal mid layer on the off chance, but it is a lot of unnecessary weight to carry.

Instead, ensure you are carrying a second base layer – you should be carrying a spare set anyway if you are heading away from civilisation. They can easily be worn over your first base layer and are light enough to be stored in a small rucksack.

BASE LAYERS FOR EXTREME COLD ENVIRONMENTS

When it comes to very cold weather, such as found in the polar regions or the Himalayas, mountaineers and explorers will often wear more than one base layer as part of their layering system. The main reason for this is you can trap more air between thin layers than wearing bulky insulating layers. And trapping air is essential if you want to keep warm because air is the insulator, not the fabric.  It is not uncommon for mountaineers to wear two or even three base layers beneath their insulating mid layer.

SO CAN YOU WEAR TWO BASE LAYERS?

Instead of being a bit of a wacky question there are certain situations where wearing two base layers can actually be desirable. It is a lightweight alternative to heavier insulating mid layers and also offers greater flexibility in less demanding weather conditions. So the question shouldn’t be can you wear two base layers? but have you tried wearing two base layers?

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What Is Thermal Mid Layer Clothing?

October 6th, 2017

Thermal mid layer worn by two cross country skiers in the Alps

Most outdoors people understand what a base layer is and the function it performs in keeping you warm and dry. However, when it comes to a thermal mid layer there is still a lot of confusion about its purpose and what one exactly is.

PURPOSE OF A THERMAL MID LAYER

The primary role of a thermal mid layer is to add extra insulation to your layering system without being overly bulky. It is usually worn over your base layers but some garments, like our Factor 2 mid layer range, can also be worn directly next to the skin.

Its secondary role is to carry on transporting moisture away from your skin via your base layer to the next layer of clothing. If your mid layer has poor wicking properties then you are going to get damp very quickly when working hard. This can lead to rapid heat loss when you slow down or stop.

TYPES OF THERMAL MID LAYERS

Personally i think a lot of companies wrongly label garments as thermal mid layers, such as micro fleece jackets and lightweight down jackets. For a start they are far too baggy to be true mid layers and are often poor at managing moisture. A lot of the time it is a clumsy attempt by a brands marketing team to adhere to the layering system – base layer, mid layer, outer layer – when their range is not complete or when their range is too large.

Our classification of a mid layer is pretty simple. It should be snug fitting, offer good moisture management, and be insulating. Basically it is a thicker version of a base layer. When we were developing our  award winning Factor 2 mid layer range, we took these parameters and designed a bespoke fabric around them. Nearly three decades later our Factor 2 is still one of the best thermal mid layers you can buy.

WHEN SHOULD A THERMAL MID LAYER BE WORN?

Deciding if wearing a thermal mid layer is necessary is dependent on the weather conditions, the activity you are intending to perform, and ultimately your own personnel tolerance to the cold. If in doubt, always err on the side of caution, as you can always remove a layer.

For a relatively sedentary activity such as fishing where little heat is generated from movement, you are going to want to wear as much insulation as you can to ensure you trap and retain body heat.

On the other hand, if you are a proficient skier, then you are going to have an aerobic workout even in very cold temperatures, so overheating may be a problem wearing a full layering system. In this situation we would recommend wearing a base layer top and bottom with just a mid layer top to protect your core. If you find you are getting too warm then you can always remove a layer relatively easily.

For extreme cold conditions, such as polar expeditions, then a good base layer and thermal mid layer are a necessity, and a re just the start of your layering system.

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