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  1. Future Of Base Layers In The 21st Century

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    Future Of Base Layers In The 21st Century

    We are currently living through extraordinary times, with technological advances altering the way we live our day to day lives on an unprecedented scale. If you think about it, over the past thirty years we have seen the birth of the internet, introduction of not just hand held telephones but smart phones, music tapes to CD’s to streaming services and downloads, rise of ecommerce, tablet computers, social media, and wifi. But what about the future of base layers?

    You would think that the 21st century would be heralding in a new era of innovative yarns and fabrics to manage our bodies micro environment. Unfortunately reality is not as exciting. Since the introduction of synthetic yarn polymers polyamide, polypropylene, polyester and acrylic in the 1930s through to the 1950s their has been no major breakthrough in new synthetic yarn technology until the recent discovery of Graphene – and this is in it’s infancy stage. In fact a lot of ‘new’ yarns and fabrics are rehashes of existing technologies, just with more flashier images and branding.

    Do not be feel downhearted. Even though the core basics of synthetic base layers have not changed in more than sixty years, there are a lot of new developments in their construction and manufacturing that lifts them in to the 21st century.

    Knitting Technology

    One area that has drastically changed over the past 10 years is the technology employed in base layer manufacture. Traditional cut and sew methods are still the most popular production technique but this is being chased by semi-seamless and whole garment digital knitting machines. The benefit of these new machines is the electronic selection of needles, allowing you to knit totally different constructions within the same garment (body mapping) without having seams, such as in our Factor 1 Plus base layer range.

    Blended Yarns

    Since base layers were first developed there has always been a dividing line between natural yarn purists (such as wool wearers) and synthetic converts. This has now started to blur as natural and synthetic fibres are blended together to give you the benefit of both.

    A good example of this is in the Merino wool market where polyamide and/or elastane is mixed with the Merino wool fibres to add extra stability and better handling properties.

    Mimicking Nature

    Nature has been product developing for billions of years, which is why scientists are now starting to look at the natural world with more vigour as they have realised that nature has often solved problem before them.

    VELCRO was invented in 1948 after a Swiss inventor noticed burrs had stuck to his trousers and his dogs fur after walking in a field. More recently,
    a sugar found in crab shells called chitosan is being used to produce eco-friendly flame-retardant clothing.

    Base Layer Diversification

    When base layers were first conceived it was a one style fits all system. Very little choice was available, and the fabrics were based mainly on polyester. Roll forward forty years and the base layer landscape has changed drastically. With more people actually understanding the benefit of wearing them, there has been an explosion of styles and weights of base layers. This is only going to expand as digital knitting technology and sport specific clothing designers latch on to these new ideas and push base layers in to niche markets.

    Wearable Tech

    It has always been the holy grail of garment manufacturers and technologists to merge everyday electronic gadgets with clothing. However, the problem has always been with the miniaturisation of the technology and the longevity of it once it has been employed (the stretching and washing of fabrics is very destructive).

    Developments in flexible conductive material such as graphene eliminates a lot of these problems, and the improvements in nano-technology is seeing robust wearable modules being tested on base layers for the first time. One recent experiment we have been involved in has been integrating a heart monitor in to base layers for

    What Is The Future Of Base Layers?

    Even though the basic yarn technology employed in the production of most base layers has not changed since the middle of the twentieth century, there are lots of new advancements in their construction and the application of electronic soft technology to make them more than suited to the 21st century.

    The one area that will be a game changer for athletes and adventurers alike has already started with the advancement in digital knitting machines and body shape recognition software. Once these are refined and production costs reduced, it won’t be long until bespoke base layers will be produced for individuals remotely.

    The one thing that is for certain is that base layer design does not stand still. All it takes is a bit of ingenuity and the adoption of new technology. So with this in mind, what do you think the future of base layers will be?

  2. What Is Thermal Mid Layer Clothing?

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    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.

  3. New Base Layer Zip Turtle Design By Sub Zero

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    Sub Zero Factor 1 Plus Long Sleeve Zip Turtle Thermal Base Layer Aqua

     

    Sub Zero Factor 1 Plus Long Sleeve Zip Turtle Thermal Base Layer is a new addition to the award winning range.

    New developments in seamless knitting technology have enable Sub Zero to add a lightweight 18cm (7″) long zip to a garment based on the ever popular Factor 1 Plus Long Sleeve top design.  This new base layer top features an innovative seamless body construction that incorporates stretch rib zones for enhanced support and waffle zones for increased thermal efficiency. During the dyeing process, a hydrophilic treatment is pressure injected in to the yarn, increasing the wicking rate of the fabric, allowing much greater control of perspiration. The stand-up double thickness turtle will protect your neck during outer activities – an area of the body that is often left exposed when wearing other base layers. The zip used in the turtle is lightweight to prevent ‘zip ripple’ when done up, and the fabric chin guard will protect your face from zip puller rub. If you do get too hot when wearing the base layer then lowering the zip will give extra aeration (t also helps the wearer to get the garment over the head) . Integrated thumb holes in the cuff of the sleeves protect your hands on cooler days and allows you to wear snug outer jackets without your sleeves riding up.

    These new Sub Zero thermal zip turtle base layers are ideal for outdoor activities in the autumn and winter where extra protection of the neck is required, such as when winter walking, cycling, hiking and climbing. For greater insulation in the depths of winter, why not try this Zip Turtle base layer with the Sub Zero Factor 2 mid layer range. Used in combination, this layering system will keep you snug, dry and ready for your winter adventure.

    The new Factor 1 Plus Zip Turtle range currently comes in two colours, black and aqua blue, and in sizes XSmall -XXLarge.

     

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