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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. Keeping Warm If Your Boiler Breaks Down

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    Top Ten Tips For Keeping Warm Without Heating

    If your boiler gives up the ghost in the middle of winter then you are going to be cold unless you take some practical steps. Our ten top tips for keeping warm indoors are easy to follow and require very little preparation.

    Get It Fixed 

    A no brainer you would think but a lot of people procrastinate over important decisions like this. The truth is the sooner you contact a heating engineer for a call-out, the quicker your boiler will be fixed. Always check your home insurance policy first as you may be covered for emergency breakdown cover.

    Cuddle A Loved One

    We have all seen it in survival movies and documentaries, and even Luke Skywalker used a Tauntaun to beat the cold – although he was technically inside it rather than cuddling it – but sharing body warmth with a partner or a loving pet is a great way to keep warm.

    Wear Extra Layers

    Before your house starts to cool down, apply more clothing layers to trap body warmth. You don’t need to go over the top and look like the Michelin Man, but digging out your thermal base layers and woolly jumpers would be a good start.

    Be Active

    Standing still in a chilly house will soon lead to you getting cold. Do something active such as hoovering and cleaning to generate body heat and take your mind off your predicament, plus you get a gleaming house in the process.

    Stay In One Room

    Heat rapidly dissipates through an unheated house so close all the doors and concentrate heat in to one living area. If your house is relatively draughty then think about blocking the bottom of doors with a towel or old coat.

    Light A Fire

    If you are lucky enough to have a wood burner then now is the time to light it! Burn it hard to start with to warm up the fire and the room, and then reduce it for a steady release of heat.

    Emergency Heating

    For those people without a log burner, getting instant heat needn’t be difficult if you have an electric ceramic, halogen or fan heater. They are relatively inexpensive to buy these days and are always handy to have as a back-up.

    Eat and Drink

    Try and keep yourself well fed and watered to ensure your bodies internal heat supply works at maximum efficiency – mainly through digestion. Avoid foods that will chill your body such as iced drinks and frozen foods, and try and consume foods you can warm up.

    Boil Water

    Electric kettles are not the most energy efficient of devices, but they can be used to fill hot water bottles for a quick heating fix, as well as providing a hot drink – just remember to check the bottles rubber seal before use.

    Close Your Curtains

    Windows can be one of the biggest areas of heat loss in your house. Even double glazed units will allow warmth to be lost. To prevent unnecessary cooling of your room, ensure your curtains are closed at night.

    Keeping Warm Conclusions

    Obviously prevention is better than cure, so ensure your boiler is serviced regularly to avoid preventable breakdowns. Should you be in a situation where you heating is not available in cold weather, common sense is often the best remedy.

    If you are struggling to heat your house and pay your utility bills then speak to your supplier or get further advice and help from Citizens Advice

  3. Sleeping Bag Liners For Extra Winter Warmth And Comfort

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    Sleeping bag liners used to be all about hygiene and were usually made from cotton. These days, there’s a wide variety of fabrics and functions with keeping a sleeping bag clean just one of the reasons to consider rather than the key one. Of course, the cleaner your sleeping bag, the less frequently you’ll need to wash it with all the potential anxiety that can entail, especially is it’s filled with expensive down.

    Any liner will add to the warmth of your bag as it will add to the insulation value of the trapped air heated by your body; they don’t weigh very much and take up little space in a rucksack.  That sounds quite technical but it simply means warming up the bag filling whether it’s light fluffy down or polyester wadding.

    Cotton liners are popular as they can be washed easily and are pretty cheap. Fleece is an obvious fabric to add warmth to your bag but it’s not the only way to extend the range of comfortable use. Silk comes with a higher price tag but offers a greater range of flexibility, packs down really small and is also easy to wash; it feels pretty good as well. Simple in style, liners may be rectangular, tapered or mummy shaped; zips are rarely found on them.

    As all liners can be used on their own, it pays to think ahead about what you might be doing. On its own, a fleece liner might be fine as a summer bag or for use as bedding on a flying visit to family and friends. A silk liner makes a great sleeping bag for use when travelling in hot countries. As liners may have been or can be treated with insect repellents and anti-bacterial concoctions, their use on gap years, backpacking trips and camping in all seasons is proof of their versatility.

  4. Keeping Warm In A Sleeping Bag

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    Just jumping in to a sleeping bag at the end of a day out on the hills is not necessarily going to keep you warm during the night. Follow our top sleeping bag tips for keeping snug:

    • Sleeping bags are not warm – it is your body heat that warms the air in the insulating fill.
    • The warmer you are when you get your head down, the faster your bag will warm up.
    • Spread out your sleeping bag when the tent is pitched so it can loft fully.
    • Sleeping bags liners will extend comfort ratings.
    • A hot meal will boost your body temperature as will even a short walk.
    • We breathe out a lot of moisture so, as all fills start to lose their performance when damp, avoid burrowing into your bag; make sure the hood is held snug around your ears.
    • Wear fresh socks to bed; a pair used only for bedtime.
    • Wear baselayer top and leggings will not only help in staying warm, they’re appreciated if you have to get up in the night. Keep a warm jacket handy.
    • Have a warm hat handy.
    • Air your bag each day to avoid damp building up and reducing its insulating value.


  5. Safety Advice For Coastal Walks

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    A coastal walk should always be a safe and enjoyable experience. It is worth considering the following points particularly if you are new to walking, or you intend to explore the longer and more remote walks.

    • Stay on the path and away from cliff edges
    • Take extra care in windy and/or wet conditions
    • Always supervise children and dogs
    • Leave gates and property as you find them
    • Remember that mobile signal can be patchy in some coastal destinations so let
    • someone know where you are heading and when you are due to arrive
    • Protect plants and animals, and take your litter home

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