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How to Choose Base Layer for Extreme Cold Weather?

Any thrill-seeking, outdoorsy kind of person understands how dangerous winter’s frigid conditions can be. Venturing outdoors when temperatures toggle between sub-zero degrees can often be tantamount to signing your death wish. That’s especially if you’re not armed with the right clothing to face these unbearably cold conditions.  

However, cold weather shouldn’t be synonymous with staying indoors. Whether you’re a seasoned hunter, fisher, or other adventure enthusiast, it’s possible to pursue your outdoor endeavors even in the dead of winter. All you need is a high-quality base layer.  

In this article, we look at some of the common tips to follow when choosing base layers for extremely cold weather. But first, let’s begin by understanding what type of clothing constitutes base layer. 

What Is Base Layer? 

Base layer is a term for a piece of clothing worn underneath regular clothes. These clothing are typically in direct contact with the skin, which explains their moniker.  

A quick online search for the key-phrase ‘base layer’ will turn up plenty of retail outlets near you which deal in these types of clothing. Skre Gear is one of the top places where you can purchase a high-quality base layer. But before you order these utility gear, it would be best to start by understanding their purpose.  

Base layers play the fundamental role of keeping you warm during chilly conditions. That explains why the demand for these clothing tends to be considerably higher in winter than in any other season.  

But base layers don’t only provide warmth during chilly conditions. The majority of these clothing are also designed to keep your skin dry.  

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There are numerous other benefits of base layers depending on who’s wearing it. For instance, a base layer can optimize muscle compression and blood circulation for professional athletes and fitness buffs. 

Tips While Choosing Base Layer for Extreme Cold Weather 

1. Fit  

Base layers should fit snugly around the body. There are no two ways about it.  

Insulation is the primary reason for choosing a close-fitting base layer. By fitting snugly around your body, these clothing can help prevent your body heat from dissipating into the atmosphere.  

On the contrary, a loose-fitting base layer would offer more room for cold air to circulate near your skin, which is the very thing you’re trying to avoid in the first place. 

2. Fabric  

Base layers should be made from moisture-wicking materials. There are quite a few options to explore here, including wool, silk, bamboo, and even synthetic fibers. The idea is to avoid cotton at all costs.  

Cotton is famous for being odor-free, hypoallergenic, and low maintenance. However, the material is less effective when it comes to moisture-wicking properties. Cotton also takes longer to dry and is notorious for drawing heat away from the body.  

It’s also important to point out that wool, silk, bamboo, and synthetic are all unique in their own right. Below is how these materials compare.  

3. Wool  

Wool is undoubtedly one of the best base layer materials. Not only is the fabric remarkably warm. It’s also naturally wicking and packs antimicrobial properties. Besides, wool is relatively easy to care for.  

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Perhaps the only notable drawback to wool is its often exorbitant cost. That’s especially true for Merino wool, which is obtained from the exotic sheep breed of the same name. 

4. Silk  

Silk needs no introduction. Much less when discussing lightweight fabrics.  

Since you’re venturing outdoors during cold weather, the last thing you want is clothing made from heavy fabrics that will weigh you down. And that’s where silk comes in. The fabric is super lightweight yet still contains insulating and moisture-wicking properties.  

But, like wool, silk tends to be a bit pricey. Besides, this fabric can attract a high care and maintenance cost. 

5. Synthetic  

This is the cheapest base layer material available on the market. In fact, most base layers you’ll come across are made from some form of synthetic fabric.  

But when it comes to fabrics, price is usually an indication of quality. Therefore, base layers made from synthetics tend to be lower quality and won’t last long.  

Besides, synthetic fibers are not naturally antimicrobial, hence non-odor repellent. The material is also less efficient at heat insulation. 

6. Bamboo  

Bamboo is the fastest-growing woody plant. That mere fact speaks volumes about the sustainability of bamboo clothing.  

Bamboo is also easier on the skin than wool, silk, and synthetics. Base layers made from this fabric are a particular recommendation for people with sensitive skin.  

Bamboo also scores quite highly in terms of its moisture-wicking and antimicrobial properties. But as you might expect, bamboo base layers are quite costly. 

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7. Weight 

We’ve already hinted at the importance of choosing lightweight materials for your base layers. But it’s also essential to balance between weight and efficiency.  

Lightweight base layers are preferable because they’re less bulky and tend to dry quicker. However, they’re less efficient at optimizing insulation.  

On the other hand, heavyweight base layers take longer to dry but can provide better insulation.  

If you’re ever in doubt, insist on mid-weight base layers, which offer the best of both worlds. Just ensure the material is still any above-listed, not cotton. 

Final Word 

Shopping for the best base layer can be a long and arduous endeavor if you do not know what to look for. We hope you can rely on this article as your ultimate guide for choosing the best base layer for extreme cold weather.