Baselayers - the foundation layer. A baselayer is there to help keep your skin dry and comfortable and to regulate your temperature. It should wick moisture from the skin and dry quickly. It should also add a certain level of warmth. Above all a good baselayer should be comfortable to wear over extended periods without rubbing or chafing the skin.
We're going to break them down into two categories - synthetic and merino wool. Within those categories there are different weights of fabric and different styles. What works for you will be down to your layering, fabric and fit preferences. Plus whether you tend to run hot or cold, and what kind of environment you usually spend time in. For example, you're likely going to prefer a different baselayer for riding the Haute Route in April to, say, a cold January day splitboarding in the Canadian Rockies.
Synthetic baselayer tend to be lighter, dry faster and wick moisture better than their merino counterparts. They also tend to be cheaper and more durable. That's a big generalisation though and there are exceptions to the rule. The fabrics used for synthetic baselayers can vary wildly - from super thin, silkweight fabrics to thicker more lofty fabrics that can serve as lightweight midlayers.
Arc's main line of baselayers is called Phase. The range features various stiles across 3 weights of fabric - Phase SV (the warmest), Phase AR (a midweight fabric) and Phase SL (a superlight fabric). All weights come as a short-sleeved crew, long-sleeved crew and long-sleeved zip neck, plus bottoms too. Pick your weight depending on how hot or cold you run and what you're gonna layer on top.
- Phase fabrics are super fast wicking and dry very fast
- Multiple weights of fabric depending on preference
- Phase SV also comes in a boot cut bottom (see above) ideal for splitting.
The Stryka Hoody is as much a lightweight midlayer as it is a baselayer. It functions great as both. The Torrent fabric is super soft and stretchy and really nice next to the skin. It's pretty warm though so this isn't a baselayer for really warm spring days. In the depths of winter however the long coverage and balaclava hood collar combo should make it a stand out choice.
- Soft, warm stretchy fabric (190gm with brushed interior)
- Long length stays tucked in
- Close, but not too close, fit
- Balaclava style hood and collar
- Weight 285g
Perhaps Patagonia's finest baselayer - the Capilene Thermal Weight Hoody is pretty much as good as it gets as a splitboarding baselayer. The Polartec Power Grid fabric is amazingly comfortable, warm and high wicking. Plus it dries really fast. The lofted interior traps air and wicks moisture, the grip pattern helps with breathability and packability and the smooth face layers well. The fit is spot on - close but not mega tight and the double fabric hood and high-ish collar are super cosy. The low profile thumb loops work perfectly.
- Polartec Power Grid fabric is very breathable and comfortable
- Low profile thumb loops
- Super warm double fabric hood
- Weight 218g
The Capilene Lightweight T Shirt is a good choice for warmer conditions when you can skin in short sleeves or for those who simply prefer a really light and simple foundation garment to layer on top of. Capilene Lightweight is silky soft and made suing 100% recycled polyester. It's also treated with odour fighting Polygiene to ward off the stink.
- Super light Capilene Lightweight fabric
- 100% recycled content
- Taped neck seam for comfort
- Weight 76g
Awesome underwear for the backcountry, the Ninja Suit has seen a host of imitators spring up following its success but none are as definitive as the original. Soft, Stretchy midweight polyester fabric is comfy and warm. The snug hood seas out weather, the long zip vents effectively and the fly and drop seat mean answering the call of nature is no worries. Plus they make 'em with flying pizzas on...
- Snug fitting hood
- Fly and drop seat
- Thumb loops
- Long front zip
Burton AK stuff has always been awesome and this winter's range is no exception. The Power Dry Hood is a highlight, I reckon. Polartec Power Dry fabric is super comfy and performs really well when the going gets sweaty in the skin track. Plus it doesn't pill and lasts the distance. The hood and collar design is simple and effective at keeping out the elements and work great under a beanie or helmet.
- Polartec Power Dry fabric wicks and dries fast
- Thumb loops
- Great hood / collar design
- Flat seams for comfort.