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Base Layers for Men and Women Who Are Active Outdoors

Underwear for Active Outdoor Winter Adventures

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Base Layers for Men and Women Who Are Active Outdoors
Playing outdoors is no fun when you're cold. Savvy active men and women know that high-tech base layers (underwear), and the latest creations in merino wool, will keep you warm and wick sweat away from your body when you're outdoors in the wintertime. Base layers come in light, medium and heavy weights, so you can match the weight to the level of your activity and the outdoor temperature.

At the Snowsports Industry Snow Show in Denver last winter, several companies displayed a range of base layers for active sports lovers, whch are now in the shops and available online. Some are in basic colors. Others have designs so attractive wearers simply strip off jackets and their sweaters or fleece and use the tops as a shirt during the apres-ski hours.

Choosing a Base Layer

Today's high-tech layers utilize synthetic fabrics such as CoolMax, PowerDry and Capilene, which transport sweat away from your skin, moving it to an outer surface where the perspiration can evaporate. Another increasingly popular choice for base layers is merino wool, an incredibly soft wool that comes from sheep of the same name. Merino wool is warm, naturally antimicrobial and the base layers are machine washable.

Great Synthetic Base Layer Choices

PolarMax also has a variety of layers, and the side closest to your body in many models has a soft, brushed-fleece feel. The Comp 4 top and bottom, for warmth in seriously cold weather, is a blend of high-performance Acclimate® Dry polyester and Spandex. The Comp 4 Tech Fleece was designed for mobility, enhanced breathability and moisture-wicking comfort in extreme conditions.

Columbia makes base layers that really keep you warm. The Women's Baselayer Midweight Tight, for example, has an Omni-Heat thermal reflective technology helps hold in the heat without adding bulk. The Columbia base layers have an Omni-Wick evaporation system that pulls sweat away from your skin, and have an antimicrobial treatment so you won't start stinking after all that exercise. The tights and other Columbia base layers are 85 percent polyester and 15 percent elastane sweet reve, so they stretch with your body movements.

I wrote a review about CW-X tights because they made such a difference in my skiing. Quite simply, these tights, made of synthetic fabrics, kept my sports-abused body in better alignment and I felt stronger and was able to ski longer.

Merino Wool Base Layers

SmartWool makes very comfortable base layers, with technical seams, so the garments fit well and stretch the right ways for active sports. The NTS Microweight Zip Top is super-lightweight merino wool keeps you warm without the bulk while managing moisture and fending off odor, and the 1/4 zip lets you dump excess heat when you work up a sweat on the ascent.

Socks to Keep You Warm

Heat Holders are thicker-than-normal socks that keep you warm in really cold weather. Here's a review.

I like socks made of merino wool. They are ulta-comfortable and some brands can be tossed in the washing machine and dried on low. I use both Point6 and Smartwool brands.

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