Base desires!

I think I’ve turned the corner on the Mumps today! Feeling much more like my usual self this afternoon, so much so that Tex and I are off to Langdale tomorrow for an Esk Pike and Bow Fell walk. Whilst I had some free time I pursued what, for me, seems to be an epic search for the perfect baselayer. This may seem like a trivial issue to most people, but there are special considerations for fat fellwalkers like me. Namely the facxt that I can’t (or won’t) wear Freddy Mercury tops without something on over the top of them; so a tight fitting baselayer is out, except in the winter, when I know I’m going to have to wear at least a fleece on top of it all day. Therefore I have a winter baselayer and a summer baselayer…. Summer baselayers are generally Craghopper or Regatta cotton-based shirts. I prefer something with long sleeves and a collar so that I can roll the former down and the latter up when the sun comes out. I hate suncream – it makes me sweat like cornered virgin – so I have to go for coverage instead. These do not wick away moisture of course and when I sweat I end up with a very sweaty back – and if the walk is long enough I end up with a sweat rash at the bottom of my back where the pack rubs. This is very painful. So I’m about to try a new summer baselayer to wear beneath my shirt – a vest! Yep, a good old fashioned white cotton vest, like my dad used to wear. The vest is light enough that I can carry a spare one to change half way through the walk and hopefully prevent the sweat rash developing. I’ve gone for a sleeveless one to prevent overheating and I’ll see how I get on tomorrow. £3 for 2 from Asda. Winter baselayers can, by definition, be a bit more technical and figure hugging, as they are not going to be seen by the general public – unless your unlucky enough to be passing me in the car park at the end of the walk when I’m getting changed out of my sweaty gear. So far I’ve tried a Helly Hansen technical long sleeve and that worked well – it insulates and wicks moisture and keeps me warm, but its now falling to bits and they don’t seem to sell the version I have anymore. I’ve also tried some generic technical tees with supposed wicking and quick drying abilities – but generally they’ve been rubbish. So I’ve just ordered a set of silk baselayers (top and bottom), from Gear-Zone. The top is a long sleeve and the bottoms are full length longjohns to replace my Helly Hansen LJ’s that are falling to bits now. It will be interesting to see how good they are at insulation and keeping me warm. I also bought them as a “sleep layer”, to wear inside my sleeping bag when temperatures get a bit cooler. I thought if I’m doing Hadrian’s Wall in mid-September there’s a chance of cold nights. I’ll do a gear review if appropriate when I’ve tested them.

lonewalker

Fell-walker, trig-pointer, peak-bagger, Wainwright-er & Pennine Way author, with a passion for long paths, malt whisky, fast cars & Man City

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5 Responses

  1. Robin Evans says:

    I’ve just bought an Icebreaker 140 merino T-shirt and it feels like silk. Posted a short review on my blog: http://blogpackinglight.wordpress.com/2008/08/21/base-layers-review/

  2. lonewalker says:

    Thats interesting Gayle, I’ve just been listening to Bob’s podcasts from Friedrich….thingy and he did an interview with Icebreaker about their new range, which mixes Merino with Lycra – probably just what a portly plodder like me needs 🙂
    Merino is now added to the kit list.

  3. Gayle says:

    Another vote for merino from me. I started our LEJOG with a long sleeved Icebreaker that I’ve been using for a while and with a Smelly-Helly short sleeved. The latter lived up to its name so much that I splashed out on a short sleeved merino half way through. The Icebreaker 150 short sleeved certainly seemed to do the job (very comfy and no smell)- and it was thin enough not to be too hot even in sunny weather and walking up hills.

    It’s not rough or itching against the skin. In fact, with the 150 in particular I would say that it’s difficult to tell that you’re wearing wool without looking at the label.

  4. lonewalker says:

    I’ve not looked at Merino, I’ll have to add it to the list. Presumably, even though its wool, it doesn’t feel like traditional wool – rough and scratchy against the skin? I’d hate to spend the day in a wet, hair shirt 🙂

  5. john hee says:

    winter or summer i use a merino base; It needs to be really sunny before the summer one drops back to some simple cheap wicking T-shirt

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