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Best next-to-skin layer
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Wayne Wagner
(wagnerw) - F

Locale: NorCal
Best next-to-skin layer on 06/08/2010 20:29:54 MDT Print View

Hi all-

I've used y'all's advice for years now without ever posting anything, and I wanted to thank you.

In addition, I have a question (2 actually, but I'll save the second for another post.) I am looking for the best next-to-skin layer possible. Weight matters, but I have to imagine they are all roughly the same weight. I do not care about smell, except as a tiebreaker.

I am, however, an extreme sweater. I need something that takes care of moisture as effectively as possible.

Thanks for any help y'all can give. I really appreciate it.


Javan Dempsey

Locale: The-Stateless-Society
well on 06/08/2010 20:48:30 MDT Print View

I'd say it depends on your season man.

Synthetics will handle your sweat the best if you really don't care about smell, although I used to think I didn't either, until I started doing multi week trips with one set of clothes.

Personally, I find I can get by with a lighter weight merino in the winter, where the higher evaporation rate of the wicking synthetics tends to freeze me out. Powerstretch seems to be the exception for me there, but honestly, it also (and based on no scientific evidence) seems the smelliest. I still love my powerstretch tights but they multiply the funk.

However, if you're extremely sensative to wool itch factor, I think your question is answered.

As to exact brands/models, well, there's a ton.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
next to skin layers on 06/08/2010 21:47:21 MDT Print View

What I use:

Winter (conditions above 40 rare): the thinnest wool available, warmer for the weight, less funk, feels better, moving moisture fast less of a concern

Shoulder seasons (wide variety of temps/conditions): Capilene 2, widest temp range of any baselayer, fast drying, fastest wicking

Really darn hot: Capilene 1, fastest drying fabric I've found

There are exceptions, but this is generally what I wear. If you sweat a ton and hate having a soggy shirt, I'd strongly advise synthetics, or the lightest of wool layers. I've given up on anything but (in terms of wool) as I also sweat a fair bit and have no patience with slow drying stuff.

Steven McAllister
(brooklynkayak) - MLife

Locale: Atlantic North East
Re: next to skin layers on 06/08/2010 22:16:46 MDT Print View

For me, merino wool for cool weather, light silk for summer. Synthetics can get annoyingly stinky. Synthetics are better for the other layers.

I have had OK luck with a base layer that is mostly synthetic, with some cotton mixed in, but the silk or merino wool keeps the BO to a minimum.

William Johnsen
(sixoclocknews) - F
Re; base layers on 06/08/2010 22:45:42 MDT Print View

I use mostly wool. I like the 190/200 weight (patagonia wool 3, though they may have switched the numbers because they now have a wool 1). The thinner stuff is lighter, but seems to wear to quickly esp. under shoulder straps for the price. The slightly heavier stuff lasts longer.

On extended trips I actually prefer the Arc'teryx Rho LT. It has an anti-microbial treatment that keeps the funk down as well as wool for me (I'm not a heavy sweater) and dries a lot faster.

Ankar Sheng
(Whiskyjack) - MLife

Locale: The Canadian Shield
Re: Re: next to skin layers on 06/08/2010 23:53:05 MDT Print View

Silk is super comfy in the heat and dries really fast, but it isn't durable at all. I wore a pretty thin one (150g) on a hike and the pack wore through the back by the 3rd day.

A heavier garment would certainly be tougher, but I dunno if it'd preform as well.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - F

Drimove on 06/08/2010 23:58:55 MDT Print View

I prefer the fastest drying baselayer, which also happens to be the lightest one. So I use a GoLite Drimove silk baselayer, which is not actually silk but rather a lightweight polyester. My mens medium weighs 54g (1.9oz) for a tee shirt. I wear this year round because I don't count on my baselayers for insulation. There are much better ways to insulate that using thick slow drying baselayers.

GoLite doesn't make their 'Drimove Silk' baselayers anymore but they do make their 'Drimove Lite' ones, which aren't too much heavier. For 2010 they are sold as 'trail running' products and a tee shirt is 80g. You'll find that the lightest baselayers from other brands still tend to weigh about 50% more than this (ie. Patagonia Capilene 1 is 130g) and thus dry proportionally slower. I've got a Patagonia Cap 1 tee shirt as well, but the GoLite is noticeably faster drying. I like to just use one hiking shirt and give it a quick wash at a stream while hiking once a day. Mine is dry again in 15-45 min depending on the weather.

Edited by dandydan on 06/09/2010 00:00:13 MDT.

Ankar Sheng
(Whiskyjack) - MLife

Locale: The Canadian Shield
Re: Best next-to-skin layer on 06/09/2010 00:14:13 MDT Print View

For socks what do you think would be better: Merino wool or CoolMax freshFX (coolmax with silver threads)?

I'm really fond of wool for it's stink resistance, but CoolMax FX sounds like it could be good!

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: Best next-to-skin layer on 06/09/2010 01:09:17 MDT Print View


My experience with socks:

1. synthetics -- horrid smell after just a day hike.
2. synthetics with XStatic (silver) odor treatment -- significant improvement over #1.
3 merino wool -- significant improvement over #2.

Edited by ben2world on 06/09/2010 01:10:29 MDT.


Locale: South West US
Re: Best next-to-skin layer on 06/09/2010 01:35:42 MDT Print View


Like you, I sweat a lot while on the move and have noticed that the best performing base layers are the ones that have very high air-permeability (you can blow through them with little resistance). The two that I recommend are the Mountain Hardwear Super Wicked Tee and Patagonia Cap 2. They work well because they have more of an open knit, almost like a micro-mesh, which allows your skin to breathe and catch a breeze. When it’s cool and you add a shell they feel quite warm because they effectively trap air as well. They are very versatile garments.

Edited by oiboyroi on 06/09/2010 01:38:12 MDT.

Wayne Wagner
(wagnerw) - F

Locale: NorCal
Re: Drimove on 06/09/2010 16:59:56 MDT Print View

I think this is the way I think as well. I am not concerned about warmth with my first layer. I just want it to help me deal with the sweat.

Thanks for all the comments guys. I have a few things to check into now, which is a lot better than chasing this thing blindly!

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: Drimove on 06/09/2010 17:13:37 MDT Print View


Just about the only major complaints some people have with 100% synthetics is the stink factor. If that is a concern for you, then aside from wool, don't forget to consider blends as well. All of my baselayers are 40/60 cotton/poly blends. I really like the very comfy cotton feel, the high performance (wicking and quick drying) -- and no particular stink factor.

Edited by ben2world on 06/09/2010 17:15:09 MDT.

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: Re: Drimove on 06/09/2010 17:17:41 MDT Print View

So the conventional knowledge says to stay away from cotton. But for you, there are no concerns with the blends? Performance compared to wools and synthetics?

Edited by T.L. on 06/09/2010 17:27:30 MDT.

Eugene Smith
(Eugeneius) - MLife

Locale: Nuevo Mexico
"Best next-to-skin layer" on 06/10/2010 06:50:32 MDT Print View

My BPL Beartooth Hoody is probably my ideal next to skin layer, under really dry conditions it performs very well. But under most variable conditions either a Capilene 1 or Capilene 2 work well for me, I actually prefer the Capilene 2, I find it transfers moisture and breathes better to me, the open weave is much more comfortable as well, it's just a tad heavier. Capilene 1 is too silky for my tastes most of the time but is what I use in the hot summer. I own a Capilene 1 T that I converted into a sleeveless shirt, it's my favorite hot weather shirt and does dry extremely fast, but holds odors, good and bad, like no ones business.

Steven McAllister
(brooklynkayak) - MLife

Locale: Atlantic North East
Cotton on 06/10/2010 06:57:37 MDT Print View

I have at times worn very thin base layers made with a small percentage of cotton. They stink less, have less itch factor and being that they are mostly synthetic, will wick and dry reasonably fast.

Although I do prefer silk and merino wool most of the time, they don't dry as fast as capaline.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: Blends on 06/10/2010 15:02:09 MDT Print View


As mentioned, I've been very, very happy with my 40/60 cotton/poly blends. I get performance, comfort, and no stink factor.

I think too often people turn catchy mantras into rigid dogmas. LNT! Cotton kills!

George Matthews
(gmatthews) - MLife
Re: Re: Blends - cotton on 06/10/2010 18:50:10 MDT Print View

Agree with Ben about mantras. During the dog days of summer in the South, cotton is great. I've worn 100% cotton tees and lived to tell the tale.

[queue Leadbelly...]

Jump down, turn around to pick a bale of cotton
Jump down, turn around to pick a bale a day.
Jump down, turn around to pick a bale of cotton
Jump down, turn around to pick a bale a day.
Oh Lordy, pick a bale of cotton, oh Lordy,
Pick a bale a day.
Oh Lordy, pick a bale of cotton, oh Lordy,
Pick a bale a day.

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
Synthetics & "stink" on 06/10/2010 20:55:34 MDT Print View

Ya know, all you retro-woolies out there, they DO make synthetics that combat odor.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: Synthetics & "stink" on 06/10/2010 21:34:41 MDT Print View


True, but my own experience with socks (the ultimate stink test?) -- as I wrote up above -- is that while odor-treated synthetics do show an improvement, wool is still significantly more odor-resistant.

Jonathan Whitney
(WalksOn2Wheels) - F
Polyester+me=stand ten feet away on 06/10/2010 21:51:10 MDT Print View

Think I posted this on another forum quite recently, but for me, polyester and I just don't get along. Especially in the underarms and nether regions.

I bought a -mostly- nylon REI Sahara shirt because it was on sale and I had a trip that weekend. I can't speak to quick dry times or anything because the humidity was just wretched. However, I did take note that the shell was nylon and the netting (under arms, upper back and chest) were polyester. Sure enough, the only part of my shirt that stunk were the underarm vents. I'll have to keep an eye out for similar shirts that use nylon mesh panels.

Other than that, wool is your friend. Expensive, but worth it. Better than cotton in pretty much every way. It works for the sheep, it can work for you, too.