If your backpacking or daypacking it doesn’t matter, if you are carrying a pack in the outdoors then your going to sweat, especially where your pack touches you. So it’s important that your baselayers wick sweat away and most importantly have the ability to dry quickly. You definitely don’t want sweat freezing your body when you stop.
There are lots of makes and materials out there, it’s not easy to find one that works and you can pay fortunes only to find out that it’s not as perfect as the blurb first gave you the impression that it would be.
For example Merino wool. Expensive unless you buy one off Aldi, which to be honest I have found to be good value for money. I even bought the “new” Ultra Merino a while ago when it first came onto the market in New Zealand. I don’t think it’s available in the UK yet but I could be wrong. It proved to be pretty useless as far as backpacking was concerened.
It was warm, it was comfy but it doesn’t wick the sweat as it was supposed to do, and when wet it feels awful, like soggy cardboard, and just like soggy cardboard it takes an age to dry. I found that even hanging up in reasonable conditions that it wouldn’t dry overnight meaning you were putting damp wool back on. Not an unusual scenario when backpacking but if you don’t need to do that then why do it.
For me, the best next to skin baselayer I have used is the Rohan Ultra Silver Tee, I have both long and short sleeved versions. They work fantastically well and don’t hold sweat. They don’t smell bad either after days of wearing. They look and feel like silk and they weigh less than 100 grams. They dry amazingly fast and if you have never tried one then I recommend you do before Rohan decide to improve them or worse still discontinue them. On occasions I wear the short sleeve one under the long sleeve one because layering is the best way of keeping warm.
As examples go I have highlighted 2 here, one that works and one that doesn’t. I’ve tried many.
Now bring on the Craft baselayer. I had never heard of these, neither from advertising or gear reviews or even from the outdoor community I regularly talk too. I came upon this brand by fluke.
I was looking at lightweight shell jackets in Evans cycling shop but I didn’t want one with a pocket on the back for obvious reasons. Chatting with the staff I was out of luck, but we chatted about hiking rather that biking and the subject of baselayers came up. I was introduced to Craft who make cycling and running apparel.
I was impressed with the material, the design, the ventilation and the weight. I bought one (they actually only had one left in Large size). I wore it a few days and liked it so I searched the web and bought a second one.
Craft base layer. Extreme Active 2.0 SS.
On first wearing, i was not sure if i liked the high collar, it felt a little claustrophobic. But after few hours i got used to it and now i don't notice it. I wear it regularly, not just for hiking.
The underarm venting is welcome and also the tops are very long in body length, much longer than what you would normally receive from a hiking top. I am very pleased with this feature because it doesn't ride up your back
Material wise i would say it reminds me a little of Patagonia Capilene, not the same but similar.
It works very well at wicking sweat away and dries very fast. It feels good next to the skin.
Weight, very light, the large size short sleeve top is only 99 grams.
The fit is athletic and although the material has elastine which allows some stretch i would say for hiking pick a size up from normal tee shirt size if your interested in buying one. Prices are mid range.
The company have a large product offering and good designs, definitely worth a look, click here to check it out.