The Underrated Baselayer (it's for everyone!)

Boulder Nordic & Cycle Sport Staff

While flashy race suits and other technical outerwear get the glitz and the glory, the humble baselayer is the one close to the skin, wicking away moisture and providing a surprising amount of insulation. Whether you're an elite athlete or just out for a tour in the woods, your choice of baselayer will have a significant impact on your performance and general enjoyment of the day. 

One of the most critical functions of the baselayer is the efficient wicking of moisture from the skin. The technical fabrics used in quality baselayers will keep your skin dry and transport moisture completely to the outside of the garment so that it can evaporate or be ventilated through a technical shell. A low-quality baselayer can get soggy and saturated, leaving you cold and damp. You will find that a skin-tight fit for base layers works much better than a loose fit for this reason.

The other hallmark of a great baselayer is its ability to insulate while allowing freedom of movement without adding bulk. Baselayers have evolved to have complex weaves and engineered fibers (some with hollow cores!) that provide a surprising amount of warmth while feeling barely thicker than a t-shirt.

Finally, a good baselayer should fit snugly around your body. You'll find that both tops and bottoms will be surprisingly stretchy and won't restrict your don't be afraid if something looks a bit small before you put it on. To do its job properly, the baselayer needs to be right up against your skin—a baggy baselayer is always less effective.

So don't underestimate the humble baselayer. In fact, we recommend investing in a small fleet of high-quality baselayers in your wardrobe. You'll be glad it's there!