Backpackers Tokyo

What’s the Best Base Layer for Backpacking?

There’s no magic bullet. You need to understand how different fabrics and apparel design impacts your own needs for comfort and performance. The goal of this live (and recorded) video event is to help you make good decisions about what to buy and what to use for a particular trip.

There are hundreds of different base layer options marketed to hikers, backpackers, skiers, and other outdoor users. You may recognize some of their marketing claims: “thermal underwear” or “moisture-wicking” or “odor-resistant”. Base layers are worn next to the skin and provide the foundation of a layering system. In this Member QA, we’ll investigate their role in moisture transport across a layering system, heat management, odor control, and more. The objectives of this Member QA are to:

  1. Give you the information you need to make an informed decision about how to buy base layers for backpacking;
  2. Which types of base layers to incorporate into your layering systems for maximum performance.

1. Keynote: AN OVERVIEW OF BASE LAYERS (~30 minutes, by Ryan Jordan)

    • an introduction to base layer terminology and characteristics
    • the role base layers play in heat and moisture transfer
    • merino wool vs. synthetic fiber base layer fabrics
    • getting the most out of a base layer fabric in the context of an overall layering system

2. BASE LAYERS QA (~30 minutes)

  • What’s the best moisture-wicking base layer for people who sweat a LOT?
  • How does alpaca wool compare to merino wool or synthetic base layer fibers?
  • How does moisture-wicking work in a fishnet base layer? What are the main benefits of fishnet base layers?
  • Do moisture-wicking baselayers have a role in extreme cold (winter) in a clothing system that includes heavier insulation (e.g., fleece or high-loft synthetic)
  • How does the elimination of lanolin (during fiber production) impact wicking in merino wool base layers?

About the Event Access Info

Live Event Info: Base Layers, Wicking, and Backpacking (Member QA) – Thursday, January 27, 2022 6:00 PM US Mountain Standard Time (MST)

Backpacking Light QA Sessions are Hour-Long Members-Only Live Events – they are recorded and the recorded session will be made available below after the live event has ended.

To access the live or recorded (video) version of this event, a printable slide deck for note-taking, and the related resources/downloads, you must be logged in with an active Basic, Premium or Unlimited Membership.

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Members-Only: Attend the Live Event/Watch the Recorded Video Access Additional Resources

  • Download the Slide Deck (PDF)

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