What to look for in a good baselayer?
Posted on April 29 2020
There seems to be a good deal of confusion and misinformation out there on base layers. A lot of brands attempt to confuse people with technical jargon to promote their own brand. I like to take a different tack and provide you with facts so you can make up your own mind.
Let’s start by answering the following question: why do we wear a base layer in the first place?
The answer is not simply to keep you warm! Rather base layers serve a different function depending on the intensity of the exercise. I like to distinguish those two types simple as:
- High-intensity exercises like cycling and running
- Low-intensity exercise like walking and hiking etc
It is important that you take into account the type of activity you are doing, before considering what kind of base layer you need.
During low activity exercise, your body temperature should remain above average but it helps to wear a base layer that insulates the warm air around your body. Air is a great insulator and to keep warm and comfortable during a walk, a merino wool base layer could well be advisable.
During high-intensity activity, however, your body is going to produce a lot of heat from within. This heat, if trapped, can cause your body to overheat, and sweat excessively. Once your shirt is wet, you will cool down very quickly if you stop for a puncture, coffee or a chat. Wearing a merino wool base layer in these kinds of circumstances is not advisable. Wool can take up 80% of its own mass in water, these merino baselayers become heavy, stay wet for a long time and after a few times wearing and washing they lose their shape.
This blog is about base layers that should be worn during high-intensity activity (cycling or running). In my view there are 3 key things one should want from a base layer during high activity:
- Good ventilation
I will address each of these points separately.
Air is a very good insulator if we trap air between our base layer and our skin, we create an insulating layer around us and we will overheat quite quickly. It is therefore very important that hot air can escape through the base layer, to avoid excessive sweating. No ventilation holes in a base layer mean that the base layer will trap the air and make the athlete unnecessary hot and bothered. If the ventilation holes are too small, the air will struggle to move out easily and one still feels hot and bothered. These are important things to look at before one buys a base layer! No holes, means no ventilation, means not suitable for high-intensity activity!
Comfort is difficult to define, it depends from person to person. But there are a few things we all seem to be able to agree upon. Seams in a shirt can become very irritating. Seams are necessary to join two pieces of fabric together or to avoid the fabric from unraveling. Most brands create their own size range which means they put seams in places to create a certain size. But your size will almost certainly be slightly different than the ideal size printed on the packaging.
This means that your arms might be slightly bigger and your waist slightly smaller. This is normal but it affects the fit! In an ideal world, you wear a shirt that fits comfortably and hugs you, rather than a tight or loose fit in certain places. It is for this reason that Megmeister uses a very different kind of machinery to make our base layers truly seamless. It enhances the fit and therefore the comfort of every athlete.
A good base layer keeps the skin dry by pushing sweat away from the body, so sweat can evaporate on the outside of the shirt and it keeps the skin dry. Now for this to work one needs a different composition on the inside than on the outside of the base layer.
So have a look in your cupboard, have a look at the label in your base layer. If the label reads polyester and elastane, you have been sold a fast-drying T-shirt. Fast-drying in comparison to a cotton T-shirt. But this has nothing to do with wicking!
Baselayer with Polyester/ elastane compositions will get wet, inside and out. We all know the feeling when we stop for coffee and we have to go again and we feel cold for the first 10 minutes because we are wearing a wet base layer.
Look at the Megmeister baselayers and you will notice that the inside is completely different from the outside. The inside of our baselayer does not like water (hydrophobic) and pushes sweat straight away to the outside where it will dry. This is in essence what a good baselayer is all about!
Our base layers have been created for those who are engaging in those high-intensity workouts. Our team has spent years redefining base layer technology. So, with the summer fast approaching, now is the time to prepare for those long rides. Shop our collection today.