Baselayers face demand for fashion and performance.
Tight is Right
Not everyone wants to wear baselayers as pants. For athletic pursuits, a tighter fit equals better performance. More skin contact means improved wicking and easier layering. This year, tights incorporate mild compression sections in the lower legs and thighs for energy-saving and muscle-recovery benefits, and to help garments maintain their shape. Some wool brands are wrapping merino wool around a nylon core to improve product durability and longevity.
Right Place, Right Fabric
In baselayers bottoms, body mapping carries over as the main organizing concept. Front-facing wind panels—either nylon fabrics or extra-thick zones—help protect against excessive wind-cooling and evaporation during stops or breaks. Mesh panels, often placed in high-heat places like inner thighs, counter heat build-up by promoting ventilation. Baselayer tops trended warmer this year, with brands seeking the right interplay with synthetics and wool to provide winter warmth without sogginess.
Then again, some people do wear baselayers on the outside—as tights or shirts—and brands are responding with relaxed silhouettes that are versatile enough to be seen in public. “We’ve added more colors, patterns and premium details that help our baselayers make the transition from performance activity to casual, everyday adventures,” says Molly Cuffe, Smartwool’s global brand marketing director. Look for bold, eye-distracting patterns, and fits that are more flattering.
The Beast ($55) from Terramar is a heavyweight poly crew for low- to moderate- output activities in very cold weather. The slim fit, articulated elbows, and off-shoulder seams translate into a wide range of motion, and a fleece liner helps wick sweat off the skin.
Lifestyle meets technical in Smartwool’s Women’s Merino 250 Baselayer Asym Top ($115). It’s a slim-fit top, but bold colorways and a 12-inch asymmetrical zip make it cute enough to wear with jeans. The shoulders are seamless to reduce friction under a pack.
Technically a baselayer, Minus 33 positions its Juneau Leggings ($TBD) as go-to winter bottoms. The heft of the heavy wool rebuffs wind while its gusseted build increases flexibility.
Helly Hansen overhauled its baselayer line for 2017, introducing two new pieces at the warm end of its range. The two-layer Lifa Merino Seamless ½ Zip ($110) uses two-layer construction to up comfort and wicking performance. Available in men’s and women’s styles.
Merrell mixes venting sections with a thicker knits in its Trektech Seamless Tight ($60) for men. The tough Cordura construction gets a ventilation assist from meshy panels located along the inner thighs and the backs of the knees.
This article was originally published on p. 22 of the Day 0 issue of Outdoor Retailer Daily Winter Market 2017.