Moisture movers: Baselayers, midlayers battle sweat with more fabric combos, new insulations

In the battle against sweat — with the added challenge of temperature regulation in the winter — technical apparel designers are fine-tuning their strategies with more wool/synthetic blends, new weave patterns, radiant heat, breathable puffies and water-resistant wool.
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Throughout the next month, SNEWS will recap its coverage of Outdoor Retailer Winter Market 2013 with select stories from the O.R. Daily we published at the show Jan. 23-26. It’s an opportunity for you to catch up on stories you might have missed in O.R.D., and for us to update and upload the articles to our searchable archives.

A poly wicking layer just won’t do anymore.

In the battle against sweat — with the added challenge of temperature regulation in the winter — technical apparel designers are fine-tuning their strategies with more wool/synthetic blends, new weave patterns, radiant heat, breathable puffies and water-resistant wool.

It’s a fine line between keeping pieces warm, yet breathable enough to transport moisture during periods of high activity.

Isis’ Versa-Lite Half Zip top (MSRP $69) blends merino wool and polyester to get the best of both the natural and synthetic worlds. A long cut and slim fit make it easy to layer over, while flatlock stitches keep chafing at bay. The wool/polyester marriage is available for the lower half, too — Versa-Lite tights (MSRP $59) offer the same warmth and wicking benefits as the Half Zip and a flat waistband for easy layering. Mountain Equipment does much the same with its new wool/poly Diomede collection, including a midweight zip top and pant baselayer (MSRPs N/A) in men’s and women’s styles.


Isis Versa-Lite Half Zip

Newcomer to Winter Market Tasc Performance mixes merino with bamboo to complement and enhance the natural fiber’s wicking and anti-odor properties in its Bamboo Merino Level B 1/4 Zip (MSRP $90) for men and women.


Tasc Performance Bamboo Merino Level B 1/4 Zip

Columbia’s Men’s Heavyweight 1/2 Zip Baselayer (MSRP $70) takes inspiration from the old thermal underwear that many of us remember, with a classic waffle texture to move moisture mixed with the the futuristic-looking Omni-Heat laminate inside to trap body heat. Brooks turns to old-school polypropylene, coupling it with a net-like construction for a light and highly breathable yet-to-be-named baselayer top (MSRP $75).


Columbia’s Men’s Heavyweight 1/2 Zip

Or how about the comeback of the onesie — it’s not just for kids’ pajamas. Patagonia’s Cap 4 Expedition Weight One Piece baselayer (MSRP $199) combines the Cap 4’s top and bottom in one piece to eliminate gaps and maximize insulation. A fly and zippered drop bottom lets wearers take care of business without removing the entire garment. The open grid pattern on the One-Piece’s interior traps warm air while venting excess heat, while the smooth jersey face makes layering easy.


PatagoniaCap 4 Expedition Weight One Piece

At the midlayer level, SmartWool’s PhD SmartLoft Divide Full Zip (MSRP $200) has a wind-resistant nylon exterior shell with a soft merino wool lining and a 75 percent wool/25 percent polyester blend to insulate the jacket’s core. The result is a midlayer with the soft touch of wool and the wicking properties of synthetic material for comfort on and off the mountain.


SmartWool’s PhD SmartLoft Divide Full Zip

Wool stays warm when it gets wet, but we couldn’t help but notice that Icebreaker is going a step further with its merino wool gear. Made with higher-output activities in mind, Icebreaker’s new merino Quantum+ Hood (MSRP $220) features waterproof nanocoating to make it all but impervious to rain. Details like a reflective zipper and thumb loops are a nice touch, plus a bit of elastane (98 percent wool, 2 percent elastane) provides additional mobility when cycling, running or skiing.


Icebreaker’s new merino Quantum+ Hood

Icebreaker also debuts a new fit system for its garments moving forward. It worked with apparel fit expert Alvanon to provide increased ease of movement, especially when layering. Icebreaker’s new baselayers have a slim fit, midlayers have a regular fit and outer layers have a relaxed fit.

Adidas Outdoor is approaching warmth in a different way — by reducing large pockets of trapped air between the body and the garment. Its Ndosphere insulated hoody (MSRP $195) is a midlayer whose every component stretches: the outer layer, the interior and the insulation all move with the wearer. This allows the garment to sport a slimmer cut.


Adidas Ndosphere

--Billy Brown

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