Base Layers

Yep, back on the subject of layers again.
Once again stating my thoughts of
“You can always take off too many but you can’t put on what you haven’t got”.

The acronym COLD has always been my guide for when temperatures fall.
Keep things CLEAN, don’t OVERHEAT, adjust your core temperature by shedding or donning LAYERS of protection, and always keep DRY!

Yet what to wear against my now wrinkly (not a pretty sight) sensitive skin?
I’m talking BASE LAYERS.

What to look for? It’s a tough one this.
Too efficient or warm a base layer and you may overheat.
Yet does it need to impart warmth or has it other more important uses?

I guess the most important thing for me is how to lose the moisture I generate (SWEAT) when I do anything. Anything? Yep, anything because even just sitting behind the wheel of a car will cause you to exercise and your body’s automatic reaction to that is to go into temperature control mode aka evaporation cooling.

Note:- To those using  antiperspirants as your SOP. Are you demented or what?
Sweat is natures way of cooling you down.
To stop that means you have to shed more layers than “smelly” me.
 Only what are you doing? Clogging up the pores doesn’t stop them from functioning and unless you can wash the “gunk” off at night thus allowing your skin to breath again, long-term you’ll develop irritation and ultimately sores. Only to wash off the gunk takes hot water and soap. In a survival situation you may have neither.

So apart from shedding layers before driving away or whatever, to assist the body I want my base layer to wick whatever moisture I generate AWAY  from my body and into easily discard-able outer clothing.

Unfortunately (and I say that with feeling), natural fibers (except perhaps merino wools) aren’t very good at doing that so my base layer is always made of a synthetic material typically a high mix polyester.

Pure Cotton, as always, is a bad choice as it soaks up moisture and holds it there like some damp drying up cloth or face flannel.

Anyway, why with feeling?
Some synthetics can cause a reaction i.e. they make you sweat more.
It’s all about ventilation.
The closer the weave, the more “boil in the bag” effect me and others suffer from.
BUT as the modern trend is to make things ‘contoured’ aka skin-tight, it’s wise to look out for that. The skin tight bit especially.

A word about string vests.
String vests keep you warm because they trap a layer of air between your skin and your shirt in little pockets. Now although that might sound good, it leaves a lot of the generated moisture with nowhere to go.

Remember the idea of base layers is to WICK the moisture away from the body.

Then there are your pants!
Base layer pants.
Two of the sweatiest and bacteria laden areas of the skin is the crotch, closely followed by the feet. Having spoken about boots and socks, I’ll concentrate on the”area above”.

Is synthetic material the ideal choice here?
It’s going to have to be breathable and in my case VERY breathable.
Only the standard answer to base layer is and was to don Long Johns.


They are usually close-fitting with warm leggings for extra winter warmth.
As with most commercial things they usually come as a mixed fabric garment.
50:50 Polyester / Cotton blend.
Which is good (and bad as cotton has reared its damp flannel head again)
Only a tight fit is (wait for it) boil in the bag for some.
Thus be careful if you are a sensitive skin type of person.
Loose is best, not baggy, just loose fitting.
Remember you are seeking a material to wick sweat away not a fashion statement.

In conclusion (and boy do I hate saying this).
Synthetics are best, provided  they are “easy breathers”.
Make sure you can hand wash it.
Tight is not go good.
Many layers is better than a couple of heavy weight items.
As a personal preference I use separates.
if you are wearing a oneze, pronounced (won-zee), an all in one garment.
Thinking unisex, both need fly’s. Front and back, not unlike:


This entry was posted in prepping, shelter and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.