Best base layer for tough physical hunting

Discussion in 'Backpack Hunting' started by mcseal2, Sep 15, 2010.

  1. Rick Richard

    Rick Richard Well-Known Member

    Jan 7, 2014
    Light weight merino wool as the base layer. Also, walk in as light as possible.
    Jerry M likes this.
  2. ssssnake529

    ssssnake529 Well-Known Member

    Sep 10, 2015
    I put out huge amounts of heat. I literally steam in cold weather. If I'm moving uphill, I'm sweating even in below freezing temperatures wearing only a light, base layer T-shirt.

    Some observations. Merino wool is good for moderate sweating, as it doesn't stink, and has decent moisture management. However, if I sweat a lot, the amount of moisture will eventually overcome wool's ability to trap the moisture, and the garment becomes soaked and sodden. When this happens, it takes wool a relatively long time to dry. This is because wool relies on being able to trap moisture in the fibers, using body heat to turn that moisture to vapor and move it away from your skin. Overload wool's ability to trap moisture, and it ultimately stops performing.

    Compare that with a wicking synthetic, such as Patagonia's Capilene. (Don't use polypropylene. There are much better modern alternatives such as Capilene made from polyester.) Unlike wool, synthetics are hydrophobic and don't absorb much water. They keep moisture off of your skin by having fibers where the very outer most layer is hydrophillic (absorbs water) but the fiber core is hydrophobic. (Note that this is the opposite of how wool works.) The result of this is that a synthetic moves moisture away from your body by moving it along the surface of the fibers. Performance wise, this means that it will feel more clammy than wool for moderate sweating, because less moisture is trapped by the fibers. However, under very heavy sweating, synthetics work better than wool, because they don't absorb as much moisture into the fibers, so their "wicking performance" (the ability to move moisture away from your skin) doesn't get overwhelmed. A synthetic base layer that gets soaked will dry many times faster than a wool layer that has been soaked.

    What does this mean? It means that if you can avoid really heavy sweating, a merino wool layer is best. It will keep you less clammy, will have less body odor build up, and will regulate temperature better than any current synthetic.

    However, if you know that heavy sweating is inevitable, a synthetic base layer is best, as it will continue to wick even when soaked, and will dry much more quickly than wool.

    For your particular situation, I would wear a lightweight synthetic baselayer, and nothing else on your torso, while moving uphill. When you get to the top of the mountain and your exertion level drops, add an ultra light windbreaker to prevent too rapid cooling and evaporation.
  3. 86alaskan

    86alaskan Well-Known Member

    Jan 8, 2014
    I like to have a nice synthetic base with a light wool 1/4 zip over that. When the heavy work is done, I shed those 2 layers and let them dry if necessary. I've found that a good UA or Nike work out shirt is an excellent and less expensive bottom layer. Like you said, it doesn't matter what color it is, just has to do it's job. And they're very very lightweight.
  4. Litehiker

    Litehiker Well-Known Member

    Sep 15, 2012
    Depends on temperatures.
    1. medium weight polyester
    2. polar weight polyester (fleeced inner side)

    And 3. fleece lined nylon cargo pants over polar weight base layer for very cold weather.

    Eric B.