Expedition Weight FA Base Layer

Author: [ trailpeak ]   Contact Author: trailpeakMon Jan 10 12:19:21 EST 2011

Who isn't constantly looking for the perfect base layer "next to skin" tech wear. If you are into back-country winter sports, you know perfectly well that keeping dry and warm is essential. Does your body run hot and need to vent, do you need comfort and warmth primarily? Why not have both? I went for this combination, including the Bat Hang Hoodie, because it's got a plush waffle pattern next to skin. A look at a section of the fabric reveals Polartec (Power Dry) soft pile fleece that is a mid-weight, i.e. not sheer baselayer. But because of the waffle pattern, each "waffle" or grid square of micro fleece is surrounded by a thin "see through" weave allowing maximum venting. I prefer this kind of base-layer in winter for XC skiing or snowshoeing because while I want that soft warm material on my skin to trap air, I also need venting. I think what this material is doing is creating a thicker pocket of air between your body and your mid or outer layer while getting some airflow happening.

There is no wind stop aspect to this fabric however, so don't go thinking this is outer layer wear (even if the top has that look), unless it's mild out. There is a face to this fabric that is flat with a consistent weave, giving it a styled sheer look meanwhile it's all soft pile waffle pattern underneath. Pretty high tech. Polartec calls it "Power Dry" and it has 7% elastic material in it. From a fit perspective, I like the style a lot and the chest level pocket is sheer brilliance. I found myself at an apres ski pub and my wallet conveniently fit in the chest pocket, allowing me to sip my beer and munch nachos without worry as I sat there. On the trail, this pocket could hold an emergency key, a hand warmer, or other. The pocket zipper is surrounded by a fabric guard to stop the fabric stretch from ruining the zipper.

It's very light stuff, and, I look for this material for high intensity workouts. I like Merino wool for mellow outings as nothing compares to wool for temperature control, but on a vigorous ski or snowshoe, I tend to soak Merino pretty quickly. I just can't use Merino in those conditions as wool stays wet when it gets wet. Sometimes I layer up wind-stop fleece as my outer layer as I find Goretex doesn't vent enough either. Finding the optimum winter combination makes all the difference, it could take you 3 or 4 set-ups to get it right for you, and it's worth it if you are outside on the trails each weekend. So give First Ascent a try, they have quite an array of base layer choices, but the expedition weight was my choice. The stretchy form fit is good and the Hoodie is a cool concept for base-layer, I've used the Hoodie on more than one occasion.

As for the tights, same comments really, awesome performance. The only comment is that neither of these will handle wind, so make sure you rely on other material for that and on cold days. I am using three layers on cold days. They are warm, I love the soft hi-pile waffle pattern on my skin my first choice for winter. When you are working hard out there, you will be thankful you did your research and FA is my winter choice!

Kurt Turchan

Founder, www.trailpeak.com




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