Misc. | Baselayers | Insulation | Shells
180s Quantum Dry Base Layer crew and pant
"This is a great layer for cold weather," raved one tester after wearing the Quantum Dry top and bottoms during a day-long winter hike up Rocky Mountain peaks near Telluride. Made from 61 percent nylon and 39 percent polypropylene, the Quantum Dry Baselayer offers exceptional moisture management and kept testers warm during aerobic activity in single digit temperatures. "The fabric wicks so well and dries so fast I never noticed I was sweating under my shell jacket," reported another tester. Mesh panels on the underarms and back provide ventilation. The Quantum Dry also has Cocona fibers which aid in wicking and offer natural anti-microbial properties that kept the undies from stinking despite days of non-stop wear. A seamless construction and soft, almost cotton-like feel to the fabric prevented chafing and, in the words of one tester, made this baselayer "as cozy as flannel pajamas."
$50 crew; $40 pant; men's S-XXL , women's S-XL.(877) 725-4386; 180s.com.
Icebreaker 180 GT Chase 1/4 Zip
Made from super fine merino, this versatile long sleeve top feels like silk against the skin, scrunches down to baseball-size and offers maximum warmth for the weight. The vast thermo-regulating and wicking properties of wool allowed us to use the Chase for insulation in summer and as a next-to-skin layer in winter. On a June hike in southern Utah, one tester wore it over a tee shirt to stay warm while star watching and also inside her not-warm-enough sleeping bag. The Chase also proved a stellar cold weather baselayer on cross country skiing and snow shoeing treks in northern Arizona. We found the top highly breathable during aerobic activities thanks to mesh panels on the underarms and back. The merino dried quickly and did not feel itchy when layered under a shell. The 1/4 zip mock turtle neck allows for extra venting but also protects the neck against chilly breezes, and thumbloops keep the sleeves in place. Fit is tapered through the torso and arms without being snug against the skin, allowing enough room for a thin layer underneath.
$85; men's XS-XXL, women's XS-XL; 7 oz. (w's L). (866) 442-4464; icebreaker.com.
Misc. | Baselayers | Insulation | Shells
Patagonia Wool 2 long sleeve crew and bottoms (Photo 3 & 4 above)
From a spring expedition in Alaska to winter backpacking in southern Utah, we never took the Wool 2 baselayer off. The super fine, lightweight merino top and bottom with flatlock seams and silky feel were a favorite among testers for comfort and wicking in temperatures ranging from the single digits to 60 degrees F. And these undies have an amazing ability to not stink. "I wore the top for eight days straight while working up a sweat under my shell and there was zero BO stench," said one tester who used the Wool 2 as her next to skin layer throughout her week-long Alaskan trip. The wide thermo-regulating range offered by this lightweight wool baselayer makes it ideal for any three-season trip as well as for aerobic winter activities. Also comes in long sleeve zip turtleneck ($88) and short sleeve crew ($80).
$82 top; $82 bottoms; men's XS-XL , women's XS-XL; 5 oz. (w's M top). (800) 638-6464; patagonia.com.
White Sierra Bamboo Crew
This technical tee soaks up sweat like a sponge and dries almost instantly. "It was wicking so well I forgot I was even wearing a shirt," said one tester of the crew's performance when he was climbing in 90 degree temps in El Portrero Chico, Mexico. Made from White Sierra's proprietary fabric called BamBam Weave comprised of 45 % bamboo charcoal and 55 % polyester, this top proved to have outstanding moisture management in moderate to hot conditions. It felt super soft against the skin and worked equally well as a summer hiking tee or layered under a shell in cooler temperatures. We also appreciated the fabric's UPF 30 sun protection and natural anti-microbial attributes. After wearing the short-sleeve top for five days straight on a super sweaty June hike in southern Utah, our tester reported "absolutely no funk." A long-sleeve crew is also available ($40).
$30 (women's version is Malindi Tee); men's M-XXL, women's S-XL; 6 oz. (m's M). (800) 980-8688; whitesierra.com