Week 13 #summitsafely – The importance of base layers


It's week 13 of the 20 week #summitsafely campaign. This week’s #summitsafely top tip – don’t forget your base layers, they are an important part of your kit which are often overlooked.

When walking in the fells conditions can change very quickly so it is important to have the correct equipment and good base layers are an essential piece of kit which are often overlooked.

A technical base layer should do three things efficiently, wick away sweat, dry quickly, retain body heat.   Depending on whether the wearer is working hard or at rest these properties combine to maintain body temperature.

The importance of what is worn next to the skin should not be underestimated, picking the wrong type of material, for example cotton, can result in accelerated heat loss ultimately leading to hypothermia.  Inappropriate under layers can negate the efficiency of outer layers and if there is a fast deterioration in conditions the consequences can be dire.  A good base layer will set you up for a safe and enjoyable time exploring the fells.

There are lots of base layers on the market, some are designed for specific sports, most use synthetic fibres, some use wool, and some a combination of wool and synthetic.  For fell walking choose a base layer that is comfortable for wearing all day, compression wear is best avoided, and one with good thermal properties as even in summer it can get cold on the fell tops.  

The popularity of Merino wool base layers with fell walkers is no coincidence.  Wool is a natural climate control fabric, cool in the summer months, warm in cold conditions and warmer than synthetics.   Wool base layers have amazing anti odour properties and can be worn for a week or more without getting smelly so are great for travelling light and when they do need a wash most modern merino base layers are machine washable.

In summary:

  • Don’t be put off by price tags.  Do your research, investing in good quality base layers from the outset could actually save you money in the long run.
  • Check washing and care instructions carefully, especially for Merino garments.  When looked after properly, they can last many years but not caring for your garments can result in holey, worn looking garments long before their time.
  • Make sure that base layers are well fitting, this will help them work to their full potential and make sure you remain comfortable
  • Take a look at the styling of the base layers, there are plenty available.  For example, EDZ offer a range of styles from sleeveless through to long sleeve with different neck cuts for both style and function.  A firm favorite has become the Merino Zip neck which allows the wearer to unzip for additional ventilation on a hot day or zip it up to your chin in colder conditions. There really is something to suit everyone out there!

This weeks #summitsafely giveaway is courtesy of EDZ, we’ve got a Merino Wool Base Layer set (as worn by the Weatherline Fell Top Assessors) up for grabs. Find out more here:

Date: 24 Feb 2017