Staying dry and warm in base layers

During this current pandemic, the time we get to enjoy the outdoors feels more important than ever. However, during the freezing winter months, you may be tempted to stay indoors because of dreading getting cold or wet if you venture outside. Right now, fresh air is vital for us all in terms of health and mental wellbeing, so don’t be put off. All you need is the right clothing and, at this time of year, it’s all about layers.

Wearing a number of layers traps air between them, providing additional insulation to that provided by the garments alone. The other big benefit is increased versatility: layering enables you to add or remove layers according to changing conditions, ensuring maximum comfort at all times.

What layers do I need?

Every good layering system, when stripped back to basics, is made up of three essential components: the base layer, the mid (or insulation) layer, and the outer (shell/waterproof) layer. Each fulfils a specific role in ensuring you stay warm, dry and comfortable in winter conditions.

Why are base layers so important?

Base layers are often overlooked when it comes to layering systems. Walkers, climbers and even mountaineers frequently focus on insulation or waterproofing pieces when, in fact, many of the most important issues they face can be combatted by a good base layer. Whether you’re cycling, running or just out for a stroll in the hills, moisture management and temperature regulation are key to keeping you comfortable and safe.

So what are the key base layers and how can Nikwax Sweatproofing aftercare keep them performing for you this winter?

Next-to-skin base layers
Layering systems start with moisture management. Base layers are there to help wick away sweat from the skin when you get warm whilst active – they become your second skin. You should ensure that whilst close fitting, a base layer provides enough flexibility for comfortable movement.

If sweat accumulates against your skin, you will get damp and swiftly feel a chill when you stop being active, this will affect the regulation of your body temperature. Merino wool or synthetic next-to-skin base layers are designed to wick moisture away from your skin. Sweat will spread over a large area and then dry fast, to prevent you feeling clammy.

Many people are not aware that fabric conditioners and some laundry detergents leave behind a residue which impairs the wicking performance of base layers, leaving you damp and clammy. This can also lead to the build-up of bacteria on the base layer leaving it smelling of sweat even after it’s been washed. Using the right cleaning and conditioning products on your base layers will keep them performing at their best so that you can enjoy your time outdoors and stay warm and dry on the inside.

Synthetic base layers
Synthetic layers are great for high-energy activities, such as running or cycling, as they are fast drying and lightweight. However, synthetic layers are susceptible to the build-up of body odours and your kit could soon start to smell.

You can banish the odour from synthetic layers by using Nikwax BaseFresh® when you wash your kit. When used alongside your household detergent, BaseFresh ensures that you can clean your layers without the detergent impairing the technical properties of the fabric.  BaseFresh effectively removes body oils from synthetic fabric and prevents the build-up of bad-smelling bacteria, maintaining freshness. Fabric will become more resistant to stains and day-to-day soiling. BaseFresh enhances performance, improving wicking to spread sweat and dry fast. You stay comfortable and your base layers will smell fresher for longer.  

If you use a lot of synthetic base layers and sportswear, we’d recommend Nikwax BaseWash® a specially designed detergent with added conditioner which will clean your base layers effectively, leaving them smelling fresh and performing at their best.

Woollen base layers
Garments made from wool, such as Merino, make for naturally warming next-to-skin layers. Woollen base layers are naturally wicking and antibacterial, whilst also providing insulation in winter and cooling properties in warmer months. Air pockets within wool will pull excess heat away from your skin whilst trapping heat within the natural fibre, so you remain comfortable without either overheating or getting too cold.

You can wash wool less frequently than synthetic base layers, but they still need to be cared for properly. Nikwax Wool Wash will both clean and condition your garments at the same time, caring for the fabric to maintain its natural properties. Wool Wash deodorises your base layers, preventing any odour build-up and keeping you smelling fresh. You can restore performance of older base layers with Wool Wash, with the fabric retaining its natural softness and wicking enhanced, so that sweat can spread and dry fast.

Nikwax Wool Wash is also perfect for other woollen garments such as socks and jumpers, giving them the gentle cleaning care that this delicate natural fibre needs.

All Nikwax products are water-based, and made with care for the environment. They are also super easy to use in your washing machine or by hand!

Care for your base layers with Nikwax Sweatproofing and be safe knowing that you can enjoy your daily exercise this winter without feeling cold or uncomfortable.