baselayers, how many?

4:27 a.m. on August 15, 2011 (EDT)
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6 forum posts

After reading up on info & reviews on baselayers, the main question that came to mind is: What is the effect of having two baselayers on top of each other?

   --- Will their effect be linear (twice as effective in terms of warmth & wicking)?

   --- Or is having a 2nd layer simply useless, maybe even inhibiting each other's performance? 

Just a thought coming out of the scenario where instead of buying an expensive heavy/expedition-weight baselayer (whose use is quite limited), I'd buy two midweight ones, wear them on top of each other on chilly days during mountain expeditions, then on other less-colder days or other activities like a night run, I'll use just one. This gives me flexibility & more bang for my buck.

To add variety to this query, what if the combinations are

1. both are long sleeves

2. the other is a short-sleeved one worn on top.

Assumption is that you have adequate mid & outer layers, where applicable. Your thoughts & expertise please.

4:39 a.m. on August 15, 2011 (EDT)
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3,552 forum posts

As long as any outer layer is not compressing any inner layers, additional layers tend to add warmth.  Trapped air is what provides warmth; if you compress inner layers with an outer layer, you lose performance of the inner layers. But since we are speaking strictly of long johns, this shouldn't be of great concern, since they add minimal bulk to your body.


4:50 a.m. on August 15, 2011 (EDT)
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1,469 forum posts

inner base layer, more moisture wicking

outer base layer, more warmth

but both could be warn separately under a mid layer under a shell.

Again as noted WW, make sure the clothing is not too tight.

Like a Candy Shop, short sleeve, long sleeve, turtle neck, v neck,

whatever your preference.  It all works, you just need to test what works for you.

5:21 a.m. on August 15, 2011 (EDT)
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6 forum posts

thanks guys for your swift response. appreciate it :)

(note: i thought i posted this under 'Gear Selection' but ended up here in 'Backcountry'. Sorry for any confusion) 

9:46 a.m. on August 15, 2011 (EDT)
Robert Rowe
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1,238 forum posts

I DO use the multi-layering 'system'.   Ed and Callahan are right-on with their comments.

My personal preference is layers of Merino wool.   Very lightweight weaves are now available.   I have on a lightweight T-shirt ("Ibex" brand) right now, and I am VERY comfortable at 75 degrees.

The benefit of the multi-layering, is one can "micro-manage" the body's thermal-dynamic comfort levels.   Even when perspiration-soaked ... the 'cool-down' process of wool inhibits chill as it dries.   Absence of the "stinky-poo's" is noteworthy, as well.

Also, cost-wise, it is a better alternative ... as one has more choices, and more options for usage, such as sleep-wear.


11:23 a.m. on August 16, 2011 (EDT)
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5,432 forum posts





Longsleeve shirt (either light pullover or button-up shirt

Light duty polypropolene shirt

Sweater (light wool)

Rain Jacket (Gore-tex)

light gloves, wool gloves


Polypro long underwear

Zip-off Pants

Rain Pants

Cotton socks, wool socks (year-round)


12:30 p.m. on August 16, 2011 (EDT)
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2,162 forum posts

What I use for layering, by order of thermal potential:

  • Wool or Sythetic Tshirt
  • Synthetic Button Down
  • Synthetic hiking pants or Softshell Pants
  • Wool Base Layer
  • Fleece Vest
  • Fleece Jacket
  • Fleece Pants
  • Primaloft Jacket
  • Down Jacket

I will layer using these in any variation that suits the conditions and my need for each given circumstance.

I also have breathable hardshell pants and jacket, gloves, baclava, cap, etc.

For absolute maximum warmth, which is vary rarely needed, I wear:

  • Top: wool base layer, tshirt, fleece vest, Primaloft or down jacket, Hardshell jacket
  • Bottom: Wool base layer, Fleece pants, Softshell pants, Hardshell pants.

At some point I will also get a mid or heavy weight wool layer, top and bottom, for additional layering potential.


5:13 p.m. on August 16, 2011 (EDT)
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1,638 forum posts

Adding baselayers works well enough just have others have said. Main thing is to make sure they arn't too tight, and that no outer layer is compressing an inner layer.

For my body in winter temps around 0F while actively hiking I will wear:

Capaline 3 l/s shirt

Columbia hiking shirt(mainly to protect the capaline from abraision from pack)

Winter weight BDU pants

wool liner socks, and wool mountaineering socks

wool beanie

wool balaclava around neck

fingerless wool gloves

At camp or in really cold weather I add in the following:

army polypro heavyweight

Patagonia Nano puff

fleece vest

Waxed cotton down jacket

ECWCS Goretex parka

OR endeavor mittens and wool liners

Synthetic hood off an old hunting jacket


capaline 2

army polypro  heavyweight

down pants

ECWCS goretex pants

down booties


Using everything I have been fine down to -40F


9:44 a.m. on August 17, 2011 (EDT)
14 reviewer rep
6 forum posts

thanks for all your responses. I'll get a couple of merino wools and maybe one synthetic baselayer.

I think with materials being more breathable (w/o losing waterproofness), i can do away with a softshell and just extend the use of a good comfy hardshell across the varying conditions.

8:50 p.m. on August 18, 2011 (EDT)
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265 forum posts

Yapak in your first post you got it all correct. Two layers are more flexible than one thick layer, and gives more bang for the buck. Merino wool is never wrong for insulation, its perfect. But for me and others that sweat a lot, a layer of net next to the skin is ideal. It transports the moisture to the next layer and let you feel much dryer than with just wool. I use Brynje but there are other brands in the market too. Expensive but IMO worth the cost.

For extreme winter temps I would not rule out softshells, neither for spring/fall tours either. In extreme cold most hardshells are barey breathable at all. But if you must have just one outer layer, then I go for the hardshell too.

May 29, 2020
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