Polarmax Mountain Skins
The Mountain Skins has been discontinued. If you're looking for something new, check out the best base layers and underwear for 2023.
The Mountain Skins, a high-performance base layer family, has not only added more fuel to the fiery deliberation of wool vs. synthetic, but might have achieved a slight lead.
The Mountain Skins are constructed of ninety percent Acclimate Dry polyester and ten percent spandex. They are not so tight that they restrict mobility, nor are they so loose that they won’t wick properly.
Flat seams make the zip top comfortable to wear under a Camelbak. The silky, fleece interior feels soft and warm on your skin and the satiny-smooth exterior makes for snag-free layering beneath a shell, ski pants or a kayak dry suit.
The shirt is a very-well fitted half-zip turtleneck that zips all the way up your neck to let you regulate your body temperature. The only problem is that I found it uncomfortably tight when fully zipped because it pressed against my throat. On the other hand, it’s kind of a non-issue. Zipping just to the trachea was more than sufficient to keep me warm.
While most competitive zip turtle necks are only a two-way stretch, the Mountain Skins are four-way stretch to ensure an uninhibited range of motion, despite the fact that it is a much thicker wicking material than many others. The shirt’s longer length in the torso decreases the chances of it riding up your back, like when you’re biking, and exposing it to cold air.
The tights, likewise, also have a sleek fit with no added bulk. They fit great under ski pants, bike pants, and even dry suits.
Moisture Wicking/Breathability/Odor Control/Durability
Since I combine cross-country skiing with camping, I found that the sweat I worked up skiing wicked quickly with no lingering sweat odor. This means that you can leave the extra pair of base layers for sleeping at home.
Polarmax pioneered the development of an anti-microbial, anti-odor fabric (Scent Prevent™ technology) to kill the bacteria that causes odor. Acclimate® Dry fabric wicks moisture vertically at a rate of three inches in three minutes and ninety percent of the wicking properties are retained after fifty washings. An important point to note is the number of wearings the Mountain Skins can endure before you have to launder them.
I racked up the sweat and reek of nine long bike rides and three snow shoe hikes before they needed a washing.
For biking or kayaking in the cold (and the cooler days of spring and fall), cross-country skiing, camping and downhill skiing, the blend of polyester and spandex is great for warmth. At times on bike rides, I found myself shedding my outer layer because I was too warm. This is about when I learned that the Mountain Skins border on windproof—not something you would expect from a typical base layer.
Made in the U.S.A
I always get giddy when I find a piece of high quality gear whose only transatlantic voyage is leaving the U.S., not entering it. Mountain Skins—and all Polarmax products—are sourced, designed, manufactured, warehoused and distributed within a 15-mile radius of North Carolina.
Fabric: 90% Acclimate Dry, 10% spandex
Price Paid: Pro deal from Polarmax