Gear
Gear Guy
Q:

What's the best apparel to wear over my base layer?

I like to wear close-fitting base layers like REI's Swift or Patagonia's Lightweight Capilene. When hiking in cold weather I will usually shed or add layers as I go. Can you suggest a good loose-fitting, wicking T-shirt to wear over the body-hugging base for those days when I've really worked up a sweat. Matt Fairfax, Virginia

A: I should think several things would work, Matt. Something made of Polartec Power Dry would make an excellent second layer over a thin base layer. REI makes a good, basic piece called the Power Dry Zip T-Neck ($38; www.rei.com). I wouldn't call it a "baggy" garment, but it's not skin-tight and is designed for layering. L.L. Bean makes a polo-style, short-sleeve shirt of the same material—the Power Dry Piqué Polo ($36; www.llbean.com). That gives you a bit more flexibility in not-so-cold weather, plus it looks pretty good. I think the other arena to explore is in the windproof light shell category. You could, for instance, get a Marmot Scirocco Windshirt ($80; www.marmot.com). It's a great layering piece for blustery, cool conditions, where you want some wind protection and breathability, but don't want a ton of waterproofness. Very light (ten ounces) and packable. Throw it over a base layer and you've added 15 to 20 degrees of warmth to your outfit. Patagonia's Helium Windshirt ($65; www.patagonia.com) is even lighter at six ounces, although at the expense of pockets and a full front zip.

Scirocco Windshirt


Sometimes, even just a wind-resistant vest makes a tremendous difference. Mountain Hardwear's Windstopper Vest ($115; www.mountainhardwear.com) is just about 100 percent windproof, while still very breathable. And its light fleece material is surprisingly warm. Vests are perhaps the most useful and underrated garments around; I wear them constantly when biking, hiking, or putzing around outside on those not-so-cold days. Keep the torso warm, and the arms, legs, and head will follow.

Our mission to inspire readers to get outside has never been more critical. In recent years, Outside Online has reported on groundbreaking research linking time in nature to improved mental and physical health, and we’ve kept you informed about the unprecedented threats to America’s public lands. Our rigorous coverage helps spark important debates about wellness and travel and adventure, and it provides readers an accessible gateway to new outdoor passions. Time outside is essential—and we can help you make the most of it. Making a financial contribution to Outside Online only takes a few minutes and will ensure we can continue supplying the trailblazing, informative journalism that readers like you depend on. We hope you’ll support us. Thank you.
Contribute to Outside
Lead Photo: courtesy, Marmot
More Gear