Gear Guy

How can I stop sweating so much, even in the cold?

I'm someone who gets rather sweaty when doing anything active, like mountain biking, hiking, or snowshoeing. During warmer weather, it's not a big deal, but in cold weather it becomes an issue. Whatever combo of base layer, fleece, or shell I try, I still get really sweaty when on the move, especially on my back where the pack sits. Is there some other scenario or clothing combo that I should try to wick out extra moisture Keith Millwood, New York

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Well, try this: Dress to be comfortable. If you’re too hot, which is what sweating implies, simply wear less. If that means you’re cross-country skiing with shorts on and a bare torso, so be it. There’s no rule that you “must” wear X or Y while doing A or B. I’ll assume, of course, that warm clothes are in the pack should you stop for lunch or the weather turns bad. But otherwise, dress to suit yourself.

That said, several of today’s fabrics are designed to pump moisture away from the skin as rapidly as possible. Look for things made with Polartec PowerDry, which is a “bipolar” fabric, meaning its inner layer and outer layer are different. The inner layer is soft, dense, and designed to “wick” away moisture. In other words, it vacuums moisture up from your skin and carries it to the more open outer layer, where evaporation can work its magic. Mountain Hardwear’s Extend Zip T ($60) is made of this stuff; so too is the simpler, short-sleeve REI OXT Zip Top ($32).

Anything with polyester is also good, as polyester doesn’t absorb as much moisture as other fabrics, so it dries faster. I really like Patagonia’s Silkweight Capilene, such as the Long Sleeve Crew ($34). It’s an excellent base layer. And you’re doing the right thing by carrying some spare base layers. But a sweaty back is one problem you’ll have to endure—the pack will always ensure that your back is soaked. (I once had an old knapsack with a wool felt back pad. Like strapping on a sheep on heat.)

Still, some people just sweat more. The best you can do is control it as much as you can, and learn to live with it.

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