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
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 materialthe 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.
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.