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Dad and Jason Blacktail’s 2010

California’s archery deer season begins the second weekend in July. My dad and I have been hunting the opener together for most of my life.  This past weekend we did a bivy hunt into a new area here in Northern California’s A-Zone.  The hunt was great, we saw a lot of deer and made two stalks. Both were spoiled at the last second by smaller bucks while maneuvering to get a shot on the bigger buck.

It was hot; Temperatures were well over ninety degrees.  During a climb out of a canyon I was thinking about my base layer’s moisture and temperature management as I was in a full sweat.

We have discussed water-proof breathable laminates, soft shell’s, backpacks, pants and camouflage.  What do you like, hate and expect from your base layer system?

Below are my goals for KUIU’s base layers:

  • Moisture management
  • Temperature management in cold and warm weather
  • Odor management
  • Fit (non-compression)
  • Stretch
  • Comfort
  • Two different weight fabrics for layering
  • High quality fabric

Base-layer features I do not like:

  • Compression Fit
  • Elastomers/Lycra in the fabric for stretch
  • Poor or no odor control
  • Chemical wicking agents added (they wash out over time)
  • Poor fit/ too loose in body neck and sleeves
  • Non-camouflage; cannot be part of a complete camouflage skin-to-shell system
  • Poor/cheap quality

Base layers are the platform for your system.  If you do not put a high quality fabric next to your skin to manage moisture and temperature the rest of your system will degrade.  Let me know what else we should add to these lists, what you wear and like.  Thank you in advance for your input.

Jason

This article has 24 comment(s)

  1. mike

    Jason,

    2 words…Merino Wool

    if built right it has great fit, no odor and is soft as a babies bottom. No matter what you do to synthetics for odor control it does not seem to last and is gone after a few washes it seems.

    Regards,

    Mike

    • Jason Hairston

      Hi Mike,

      I am a huge fan of Merino wool and have been testing it for the past year pretty extensively. I am kind of blown away with Merino after spending so many years in poly.

      Jason

  2. Adam Casagrande

    I am a fan of wool vs synthetic materials for the base layer.

    I don’t like compression either just form fitted and like crew neck vs zipper.

    I like the option of camo and non camo

    Lightweight as I can go with one par of main pants and shirt for a few days but base layer need to change every other day so I usually need to pack extra.

    I don’t feel the base layer should be about warmth your insulation layer is about warmth. Base layer should be about letting the body breath.

    • Jason Hairston

      Thanks Adam. I am a fan of Merino wool as well. All of your comments are well noted.

      Jason

  3. Kevin

    I agree 100% with your likes/dislikes. I too struggle with finding ways in the early season to stay camo’d up and stay cool. Seems like I always give up, and just wear a vented t-shirt. If there was a way you could put pit zips on a long sleeve base layer where they would be comfortable (or just less noticeable) and still dump heat that would be great.
    Thumb holes on heavy weight layers are nice also.

    • Jason Hairston

      Hi Kevin,

      Have you tried Merino wool for warm weather? If not, try it. Merino wool will pull moisture into the fibers away from you skin and in warm weather this moisture will evaporate creating a cooling effect. I wore it all weekend and am really blown away with it warm weather. It is impressive stuff.

      Jason

  4. Brandon

    I would agree 100% with the other in favor of wool. Only issue with base wool in super light silk weight is that it is not very durable when you get into the super high micron wool that you will want for the best comfort.

    Fit is the biggest problem with many base layers the tops need to have long tails so they stay tucked in.

    I like real silver for odor control, like X-Static because you cannot wash it out and it works well.

    • Jason Hairston

      Hi Brandon,

      What brand of wool are you wearing? I agree durability on the light weight base layers and price is the only negative to Merino wool. Thanks for the input!

      Jason

  5. Kevin

    Jason,
    Never tried Merino wool for warm weather, but I’ll give it a try. Look forward to what you guys come up with.

    Kevin

  6. Tye Abell

    Have to agree with the others, merino wool is my preferred base layer, and form fitted is also a plus. Compression fit can feel restrictive. As for camo vs. non, I like my base layers to work for multiple applications and prefer non camo for winter sports and the like. Black or a grey offering along with camo would be great.

    • Jason Hairston

      Hi Tye,

      Your comments are well noted. Thank you for you input.

      Jason

  7. Drake Atwood

    I like baselayers to be as thin and light as possible with plenty of stretch. I agree with everything on your list. I like the silver for scent control. I really like the fit of the Core Zip-T. The baselayer top needs to have longer sleeves and longer shirt tail and be as cool and breathable as possible. I am not a huge fan of hiking in baselayers under my pants unless the weather is really extreme but when I do I like them to be super thin and stretchy. I also like a nice set of bottoms without a really saggy crotch!

    • Jason Hairston

      Hi Drake,

      I agree with you, unless it is really cold I do not put my bottoms on and end up using them to sleep in. I promise not to have a saggy crotch in the KUIU bottoms. Thanks for the comments.

      Jason

  8. Matt

    I to am a fan of merino wool. However, not all wool is equal (some stink). I have tried some cheaper versions, but keep going back to Smartwool. I could care less what color my base bottoms are. Keep them simple and choose a nice neutral earthy color solid and save the camo for the tops. As for the long sleeve tops a 3/4 front zip is a must have for me.

    I also like a micro weight v-neck T for those leg numbing hill climbs. Here I may differ from wool because this shirt gets wet… I have been reading really good things about Patagonia’s Cap 1 so may try it out…

    Check these guys out for ideas: http://www.firstlite.com/

    If it were not for the price I’d pick some up… : )

    • Jason Hairston

      I am impressed with all the fans of Merino Wool. I agree it is amazing stuff. What brand are you wearing?

      Jason

      • Matt

        Jason,

        I have a tried a few different brands, but really like Smartwool. It fits well and functions wells.. I tried a few off brands. Problems I had were: it itched, it smelled, and the fit (to tight / to short etc.)

        Smartwool is pretty available so clearance sales happen often enough to get good deals..

        • Jason Hairston

          I really like Smart Wool and Ice Breaker. My only challenge with Ice Breaker is the tight fit. .

          Jason

        • Jason Hairston

          Hi Matt,

          I use Smart wool as well and really like it. I have been using their socks for years and just last season tried their next-to-skin pieces and really was impressed.

          Jason

    • Tye Abell

      I’ve got some of the patagonia capilene, and while it keeps me very warm, it also smells worse than any other baselayer I’ve ever used after one use. Not sure why, but I’ve heard the same complaint from others.

      Have to agree with you on the firstlite as well. Love their stuff, and if you shop around you can find independent dealers that sell it for decent prices.

      • Jason Hairston

        Hi Tye,

        I agree high quality Merino wool is expensive and that is really the only negative. It is really nice stuff. Thanks for the input.

        Jason

  9. mike

    I think its been mentioned above but base layers should have longer backs (tail) to tuck in your pants so they dont slip out all the time when your packing or glassing. For that matter all shirts and jackets for hunting should have longer backs so your back and (crack for lack of a better term) are not exposed when you have your elbows on your knees glassing…

    Mike

    • Jason Hairston

      Hi Mike,

      Thanks for the comments. I agree base layers need to be long enough. As a taller person, this has been a problem for me over the years. Thanks for your input.

      Jason

  10. Larry O. Fischer

    Jason,
    The boys in Montanaaa have been using wool as a base layer for years, they say the secret is to just pick out a pretty one.
    I would like to see someone other than you and dad in a base layer, come on liven this up!

    • Jason Hairston

      Hi Larry,

      I always appreciate your input! Too funny.

      Jason