Base layers offer much more than an extra bit of warmth for colder weather – we find out how to make the most of them all year round
When we hear ‘base layer’, most of us think of winter runs or chilly trails. And, of course, that’s entirely correct: base layers are a thin layer of clothing that we wear underneath our running kit to help contain our body heat, while also absorbing and quickly evaporating our sweat, keeping us warm and dry.
But that’s not all they’re good for – that special moisture management stuff they do means that base layers are an excellent addition to your warmer weather runs, especially when things get a bit sweaty. Add to that the extra protection they offer from the elements (sunburn and sudden showers, we’re looking at you), and suddenly the prospect of putting on a long-sleeved top when temperatures soar is looking much more appealing.
So, now we know how they can help, how do we choose a base layer to suit? There are some things to look for regardless of what type of weather you’re dressing for. Firstly, fit: your base layer needs to fit in certain ways, depending on the weather, to maximise its temperature-regulating effects. Next, we need to think about material: we definitely don’t want cotton, as it holds on to moisture, so a technical fabric is best.
Not all base layers are created equal, so it’s good to look into the technology behind the brand you’re buying from. We spoke to Zerofit, who make unisex base layers for all temperatures, to find out more, and scroll down for an exclusive discount code.
Cold weather base layers
“When it comes to keeping warm on cold runs, a traditional base layer simply seals in body heat – it does not generate its own heat,” they explain. Their winter base layers use a technology called HeatRub. “It not only seals in that heat, but also creates its own heat due to the unique fibres or bristles that are on the underside of the garment.” These hydrophilic fibres gently rub against your skin to create frictional heat – but don’t worry, you won’t notice the friction, only the warmth it brings.
Your winter base layer also needs excellent moisture-wicking properties, as you’ll still sweat, even in cold weather. Zerofit’s sports baselayer, HeatRub MOVE, has a 2-layer construction that quickly moves moisture away from the body towards the outer shell, where it can then quickly dry. Because of this, your winer base layer should be tight-fitting, allowing as much of the material to be in contact with the skin as possible for this process.
Warm weather base layers
When it comes to keeping cool in the warmer weather, a looser fit is more common – while you still want your base layer to fit well, it will stretch rather than compress. Usually materials are lighter or woven, to encourage more airflow, and again, technology will be key. “We use EVACOOL fabric in our Coolweave base layer, which is designed for warmer weather,” Zerofit explain. “Whenever the temperature inside the garment rises, its temperature-sensitive water-absorbing polymer shrinks, diffusing sweat quickly, promoting transpiration and creating a cooling effect.” It’s also important to think about sun protection; the arms and neck of the Coolweave have a UPF50+ rating to offer protection from UV rays.
Zerofit are offering an exclusive 20% discount to Women’s Running readers until 30th April 2021 – enter code wrtribe20 at the checkout.