It is outside where we find the biological and psychic synchronicity that directs our evolution. But there are certain times during the year when outside is cold.
A few notes from my field tests:
Made of thirty-six percent merino wool and sixty-four percent polyester blend, I was wary when I first took them out of the box. In my hands they felt scratchy, like wool. Turns out they’re like a Maine lobster: Tough on the outside, heavenly and delicious on the inside. The silky, fleece interior is soft and cozy on my skin and flat seams make them comfortable to wear under pack straps.
The top comes in three styles: Crew ($50), half-zip ($60) and shawl collar ($55). I like the crew and half-zip best for wearing under bike jerseys on cold rides. The half-zip does not press uncomfortably against my throat when fully zipped. The shawl collar feels a little bunchy under a bike jersey so I wear it for skiing, yoga and lounging.
The tights ($50) have zero bulk and fit great under ski pants, bike pants and even skirts and dresses. They also fit well with cycling shorts. What I like about wearing them under bike pants is that the back comes up higher and prevents exposure to your backside.
I don’t recommend them for under kayak dry suits because they are really too warm. You would literally roast in these. The SmartSilk baselayers actually works better under a dry suit.
The best example of well they wick moisture is the day I rode to work in seven inches of wet, heavy, sloppy schnitzel snow that had been kicked onto the bike paths by the snow plows. You know the kind of snow I’m talking about. It looks innocuous at first, completely doable, but by the time you’re in the thick of it, you’re pedaling 300 times harder to go 10,000 times slower.
A normal bike commute takes me twenty-five minutes. That particular hellish day cost me nearly two hours of my life. When I arrived in the locker room, my jacket and jersey were soaked. The Thermawool top was just damp and my skin was barely moist.
Odor control isn’t just about optimizing your buddy’s air quality, or even your own, while on a week-long backpacking trip. It’s also a safety feature.
To me, bears are scarier than being lost in the Alaskan bush without a water purifier. Bears, with their heightened sense of smell, ultimately want to make hamburger out of the source of the BO. Safety in bear country means not drawing attention to ourselves. And that’s why odor control is important.
Because I’m not going into bear country until I know how many days I can wear baselayers before I attract hungry bears, I put the Thermawools, with their X-ODOR technology, through an intensive, but heavily-controlled test: Five straight days of winter bike commuting, including the sufferfest day, and two days of winter mountain biking. After seven days of accumulative sweat and mank, they were ready for washing but did not smell like a rotting corpse.
The week of January 21st, 2013 was a cold week in Minneapolis. January 21st logged in with -25 with a wind-chill. My car looked tempting, but I wanted to gauge the warmth of the Thermawools.
I dressed carefully and thoughtfully that day. On top I wore the half-zip (zipped to my throat), a Pearl Izumi Symphony Thermal jersey and a Sierra Designs Lunatic sofshell (in that order). On the bottom I wore a chamois short, Thermawool tights and a pair of Ibex Vim Hybrid pants. My footsies were covered with a pair of Darn Tough Vermont ski-ride socks and 45Nrth Wolvehammers. A Chaos Adrenalin 2 balaclava and bike helmet completed the outfit. I stuffed my down-ski-gloved hands into a set of Bar Mitts and off I went.
I was absolutely warm and I was outside, on the bike, for twenty-five minutes in frigid temperature.
This testing period proved something very profound: From yoga studios to -25 degree winter days with howling winds, Terramar Thermawool TXO 3.0 baselayers had me covered.
If you live in Minneapolis, you can find Terramar products at these retail locations. Available in men’s and women’s sizes.