All of us at ProLite Gear are frequently asked “what is the best?”
“The best” is highly subjective based on personal preferences, so there isn’t a universal answer. Brand loyalty, individual temperature regulation, type of fabric, and how the material feels against skin are all key components in deciding what works personally, and nothing beats experimenting with the various options.
That being said, after a decade of extensive customer feedback and our own in house testing we have come to a solid consensus on the pieces you ought to consider. Our new “Top 5” series of articles helps to clarify the distinctions between the leading manufacturers, as well as shed light on the technologies they use to make their pieces.
In this article we classify and quantify various fabric technologies, which we’ve compiled in a table below. The testing process and results can also be viewed on our YouTube Channel where we’ll follow up with a Top 5 baselayers video. Thanks as always for checking in and sharing our interest in constantly improving the gear we use. Better information leads to better gear, which means more fun in the mountains. What’s not to like?
Baselayer Buying Guide
(State of the Market 2013)
Best Baselayer Reviews
Best Baselayer Reviews
Baselayer Product Videos
Rab Interval Tee Review
| More Baselayer Videos
|PRODUCT||Absorption Time||5 minute % moisture||10 minute % moisture|
|Patagonia 100% cotton (used/washed)||< 1 second||*****20%||*****9%|
|Layer 8 Xtreme Cotton||3:30||*NA||*NA|
|Icebreaker 150 Bodyfit||***NA||***NA||***NA|
|Icebreaker 200 Bodyfit||4:30||*NA||*NA|
|Icebreaker 260 Bodyfit||***NA||***NA||***NA|
|Icebreaker Superfine 190(used/washed)||1:30||*NA||14%|
|Icebreaker Superfine 190 GT(used/washed)||3:30||*NA||17%|
|SmartWool NTS Microweight(used/washed)||5:00||*NA||15%|
|Rab Meco 120||< 1 second||6%||0%|
|Rab Meco 165||< 1 second||15%||0%|
|Patagonia Capilene® 1||< 1 second||4%||0%|
|Patagonia Capilene® 2||< 1 second||0%||0%|
|Patagonia Capilene® 3||4:00||38%||27%|
|Patagonia Capilene® 4||< 1 second||0%||0%|
|Terramar Body Sensor||< 1 second||3%||0%|
|Polartec Power Dry with Polygiene||< 1 second||3%||0%|
|Rab Aeon||< 1 second||2%||0%|
|Rab AL||< 1 second||2%||0%|
— Moisture measurements +/- 4% accuracy
*Not able to be measured because the fabric did not wick the moisture to a large enough surface area for the moisture measurement device to work.
***Fabric did not absorb the moisture within 10 minutes.
*****The dry time performance of 100% cotton is very dependent on the amount of water that is used to test with. 3 drops of water dry significantly faster than 6 drops of water. This is because 100% cotton does not effectively wick the moisture out to a broad area.
Notes & Observations: Patagonia Capilene® 3 did not perform nearly as well as other weight Capilene® fabrics. I will reach out to Patagonia for a comment and update this page if I get a response.
Merino wool appears to absorb faster after it has been worn and washed several times. We may look into this in detail in future tests.
So called “performance cotton” still does not appear to offer any performance advantages. However, we are in the midst of testing Under Armour Charged Cotton… so stay tuned for several videos on this subject.
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